Printing Technical & Testing

Saal Digital Paper Sample Set | Examining Paper & Print Types

While ordering the professional line photobook from Saal Digital, I was also able to get a paper sample set. In this article we will look at all 15 types in detail. I have two Youtube videos available if you are interested in seeing the photobook process (Design & Reveal, Photo Selection Time-lapse).

The set included 15 samples and a coupon code.

I took three groups of photos for each print type (see my Youtube video here about taking photos for this article). The first is a straight view from above. Two primary lights were on the left and right of the print, and I had set up my camera with the tripod to shoot vertically downward. The goal was to get the photo and camera as parallel as possible. I had made a little jig out of card stock and tape. The second set are macro level detail photos of three crops of each print. I was using the EF-M 32mm f1.4 lens on the Canon EOS M50 with two Fotga extension tubes. I also added a third video light. With the macro photos you can see printer detail and paper texture. The last photos have two lights on one side to exaggerate any potential reflections from the given print’s finish.

Some of the equipment I used:
Canon EOS M50 (B&H, Amazon)
Extension Tubes (Amazon, B&H Alternative)
Slik Tripod with alternate head (B&H, Amazon)

You can click on each image below to get a larger view.

Glossy [1]
1 Glossy, Full
Fujifilm, Crystal Archive DP II Professional Glossy, 250 g/m^2
Available on: Photo Prints | Photo Sticker | Poster
1 Glossy, Macro
1 Glossy, Reflection
A good all-rounder traditional print type. It has a glossy finish with little noticeable paper texture.
Matte [2]
2 Matte, Full
Fujifilm, Crystal Artchive DP II Professional Matt, 234 g/m^2
Available on: Photo Prints | Photo Sticker | Poster
2 Matte, Macro
2 Matte, Reflection
This one definitely has less of a shine compared to the first one, but there is still some reflection. While not as glorious as the first, it is easier to see more details of the print at once.
Silk | Portrait [3]
3 Silk Portrait, Full
Fujifilm, Crystal Archive DP II Professional Silk, 232 g/m^2
Available on: Photo Prints | Photo Sticker | Poster
3 Silk Portrait, Macro
3 Silk Portrait, Reflection
There is a definite texture to this one that adds a unique pattern to the print. At some angles it appears to cut down on reflected light a bit more than 2 Matte, but in others it is more reflective. It reminds me of those lenticular pictures where a shift of perspective changes the image displayed to the user. As a child I had a bookmark and ruler with that feature. Although in this case it’s more of a textural thing rather than something that changes what you see.
Metallic [4]
4 Metalic, Full
Kodak, Professional Endura Metallic, 240 g/m^2
Available on: Poster
4 Metalic, Macro
4 Metalic, Reflection
The unique look of this print isn’t represented well in the test photos. This is one where you need to see it in person to get a true feel for it. A definite modification to the image with whites more of a silver color. Edge details appear to be a little bit blurred out compared to 1-3. All colors have a definite saturation pop. There is a strong reflective gloss to the print as well. At extreme angles the image gets really dark.
FineArt Baryta [7]
7 FineArt Baryta, Full
Hahnemuhle, FineArt Baryta, 325 g/m^2
Available on: FineArt Prints | FineArt Poster
7 FineArt Baryta, Macro
7 FineArt Baryta, Reflection
Printed on a thick card stock instead of photo paper. The reflections can be strong depending on the angle, but if you angle yourself properly there is very minimal reflection causing a loss of what is visible. It looks like the printing process renders more detail for a given area of paper and has a more exact color alignment than the 1-4 types. The stock in this case has a blue or titanium white, similar to 1-3.
FineArt Pearl [8]
8 FineArt Pearl, Full
Hahnemuhle, FineArt Pearl, 285 g/m^2
Available on: FineArt Prints | FineArt Poster
8 FineArt Pearl, Macro
8 FineArt Pearl, Reflection
The paper has a more yellow look to it compared to 7, or maybe I’d call it off-white or warmer (aka. pearl). The gloss coating appears to be the same or slightly less than 7. It’s difficult to discern any other differences between this one and 7. I think the major difference is in the color tone of the card stock.
FineArt Photo Rag [9]
9 FineArt Photo Rag, Full
Hahnemuhle, FineArt Photo Rag, 308 g/m^2
Available on: FineArt Prints | FineArt Poster
9 FineArt Photo Rag, Macro
9 FineArt Photo Rag, Reflection
