123RF.com is an online royalty-free photo library that offers a vast selection of photos. You’ll find on the site photos and vector images for your blog and creative projects to be used for commercial and non-commercial purposes. It’s a paid service, just like iStockphoto, except it’s much more affordable.
Because I won a 1-month subscription thanks to MachoArts in October, I had the opportunity to try it for free. And now that my subscription has ended, I can provide you with a general and objective review of this service. For this review, I will compare 123RF with iStockphoto, one of the most well-known and widespread royalty-free stock photo libraries on the web at the moment.
If you compare iStockPhoto’s subscription plan with 123RF’s, you’ll notice immediately that 123RF’s is much more affordable. If we take the 3-months subscription as example, 123RF offers to download 26 High-Res pictures per day for $660 CAD. iStockphoto on the other hand gives you for $979 CAD 30 Daily Credits, which is enough to download only 1 or 2 high-resolution photos per day in most cases. Considering the cheapest XXL sized (high-res) photos on iStockphoto are about 20 credits each (they can go up to 100), to compete with 123RF you would need a plan that offers you between 400 and 2600 credits daily. The highest amount of daily credits this well-known service offers you though is 480 credits, all for the modest price of… $12,785 CAD. Even 123RF’s EVO Label (images of high technical quality) is not as expensive as iStockPhoto’s cheapest selection. 123RF’s service is almost 20 times cheaper than iStockphoto’s.
Additionally, 123RF generally sells its images at a much cheaper price and offers 1-month subscriptions, something that doesn’t exist with its competitor. The price for single credit packages (à la carte) is roughly the same, though since 123RF asks less credit per photo, you get more for your money with that photo library. I think it’s pretty clear who wins this round.
Photo selection and quality
When I received an email telling me I won a subscription from 123RF, I was a bit skeptical at first as it was the first time I ever heard of them. Since it was free though, I decided to give it a shot. 123RF offers over 11 million stock photos and vectors. I found the variety to be good and the quality of the images great in almost all cases. I found images for every query I made, from “desert” to “marketing”, “world map” and “pantone”… and many more. I must admit I did not look for anything extremely weird so if you think it’s something you will do, I suggest you run queries before buying a subscription. I personally never had trouble finding what I was looking for.
In comparison, iStockphoto has over 8 million images. The quality is, in my humble opinion, just as good on both sides from what I have seen. 123RF wins this round too.
123RF is overall a good service. Although not free (unfortunately), I was satisfied with the service and would consider subscribing again if I needed to. The price, quality and selection of the photos are good.