Search and Compare Major Microstock Sites

Posted on 4/29/2014 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Buyers looking for microstock images want to know which of the many available sources offers the best licensing models, terms and price. Now with the beta version of customers can simultaneously check the offerings of 9 or the most popular microstock sites and see who offers the best deal. This search tool is free to use.

So far PressFoto, the Russian stock agency that operates this site, has over 30 million images indexed. They expect the collection to reach about 60 million when the initial indexing is complete. When customers click on any image in the collection they are taken to a large preview and a list of all the agencies that represent that particular image along with the price each agency charges depending on the file size needed. Customers can then click on the agency of their choice and be linked immediately to that site for purchase.

The nine microstock vendors with images on the site currently include: iStock, Shutterstock, Fotolia, Dreamstime, 123RF, PressFoto, Depositphotos, CanStockPhoto, and Photodune. PressFoto plans to add 3-4 new agencies per month, but that will require additional server resources. They are currently indexing between 8,000 to 10,000 images per hour, but next month they expect to significantly increase the speed of the image crawl.

 “While most microstock companies like to talk about their exclusive content, the reality is that the majority of the stock images being sold today are available on several different sites,” said Dmitry Shironosov, CEO of PressFoto. “We created as a service to buyers looking to save time and money when buying what has essentially become a commodity. We also believe that, once a prospective buyer sees how PressFoto stacks up against some of the better-known microstock companies a lot of these buyers will soon become new customers.”


With such a large number of images on virtually any subject is customers are usually presented with too many choices. One of the challenges is to help customers narrow their search in logical ways. Currently, there is no way to search for just illustrations or just photos, but they expect to be implementing that filter soon. It is possible to narrow the search to just horizontal or vertical; select only images with certain dominant colors and to locate images with blank areas for copy.

The color filter is interesting. There are 9 different colors to choose from, but the user can choose more than one of them -- red and blue for example -- and further narrow the search. When it comes to choosing an image with available copy space there is a lightbulb to click on. Once you have opened that tool there is a box segmented into 9 areas. Click on one or more of these area and you will be shown only images that have free space in those areas. It is also possible to search for only images from specific photographers.

They have some work to do in building a “Best Match” ranking algorithm because they don’t have access to information from the other sites as to the number of times each image has been viewed, clicked on or purchased. Shironosov said, “We are using our own ranking algorithm that our search department constantly improves. Our main goal is to make it work as similar as ‘best match’ as possible.”

The prices listed for a single image can be deceptive because price depends on the size of the image or credit pack the customer purchases. Prices also vary from country to country. PressFoto also lists the “minimum cost,” but in most cases that fee would enable the purchaser to download several images. Consequently, the prices found on each agency’s website aren’t always the same as those found on  Shironosov says they are making “a lot of improvements on this every day.”

PressFoto is also working “to provide users with a better way for visual search in the near future.” When it comes to visual search I would like to see PressFoto make it possible for customers to find an image on any microstock site they normally use, save a copy of the preview image and go to to search for a match. This would be similar to image compare searches that are currently possible using Google, Bing or Tineye. The big differeance and the advantage PressFoto would offer over these other sites is that instead of searching for all uses on the Internet a search would only look for images in places where they can actually be licensed.

Copyright © 2014 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


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