The best stock video sites to get right now

The best stock video websites for you, from subscription to one-time purchases

By Matic Broz, editor-in-chief of Photutorial covering stock media, Adobe, and design. He founded Photutorial while finishing his PhD in computational biosciences.

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Best stock video sites right now

We test a wide variety of stock video sites each year here at Photutorial, and many of them are very good. But you can’t use them all. So to help with your purchasing decisions, I’ve done the very difficult (very difficult, trust me) task here of selecting 10 of the most exceptional platforms out there for this the best stock footage websites of 2023 page. Whether you’re looking for a one-time purchase, subscriptions, unlimited downloads, credits pack, or something that’s a little bit of each, I’ve got multiple options for you here. These aren’t necessarily the best stock footage sites for everyone, but they are, in my opinion, the best places to get royalty-free stock footage right now.

  1. Envato Elements: Best overall
  2. Adobe Stock: Best for professionals
  3. Artlist: Best quality
  4. Videvo: Budget pick
  5. Pond5: Best for single purchase
  6. Shutterstock: Best Adobe Stock alternative
  7. iStock: Premium images + videos
  8. Storyblocks: Best Artlist alternative
  9. Pexels: Best free
  10. BBC Motion Gallery

My current pick for the best stock video site of 2023 is Envato Elements. It’s a platform that does just about everything right. While it’s certainly not perfect, there are no major flaws. It’s a great pick for video editors, who need a broad range of assets, from videos and audio to fonts, templates, and SFX.

It’s getting harder to get bad stock footage, but what separates the best stock video sites from good stock video sites is how they balance pricing, licensing, and video quality and variety. The top footage website should have royalty-free licensing and affordable prices— after all, those are the two biggest reasons you’d choose a stock footage size over a freelance videographer. Its interface should be easy to navigate, fast, and with enough features that help you find and save your favorite videos. It should have a large enough collection for you to find videos for any project, from modern to vintage.

Our other picks for the best stock footage sites include Adobe Stock and Artlist. Check out the full list of best stock video site picks below or our roundup of the best stock footage subscriptions if you’re looking for the best stock footage prices.

What we’re looking for

  1. Value: Price is a very important factor in evaluating platforms for this page. We’re seeking stock footage sites that offer great value for their asking price and that are the best of the best compared to other stock footage sites in their price category. The more expensive a platform, the more exceptional it has to be to make it on here.
  2. Quality & variety: We want stock footage sites with enough high-quality videos to serve their video editors. At least a few million stock videos is a must, except where the quality is so high, is supersedes variety because you can literally use every video.
  3. Licensing: We like royalty-free licenses with broad licensing terms. For example, they must allow the use of streaming platforms like YouTube and Twitch.
  4. Integrations & tools: Nothing is better than a stock footage site with a video editor. A staple among video editors is Premiere Pro with integrated Adobe Stock. Some newer platforms offer online video editing tools.

1. Envato Elements

The best overall video subscription

Envato Elements stock footage

Videos: 4.2 million / Price: $16.50–$39.00/month / Free trial: 12 files per month / Max. video quality: 4K / Downloads: Unlimited

Envato Elements is the best stock video site for most people.

The unlimited subscription, which includes 4.2 million videos, 8.1 million images, 629,000 SFX, 461,000 templates, and more, starts at $16.50/month. Without an annual discount, you’re looking to pay $39 per month, while students pay 30% less—$11.50.

The breadth of content combined with a single subscription that permits unlimited downloads makes Envato Elements a one-stop shop for most creatives, including video editors. Designers, podcasters, and even digital marketers find immense value in the platform’s expansive library.

However, the licensing isn’t as great. Although you get a royalty-free license, you need to relicense the same video for every project. Consequently, when you cancel the subscription, you can no longer use the downloaded videos for new projects or clients. As with most unlimited subscriptions, Envato Elements offers very little indemnity with each download.

While I’ve never had problems finding the content I want, some customers complain that the search algorithm often shows irrelevant results, thus making the search more difficult. However, I have high hopes for the new AI research that was released only a couple of days ago.

Read my Envato Elements review.

2. Adobe Stock

Best for professionals

Adobe Stock footage

With a library housing millions of videos, Adobe Stock has positioned itself as the premier choice for seasoned professionals in the design and video industry. Unlike many platforms, Adobe Stock places a strong emphasis on the integration of its stock content directly into the Adobe Suite. This means if you’re a user of Adobe Premiere Pro or After Effects, your workflow will be significantly streamlined.

