iStock (previously known as iStockphoto) is one of the top stock imagery agencies in the microstock industry, famous for the high quality of its library and for being one of the few companies in the space offering exclusive content.
This makes them one of the most valuable sources to buy stock footage at affordable prices. But they are also very reliable. As if their over 15 years in the market was not enough, there's another point to make them trustworthy: they are backed by the renowned Getty Images, the parent company operating iStock. No wonder it is one of the top in our list of the Best Stock Footage Websites ever. We have also written a more deep review on iStock Video here.
Heads up! Don't miss iStock's Cyber Week 2019 deal: 20% off in credits for you to download amazing stock videos at a cut price! Stock yourself up, remember iStock credits never expire! The offer runs until December 6th 2019 only, so do hurry up!
LIMITED TIME OFFER: 15% Off in EVERYTHING for ALL Customers
That's right: all new and existing customers can buy their choice of subscriptions and credit packs at iStock with 15% discount! Buy an iStock credit pack and buy footage on demand – remember iStock Credits never expire, so you can invest now in credits at a cut-price, and reap the savings in the long run! This is a limited time offer, valid only until January 31, 2020. So make sure to use it now.
What You Need to Know About iStock Stock Footage Offer
Long story short, here's what's relevant in this company's stock video service:
- Millions of footage clips covering varied themes and styles to fit in any project
- Essentials collection of low-price shots
- Signature collection of higher quality, exclusive videos
- Variety in image resolution. Majority of HD clips including 4K. SD videos are also available.
- Royalty Free license granting multiple and perpetual usage rights for a one-time fee
- Clips priced according to collection (Essentials or Signature) and not by image resolution
- Essentials clips cost 6 credits ($60, or less with larger credit packs)
- Signature clips cost 18 credits ($165, or less with larger credit packs)
- A la carte buying, using company credits
- Credits never expire
- Individual credit price starts at $12
- Credit packs offering discounts from regular credit price, taking it as low as $4 each
- Payment options: credit card or Paypal
- High quality and highly searchable library, with keyword search engine and advanced filters.
- Library organized in categories, topics, collections and more.
- Website displaying the most popular and best quality content, to help you discover and explore great footage.
- Backed by parent company Getty Images
Want to know the details? Keep reading!
iStock Footage: the Breakdown
The main highlight of iStock's offer is exclusive content. They are one of the few microstock agencies offering footage (and photos, and audio files) that is exclusively found at their website.
But they also have a very convenient pricing system and affordable prices, great flexibility in licensing terms, and a very easy-to-use clip search. And of course, they have the trust-stamp of being owned and operated by Getty Images.
Signature Footage: High Quality and Exclusive
Signature collection groups all the exclusive media, including stock video. While exclusive clips can still be licensed by many different customers at the same time, it's certainly less-widely used as it's only available in one place.
More than just that, iStock's curates its content and set very high standards for its exclusive files. This makes it a high-value offer that sets them aside from the rest.
While it's true that Signature footage shots are more expensive than the other, non-exclusive ones, the added value in the curation and controlled distribution makes up for the relatively higher cost.
Essentials Footage: Low Prices and Variety
All non-exclusive media is contained in the Essentials collection. But this doesn't mean that non-exclusive stock videos are not being curated. iStock set high quality standards for all the content in their library, and footage is not the exception.
Covering a wide range of subjects and styles, the millions of high quality and affordably priced Essential clips are a great resource to fulfill your stock footage needs.
An advantage in iStock's footage service is that, following the value concept detailed above, their pricing points are determined by collection (in other words, by the exclusive or non-exclusive status of the clips) and not by image resolution nor other video-specific parameters.
This means you can buy a 4K clip or a 720 HD video for the exact same price, and also that you will pay more for an exclusive SD clip than you would for a non-exclusive 4K shot.
It all depends of your specific needs regarding content, but compared to most of other stock footage providers who are pricing their videos according to image resolution, iStock's offer can be much more affordable.
For example, if you're looking for a 4K stock video, and non-exclusive is ok for you, then iStock is a much better choice than Shutterstock's 4K which costs $199 and is also non-exclusive. In fact, even if you want an exclusive 4K video, which Shutterstock and other companies cannot provide, you will be paying $165 at iStock, still lower or at the same price level than the others' 4K pricing.
Credit packs and single video price
iStock sells licenses to their footage a la carte only. And their on demand system works with company credits: they price their files in credits (6 for Essentials and 18 for Signature), and then you must buy credits to pay for the videos you want to download.
Individual credit price starts at $12, but they sell different sized credit packs, and the larger the pack is, the greater discount it applies to individual credit price. Like this, credits are $11 each with a 3-credit pack, but only $8 each with the largest, 300-credit pack.
For this reason, how much you'll pay for each video depends on what size of credit pack you're willing to buy (this is, how much are you willing to invest upfront). The minimum credit packs to buy Essentials and Signature clips take their price to $60 and $165 respectively, but it can get down to $24 and $144 (with the largest 300-credit pack).
Credits not only let you control exactly how much you spend, but they also let you manage your time frame in connection with your budget because iStock credits never expire. As long as you log in to your iStock account once a year after the purchase, your credits remain active and ready to be used. This eliminates time limitations and lets you plan your stock footage budget ahead.
