Recently I've just got married and employed a photographer to do my photos and as a result, I ended up with over 500 photos to choose from. This, of course, is far too many to create a photo book from so step one was to choose the best photos. My wife and I whittled this number down to around 120 shots then headed for the Albelli website, which is easy on the eye and very straightforward to use, to create our photo book.
Having clicked on the photo book's link on the main page and choosing Photo Book Landscape Large we then downloaded the Albelli photo book package which is just under 10MB, so you will need a broadband connection to do this.
After installing the product and opening it up, again we are presented with a pleasing layout and a set of instructions telling us how to begin. Once we clicked New Product and selected what we wanted to make, we were presented with either the option to fill the photo book in manually or to use auto fill. I personally went with auto and being a programmer myself was very impressed with the outcome. Most of the photos weren't in exactly the right place but they were all in the right order and gave us a good starting point. The process did take quite a while, as the photos had to be 'imported' into the Albelli software which as they were quite big took a while.
The software has many good points including the price which is always visible in the bottom row, which is always helpful to know as I'm (and I'm sure most people are) always on a budget. The second is the way that even if I resized an image it would still keep its proportions which meant I could take larger images and resize them to fit the area required, cropping and moving the photo into the required position.
Having said that, there are many things that the software can't do and so it will take some time to put together your photo book. It is a very complete piece of software and in fact you will probably overlook many of the aspects such as storing a layout that you made for a page to use again on other pages. There are also backgrounds and masks to choose from in order to have borders in your photo book. Text and other clip-art images can also be added - so you can make a photo book for any occasion. Options over transparency and other items as well make this almost a mini Photoshop. If you lack photo editing software, you can use the software to improve your photos.
To complete the software there are two features that I would have liked to have seen. The first is the ability of selecting several photos and cutting them to paste into another page, as this would have helped me on more than one occasion. The second is a Photoshop style ruler on the side just so you could get alignment just right. Having said that while putting my book together Albelli did release an update which I was prompted to install, so they are forever improving on their software package.
Overall I would give the software 4/5 because it does make a lot of it very easy to do - only these missing features and quite a bit of loading seems to bring it down slightly.
Once we have made our product we go to the ordering process, this also takes a while. Clicking on the green Order Now button you are taken through a series of pages and have to upload your project. The uploading takes a while, most likely because of the large photos we were using. So even with a good broadband connection the upload took around 30 minutes.
Once done we were taken to the Albelli site for payment, I was slightly worried that I would have to make the photo book again in smaller sizes for our parents, but was pleasantly surprised to see options available to purchase more books in different sizes. Entering our card details was nicely straightforward with the software picking up my card type which I thought was a nice touch.
So now for the wait until delivery...
This took about a week and although the email sent confirming my order was incorrect, when I logged into the website everything was correct. When they arrived I was happy with the contents, they were packaged well, in separate plastic envelopes for each book, and a sturdy cardboard box. There were no bashes or any problems with the books themselves. In fact one plus I would like to mention here are the resealable envelopes, which you can use to put your books back into if you want to keep them for posterity.
Moving on now to the book itself, the pages and book as a whole are made very well with no problems, all photos are correctly aligned, colours are correct, and consistent from page to page, and there are no pages that are falling out. The pictures themselves look brilliant and 10 times better than when I saw them on the screen, the black and white photos are particularly impressive, with high contrast and a print that looks very much like a black and white photo print.
When opened the book has two blank pieces of plain paper, then once you turn the page, you are greeted by your photos printed on glossy photo paper. At the end of the book, there is again, two blank pieces of plain paper, once of which has the FSC, and Albelli logos and details, as shown above.
There is a very slight difference in quality of the black and white photos between the larger and smaller books, with the smaller book giving a slight sepia tone to the images, but the quality of print is very good otherwise. The only downside is that in the software I couldn't have a final second page (as shown above) so it does seem like there has been some waste but on the whole I'm very impressed.
So would I recommend Albelli for your photos?
Yes, the system is straightforward to use and although the time you need to spend in front of the computer is considerable, it is hard to find where any additional time could be saved. After you have put in the hard work of choosing, resizing and placing your photos the results you get are excellent.
|The Albelli Photo Book gives you excellent results and is easy to use.
|VALUE FOR MONEY
Richard Housham signing off. For more information visit www.albelli.co.uk