Having previously received a photobook from Saal Digital to review I jumped at the chance to do the same with one of their wall decor products, hoping for a similar level of quality from this relatively new German print company.
From the range of wall decor products they do I went for the Alu-Dibond option as I’ve seen a lot of talk about aluminium prints recently, but I tend to prefer matte or lustre finishes for my normal printing which seemed to be catered for well in this product.
I decided to go for a fairly dark black and white image as I think it can be a good test of printing materials, making sure the detail is retained in the shadow and the full range of tones are reproduced well. As well as this I chose a 16:9 ratio image, partly as it was one that would be more awkward to frame conventionally so would show the benefit of the direct aluminium print. I’m working on a series of images from Sherwood Forest which I hope to display somewhere when finished, so one of these photos seemed the obvious choice to test.
The order process was very easy, there was a software download available which I didn’t use, just uploaded the image and away I went. I’m not entirely sure what you’d use the software for, personally I’d always prefer to avoid installing extra programs so was happy it was so straightforward to do it all through the website.
Default size options for 16:9 ratios were fairly limited, I’d imagine this is becoming a more common image aspect so may be worth adding to, because of that I used the custom size option. In the end I went for a fairly small 28cm x 50cm image which would normally cost £39.95, there was a huge jump in cost as soon as you increase the width to 51cm which is presumably due to the size of aluminium panels they use, but it would be nice if this was made obvious so you didn’t have to slowly increment the print size to see how big you can go before the price changes.
For the mounting I chose their aluminium subframe, which was a fairly reasonably priced option and seemed the easiest to use.
It took 8 days between ordering and delivery, which I think is pretty reasonable for a print to order product, especially when it’s coming from Germany. Packaging was extremely robust, with plenty of protective cardboard all round it seemed like it could have taken some good knocks en route without any damage to the print.
Print quality is very good, the matte finish makes the image seem a lot more natural than a glossy print to me so I’m really glad this was an option for a metal print. All the detail in the shadows has been rendered, the dark pine trunk on the left was the test of this but you can still make out the bark clearly. I think it’s slightly cooler in colour temperature than some of my other black and white prints, I’d generally prefer a mono to be slightly on the warmer side if anything. There were ICC profiles available, I didn’t use these so maybe a bit of soft proofing could have helped, that said I’m really happy with how it looks.
The build quality also seems excellent and the mounting system is very simple to use, I just used a single nail but for larger products where you need more than one nail or screw it’s good that you don’t have to get them in specific positions and spend time lining everything up, as long as they’re level on the wall you just hook it over.
Overall I think it’s a good product and have no complaints about the quality at all. I’m a bit hesitant about using this material again just because seeing it next to framed prints I prefer the focus and presence that a traditional mount and simple frame give to an image, but that’s just personal preference and would be the same for any aluminium print or canvas etc. If you’re looking for a product like this then I’d absolutely recommend giving Saal a go.