Another plus is that credits can be used to buy either footage, photos, illustrations or audio files indistinctly. So with the same credit pack, you can buy all the complementary media to enhance your productions.
Image resolution and file formats
Most of the iStock footage is in High Definition, including 4K resolution. But they also have SD clips available. A clip's highest definition will always be the original resolution and format submitted by the clip creator, and lower quality options are made available by the company. They have web-sized clips, as well as HD (720), HD (1080), 4K (4096 x 2160) and 4K (3840 x 2160).
Their clips are in .mov and mp4 formats. Mov files are suitable for video editing and are the best choice for customers wanting to integrate stock footage into larger productions, or performing further editing to make it fit a certain vision. Mp4 format is more convenient for small, web-based uses.
In the case of SD content, they have them available in both NTSC and PAL formats.
Royalty Free: a flexible license covering most buyer's needs
All iStock footage clips are sold under a Royalty Free license. This licensing model grants you a wide range of usage rights, without any time limitations, for a one-time, flat fee.
When you buy a Royalty Free video at iStock, you pay for it once and you get to use it forever, in any of the uses accepted by the license terms.
There are few restrictions to usage with this license, mostly regarding a number of reproductions and distribution volume, resale purposes and sensitive use (referring to the use of content with models or private properties in negative connotation or morally questionable contexts usage).
To cover wider uses prohibited in standard Royalty Free license, iStock has Extended licenses available. However, they list each exceeding right as a separate Extended license, while most other agencies group of bonus uses in one license fee.
Each Extended license costs 18 credits (minimum $165) each.
Easy search and browsing functionality
Besides being divided into exclusive and non-exclusive content, iStock's library is arranged by media type and categories that respond to themes and styles as well as to trending topics, most popular or best selling.
On their website, you can browse by media type (Photos, Illustrations, Video or Audio), and explore the featured galleries and categories to discover great stock footage to use in your projects.
Or, you can use their search engine to search by keywords and find exactly what you have in mind. The system also lets you refine your search using multiple advanced filters. You can reduce your search's results to one collection (Essentials or Signature), sort them by best matching, newest or most popular, and refine them by image resolution, aspect ratio, and upload date.
One way or the other, iStock's library is highly searchable and rich enough as to ensure you will find what you're looking for.
The Getty Images' trustworthy effect
Although iStock is a stand-alone company, started independently and well-established as a leading microstock agency, for 10 years it is owned and managed by Getty Images.
Getty is one, if not the most, renowned stock imagery agency in the world, with decades in the stock imagery licensing business. Their high-profile is built through steady and sustained-in-time relationships with top-class providers and customers from the most relevant media companies. To learn more about them, read our Getty Images review.
Being under Getty Images umbrella makes iStock even more reliable as a stock footage service.
Benefits in iStock Footage Offer
If you've read this far, you might guess which are the highlights in iStock for stock footage buying. But here's what we think are the most remarkable advantages:
- Content variety: millions of clips to choose from, covering most topics and styles
- Exclusive content
- High quality and multiple image resolution options, at no higher cost
- Affordable and simple pricing: only two price points.
- Simple and flexible a la carte buying system enabling full control on expenses and discounts
- Wide-usage Royalty Free license
- Good and user-friendly search engine. Curated categories to explore the library
- Additional media types to complement footage (photos, sound, and more)
Drawbacks in iStock's Footage Service
To be honest there are no major downsides in iStock's service for stock footage. While for still images their on-demand prices (and subscriptions in the case of Signature content) are more expensive than other agencies, this is not the case in the video. As you learned before, their stock video price points are the same, and sometimes cheaper, than those of other popular stock footage providers.
There are of course some possible negative points, but you have to dig deeper to find them, and they are not really relevant compared to the benefits:
- There are no subscriptions for video. The only way to buy stock clips is a la carte
- Credits system make the buying process a little bit more complicated. Instead of just selecting clips and entering a paying option, you must select a credit pack, then pay for it, and then use your credits to pay for videos.
- Their Extended licenses are costly: having to buy a separate license for every extended right can make a video very expensive for certain high-visibility projects needing those legal coverages.
iStock: A Great Choice to Buy Exclusive, High Quality Stock Footage at Low Price
Given the considerable benefits in their service over the very little disadvantages, we feel iStock is a great option to buy stock footage, moreover if what you're looking for is exclusive and high-quality content.
As we said, exclusive footage is the core in iStock's offer, which makes them different from the rest. All those clips that nobody else sells add value to their service that other companies cannot beat.
And at the same time, exclusive stock footage can add significant value to your projects and productions. Using iStock exclusive clips means not so many other people out there will be using the same content, giving your project a greater sense of uniqueness, and the high quality in the production and quality of those clips can boost up your own. And isn't that what we all look for in our work?
The affordable pricing, simple licensing, user-friendly functionality and Getty Images' management adding greater reliability to an already established and popular company only add up to make iStock a great option to buy stock footage.
Exclusive iStock Promo Code
All new and existing customers can buy their choice of subscriptions and credit packs at iStock with a 15% discount! Buy an iStock credit pack and buy stock footage on demand – remember iStock Credits never expire, so you can invest now in credits at a cut-price, and reap the savings in the long run! This is a limited time offer, valid only until Saturday, January 31, 2020. So make sure to use it now.
Redeem our special iStock Coupon Code to save 15% in your stock videos!