in Photography

Useful list: The 10 Best Microstock Agencies On The Market

A good image is priceless. If you’re working in design, or keeping an online blog, you understand the significance of having a source of fine vectors, illustrations, or photos within your reach. The following selection presents only the most promising stock image agencies, in terms of quality and convenience.



The leading figure in my top 10 stock image agencies has to be Fotolia. Not only do they possess an unbelievably large collection (24 million royalty-free images), but there are 4 million people who trust Fotolia to provide them with awesome images for their projects. These are big numbers, and this is one heavy agency.

It’s enough to scroll through their stuff for only a few seconds to realize that they’ve got so many quality vectors and photos on display. And no one has to register to be able to do that. Even if you’re not a member, you may want to be vigilant, because Fotolia offers comps for planning projects to use in a design, together with images, and it’s completely free.

Here’s what I know about their credits and subscriptions. The formers render users eligible to download files from the astute Infinite Collection, and acquire Extended Royalty-Free Licenses. The price of one credit is as low as $0.74. However, Fotolia also knows that sometimes you have no choice but work with a small budget, so they created the Low Cost Collection for just that kind of situations. It has 12 million images in multiple sizes, priced between 1 and 6 credits (depending on size).

If you go with subscription, it is first required to choose from Individual and Multiple Membership, whichever is the right thing. If you work within a team, you may be inclined to go with the latter. Next, you need to choose between Daily and Monthly subscriptions. A Daily subscription would provide 25 to 250 images per day at $0.19 each.

On the other hand, a Monthly commitment goes from 5 to 5000 and no daily limit. Besides, any unused downloads don’t just disappear, but Rollover to the next month. Fotolia’s current offer is focused on monthly subscriptions, to the extent that the second month is free if a subscription plan of 5 images and $25-a-month is activated. Investigate the link in this subheading to reach the offer.



To say that iStock is famous would be an understatement. It was the original web source for stock images, after all. The agency first started out in 2000, so it now has 13 of experience in providing professionals with quality royalty-free images. Presently, the company takes pride in its 6 million photos, illustrations, vectors, Flash media, audio and video files, shared on an entirely exclusive basis.

If you go to iStock with a specific quarry, you’ll find that their search process is conditioned by tons of filters, which inevitably make sure that what you seek is what you get. When you’re passing by, I advise that you shoot a glimpse at iStock’s section comprised of Editor’s Picks, since it harbors a few excellent recommendations from their experts. Another section you should get in touch with is the Lightbox, because that’s the place where you’ll find one free download every week.

Right now, iStock’s homepage presents an enticing offer where a part of their exclusive files are made available at half of their price. And if you want to start buying from iStock, you need to get credits, or take a subscription. I’d like to focus on the credits path. From 15 to 30.000, credits can be acquired with discounts that increase for as much as 25%. Moreover, investigate the link from the subheading above in order to tap into 14% savings on any credit-based purchase by typing in the code ISTOCK14 at checkout.



123RF is without question, one of the top three stock image providers in the market. A sizable amount of 35.000 new submissions are evaluated and integrated in their huge collection on a daily basis. So far, 22 million stock files have piled up in the vaults. Some of them have been added through 12RF On-The-Go, which is the company-based mobile application for contributors who are constantly on the move. Interestingly, you can’t tell the difference between those uploaded by mobile and the regular sort: both kinds look equally crisp.

Once you’ve become a user, 123RF grants you access to a rich section of 30.000 photos, graphic files, digital and audio files, which can be taken at will, and at no charge. So, there’s a fair amount of freebies available. Apart from this sign of good will, the company also keeps a 100% money-back guarantee for clients who have a change of mind after they purchased something. Thus, there is a window of 72 hours to revert your transaction and 123RF automatically pays you back.

When it comes to buying, there are two ways to go about it: paying with credits, or going with a subscription. With the first option, there are no limits to the maximum number of downloads in one day, you can go as far as you need to. On the flipside, the Basic and Premium subscriptions demand more commitment; but the longer you sign for, the more rewarding it is, because the number of downloads per day increases, and so do the discounts per image.



