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Add a big splash to your living space with Saal Digital’s metal photo prints
posted Wednesday, December 14, 2022 at 12:00 PM EDT
Back in the heyday of film cameras, getting prints of your photographs was much more common. I mean, you essentially had to if you want to see and enjoy your photos beyond just tiny negatives or in slide format. But as the world transitioned to digital, storing loads of images digitally and viewing images electronically has become the norm. There are many ways to enjoy photographs, and viewing them on your phone, tablet or better yet, a large display is all fine and good.
However, enjoying your own photographs or one of your favorite photographer's work in a physical format can be incredibly satisfying. A nice, large print, in particular, where you can stand back and appreciate the work can be so nice and rewarding. Plus, wall-mounted artwork and photographs really do wonders to liven up your living space, add splashes of color and interest to a room, and can be excellent conversation pieces.
As a photographer, I have hard drives upon hard drives full of photos and a massive Lightroom catalog of images dating back years. That's really not the most ideal way to appreciate your photographs, and I've always wanted to print more of my favorites and display them around my home. I've also moved recently, so I have some nice, blank walls that could use some decoration!
Fortunately, this is where Saal Digital comes in, offering an astonishing array of printed photo products, from photo books, albums, single prints in a range of sizes, posters and more. But what caught my eye was their selection of Wall Decor products. Differing from a traditional fine art print that would require its own frame, the Wall Decor products come in a variety of material choices, with your photo directly printed onto the material, and are ready to mount right out of the box. Wall Decor materials or styles include canvas prints, acrylic prints, PVC foam boards or metal prints.
I've only ever had traditional framed photo prints before, and I've always been curious about having my photos printed on metal. I've seen metal prints in a few art galleries before, and not only do they look really sleek up on the wall but also the metal finish can really make the photos pop. The colors look saturated and vibrant, the details are sharp, and the metallic nature of the material just gives the prints a special look. Saal Digital offers two types of Metal Print Wall Decor styles, a high-resolution metal print with a matte finish and one with a brushed metal finish. The brushed finish has more of a visible texture to it and adds a distinct look to the images. Darker areas look more matte, while brighter areas are shinier, with the brushed aluminum surface appearing through them. The metallic nature of the material is more apparent with the brushed version and strikes me as a great choice for black-and-white photos.
I decided to try Saal Digital products, and I selected a pair of standard high-resolution Metal Prints, as that seemed like the more versatile option for the two color photos I wanted to have printed. And while both Metal Print styles are designed for both indoor and outdoor uses, I am putting these prints up indoors, so I felt like the matte, non-brushed finish was a great choice for indoor display.
Saal Digital offers metal prints in a staggering variety of sizes, from tiny 3.9" x 3.9" square prints all the way up to very large 39.4" x 31.5" prints, and you can use a variety of methods to configure your print and place your order. Saal Digital offers a browser-based tool on their website, or download a free standalone desktop design app for macOS/Windows or use a mobile app. The mobile app seems designed more for making smaller prints (metal or otherwise), especially with smartphone photos, while the desktop app offers more options than the browser tool for print customization, image editing, graphics and text, and saving your projects offline for later editing. The metal prints also make great options for business signage and advertisements, but since I just wanted basic photo prints, the online tool proved to be a simple and easy-to-use option.
The online tool is very straightforward. Simply select Order Online from the product page on their website to open their web-based Configurator tool. From there, you can select a print orientation, the format (aka size) and what type of mounting hardware you want attached to it (if any -- you *can* select not to have any built-in mounting system added). Next, you'll click Design, and then you can upload any number of photos you want to test out on your selected print size. One very helpful thing about the tool is that it will alert you if the image resolution of the photo you uploaded is too small for a selected print size.
In my case, I was initially going to pick a 31.5" x 23.6" print, but the first image that I selected for printing was a photo I took with the Olympus E-M1X and 150-600mm Pro lens. The photo is "only" 20MP, and when I loaded it into the Configurator tool and placed it on that size print, it told me the image quality was only "Good."
I didn't want to risk the image coming out pixelated or otherwise low quality, so I opted to reduce the print size down to 29.5" x 19.7". At this new size, the E-M1X image quality status changed to "Very Good." To get a sense of variety and to see how the prints look with a different style of photo, I also picked a landscape shot from my Fujifilm X100V, which has a 26-megapixel sensor.
The Fujifilm image size gets a "Very Good" quality rating when I tested it with both the 29.5" x 19.7" print and the larger 31.5" x 23.6" print. Lastly, I didn't need to play around with image placement or cropping with these two prints, but the online tool gives you those options to adjust the composition and alignment of the photo if needed.
Delivery & Installation
Once I placed the order, the prints arrived very quickly, taking only about a week to get delivered. Saal Digital is based in Europe, but I assumed they would have a USA-based printing operation for customers here in the States. However, the metal prints I ordered did indeed ship from Europe -- Germany, to be exact. The shipping time of just a week is quite impressive, and they arrived in perfect condition.
Unboxing was a breeze, and mounting was a pretty simple and straightforward process for the most part. As mentioned, one of the big appeals of going with a "Wall Decor" product was the built-in mounting brackets that are already attached to the back of the prints. The default choice, and what I went with, was the aluminum subframe mounting solution. This pre-attached rectangular track lets you use simple nails or screws and just suspend the metal print by subframe. The track design of the bracket lets you slide the print around for easier alignment on the wall, and also gives you some flexibility in where on your wall you can place nails/screws.
The metal prints I ordered are not particularly heavy, despite their large size, but I still wanted to make sure I got at least one nail into a stud in my wall for a secure hold. The subframe bracket allows for more freedom to place the nails in my wall properly while letting me easily align the print.
The subframe also gives you a little bit of space between the wall and the print, by about 0.4in, and gives the prints a subtle but nice "floating" appearance off the wall surface.
Appearance & Image Quality
Image quality-wise, I am very pleased with how both prints turned out. Both the 20MP E-M1X image and the 26MP Fuji X100V image printed very nicely, with sharp and clean detail throughout. At close inspection, I didn't see any sort of pixelation or detail loss. The image file resolutions were more than enough to handle prints of this size.
In terms of color, both prints look nice and vibrant. The X100V landscape image, in particular, was shot with their more saturated Velvia Film Simulation plus some additional minor adjustments in Capture One to tones, color balance and the like. I was very pleased with how the colors looked vibrant and as I remember seeing them in the digital image. The E-M1X image a more natural-looking photo in terms of colors and saturation, and the metal print also did very well at staying true to the original file. Black levels, too, especially in the high-contrast landscape print look deep and rich as well. I purposefully shot and edited that photo to have some deeper blacks, and I feel like it came through as I had hoped in printed form.
One of the things I was concerned about in terms of a metal print was just about much glare would be an issue when viewing the prints on the wall. The location in my home where I mounted the prints, fortunately, does not get direct sunlight glaring in through windows. That said, the matte finish on these metal prints help in reducing some glare. They have a glossy or shiny metallic surface, which I think would have been somewhat problematic if you placed the prints in an area of brighter sunlight.
Overall, I am extremely pleased with the Saal Digital Metal Prints. The ordering process is simple and fast, and pricing seems very fair too -- each print was around $80 each. I don't think that's an unreasonable price for a metal print of this size. And when it comes to image quality, the prints look stunning. They are easy to mount and a lot of pop and interest to the room. If you want a fun way to enjoy your favorite photos and spice up your living space at the same time, Saal Digital's Metal Prints are a superb option.
For more information about Saal Digital's print product, please visit their website.
This is a sponsored article paid for by Saal Digital.