Overall, the print is sharp, has punchy colours, a clean finish and is at a very fair price, but carry on reading to find out more in-depth information about the product.
I've wanted to try printing on aluminium for a while now and when the opportunity came up to have an extremely discounted print in exchange for a review, I just couldn't turn it down!
So, Alu Dibond is a combination of two thin aluminium sheets with a plastic layer in between, doing this means a lower cost and weight and higher durability than if it were simply a large sheet of metal. I chose to print at 70x35cm - a custom size that saved about £10 by dropping the width by 5cm from their standard 40cm width - the total cost was £65 exc. delivery. This is a very middle of the road cost, you wouldn't expect the best product on the market at this price, but at the same time there is no drastic problem with the print that would lead me to think it was cheap.
You are given four mounting options when you order; no mount, standard, subframe or standoff mounts. I chose the subframe option as I have nails on my wall which I can then hang the print off with no extra effort on my part. There is another benefit to the aluminium frame, it stands the print off the wall more than the standard mount does and, although not as far as the standoff mount option, it is £20 cheaper. I placed it on the floor so that you can see the depth to the shadow produced with this mount. I had to do it on the floor as the wall that I have the print mounted on is opposite a window and so there is no shadow.
Five days after I paid I received the package in the post and was happy with level of packaging. It came wrapped in two layers of plastic sheeting, thick cardboard over the printed side of aluminium and then an outer cardboard box. There is no realistic way that this could have bent or been scratched in the post.
Okay, so now on to the important stuff and I'd like to start by saying that I am really impressed! The print is sharp and the colours are vivid and true to my edit. Saal-Digital have the option to download the ICC profile of their printers in order to see how your print will come out (assuming that your monitor is accurate). If you have read my review of the Photobook then you'll know that there was some problems with the printing; the contrast and artifacts on edges of high contrast. These problems were completely non existent in this print, the contrast is just right and shows good detail in the shadows whilst the highlight areas are controlled well.
The finish on the print is matte and unfortunately there is no way around this. This is very surprising as from most reviews I have seen (from other printers) it is the glossy finish of aluminium prints that makes them so special, therefore it seems strange for Saal-Digital to not offer it. Saal-Digital do have another print option called 'Alu Dibond butlerfinish' and from what I can work out it is a brushed aluminium finish - but I'm not quite sure as the information that they give about the finish is very limited. As for this image specifically, the matte finish works very well. When you print an image you want the print to not only be a way of showing a photograph, but to be an extension of the scene - to fit the 'character' of the scene. This image has a lot of small details, there are hundreds of thousands of small leaves throughout the picture and to me the small bumps from the matter finish seem to accentuate this. The other benefit to matte is the lack of reflections, I have this print mounted opposite a window and so a glossy finish would have made it virtually unusable (for my situation).
Below is a gallery of close up shots from around the print:
I wouldn't hesitate to use Saal-Digital again for an Alu-Dibond print, unless of course you wanted a glossy finish in which case you'll need to find another printer which offers the finish. The aluminium subframe option seems to be the best in my opinion and the matte finish is going to be useful if you have a lot of light sources in the room you wish to display your print in as it reduces reflections. However, as high quality as this print is, it does lack the punch that you expect from a metal print when you take away the glossy finish. If you haven't seen a glossy metal print in reality then you won't be able to appreciate quite how much 'pop' it can give an image.
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