Best image bank: the comparison for 2021

14 Min Read
best image bank

Taking pictures like a professional is a real job. Unfortunately, website builders don’t necessarily have the financial resources to do this. The image bank is the perfect solution since it allows you to recover quality photos and videos that are free of rights, legally. Below, our comparison to access the best image bank in 2021.

Legality with an image bank

If image banks are so successful, it is because using (fraudulently) an image that is not royalty-free can be very expensive. Photographers no longer hesitate to hire lawyers to obtain compensation for illegal use of content. After all, it’s legitimate to pay a photographer for the work they’ve done and the time they’ve spent producing it.

It is, therefore, necessary to ensure that all images, photos, and videos used on a website (or other media) have had the approval of the owner of the content so that it can be replicated. For an image used without permission, the fine can go up to several thousand euros – which should deter you. Be careful to protect yourself well, the bill can therefore be very steep. A solution in our best image bank comparison makes it possible to reduce this risk as much as possible with ease, at a very reasonable cost.

Now there are several great and best image banks available on the internet. Shutterstock, Adobe Stock (ex Fotolia), Getty Images, Dreamstime and 123RF are all recognized players around the world in this category. They share a large part of the market, ahead of less recognized and smaller players.

We have therefore established this image bank comparison to help you find the one that best meets your expectations. Below, you will find the details of each of these platforms to identify the best image bank according to your specific use. The platforms we have mentioned are a good compromise between free (limited) image banks and images from premium sources like AFP or Reuters.

best image bank

Comparison: the best image bank in 2021

The best image banks in review

Below, you will see the detail of the major platforms that are available on the French market, with the most attractive offers. They each have their specificities (in particular on the diversity of images, videos, and other content), with however a core that is common to them. You will see in this comparative image bank information on the history of each. We detail the important information as well as their various current offers.

The 5 best image banks in 2021:

  • Adobe Stock
  • Shutterstock
  • iStock by Getty Images
  • Dreamstime
  • 123RF

Below, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to help you understand the pros and cons of each of these image banks. This selection is updated over the months to give you a good overview of all the offers available on the web. They will allow you to have a maximum of content on all types of themes. This concerns images, photos, videos, or other music. The formats are displayed explicitly on each of the platforms.

1) Adobe Stock (ex-Fotolia)

Fotolia is a company that was founded in 2004. Ten years after its creation, the site was bought by Adobe, which integrated it into its Creative Cloud suite and then renamed it, Adobe Stock. It is still accessible to the general public and offers no less than 125 million different content: images, vectors, videos. To use our comparison guide to the best image banks, Adobe Stock does not offer music as it does at Shutterstock – but the value for money is very favorable and advantageous.

According to information provided by Adobe Stock, more than 7 million people use the service every day to enjoy royalty-free images. The platform is also proud to be the bank where “contributing artists receive the highest commissions on the market, which is why the world’s best artists, photographers, and image creators distribute their works on Fotolia” (now the image bank Stock).

For those who are familiar with the artistic environment of the Adobe group (Photoshop, Lightroom, Premiere, After Effects), this is an even more obvious choice. From a UX point of view, this image bank is the best of our comparison. It is an excellent tool that seriously stands out among the best tools on the market.

2) Shutterstock

At the top of our comparison of image banks, not far behind Adobe Stock, we find the famous Shutterstock. It is a company that was founded in the early 2000s and is now listed on the Stock Exchange. Today it is the largest online image bank in the world with more than 314 million items of content on the site.

While it was originally based only on a monthly subscription system, it has now been possible for a few years to purchase content individually. At the moment, an offer allows you to have 10 free images with a promo code. Every week, 1.3 million new content is added to this image bank.

Every day, more than 200,000 new images join a large library of 180 million images. Added to this are 12 million videos (including 2 million in 4K) as well as hundreds of thousands of music. You can see our Shutterstock review to find out more about this great platform, which is one of our market favorites.

