Stock Photography Comparison Table

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Stock photography sites are used for many purposes: from adding optimized, fast loading images to websites; to supplying high-profile Fortune 500 advertising campaigns with customized, stylish high-resolution photos and artwork. You may see these on TV, in magazines and even on billboards. If you are producing a television spot, you will require exclusive photos, video footage or audio files. You may need a specific license for this, which stock companies can provide. For the website producer and e-newsletter creator, there are many stock images available at a much lower cost. Use the stock photography comparison table below to help you decide with stock media provider meets your creative needs.

Stock Photography Websites Compared

This table is a companion resource to our article Stock Photography Comparison that compares the most popular stock photo websites. Use it to help you make an informed decision when deciding on a stock photography resource. If you click on a link under the company name in the header (or footer), you will be taken to that company’s homepage to explore further. You’ll find a list of terminologies below the table that explain the left-column definitions.

NameWinner Digital Media: Bigstock2nd Place Digital Media: Depositphotos3rd Place Digital Media: iStockWinner Traditional Media: Getty Images2nd Place Traditional Media: 123RF3rd Place Traditional Media: ShutterstockAdobe StockAlamyCan Stock PhotoDreamsTimeFoapPhotoSpinThinkstockYAY Images
NameBigstockDepositphotosiStockGetty Images123RFShutterstockAdobe StockAlamyCan Stock PhotoDreamsTimeFoapPhotoSpinThinkstockYAY Images
Read ReviewReviewReviewReviewReviewReviewReviewReviewReviewReviewReviewReviewReviewReviewReview
Visit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit Website
Vector ImagesCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Total Number of Stock Items34 Million+40 Million+25 Million+80 Million+55 Million+82 Million+50 million70 Million+20 Million+42 Million+MillionsMillionsMillions6.5 Million+
Royalty Free ImagesCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Lowest Price Per 3 MP Image$3.50$4.90$12$45; 3 Month Commercial Use$7.80$29 for 2$9.99$19.99$9 for 12 credits$14.99 for 11 credits$10$2-30$49 for 5N/A
Lowest Price Annual Subscription Plan$708 (5/Day)$600 (50/Month)$1,080 (50/Month)N/A (Individual Image Only)$708 (5/Day)$2,028 (350/Month)$359.88 (10/Month)N/A (Individual Image Only)$769 (10/Day)$468 (5/Month)None$429 (500/Month)$1,668 (50/Month)$118.80 (Unlimited Streaming Images)
Subscription ServiceCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
User Submissions AcceptedCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Visit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit Website
Read ReviewReviewReviewReviewReviewReviewReviewReviewReviewReviewReviewReviewReviewReviewReview


With so many details listed in the table above, it can be difficult to understand exactly what each term refers to. Below we have outlined each of these terms along with a definition so that you can utilize the table more appropriately to match your stock photography needs.

  • Audio: As with video clips, audio clips are not available on all stock photo websites. Unlike video clips though, audio needs are often very specific to the intended use which is why it is not being pursued by some of the stock photo providers.
  • Creative license: Photos that can be used for selling things. Usually these photos are staged by a photographer, art director and often time involve people or talent.
  • Credits: While many stock photo sites are subscription-based, meaning you can download an unlimited (or specified) amount of photos in a certain time period, some you will have the option to use credits to purchase images instead. Depending on the type of photo and license it will vary.
  • Digital marketing: Any marketing that is online including banner ads, social media graphics, email and website, etc.
  • DPI (Dots Per Inch): The number of pixels per square inch for a file or graphic. Helps determine the resolution.
  • Editorial license: A photo that may be used for anything non-commercial like a blog post or presentation.
  • Illustrations: Illustrations are images that are computer generated or artist drawn rather than photographed. Illustrations cost more than regular photographs due to the amount of work that goes in to creating them.
  • Images: Companies that offer photography media for use on websites, print or other uses.
  • Lowest Price per 3 MP Image: The cost of the lowest price image available for a standard size of 3 Megapixels to allow apples to apples cost comparison between providers on a per image basis.
  • Lowest Price Annual Subscription Plan: The cost of the lowest priced annual subscription plan offered to allow apples to apples cost comparison between providers on a yearly cost basis. Note that different companies offer different download options (# of images per week, month, etc.) which should be considered along with the needs of the purchaser.
  • Media usage licenses: What a particular photo may or may not be used for (see creative licenses or editorial licenses).
  • Pixel: A unit of measure used in digital photos.
  • Resolution: How many DPI a photo has. (Usually 72dpi for Web and 300dpi for print is standard).
  • Royalty Free Images: Images or other pieces of media that can be used without having to pay for royalties with each incidence of use.
  • Stock photography: Photos that are taken by others for resale or reuse by others.
  • Subscription Service: Programs that allow users to pay a set fee per month or per year in order to receive a designated number of credits, daily downloads or total number of downloads. Subscription services are generally the best route to go for big companies, advertising agencies, designers or other individuals looking to download large amounts of content.
  • Total Number of Stock Items: The advertised number of stock photos or other media offered in a company’s data gallery. These numbers fluctuate on a daily basis due to the addition of new media.
  • Traditional marketing: Any type of marketing that is non-digital like TV, Radio and Print.
  • User Submissions Accepted: This refers to the ability for photographers, videographers, designers and other creatives to be able to sell their own images through that company and receive compensation in the form of monetary fees or website credits.
  • Vector Images: Vector images are images that utilize geometrical primitives. Vector images are generally utilized for printed projects because they can be resized without being distorted. These images are costly to use but often the best choice for printed media or for promotional use.
  • Video: Not all stock photography companies offer video clips as part of their services; however, the idea is becoming increasingly popular. Video clips can vary in size and quality and generally cost the most of all media forms available on stock photo websites.