This one takes the card stock’s color further to ivory or yellow in tone compared to 7 and 8. There is also no gloss at all. There is a richness to the color and high detail easily visible. At any angle you can get a full view of the image, which is great. There is a unique depth to this stock and print, especially compared to the other two similar ones. If I were printing something for a gallery, there is a good chance I’d go with this because I could see it working well to give a great view to crowds of people, whether they are in front of it or strongly to the side.
Glossy [10]
10 Glossy, Full
Fujifilm, Crystal Archive Album Glossy, 368 g/m^2
Available on: Photobook
10 Glossy, Macro
10 Glossy, Reflection
A print type specifically for photo books. This is probably what the Pro-Line book they printed for me used. Double sided so printing in a book format is possible. There is a good deal of gloss on this print type. I was really impressed with the print quality of the book, so no different here (assuming it is the same one).
Matte [11]
11 Matte, Full
Fujifilm, Crystal Archive Album Lustre, 368 g/m^2
Available on: Photobook
11 Matte, Macro
11 Matte, Reflection
The alternative paper type for photobooks. The matte has a definite texture to it. There is still a slight reflective sheen to it as well. I could see it being a nice option if you want an easier viewing experience over the high gloss finish of 10.
Matte [12]
12 Matte, Full
Fujifilm, Crystal Archive Supreme Lustre, 231 g/m^2
Available on: Photographic Calendar
12 Matte, Macro
12 Matte, Reflection
This one is apparently only for calendars. The paper looks to have a bluer tone than 11 and the paper is thinner.
Premium Paper [13]
13 Premium Paper, Full
Premium Paper, 250 g/m^2
Available on: Photo Booklet | Photo Flip | Printed Calendar | Flyer
13 Premium Paper, Macro
13 Premium Paper, Reflection
It appears to be double sided and applies to other things besides standard prints. The shine isn’t as strong as some gloss, but it isn’t matte either. Looking at the number 13 on the sample, I see dithering, so maybe not as high resolution as some of he other print types. There is a definite digitally printed feel to this one, but
Art Print [14]
14 Art Print Paper, Full
Art Print Paper, 250 g/m^2
Available on: Calendar | Photo Booklet
14 Art Print Paper, Macro
14 Art Print Paper, Reflection
This one is on card stock. It also has a unique texture. Print resolution appears similar to 13.
Classic [15]
15 Classic, Full
Classic, 300 g/m^2
Available on: Card | Mini leporello | Business card
15 Classic, Macro
15 Classic, Reflection
A nice average print with a slight bit of reflectance to it.
Structured [16]
16 Structured, Full
Structured, 300 g/m^2
Available on: Card | Mini leporello | Business card
16 Structured, Macro
16 Structured, Reflection
This one is on card stock with a vertical ridged pattern pressed into the paper. The finish is completely matte.
Pearl [17]
17 Pearl, Full
Pearl, g/m^2
Available on: Card | Mini leporello | Business card
17 Pearl, Macro
17 Pearl, Reflection
This is on card stock with a mixture of properties. It looks somewhat metallic, almost like glitter was embedded into the paper. It certainly has a unique look.

That took a while to write up! The description texts for each sample are just my initial quick thoughts while writing up each one as I went down the line. I’m not too sure if I’d say there are definitively better or worse types in the set, but some are special use like the metalic prints.

Here are my favorites from each print product group that had more than one. At least when not considering what type of image will be printed:
Photo Prints | PhotoStickers | Poster
* 2, Matte

FineArt Prints | FineArt Poster
* 9, FineArt Photo Rag

* This is a tough one, but I would probably go with 10, the Glossy type that I had used before.

Card | Mini leporello | Business Card
* I like 15 the Classic type a lot more than 16 and 17. Though, I could see 17 being interesting as a business card.

I hoped you enjoyed this look at physical printing options! It helps me learn what’s out there if I do have an opportunity to print at some point.

The company’s website is here:
They sent me a discount code when I had the photobook printed if you want to try their stuff out. This is not an affiliate thing. I assume they use it to track their collaborations/advertising and give potential customers an added incentive. I don’t get anything from its use: The code is “SCOTTWALDRON” for $20 off $39.95 or more. I’m not sure if there is any type of expiration date. My contact didn’t give me any details. If it doesn’t work at this point, sorry!