Out of its 1.8 million customers that it lists around the world, the Shutterstock image bank is proud to have international companies as well as advertising agencies, websites, and bloggers. With a price list adapted to all needs, the Shutterstock platform is one of the best image banks on the internet.

We will also appreciate the customer support (available in French) which is particularly available in case of request. We have been using it for several years, and we have never been disappointed with its offer. It is one of our favorite platforms in our comparison of image banks. Along with Adobe Stock, Shutterstock is our second favorite tool.

3) iStock by Getty Images

iStock by Getty Images is a much more premium image bank than the other three, which also has an impact on the price of products. This can be useful for large companies or even for magazines looking to have even more upscale images, including many celebrity photos. More classic images are also available.

As you can see, iStock by Getty Images is slightly different from the other image banks in this comparison. However, the base offering is very similar, and iStock competes widely with its competitors. However, it is a niche market and it is struggling to compete with the ogre’s Adobe Stock or Shutterstock.

4) Dreamstime

Dreamstime is from the same generation as Shutterstock. Founded in 2000, Dreamstime is an image bank that has more than 89 million photos and a database of 472,000 photographers to regularly feed the database with new content. On average, 3.5 million photos are added each month. In total, Dreamstime is proud to have 23 million users (free and paid).

In terms of pricing policy, Dreamstime is quite close to the competitors we mentioned above: the customer can buy a pack of images from time to time or a monthly plan. Note that the Dreamstime platform works with a system of credits that can be spent (depending on the content and its format, the number of credits for a product changes).

Dreamstime also offers an interesting video database. Customers can also purchase a monthly video subscription which can be very convenient in some cases. The price for this best image bank is significantly lower than with the competition, and that can make it a good compromise. The quality and quantity of data are however less complete than a Shutterstock or Adobe Stock.

5) 123RF

123RF is an image bank that offers the general public no less than 104 million different content. As you can see in our comparison of the best image bank, 123RF offers images, visuals, videos as well as music. In total, it can be proud of having a community of 300,000 content producers, and 12 million customers to its credit.

As you can see in this comparison of image banks: whether Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, Getty Images, or 123RF, all rights offer subscriptions for a limited number of images (with credits) or a monthly fee. However, it is the monthly subscription that is more useful than purchasing a one-time image pack.

Read more: How to create a website? AZ Guide

What is the image bank?

How is all the content produced?

As its name suggests, an image bank is a resource that aggregates a large number of images that are free of copyright. This includes photos, visuals, illustrations, icons, or even videos and music in some cases. The comparison of the best image banks, therefore, aims to compare these different offers.

This content is produced by professionals and artists who are then paid for each download of their products by the image banks. The principle is the same as a Deezer which invoices a subscription to listeners, and which pays part of the commission to the artists who created the photo or video content. In the end, it is quite legitimate and normal to donate a sum against a work done.

Let’s continue this comparison of the best image bank with the prices.

Free or paid: what is the best solution?

While there are free (and very limited) image banks, others are chargeable. Free image banks are generally very limited in terms of content, and it will quickly be necessary to migrate to a paid image bank to have different and more premium visuals. Also, opting for a better-paid image bank means recognizing the work of photographers and other content producers. That’s the lesser of it.

You usually have to take out either a monthly subscription or a fixed amount that will allow you to download a limited number of images over a given period of time. With these 2 versions, the customer will then have access to the best image bank and will be able to choose the images that he likes the most. This is a good way to have unique (or almost) very good-quality images.

Generally, the best image banks also offer several models of use, depending on whether it is for reproduction in large numbers (such as in magazines or on posters) or limited online use. In all cases, it is strictly forbidden to resell the image directly, without having taken this option. Depending on the formula you want, the price of an image generally oscillates between € 0.3 and € 20 per unit.


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Posted by Rebecca
Rebecca is an Independent content writer for breldigital, She writes content on any given topic. She loves to write a case study article or reviews on a brand, Be it any topic, she nails it
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