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Microstock Agencies

By Thomas Boleslav

As a photo editor and designer, I always have to ask the question 'Where do I get the right pictures from?' Until recently I used the traditional stock photo houses like 'Getty images', 'Corbis', 'Jupiter images', Alamy, etc. However I decided to explore the microstock world a little and was quite surprised about the quality of the pictures available on microstock. What I see as a problem of microstock sites is that the content of the microsites is very similar - you will find the same pictures on Dreamstime as on Stockxpert, Fotolia etc. I have listed my favourite microstock sites below - the 4 which are the most popular because they have the largest portfolios. I also added some smaller sites which I found interesting.

THE 4 MOST POPULAR
ISTOCKPHOTO (http://www.istockphoto.com)
Positives: great site with many advanced functions.
Big portfolio containing exclusive pictures but also video, flash and even audio! It also has a large community.
Negatives: Highest prices among microsites, and I find there is too much text lumbering around which can take distract you if you just want to quickly buy and go.

DREAMSTIME (http://www.dreamstime.com)
Positives: Large portfolio, high quality pictures, user-friendly interface.
You find all the information you need, exactly where you need it.
Negatives: Sometimes the site can be quite slow.

FOTOLIA (http://www.fotolia.com)
Positives: Large portfolio, high speed search results.
Negatives: Sometimes irrelevant keywords by pictures.

STOCKXPERT (http://www.stockxpert.com)
Positives: Large portfolio covering a broad range of subjects.
Negatives: Not many exclusive images, the website is sometimes quite slow,
especially getting dynamic and large previews that last. The thumbnails are too small.

OTHER INTERESTING 5 AND WHY THEY ARE WORTH VISITING:

MOSTPHOTOS (http://www.mostphotos.com)
Positives: They differentiate from other microsites by their really interesting and great
web design. They also have different pictures than other microsites, so you can find
something new.
Negatives: The prices are a little higher (25, - Eur per picture)

PIXMAC (http://www.pixmac.com)
Positives: Here you can find many high quality pictures which i have not seen on any other
microsite. The site is very quick and easy to work with and the price levels rank among
the lowest on the microstock market. They also have quite big thumbnails which i appreciate.
Negatives: I miss there advanced search option.

MOODBOARD (http://www.moodboard.com)
Positives: User friendly website which has some advanced helpful functions. It is obvious
that they know their customers needs. The content is divided into 3 categories (micro,
premium and plus) which makes it easy for the user.
Negatives: The only negative I can see is that by searching in all 3 categories it isn't
visible by the thumbnail which price level the picture is in.

YAY MICRO (http://www.yaymicro.com)
Positives: The site is very easy to work with, there is not a large amount of excessive text
lumbering about, and everything is clear at first sight.
Negatives: Their watermark is too heavy, which makes it difficult to examine the picture.
Their collection doesn't seem to be very big yet.

ZYMMETRICAL (http://www.zymmetrical.com/art/fonts/)
Positives: They don't only feature photos, but graphics, videos and fonts.
The difference to other microsites is that you can pay in your own local currency.
Negatives: The main problem of this site is the speed - unfortunately it is really slow with showing the search results and it seems they have less photos in comparison to other agencies.
(They are still in Beta at the time of this article).

Visit Author's site: http://www.designvision.cz/