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iStock Review

Friday, October 22nd

2021 Stock Photo Service Reviews

iStock Review 4.5 Star Rating


4.5 Star Rating
  • Cost: From $0.22 to $9.90 per image

Owned by Getty Images, iStock is more of a price-discounted version of the Getty Images site. The plans and pricing are geared more towards the personal website owner than toward a large organization or team. They offer straightforward subscriptions to royalty-free images that can be used anywhere and as often as you need.

More Than Just Images

The types of assets iStock provides are photos, illustrations, vector images, and videos. Each type of asset is further categorized into curated sets, a signature collection, and an essentials collection. You can browse by trending searches, popular categories, and artist and video clip features of the month. The topics of each category and collection are timely according to the seasons, holidays, trends, and current events.

Great Search Functions

The search feature works similarly to the main Getty Images site in terms of the variety and usage of filters. It has two additional filters to search by lowest price (Essentials) and best quality (Signature). Our search for "black and white puppy dogs" produced an astounding 6,579 possibilities, so the filters definitely helped to narrow that down. For example, the Signature quality image set was only 944 photos.

Selecting An Image

When you select an image, you can buy it right on the spot, view plans and pricing, buy a suggested subscription, or edit the photo online. There are also links to the standard and extended licensing information for that image.

On-Demand Pricing

iStock offers a number of payment options depending on your needs. The most expensive is to purchase images in on-demand "credit packs". There are a range of credit packs to choose from, starting at 1 credit for $12, and running all the way up to 300 credits for $2,400. In their "Essentials" collection, images cost 1 credit to download. In their "Signature" collection, images cost 3 credits to download.

Subscription Pricing Options

A more cost-effective way to purchase images is with iStock's subscription plan. Here you can choose between a Basic subscrition, which only allows access to their Essentials collection of images, or a Premium subscrition that allows access to both their Essentials and Signature collections. In each subscrition model you can also choose to go month-to-month with no long term contract, or get lower pricing with a 12-month commitment.

Best Stock Photo Services

Subscription Pricing Costs

A month-to-month Basic subscription (Essentials-only images) ranges from 10 images for $40/month to 750 images for $199/month. If you commit to 12 months, the pricing drops to 10 images for $29/month and 750 images for $166/month. If you choose a Premium subscrition (both Essentials and Signature images), the month-to-month pricing ranges from 10 images for $99/month to 750 images for $399/month. If you commit to 12 months, that pricing drops to 10 images for $70/month and 750 images for $333/month.

Refund Policy

If you change your mind about a credit pack purchase, you can get a refund within 14 days of the invoice, provided you haven't used any credits from the pack. The same is true for the month-to-month subscriptions, as you can cancel any time or get a refund within 14 days of purchase if it's not right for you.

Search For Similar Images

Searching by image is a nice feature that allows you to upload an image and then have iStock find other images that are similar to it in various ways. But, even more useful is the fact that it can tell you whether an image you want to use is available to license from their catalog.

Editing An Image

The iStock editor is simple and easy to use, with capabilities to crop, rotate, or resize the image (even for standard social media sizes), add text and filters, upload other images for further composition, or search for another image to work with instead.

Positive Customer Reviews

Reviews for iStock are mostly positive. Lots of people gave them high marks for the excellent image quality, easy-to-use site, variety, and price. Without much evidence, some stated that some of iStock's illustrations are shared on other sites. Others were dissatisfied in general with the stock photo industry.

Strong Choice

iStock is an excellent choice for budget- and quality-conscious designers, editors, and image users. Without hesitation, we give them extremely high marks and our recommendation.

Where Can You Find the Best Stock Photos Online?

Stock photo services provide images for use in editorial (news), website, commercial, entertainment, and artistic projects to illustrate and visualize various concepts and ideas. Such images enhance storytelling value by instantly communicating what the piece is about.

Stock photos can be purchased individually or in "packs" or groups, either with a monthly or yearly subscription or as a one-time, on demand arrangement. Generally, the longer your subscription term and the more images you purchase, the lower the cost per image.

