Do we recommend 123RF?
No, we don’t recommend 123RF because it doesn’t excel in any aspect. It’s not the cheapest, its licenses aren’t the most comprehensive, it doesn’t have the most or highest quality images, and it doesn’t have any good, unique tools.
Some of the best alternatives to 123RF are Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, iStock, and Depositphotos.
- Shutterstock is the best overall option because it’s good in any situation. Specifically, we recommend it for subscription plans, Extended licenses, and Editorial content.
- Adobe Stock is also a great stock photo site, but it’s slightly more expensive than Shutterstock. However, it’s the best choice for graphic designers using Adobe Creative Cloud applications. Although Shutterstock and iStock can both be integrated into the Creative Cloud as well, the native Adobe Stock integration is the smoothest. Adobe Stock also offers premium images at higher prices.
- iStock is very similar to Shutterstock but with a lot smaller database of images. We recommend it for premium stock images or if you want the lowest prices.
- Depositphotos is like Shutterstock but cheaper for small subscriptions.
|Best for||Best for startups||Best overall||Best for Graphic Designers||Best for Subscriptions|
|Images||180 million||392 million||280 million||140 million|
|Free trial||Yes (10 images)||Yes (10 images)||Yes (10, 25, or 40 images)||Yes (10 images)|
|Review||(current article)||Shutterstock review||Adobe Stock review||iStock review|
|See it||See it||See it||See it|
What is 123RF?
123RF was founded in 2005 by Andy and Stephanie Sitt, founders of Inmagine. They named the company after its licensing system. To clarify, “RF” in “123RF” means “Royalty-free“, a type of license, that aptly represents the company’s licensing system.
Since the company received a new CEO leadership in 2019, it has focused on expanding to international markets. Now, 123RF employs more than 200 individuals and accepts work from over 300,000 creative contributors.
All this allowed this stock photo agency to almost double its media library to a whopping 110+ million pieces of content and 12,000,000+ active monthly users.
Images on 123RF are of good quality, both technically and artistically. With over 90,000 new pieces of content added daily, its library contains more than 180 million creative works. Therefore, by considering the numbers alone, you should never run out of content to download.
In addition to this, all content, including images, is checked for technical quality and value. Thus, you’ll seldom find a piece of content, that you’ll have no use for.
Images are available in various sizes and under several licenses. The price in credits depends on which size or license you choose. However, by using a subscription plan you can download any image size as long as it’s licensed under a Royalty-free license.
Image size guide
- S – Web & blogs, social media, and mobile apps
- M – Brochures & catalogs, magazines, and postcards
- L – Indoor & outdoor posters and printed banners
- XL – Backdrops, billboards, and digital screen display
These are JPG files ranging from 72 DPI to 300 DPI in pixel density.
By purchasing an Extended License, you can download even larger TIFF files; however, these are also more expensive.
It’s worth noting that 123RF also sells vectors, that you can download in any of the aforementioned sizes or as EPS files.
123RF sells its stock content with subscriptions, download packs, and credits. Images cost $0.36-$11.80 per image, $27-$41.3 per video clip, $1.80-$141.60 per audio track, and $59-$130 per Extended license.
Subscriptions are best when you need royalty-free images or vectors regularly. They let you download a certain number of stock images or vectors every month.
Subscriptions come in sizes of 10, 50, 150, and 350 downloads and are available with monthly or yearly commitments. Plans cost $22.42-$169/month, which equals $0.36-$3.00/image. You can save 25% by choosing a yearly subscription instead of a monthly one, but don’t forget that it binds you to a yearly contract.
|Plan Size||Monthly Plans||Annual Plans|
|10 images/month||$30/month ($3.00/image)||$22.42 ($2.24/image)|
|50 images/month||$89/month ($1.78/image)||$66.58/month ($1.33/image)|
|150 images/month||$129/month ($0.86/image)||$95.75/month ($0.64/image)|
|350 images/month||$169/month ($0.48/image)||$126.58/month ($0.36/image)|
Our take: 123RF subscriptions don’t offer a large plan of 750 monthly downloads, which guarantees the best prices at other stock photo sites. Consequently, 123RF is considerably more expensive for those who need hundreds of images ($0.36 at 123RF, $0.22 at Shutterstock, iStock, and Depositphotos).
Download packs differ from subscriptions in that you get a fixed number of image downloads that you can use within a year. The download packs in preset sizes of 3, 10, 25, and 100 downloads, but you can also get a custom pack of up to 1,000 downloads. For more, you need to get in touch with the sales. 123RF download packs cost $27-$2,690, which is $2.69-$9/image.
On Demand Credits
Credits are the best option when you need a variety of content, as you can use them to download images, footage, and audio. You can also use the credits to buy extended licenses. On demand credits come in four predefined sizes (40, 90, 200, and 400) and a custom option allowing up to 10,000 credits.
How many credits does stock content cost at 123RF?
All 123RF content is priced in credits based on its size, file type, and license. The following table summarises the pricing in credits.
|Type of content||Price||Price depends on|
|Images||2-10 credits ($1.80-$11.80/image)||Resolution (S, M, L, and XL sizes)|
|Footage||30-35 credits ($27-$41.3/clip)||Resolution (720p, 1080p, 4K)|
|Audio||2-120 credits ($1.80-$141.60/track)||Quality|
|Extended license||50, 75, or 100, 110 credits ($59-$130)||Extended license usage and content type|
You can pay for 123RF Subscription plans or Credit packs with a credit card (VISA, MasterCard, American Express) or with PayPal. Payments are usually processed within a couple of minutes, usually no longer than 2-3 mins. Thus, you’ll be able to almost immediately start downloading images.
