iStock Review (2023): Worth it or Not?

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In this review, we test out iStock by looking at stock media quality, pricing, and website features.

iStock is a popular stock media site with one of the largest collections of high-quality images, videos, vectors, and music. Although it might be one of the more expensive stock photo sites out there you get what you pay for. So if you want the best of the best, then iStock is definitely the place to look.

Review Summary
Photos148 million
Videos12.9 million
Sound Effects90,000
Illustrations28 million
Free TrialYes (10 images)
AlternativesArtgrid & Shutterstock
iStock logo

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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Get 20% off credit and subscriptions with our iStock discount code. Create your best work, with the best royalty-free content you can find. 🙌

What is iStock?

iStock is a stock photo and video library owned and operated by Getty Images. If you’re new to the concept of stock photography, it’s basically a collection of photos or videos that can be purchased for use in creative projects like:

  • Film & TV
  • Websites
  • Books
  • Magazines

As you can see from this list, there are lots of different types of businesses that use stock photography. The great thing about iStock is that it offers the highest quality photos and videos of any service we’ve found online. Its customers include big brands like Apple and Google.

So, if you’re looking for something for a project you’re working on then iStock is worth checking out!

Who is iStock for?

Pretty much anyone. From filmmakers and photographers to animators and designers.

iStock is a great resource for anyone who needs stunning images or videos to help their project, whether it be in an ad, on a blog post, or website. If you’re trying to sell a product or connect with your audience, then iStock has got you covered.

However, iStock isn’t only for customers. It’s also great for people who want to get their work out there and make money from it. Whether you’re a professional photographer or just someone who’s really good at taking photos, iStock has a plan that can help you take your work to a whole new audience and grow your business.

How Does it Work?

iStock signup page screenshot
Signup Page – iStock Review

The iStock website is designed with both companies and freelancers in mind. Browse through hundreds of categories to find the perfect image or video that matches your needs.

Once you’ve found what you’re looking for, you can buy it with a credit card, iStock Credits, or PayPal directly on the site and then download it in high-resolution (up to 4K). The signup process is quick and easy.

  1. Go to the iStock homepage
  2. Click “Register” in the top right-hand corner
  3. Add your email address and password, then click “Register Now” to create your account.
  4. Confirm your email address by clicking on the link sent
  5. In the account section, click on “billing and subscriptions” you can then select a subscription or purchase one-time credits.
  6. Search the website for photos you want to use and then download them.
  7. That’s it!

iStock Features

iStock has a ton of great features for filmmakers, photographers, and designers. Of course, the best feature for customers is that they can download high-quality photos, videos, and icons for use in their personal or business projects. However, there are many other features of iStock that you won’t find with other stock photo sites.

Below are some of our favorite features of iStock.

Huge Selection

Search page screenshot
Search Page – iStock Review

iStock has the largest selection of stock photos and videos online. With over 80 million media assets to choose from, the site has plenty of options for everyone.

High-Quality Stock

Another benefit of using iStock is that the stock photos and videos on the site are unique and high-quality. You won’t find these photos on other websites and blogs.

Images are available in full res at 300 DPI and videos can be downloaded in UHD 4K or higher.

Finding the perfect photo for your project can be difficult, but iStock makes it easy. By using the advanced media search tool (left-hand side), you can add filters and sort through millions of photos quickly so that you can find the perfect one for your needs.

For photos, you can choose from license type, orientation, image size, number of people, and main color. With video, you can choose from various filters like duration, resolution, number of people, and ethnicity.


Organization just got easier. Link your Dropbox account on iStock to access, share and collaborate with your content across all your devices. Enjoy a swift, seamless workflow that lets you spend less time managing your content and more time creating outstanding work.

Adobe CC Plugin

Find the perfect iStock image faster without ever leaving Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. Use their industry-leading search and organizational tools to download previews of any iStock image. Ready to go from comp to final? Simply download your image with your credits or subscription.

iStock Pricing

iStock pricing
Pricing – iStock Review

iStock isn’t cheap; in fact, it’s the most expensive stock photo platform in the world, with Shutterstock being a close second. That said, it’s expensive for a reason, it offers some of the highest-quality images, videos, and illustrations for sale online.

iStock offers a number of different payment plans and pricing options. Let’s quickly go over them here so you can get an idea of what you’ll be paying if you decide to commit.

iStock Subscriptions

iStock subscriptions are the best value option on the site. They offer a number of different subscriptions based on what you need.

Basic Subscription

This package allows you to download a set number of photos per month from the Essentials collection. This subscription includes only photos, so no vectors or video files. The prices are as follows.

10 photos$29/month$40/month
25 photos$49/month$65/month
50 photos$90/month$99/month
100 photos$166/month$199/month
Basic subscription pricing comparison – iStock Review

Premium Subscription

This package is a step up from the basic package and allows users to download Signature collection photos, as well as Essential collection photos. Again, you can only download photos with this package. The prices are as follows.

10 photos$70/month$99/month
25 photos$120/month$149/month
50 photos$199/month$229/month
100 photos$333/month$399/month
Premium subscription pricing comparison – iStock Review

Premium + Video Subscription

This is the top-tier package on iStockPhoto; it allows users to download any asset they want, including photos from any collection as well as UHD video files, vectors, and icon sets. The prices are as follows.

10 files$99/month$149/month
25 files$165/month$229/month
50 files$265/month$349/month
Premium + Video subscription pricing comparison – iStock Review


iStock also allows users to download photo and video assets using one-time credits. Credits are available in a variety of different packages and pricing bundles which are detailed in the list below.

1 credit$12
3 credits$33
6 credits$60
12 credits$115
18 credits$170
24 credits$220
36 credits$325
60 credits$520
150 credits$1250
300 credits$2400
Credit packs pricing comparison – iStock Review

It requires one credit to download an Essential collection photo, three credits to download a Signature collection photo, and six credits to download vectors and video files.

So, as you can see, the service isn’t cheap, but it is a great value when you consider that you are getting the very best quality photos and video files available for sale online.

Is iStock Worth it or Not?

✔ Huge library of images, videos, and music✘ Expensive
✔ Flexible pricing options✘ No unlimited downloads
✔ Simple licensing
✔ Unused downloads roll over into next month
✔ Integrations with Adobe CC and Dropbox

In short, yes! All things considered, iStock is absolutely worth it for freelancers who want their projects to be of the highest possible quality.

Although the photos and videos on the site aren’t cheap, they are the best around, and using high-quality assets will make a huge difference in terms of how your customers view your work. If you want the best of the best, then iStock certainly delivers, and we fully recommend them. 👍

iStock FAQ

Does iStock have a free trial?

Yes. The iStock free trial gives you a month of the Basic plan which includes 10 free stock image downloads from the Essentials collection.

Is iStock safe?

Yes, it’s completely safe. All communication, data, and payments are encrypted.

Is iStock royalty-free?

Yes. iStock’s license agreements are all royalty-free. Both the standard and the extended licenses are available. Once you pay and download an image or video from iStock you won’t have to pay any extra royalties.

Should I get credits or a subscription?

If you have a one-off project then credits are a good option. If you download more than 4 images (photos, illustrations, and vectors) or two videos in a month then you’ll get the best value with an iStock subscription.

How long are my credits valid?

Credits never expire as long as you sign into your account at least once a year.

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About your guide
Bob is our content editor at the Video Collective. He's a videographer and a real tech geek with over 13 years of experience in video production. Loves coffee but hates Marmite.