The Best Stock Photo Services Compare Stock Photo Services Compare Stock Photo Service Reviews What are the best Stock Photo Services Best Stock Photo Service Reviews

Stock Photo Service FAQ

A stock photo is one which can be licensed for multiple uses by multiple users. The subject of a stock photo is usually a person, place, thing, or concept that enhances the design and messaging of the user's visual product, such as an advertisement, web page, or other publication.
You pay for stock photos so that the photographer can be paid for their creative works and the stock photo website can profit from the sale of the image they're listing on behalf of the photographer. Using "any image you want" can get you into trouble if an image isn't licensed for reuse by the public.
Stock photos cost different amounts depending on the sites they're listed on and the licensing options you're getting. Prices can range from just $0.20 for a single, low-quality image, to hundreds of dollars for a single high-quality image, and up to thousands of dollars for multiple high-resolution, high quality images.
Yes. Most stock photography websites have a form you can fill out to sign up to submit your images to their catalog. If your work is accepted, they will pay you their going rate for each image, which is usually a bit less (for profit purposes) than what they charge the customer to download the image.
Yes, if you have paid for the license and are using it in accordance with the terms and conditions of the licensing. Any use outside of those terms and conditions will result in a demand from the legal team of the stock photo site and/or the photographer to either cease using the image or to pay the additional licensing and any fees set forth in the terms.
As you browse stock photo sites, you'll find varying levels of quality. The worst quality stock photos are either of questionable origin or were made by amateur photographers just getting started in the business. Bad images are often in demand and therefore continue to be sold because of the level of skill (or lack thereof) and poor discernment of good vs. bad on the part of the purchasers.
Generally it is okay to edit stock photos. Just be sure to double check the license to ensure that it is allowed to be modified.
You can trust that free photos are truly free, but be sure to check the licensing published for them on the stock site where you found them. If you're in doubt, download the free image and then upload it to the image search feature on advanced stock photo sites. If the uploaded image is flagged as one that they sell, then the image is likely a pirated copy. You should not use it if there's doubt that it is actually free of licensing restrictions.
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Continued from above...

Some stock photo sites contain higher quality images than others - depending on the photographers' skill, experience, reputation, and the ways they choose subjects, compose and light their photos. So, it's important to consider this when the price on one site seems very high compared to others.

Image types are typically photos but also include anything of visual value. That covers video, vector art, illustrations, editorial photos for news stories, and formatted templates for social media, blogs, marketing materials, and ads.

Photo resolutions are measured in pixels (dots) and range from low pixel density (a horizontal resolution of around 400 pixels) to high pixel density for 4K images (a horizontal resolution of 4,096 pixels) and, increasingly, 8K images (7,680 pixels). The higher-resolution images are for high-definition TV output, computer screens, and print. The lower resolution images are typically used on websites with pixel dimension restrictions or that need to balance quality with image load speed on slow connections.

Some stock photo websites offer unlimited numbers of downloads per image. Others provide just a single download, after which you'll need to repurchase the image at full price if you need to download it again.

Licensing restrictions are oriented around the type of use you have for the image, video, or photo as well as use frequency (royalty-free vs. more per-use limited "rights managed" images). For example, TV broadcast and print licensing will often be more restrictive than website image licensing. And, you can license images on some stock photo sites for your exclusive use, meaning that the image will be removed from their catalog once you purchase it. Be sure to read the licensing terms carefully for each asset you purchase and download. If you're found using it against the licensing agreement, you may be charged a steep fine for each out-of-license use.

It's also important to be aware that not every stock photo site will be available on internet connections having strong filtering. Stock photo sites can contain images and videos that are not family friendly or "safe for work". So, if you have trouble viewing a stock photo site due to a content warning in your browser, check with your network administrator about getting an exception made for that stock photo site's domain name.

As you decide which provider to use for your stock photos, it may be helpful to keep the following factors in mind:

  • Subscription renewal periul> Subscription renewal periods
  • Selection variety and qualul> Selection variety and quality
  • Search capabilul> Search capability
  • Photo resolutions and image tyul> Photo resolutions and image types
  • Quantity of downloads per purchul> Quantity of downloads per purchase
  • Licensing restrictiul> Licensing restrictions

TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best online sources of stock photos today. We hope this information helps you find the perfect images for your website, newsletter, or other projects!

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