Got Questions?

Was this table useful in helping you choose a stock photo provider? Anything we missed? Who’s your favorite?

Sadie has acted as the email marketing coordinator and web designer for one of the world's largest travel companies and managed social media for dozens of major brands. She has a breadth and depth of web and marketing knowledge that reaches far and wide. She loves all things Mac and keeping up with all the latest web trends.

Leave a Reply

newest oldest most voted
Gencho Petkov
istock and own satellites (subscription type) is in the process of lowering (visibly after 2014) and will soon become a world unknown, shifted from stocksy, dreamstime, depositphotos, pixta! and other lowcost microstock banks.
Gencho Petkov
Currently ranking is following a number of number of the sales (downloads) and profitability for photographers:



Gencho Petkov
I’m profiling in this business since 2002 and the top ranking is not correct.
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Our top ranking is correct in our eyes. We reviewed the companies and we chosen who we think is the best. It’s ok if you disagree and we respect that. We believe these are the best and we stand by our rankings. Thank you for your understanding.
Gencho Petkov
Incorrect/Wrong information! Only in Shutterstock are 75 million and not 28 million/15.Dec.2015
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
My apologies for our numbers being off for Shutterstock. I have updated accordingly. On their website it says over 70 million, not 75 million. So I have put that in the table and article.
Gencho Petkov
I think that these 2500% is a huge mistake to be true and other statistics
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
I’m sorry, I’m not quite sure I understand what you are saying.
This table seems to be an older version. The columns referenced are not visible.
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
For the table you must scroll to the right for the columns to appear. The table was so large that we had to put it this way on the page. Sorry for the confusion. Let me know if you need any further help!
What about the number of audience/viewers allowed? What about geographical limitations? There are many hidden clauses that you don’t address. What about sharing the stock within the various media departments of a corporate?
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Those are all very good suggestions. It’s difficult to cover every single aspect of stock photography companies and what they offer. This article gives our readers a starting point on where to look since what is included in this article are some of the main features and key points for the companies.
Which of the sites pays the highest royalties to contributors?
very outdated information
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Hi sooshi! Do you have any specific information that you found to be inaccurate? We strive to keep our information as up to date as possible and rely a lot on our readers feedback.
Alex Schenker (Admin)
Download any image from BigStockPhoto (or mail in a postcard) for a chance to win a 34GB iPad 3. This offer is good for We Rock Your Web visitors through 5/1/12.

Alex Schenker (Admin)
Get 20% off Mother’s Day images at Depositphotos by clicking here and selecting an image from their Mother’s Day selection.

Alex Schenker (Admin)
Click here for 10% off all image packs on Just type in the promotional code FMFPC46N during checkout before this discount expires on May 31, 2012.

Alex Schenker (Admin)
Getty Images Coupon Codes:

If you are a current Getty customer, you can save 8% by clicking here and entering discount code FCNPC46N during checkout. Discount is good for all images and footage but it expires June 30, 2012.
New customers save 12% when you click here and enter coupon code TJ8PC46N. This code runs out June 30th as well.

Thinkstock Coupon Code:

Think Stock image packs are 10% off for all customers when you click here and enter the promo code CRWPC46N at checkout. This deal expires on May 31, 2012.

Alex Schenker (Admin)
Deposit Photos is discounting its collection of Easter images a whopping 20% off, through Easter. Click here to view the collection.

Alex Schenker (Admin)
Big Stock Photo is having an April Fools weekend promo sale. Purchase 25 credits and get 10 free (for a 40% discount).
Alex Schenker (Admin) Promo Code : 20% Off

Save 20% off your first image pack from by clicking here and using this coupon code: CT4PC46N. This is a limited time offer for our readers. Enjoy!

Alex Schenker (Admin)
123RF 15% Off Promo Code

For a limited time, our members are able to get 15% Off 123RF stock photography by clicking here and using 123RF promo code.

Nicole Cyrus
Stock photos are now widely used for a variety of functions like web designing, blogs or wall prints. There is vast source of these photos available in internet but choosing the quality photos can benefit you in real terms. This article provides a nice comparison among the top sites that provide stock images. People who are confused and are unable to decide the proper source can refer to this comparison table and get their doubts cleared.

Please take a close look at the section for how many downloads you get per day with subscriptions. For instance, Shutterstock allows 25 downloads per day – so a full 25 photos or files and iStock allows 20 credits per day, which might only equal 2 photos/files downloads per day. On the surface, iStock might seem like a better deal for an annual subscription, but when you dig deeper into what the ###/day numbers mean, it’s tough to do a side-by-side comparison. Shutterstock and iStock are just two that I am familiar with – I haven’t done any further research into the other services to find out what the download rates really mean.

Nikole Wood
Maybe you could include Dreamstime in this comparison… I love them…

+1 although “love” might be too strong a term

triz mueni
If they put food on your table, you would too.
Wow!! So much to think about in stock photo buying but your comparison table helped very much. So many details to consider… I think I will go with Big Stock – they seem like the best price for sure!

a web rocker
Guys, great table, but how about giving us some pricing? The only three things I’m really interested in are size and quality of image collection, lowest price per image, and least expensive subscription (where you pay monthly and get a certain number of photo download credits per day) option. I would love to see these pricing options added to this table!

Alex Schenker (Admin)
Great request – in fact, we just added pricing to the table this week! So, based on your needs outlined above, this table should be very useful to you now as it contains all of the information you requested above. Thanks!

a web rocker
Great stock photography comparison table, but the last couple columns don’t appear to fit in the layout. Any chance you guys will fix this, maybe by creating two tables?

Alex Schenker (Admin)
Yes, we actually are in process of updating the table to two tables that stack on top of one another. Thanks for the recommendation and look out for the more user-friendly table later today. Thanks!