Changing Pricing Structure

iStock is often credited as the birthplace of the microstock industry: widely-sourced, inexpensive images available for purchase and usually royalty-free. Well, the pioneering spirit continues at iStock as they change up the microstock landscape they helped found.

On September 13th, the pricing structure for iStock images will be streamlined. Each image will fit into one of two categories: The Essentials Collection of what iStock terms “everyday images,” or the premium content-filled Signature Collection. The best part, though? Pricing is based on which collection the images are part of, meaning all files sizes within a collection are the same price. The Essentials Collection content will be priced at 1 credit, whether you need a small web-ready photo, a high-res poster image, or even a vector image. The Signature Collection images will set you back 3 credits for any size image or vector.

For those with existing iStock credits, not to worry, those credits will be converted. Judging by the explanation graphic on the iStock website, the credits will be converted using a system of ratios, physics, alchemy, and Timelord technology, which I’m sure is totally equitable. For files you download after the pricing transition, you can re-download any other file size at any time—which great for those of us that are quite certain and quite wrong we will only ever need the small image. Adding an extended license to an image or video clip will cost 18 or 21 credits, respectively.

Do you buy microstock images? What are your thoughts on the new pricing structure? Let me know in the comments.

Posted on: September 5, 2014

Erica Gamet

Erica Gamet has been involved in the graphics industry for over 25 years. She is a speaker, writer, and trainer, focusing on Adobe InDesign and Illustrator, Apple Keynote and iBooks Author, and other print- and production-related topics. She is a regular contributor to InDesign Magazine, tech edited How To Do Everything with Adobe InDesign CS4, and served as leader of the Denver InDesign User Group. After living as a nomad for almost a year, she recently put down roots in El Paso, Texas, where she hikes and bikes every chance she gets. Check out to see all of Erica's upcoming events, tips and tricks, and workbooks.

9 Comments on Changing Pricing Structure

  1. When one compares the small image current cost of 2 credits — Essentials collection — to the NEW pricing model they’ll discover they are paying more than twice as much for the new image — 150%. A 2 credit small image will now be charged 5 credits. It will “appear” as 1 credit. When one compares the small image price of the Signature collection they’ll find that now they’re paying 7 credits, as of Sept 13 we’ll be paying 15 credits — the 15 credits will appear as if they are just 3 due to the reverse split — this is roughly a 115% increase. Two days ago I contacted iStock to request details on the pricing for videos — I have not heard back.

  2. UPDATE — The iStock has updated their page on this since I looked at it yesterday. Now, there is only one price per image in a collection — Now it’s an excellent deal.

  3. I stock has totally lost its mind with the new pricing structure. I have been a loyal customer for years, and this would roughly triple my cost with them. This whole change up was an absolute train wreck, and possibly illegal. I am moving onto shutter stock.

  4. I had several videos selected and ready to purchase for a new song I’ve recorded. I went to make the credit purchase only to learn iStocks new improved pricing plan was going to cost me nearly 4 times as much as the day before. IStock must have taken a page from the Obamacare playbook. I’m outta here… or there as the case may be. 

  5. I will probably be moving on to another stock company as the new pricing structure is very high. If I were to jack my prices like this to my customers I would probably loose most of them. Good luck Istock.

  6. Last year I purchased 150 credits for $230.99 and now for the same they are charging over $1k?!  That’s crazy with all the other choices out there.  I just called and they are “unavailable” and basically force you to submit an online customer service request.  Good luck to them.

  7. This increase is an insult to the microstock concept itself. Desparately looking for our options to move away from iStock permanently. We don’t use full size HD videos, so we went from paying $37 for appropriate sized videos to $126 for 1080p HD videos we downsize for our apps. Someone should be ashamed of themselves. This will be the end of iStock, it’s just a matter of time. My loyalty (from the very beginning of iStock) is gone.

  8. I am leaving, iStock. Freelance web designer like me, just need some small pictures for the sake of having some colors on the site. I don’t need super big images and I am not willing to pay that much. Bye!

  9. What a joke! I used to purchase many images from them, now I logged in for the first time in a while, WOW, what a joke, Getty Images branding makes all your photos go up by like 3-5x more?

    Go to Hades I will look elsewhere.

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