Pricing may seem a little on the higher end, but considering the premium content and the seamless integration, many professionals deem it worthwhile. The licensing terms are robust, providing peace of mind for commercial projects. However, newcomers might find the platform a bit daunting, especially if they’re not familiar with Adobe’s ecosystem. The occasional criticisms often revolve around the pricing model and clarity of their licensing terms. Nevertheless, for professionals who require the best, Adobe Stock rarely disappoints.

Read my Adobe Stock review.

3. Artlist

Best quality

Artlist stock footage subscription

Artlist isn’t just another stock video site; it’s a curator of exceptional video and audio content. Their model revolves around a yearly subscription, but what sets them apart is the meticulous attention to quality. Each video or music track in their catalog feels handpicked, reflecting a commitment to offering the best to filmmakers and content creators.

While their collection might not match the vast numbers of some competitors, the emphasis here is on quality over sheer volume. The drawback, however, is the pricing. It leans towards the premium side, which might deter hobbyists or those on a budget. But for those in pursuit of unparalleled quality and willing to invest in their projects, Artlist emerges as an obvious choice.

Read my Artlist review.

4. Videvo

Budget pick

Videvo stock footage subscription

Budget-conscious creators, rejoice. Videvo provides a dual model: free content of admirable quality and a premium tier for those needing a bit extra. Their continuously expanding library caters to a wide range of users, from small businesses and indie creators to students looking for class projects.

Licensing is straightforward, but it’s essential to be vigilant, as some free videos might require attribution. The primary challenge with Videvo is the popularity of its videos. Since many users flock to their platform for budget content, there’s a higher chance that the video you pick might be in numerous other projects. But considering the value they offer, especially for those on a tight budget, it’s a minor gripe.

Read my Videvo review.

5. Pond5

Best for single purchase

Pond5 footage

While subscriptions dominate the stock video landscape, Pond5 stands out with its unique a la carte purchasing system. Their diverse library, catering to almost any niche imaginable, offers flexibility that few platforms can match. Each video’s pricing is often determined by its creator, which means there’s a broad spectrum of costs, ensuring both affordable and premium options.

This pay-per-video system is a breath of fresh air for users who require content occasionally and don’t want to commit to monthly or yearly fees. However, it’s worth noting that heavy users might find the costs adding up over time. Still, for those who cherish flexibility and choice, Pond5 is a top contender.

Read my Pond5 review.

6. Shutterstock

Best Adobe Stock alternative

Shutterstock video

A giant in the stock content world, Shutterstock has earned its reputation by consistently providing quality content for years. Housing an expansive library that competes closely with Adobe Stock, it often emerges as the go-to alternative for those who prefer a different platform or find Adobe’s offerings not quite right for their needs.

One of Shutterstock’s hallmarks is its user-friendly interface combined with a powerful search algorithm. This makes content discovery efficient, especially for those who are particular about their requirements. Additionally, their flexible pricing plans cater to both occasional users and heavy-duty professionals. The only minor hiccup some users report is the pricing structure, which, depending on usage, can sometimes feel less competitive than Adobe Stock. However, for the sheer variety and quality it offers, Shutterstock remains a top pick for many.

Read my Shutterstock review.

7. iStock

Premium images + videos

iStock footage

iStock, a subsidiary of Getty Images, brings with it a legacy of high-quality content. Their curated collections are perfect for those who desire both premium images and videos in one platform. The content feels exclusive, and the search functionality is adept at highlighting the best matches for your queries.

With a tiered pricing model, users can access standard content or delve into exclusive collections, which are often unparalleled in quality. The main feedback from users revolves around the cost associated with these premium offerings. Some feel the exclusivity comes at a steep price. Nevertheless, for projects that demand only the best, iStock’s premium offerings are hard to bypass.

Read my iStock review.

8. Storyblocks

Best Artlist alternative

Storyblocks videos interface

Storyblocks, much like Artlist, offers a blend of quality content. What makes it a viable alternative is its flexible subscription model that combines video, audio, and images under one roof. For creators looking for a comprehensive solution without hopping between platforms, Storyblocks is a strong contender.

