iStock Review (2024): Is This Getty Powerhouse As Good As Its Reputation?

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iContact Review: Stay In Touch With Your CustomersiStock was the first microstock agency and had no real competition for it’s first several years. It’s been the go-to site to buy and sell stock photos and is a leading competitor today, but now there are literally dozens of other companies in the mix.

Owned by Getty Images, iStock is known for its variety of images, unique features and payment options. Read on to learn more and find out how they rank in our competitive review.

Visit iStock’s Website

Article Overview


Customer Service & Reputation 5.0
Variety of Images 10.0
Price 7.0
Easy to Use Site 10.0


  • Credits do not expire
  • Wide variety of stock images and over 8 million are exclusive to iStock
  • Been around since 2000 and one of the most used stock photo sites in the industry, selling a large number of images daily
  • Pay-as-you-go option versus a credit commitment
  • Images, video, audio, illustration and vector files available
  • Well organized website
  • User submissions are accepted
  • DeepMeta for contributors – software to organize your portfolio


  • Mixed customer support records
  • Review times for submissions can be long
  • Low commission for contributors
  • Other stock image services have a better selection for use with high quality print media

Key Features

When looking for a file to use, iStock allows you to narrow down your search results so you find the perfect picture you’re looking for. You can further narrow your search down by using many categories including keywords, file size, price range, image type, color and photographer or contributor name. After narrowing your search down to a smaller group you can filter your images even more so by best match, age, downloads, contributor, rating, size and title.

Ranking System

iStock has an interesting way to rank contributors using specific icons depending on the files they’ve contributed. For example, photographers have film canisters, videographers have television sets, etc. This ranking is based on the total number of sales the contributor has. Each contributor has an icon distinguishing his/her ranking:

  • Base = 1-249 sales
  • Bronze = 250-2,499
  • Silver = 2,500-9,999
  • Gold = 10,000-24,999
  • Diamond = 25,000-200,000
  • Black Diamond = 200,001+

If you have photos to sell, you can become a contributor and receive a 15% royalty for each file downloaded.

Keyword System

Members can suggest additional keywords or the removal of keywords for contributors’ files. This helps keep the users honest and the files are true to their keywords. The integrity of the keyword system is kept high.

Free Image Of The Week

iStock features a free image of the week. Users are able to download the free image of the week as well as the previous two week’s free images.

istock screenshot


iStock has its own form of currency called credits. To purchase an image off iStock you must pay with credits and each file costs a certain amount of credits. This value varies based on the quality and collection. Essential files cost 1 credit while Signature files cost 3. Keep in mind that these credits last one year after the purchase date.

Price Credits Price Per Credit
$12 1 $12.00
$170 18 $9.44
$325 36 $9.03
$520 60 $8.67
$1,250 150 $8.33
$2,400 300 $8.00

Another option is to purchase a subscription. If you purchase a lot of images from iStock, you may want to go with a subscription plan. They have two types of images, essentials which are more basic images only and signature which is access to all images including vectors.

Downloads Per Month Essentials Price
Per Month (Monthly With Annual Plan)
Signature Price
Per Month (Monthly With Annual Plan)
10 $40 ($29) $99 ($70)
25 $65 ($49) $149 ($120)
50 $99 ($90) $229 ($199)
750 $199 ($166) $399 ($333)

You can also pay as you go (instead of credits) with your credit card or PayPal account. But keep in mind, iStock customers save over 25% with credits.

Interview With iStock Contributor (Video)

Here’s an interview by Getty Images with iStock contributor Hal Bergman. He talks about his technology, process, and shooting in 4k.

Customer Reviews

Want to know what real users think of iStock? Check out some quotes we’ve gathered from different places.

Positive Reviews

An amazing selection of images available. Not the cheapest but easily the best range – make sure you look for the exclusive images to Istock to make sure you get the good stuff. – Tom F., TrustPilot, 10/9/2019

iStock offers an easy, cost-effective way for our small indy publication to access and utilize quality stock images. The images are not only a good value for the price, they are far better than we would be able to produce on our own at a much higher price point. – Dennis M., G2 Crowd, 2/14/2019

Negative Reviews

The pricing of the subscriptions and images is not equivalent to the product you will get. Credits are overpriced as well, review times for submissions can be long. Low commission for contributors. Other stock image services have a better selection for use with high quality print media.- Jason F., G2 Crowd, 2/12/2019

Poor costumer service and you can not re-download your images (the ones you paid for) once your subscription is finished. Way better options in shutterstock and or depositphotos where you can forever! – TheOtherSide, TrustPilot, 3/18/2019

How Does iStock Compare?

Visit iStock’s Website

If you are looking to buy royalty-free photos via download, iStock is a contender. If there is an area that iStock could improve, it is their communication and customer support. The iStock staff is very particular on what images they allow into their library. And unlike the early days, there are now plenty of providers for image buyers and photographers to choose from. Read our comprehensive stock photography comparison to see how iStock matches up.

They’ve been around since the beginning of stock photography and because of that, iStock has loyal clients and contributors and a well-known brand name. Learn more about iStock in our interview with GM Grant Farhall and find out what which photo editor we think comes out on top in our photo editing software comparison.

Think you’ll try iStock or leaning towards another provider? Let us know in the comments!

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