Depositphotos is proud to host 17 million stock vectors, photos, and videos. If you should go and see what they have in store, I strongly recommend that you consult the part where they keep their vectors, because you’ll see 4.600 flawless works of art – and some of them are given off for free every week or so. What is more, be sure to take advantage of the Depositphotos Discount Lightboxes, which encompass a large number of season-relevant images at a lower price than usual. For example, if you investigate the Discount Lighboxes now, you’ll find that the Harvest Time collection harbors 134 images at a discount of 20%.



Cutcaster is such a great stock image agency. Their exclusive content is categorized into marvelous collections according to topic. The most notable of these is the Crescendo Collection, which has 920 images on display, and the picture collections are quite a sight for sore eyes. Cutcaster does not require signing up before making it possible to buy from them. Unregistered customers can pay as they go via credits. And if they do create an account, either of four credit plans (bronze, silver, gold, or customizable beginning from 100 credits) can be signed, with discounts that reach the value of 49%.



Stockfresh found its way into my mix of elite stock image providers. The company commands a total of over 2 and a half million images, and out of these, the 300.000 vectors really stand out. As you navigate through their categories, you can’t fail to notice that the user interface is smooth and easy. A Stockfresh search will always be fast and precise, and it will save you a lot of time. Finally, I’d like to point out some information concerning the agency’s credit and subscription characteristics: a subscribed month comes with the price of $99, whereas one credit is translated from $4.99, and 5 to 500 of them can be equipped at any given time.



Bigstock is a more than welcome addition to this list of favorites. The company’s best asset right now is the 7-day Free Trial, whereby anyone can have a weeklong experience and size up the benefits of investing in a professional relationship with Bigstock. Out of the immensity of 14 million stock files, 5 downloads are permitted in each day, and re-downloads are not subject to question or cost. Naturally, the trial can be cancelled at any point. After that, going the way of credits can entail a discount of up to 27%, and a subscription for a whole year with 5 images per day attaches as little as $0.35 to each.



Dreamstime is an indispensable presence in my top 10 microstock agencies. The company yields around 18 and a half million royalty-free stock images, and thousands more are added day by day. Experience is a big part of Dreamstime’s appeal, seeing as they first started out in 2000. Any inquirer who goes on their pricings page will notice that everything is transformed into the local currency, so the credits’ and subscriptions’ affordability does not go unnoticed. I would like to draw attention to the fact that designers are privy to a unique feature: the section of freebies from Dreamstime. A multitude of photos, illustrations and web design graphics reside in that category, for any designer to use.



PhotoSpin is certainly one of my favorite stock image companies. The agency’s two principal collections are Premier and Expanded, and they altogether encase 3 million gorgeous illustrations and photos. The Premier Collection has 600.000 files, and it can be accessed by deciding on a Plus or a Super Plus plan: according to the size of all images that are to be acquired. The Expanded Collection dominates the remainder of PhotoSpin’s content, namely 2.4 million files. Using files from this source is conditioned by creating a plan based on 4 categories, 4 time periods, and 16 subscription plans.



I couldn’t conclude my list of awesome stock image providers without alluding to Getty Images’ Thinkstock. To my mind, the agency is a central meeting place for more than 40 providers, such as iStock and Jupiterimages. Whenever you take an image from Thinkstock, it doesn’t matter which size you have in mind, its price stays the same. Aside from that, the 1-year Pro subscription comes with a $750 Visa Reward Card if it’s activated by the end of September. Another perk of signing for a Pro annual subscription is the 20%-worth of savings if you type in the code R4HPC46N when purchasing it. In addition, monthly subscriptions are eligible for a 60% discount with the code GTDPC46N.


Bogdan is the founder of Top Design Magazine. You can find him in Bucharest-Romania so next time you want to drink a beer there and talk about web and stuff, give him a message.