Microstock in Technicolor – A comparison of image prices and sizing

© Photographer: Gibsonff | Agency: Dreamstime.com

New Pricing

Since the new year Fotolia, iStock and Dreamstime all have updated their pricing. I did a review of the iStock update here.  Getting your head around the various image sizes each site is offering as well as what they are charging for the credit packages they sell and lastly the variety of price levels the images can have – is confusing to say the least.

The Table

To try make sense of some of the information and see how the agencies compare, I have put the information for the top 6 microstock sites in a table.

The table shows what each site is currently selling images for at their cheapest and most expensive offering. To calculate the most expensive price I took the cost of the most expensive credit sold and calculated what the cost of the most expensive type of image would be. On iStock for example this would mean buying a package of 12 credits then buying an exclusive image, for Dreamstime it would be a level 5 image etc. The cheapest image was calculated from using the most expensive credit package purchase (giving the cheapest price per credit) and buying the cheapest type of image.

The ‘high end’ collections, such as iStock Vetta, 123RF Evo etc., that some of the sites offer, have not been included in the table.

The table is color coded to hopefully help give a clearer picture of how things compare. Each image size has a color, if there is no pricing for a given image size for a site – the higher price (color) is used because that is what the buyer would need to buy if they needed that size. For example, if I needed a 3mp image and I were buying it from iStock, you can see that the 3mp cell for iStock is colored the same as it is for the 5mp image which means you would have to pay $9.50-$22.80.

Dreamstime iStock Fotolia Shutterstock 123RF StockXpert
.12 mp $0.95-$3.04 $0.80-$10.00 $0.68-$1.00 $0.80-$1.00
.16 mp $0.77-$12.60
.44 mp $2.31-$15.40
.5 mp $2.85-$7.60 $2.40-$30.00 $1.36-$2.00 $1.60-$2.00
1 mp $3.82-$4.08
2 mp $5.70-$15.20 $4.00-$50.00 $3.95-$9.80 $2.40-$3.00
3 mp $3.08-$19.60
4 mp $5.60-$70.00 $2.04-$3.00 $4.00-$5.00
5 mp $3.85-$21.00 $9.50-$22.80
8 mp $4.62-$22.40 $6.40-$80.00 $8.00-$10.00
10 mp $2.72-$4.00
12 mp $5.39-$23.80 $14.25-$30.40
13 mp $3.40-$5.00
15 mp $8.00-$100.00
16 mp $19.00-$38.00
20 mp $8.80-$10.00
21 mp $23.75-$45.60


So what does the table show us? Excluding Shutterstock for a second, it is interesting to see that the three most popular sites offer the widest range of prices.  It appears to be working for them.  Certain buyers are willing to part with “big” money in order to purchase desirable files, while the agencies still provide cheaper priced images for to those buyers who want them.

Shutterstock is primarily a subscription site, so it is almost unfair to include them in this table, but they do offer credit purchases and at surprisingly cheap prices.  Shutterstock, 123RF and StockXpert haven’t updated their prices for 2010 yet, so lets hope they have something good in store for photographers.

[Discuss on Microstockgroup]

About The Author:

Tyler Olson works as a microstock photographer who also runs the MicrostockGroup forum and blog. Being so closely involved in the microstock community as a submitter, forum moderator and blogger, Tyler is able to keep updated in the constantly changing microstock marketplace.
Posted on January 15th, 2010 in Editorial | tags: , , , , , , , , , ,