The platform’s interface is clean and intuitive, allowing even beginners to navigate with ease. Moreover, their licensing is clear-cut, ensuring users aren’t caught in legal muddles. On the flip side, some users feel the library could be more expansive, especially when compared to Artlist. But for the convenience and quality it provides, especially at its price point, Storyblocks is a worthy consideration.

Read my Storyblocks review.

9. Pexels

Best free

Pexels footage

When budgets are tight, or you’re just starting out, Pexels is a lifesaver. This entirely free platform offers videos and images contributed by a generous community of creators. The content, while free, often rivals that of paid platforms, making Pexels an invaluable resource.

The main allure, aside from the cost, is the simplicity of use and the straightforward licensing. Users can download and use content without intricate legal concerns. The only drawback, much like other free platforms, is the risk of seeing the same content used elsewhere frequently. But for a free offering, this is a minor price to pay.

Read my Pexels review.

10. BBC Motion Gallery

Best for editorial videos

BBC Motion Gallery

Diving into a niche, the BBC Motion Gallery provides access to unique content sourced from BBC’s vast archives. Ideal for documentarians, educators, or those seeking specific historical or regional footage, this platform offers a goldmine of content that’s hard to find elsewhere.

The breadth and depth of content are commendable, but it comes with a premium price tag, reflecting the exclusivity and uniqueness of the footage. The primary challenge is navigating the vast archives, which can sometimes feel overwhelming. However, for those willing to invest the time and money, the gems found within the BBC Motion Gallery are unparalleled.

Compare the best stock video sites

Envato Elements
Best stock video site
4.2 million$11.50–$39.00/moHD–4K
Best for 8K footage
Adobe Stock
Best for pros
26 million$7.99–$22.39/videoSD–4K
Budget pick
1.5 million$7.99–$24.99/moHD–4K
Best selection of stock footage
Data not available$7.99–$25+/videoSD–5K+

How do stock videos work?

Stock videos are professionally shot video clips available for use in various projects. These clips can be purchased or sometimes accessed for free on various platforms over the internet. They can range in length from a few seconds to several minutes and cover a wide array of subjects, from nature scenes to cityscapes, from people at work to animations.

Production companies, independent filmmakers, and other creators produce stock videos. To access, you navigate to the platform of choice, search for the desired video using relevant keywords, and then purchase or download the video. The price or license type for a stock video can vary depending on factors such as the exclusivity, quality, and intended use of the video. Remember, unauthorized use of stock videos may lead to copyright infringements, so it’s important to understand and adhere to the licensing agreement.

» More: What are stock videos?

Types of stock video licenses

There are various types of stock video licenses. Here are some of the options you might encounter.

Royalty-free vs. Rights-managed

There are royalty-free and rights-managed licenses for stock videos. With a royalty-free license, you pay a one-time fee to use the video, and you can use it as many times as you want, in numerous projects, without any additional payment. Rights-managed licenses, on the other hand, are tailored to specific uses and require payment each time the video is used.

» MORE: Royalty-free vs. Rights-managed

Single-use and Multiple-use licenses

You might come across single-use and multiple-use licenses. A single-use license allows you to use the video in one project only. If you wish to use the same video in another project, you would need to purchase another license. Multiple-use licenses are more flexible and allow for the video to be used in more than one project.

» MORE: Pros and cons of a royalty-free license

Commercial and Editorial licenses

There are commercial and editorial licenses:

Commercial licenses allow the use of videos in commercial projects that generate revenue, such as advertising and promotional content.

Editorial licenses allow use in non-commercial, non-promotional projects such as news broadcasts, documentaries, and other editorial contexts.

Exclusive and Non-Exclusive licenses

Exclusive licenses mean that only the purchaser of the license can use the video clip during the period of exclusivity, and the video clip cannot be sold to others. Non-exclusive licenses allow the video clip to be sold to multiple customers on a non-exclusive basis.

Extended or Enhanced licenses In addition to the standard licenses, some agencies offer extended or enhanced licenses. These can cover larger audiences, multiple platforms, or longer time periods, among other conditions.

How to get stock videos

Before you even embark on your creative journey, you should start the stock video acquisition process by following these steps:

  1. Define your needs. Understand what kind of video content you need. It might be a good idea to spend some time researching the style, theme, or genre of video that suits your project or campaign.
  2. Set your budget. You need to decide how much you are willing to spend on stock videos, as prices can vary greatly. This will also help you narrow down which platforms or services to use.
  3. Prepare your search. Once you know what you need and how much you can spend, start researching available stock video platforms. Remember to consider factors such as video quality, licensing terms, and the diversity of the library.
  4. Choose a platform. When you’re ready, select the best stock video platform that meets your requirements. You might want to consider sites like Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, Pond5, or Videvo. Some platforms may offer free trials or discounts, so look out for those opportunities to save money.