123RF sells stock content with five types of licenses: Standard, 3 types of an Extended license, and a license for free images. In short, the Standard license suffices for websites, electronic documents, online or offline advertising, personal use, and printed documents. When you need the content for resale, you need to get an appropriate Extended license.
|Standard License||Print Only Extended||Electronic Only Extended||Comprehensive Extended||Free Images|
|You can get it with||Subscriptions, download packs, credits||Credits||Credits||Credits||Free|
|Website and blog||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Electronic documents, reports||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Advertising and promotional materials||✔||✔||✔||✔||10,000 copies (offline)|
|Corporate and advertisement videos||✔||✔||✔||✔||10,000 copies|
|Prints for resale, prints on merchandise, design elements, packaging||10,000 copies||✔|
|Designer templates, elements in software apps, or TV broadcasts for resale||✔||✔|
|Screensavers for resale||✔||✔|
|Other derivative resale objects||10,000 prints||Electronic only||✔|
Royalty-free for Editorial Usage
The Editorial RF license permits the use in magazines, articles, newspapers, textbooks, and other educational media and never for resale. You can choose between the Standard Editorial License which allows 500,000 copies in every medium, while the Print Only Extended Editorial License allows unlimited copies. The license also provides $25,000 in legal indemnification.
However, for the editorial content, we commend choosing Shutterstock’s Editorial License. It comes with similar terms at a higher price but with much better image quality and a bigger selection of editorial content.
123RF Mobile App
If you do a lot of work with your smartphone, you’ll love the app 123RF developed. It’s available for both iOS and Android devices. You can sign in with your account to browse, download, add images to lightboxes.
Additionally, this app is also created for contributors, who can submit their images or monitor their sales with it.
123RF offers a variety of online tools for quick editing. All the tools are free and easy to use.
- Filter & Effects: you can choose between about a dozen filters similar to those on Instagram.
- Auto Enhance Options: before you upload or download the image, you can do a couple of basic adjustments to it. These include Auto-color, Balance, Auto-level, Auto-tone, and Enrich. Long story short, these tools fix brightness (exposure), contrast, and colours.
- Background Removal: the name speaks for itself.
- Social Photo Crop (coming soon): automatically resize images based on the best composition for social media use.
- Font Pairer: AI suggests the best font combinations.
- Graphicmaker: redirects you to Design.ai, a freemium online app for graphics
- Color Matcher: a useful color palette tool.
- Calendar: A calendar helps you plan your social media marketing campaigns
123RF Review Summary
123RF has a Photutorial rating of 4.1 based on 14 data points, indicating that it’s not the best stock photo site. Consumers most commonly complain about issues with disappearing downloads and slow customer support team.
Based on this 123RF review, encourage you to use a better alternative to 123RF, such as Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, iStock, or Depositphotos.
How to download 123RF images without a watermark?
You can download 123RF without a watermark buy purchasing a licensing with subscription, download packs, or with credits. Currently, there’s no other legal way to get 123RF images without a watermark.
Is 123RF a safe site?
Yes, 123RF is a safe stock photo site with 3.8 rating from 1,900+ reviews on Trustpilot. However, some customers can’t use or find the photos after they pay and download them. In addition, many customers complain about very slow customer support team.
What does 123RF mean?
123RF is a stock photo agency of Inmagine Group. The “RF” in “123RF” stands for “Royalty-free”, which is the type of license. The “123” in the name is a random suffix to the RF.
Does 123RF have a free trial?
No, 123RF doesn’t have a free trial. 123RF used to have a free trial, but it was removed in 2021 when revamped its pricing plans. Now, 123RF is preparing a collection of free images, but it’s not yet ready.
How much does 123RF cost?
123RF costs $0.36-$3.00/image with subscriptions, $2.69-$9/image with download packs, and $1.80-$11.80/image with credits. Stock videos at 123RF cost $27-$41.3/clip, audio costs $1.80-$141.60/track, and Extended licenses cost $59-$130.
To review 123RF accurately, we took a holistic view of 31 stock photo agencies that incorporated image number, quality, variety, prices and pricing options, licensing terms, features, and customer support.
- Image quality & variety: 20% of the score. We browsed each stock photo site for over 50 search terms and analyzed the resulting image quality and variety. Both were scored qualitatively based on our expertise and experience. The quality check comprised technical quality, including exposure, sharpness, grain, saturation, color temperature, and added value. The variety check was primarily focused on checking what percentage of images came from the same photo shoot.
- Stock photo prices and pricing options: 20% of the score. Price is crucial in choosing stock photos, and having various options helps customers find the best plans. We checked whether the stock photo agency offers subscriptions, on-demand options, and which sizes. In addition, having a free trial is a bonus as it allows customers to get an insight into what they can expect. Finally, we considered the minimum, median, and maximum price per image and the price per extended license image.
- Licensing terms: 20% of the score. We read and took notes on every stock image license. We compared them based on how many copies, reprints, impressions they allow, and indemnity value.
- Image number: 15% of the score. The number of images is essential when rating stock photo sites because you can quickly run out of free photos when you need thousands of images. We checked each stock photo site’s database and took notes on the number of images.
- Additional features: 15% of the score. Additional features are meant to simplify or enhance a customer’s workflow. We reviewed and tested all the additional features where possible. Since some are limited to enterprises, or we couldn’t get in touch with the support team, we searched for customers with access to the additional features and asked for their opinion.
- Customer support: 10% of the score. Crucially, when testing customer support, we didn’t tell them who we were, so we got treated like every other customer. We took notes of the response times, contact options (live chat, email, and telephone), and the usefulness and kindness of the support teams.
Within each category, we also considered several characteristics, the number of images per most popular searches, technical quality, and added value. We also looked at the variety of pricing plans, minimum, median, and maximum image prices, and free trial terms. Finally, we evaluated 123RF’s customer support, licensing, and additional features that would enhance customers’ workflow.