» More: How to buy stock videos

Video formats and resolutions

When working with stock video footage, it’s essential to understand the different video formats and resolutions available to ensure that the content you select meets your project’s technical and quality requirements. Here’s a brief overview of some common video formats and resolutions:

Video formats: Video formats refer to the way video files are compressed, encoded, and stored. Some common video formats include MP4, MOV, AVI, and WMV. Each format has its advantages and limitations in terms of compatibility, compression efficiency, and quality.

Video codecs: A video codec is software or hardware that compresses and decompresses digital video. Common codecs include H.264, H.265 (HEVC), and Apple ProRes. Different codecs have varying levels of compression efficiency and quality, affecting the final video file size and playback performance.

Resolutions: Resolution refers to the number of pixels in a video frame, expressed as width×height. Higher resolutions generally provide more detail and better image quality. Some common resolutions include:

  • Standard Definition (SD): 640×480 or 720×576 pixels
  • High Definition (HD): 1280×720 (720p) or 1920×1080 (1080p) pixels
  • 4K (Ultra High Definition or UHD): 3840×2160 pixels
  • 8K (UHD-2): 7680×4320 pixels

When selecting stock footage, it’s crucial to consider the resolution you need for your project. For instance, if you’re creating a video for a large display or high-resolution screen, you may want to opt for 4K or 8K footage. However, if your project is intended for smaller screens or online streaming, HD resolution may suffice.

Frame rate: Frame rate refers to the number of video frames displayed per second (fps). Common frame rates include 24, 25, 30, 50, and 60 fps. The appropriate frame rate for your project will depend on your intended audience, delivery format, and the desired look and feel. Ensure that the stock footage you select has a frame rate compatible with your project’s requirements.

Stock video buying options

Stock footage can be bought in many ways, and which one you choose depends on how many clips you need and how often you need them. Here we explain the different options and which is the best in every situation ordered from the most expensive to the cheapest.

  • Single purchase. The simplest way to buy stock videos is as a single purchase. It’s the same as buying any product in a grocery store—you pay for it once, and you can use/eat it. While this is the simplest and most convenient option, it’s also the most expensive. It’s best when you need only one video and won’t be needing more any time soon.
  • On-demand. An upgrade from single purchases is on-demand. These come in the form of video packs and credits that you may use to buy videos. The larger pack you buy, the more cost-efficient it is, meaning the lower price per video. These are the best options when you need videos occasionally but you’ll use them within a year. That’s because most image packs and credits expire after a year.
  • Subscriptions. Subscriptions are the most popular choice. You pay a monthly fee for which you get a certain number of downloads each month. Similarly to on-demand, the larger the subscription you buy, the more cost-efficient it is. You can save even more by purchasing an annual plan, which is usually 20–50% cheaper than the monthly plan. Subscriptions are the best option when you need videos regularly.
  • Unlimited downloads. These are also monthly subscriptions, but instead of getting a certain number of downloads every month, you can download any number of videos (there’s usually a soft limit of 50-100 downloads/day to avoid stealing). These are your best options when you need a lot of videos regularly but don’t have the budget to buy a large subscription plan. However, unlimited downloads are only available at stock footage sites that have fewer than 1 million videos. So, you must decide whether a smaller selection is worth unlimited downloads because you might run out of fresh videos quickly.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best stock video site?

The best stock video site is Pond5, with over 31 million excellent stock footage clips. Pond5 is also one of the fairest sites because it allows videographers to set their own prices, thus allowing them to cover their expenses. Some good alternatives include Artgrid, Videvo, and Shutterstock.

What is the best free stock video site?

The best free stock video site is Pexels with over 91 thousand videos that you can download under a Creative Commons 0 (CC0) license. This means that you can use the free videos for personal and commercial projects without attribution. Another good free stock footage site is Pixabay with over 40 thousand videos.

Where can I buy long stock footage?

You can buy videos longer than 5 minutes at Pond5, with some longer than 10 minutes. You can easily filter by the duration of the video with the search filters. Other good options for long stock footage include Adobe Stock, Shutterstock, and Depositphotos.


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