Stock Photos

Adobe Stock Review 2023: How Good Is It Really?

Julia P. Manzau
Author
28. Nov 2022
Last update

Who can turn down good visual content for their website, blog, or flyers? When searching for royalty-free stock media, there's no way around one of the biggest providers: Adobe Stock.

With a database that includes more than 200 million images, videos, animations, and vector graphics (and counting), we wanted to know whether the service does what it claims, so we put it to the test. Keep reading to see what we found out.

What Is Adobe Stock?

Every day, countless new websites are born, creating an instant customer base for providers of stock photos. One of the most well-known of these was Fotolia. At its peak, you'd be hard-pressed to find a blogger, graphic artist, or web designer who hadn't heard of the agency founded in 2004. On its huge online marketplace, more than 40 million images, graphics, and videos were available. That all ended in 2015 when the company was taken over by Adobe and merged with Adobe Stock  four years later into one of the world's leading image agencies.

Adobe needs no introduction, having already made a name for itself with its professional graphic editing and layout software. Among its most popular offerings is Photoshop, which is purported to control 90% of the market share. In 2005, Adobe purchased Macromedia's entire product portfolio, catapulting itself to the pinnacle of graphic design software.

As such, the 2015 move to take over Fotolia was logical, with Adobe Stock thereafter entirely integrated into the company's portfolio, allowing users to synergize their efforts. Whether with or without the Creative Cloud: We had a closer look at the stock photo provider.

Review

Review
8.7
good
Visit Website
Configuration & Usage
10 / 10
Licensing Conditions
9.4 / 10
Selection of Videos, Audio, Vector Graphics & Illustrations
8.6 / 10
Stock Photo Selection
8.0 / 10
Support
7.4 / 10
1.

Pros and Cons

  • Large selection of high-quality photos (including a number of free offerings)

  • Caters to niche topics

  • Good filter options

  • Pricey

  • Support only accessible at certain times; difficult to connect with staff

  • Credits valid for a year

2.

Configuration & Usage

All you'll need to get started with Adobe Stock is an email address to confirm registration. In case you already have an Adobe Creative Cloud account, you can log in directly and start searching for stock content. It's also possible to sign in through Adobe's own app to quickly and easily start downloading all sorts of content.

You can easily and intuitively access the database via Adobe's app or the website.

Adobe Stock's website is well-arranged and intuitive to use. You can search for any sort of image or select one from the categories.

Particularly appealing for potential users is that you don't need to buy credits or a subscription to download content. Simply click on Free from the drop-down menu next to the search bar and you'll have access to loads of high-quality photos, videos, and vector graphics that hold to the same standard and extended licenses as their paid images. Adobe themselves note that they do this to draw in customers who otherwise wouldn't give the paid platform a second thought.

In order to compete with free stock photo services, Adobe Stock offers a limited selection of free content.

Whetting users' appetites

In addition to Free content, the bulk of Adobe Stock's offerings are can be found by clicking on Premium from the same drop-down menu noted above. Among these, you'll find images from the best photographers, animators, and agencies. As might be expected with such a pronounced offering, prices are fairly high. A premium image with the extended rights package can quickly run several hundred dollars if not more.

Adobe Stock's Premium offerings include unusual subject matter from selected artists.

Template paradise

While browsing, you can also take a look at the templates on offer for Creative Cloud users by selecting Templates from the drop-down menu. Whether you're a graphic artist, web designer, layout specialist, or cutter, you'll find plenty of effects, layouts, and intros to choose from. At the bottom of the page, the service offers some helpful training sessions that make it easy for beginners to get started with templates. Those without a Creative Cloud account might be tempted to sign up for more.

Adobe's program templates make work easier for creatives.

Start searching

Through the search field, you can input keywords and phrases to find whatever content you're after. Thanks to the filter on the left, you can refine search results. In addition to classic parameters for limiting what you're shown, Adobe also developed a few special options. The company really does attempt to understand what designers, layout specialists, and graphic designers are after, making helpful search options available.

For those who don't want to spend long looking for an image, you can check the box next to Undiscovered Content to see only results that have free licenses.

You can search for images that have space for text or photos without people in them. It's possible to filter out results on the basis of their definition or to single out a dominant color. Or, if you'd like things to be colorful, you have the option to look for those as well. Rounding things out is the ability to upload a picture which you'd like to find similar options.

You saw an image online that you liked? With Adobe Stock, it's possible to find similarly themed ones.

Find one-of-a-kind images

It's almost unavoidable when working with stock photos that you run across the image you're using on other websites. To somewhat counteract this, you can check the box next to Undiscovered Content. When activated, you'll only see results that have yet to be downloaded. Of course, this doesn't guarantee that the image selected will remain undiscovered.

Videos for pros

High-quality videos can be filtered on the basis of their resolution or usage purpose. Under Audio, you can different kinds of music, sorting content by Genre or Mood. Be warned though, there aren't any sound effects, jingles, or intros, however.

Dozens of filters make it easy to find what you're looking for on Adobe Stock.

Intuitive navigation, user-friendly design

Overall, Adobe Stock is very easy and intuitive to use. Media types are clearly separated from one another, and there's next to nothing to prevent you from locating just the image you're looking for. Adobe's filter options are as impressive as the quality of content on offer.

Score: 5 / 5

3.

Selection of Stock Photos

The quality of images on offer is excellent. Even for dry topics, you'll find plenty of interesting and original ideas. Photographers go to some lengths to make sure all of the bases are covered.

For our assessment, we search for images using five keywords and phrases: web hosting, ecommerce, antivirus, business, and email marketing. Of course, it isn't easy to offer images for such abstract topics that are both exciting and unique.

Web hosting: For this search, Adobe Stock returned nearly 200,000 results. Of these, 34,000 were illustrations, plenty of which approach the topic creatively. A compass with hosting or a gear with the entire phrase demonstrates Adobe Stock's flexibility. The selection of images also includes hits that have barely any recognizable link to web hosting. Among these was a certificate stating "Made in Italy" and a set of tools.

Among the search results returned for web hosting, we found a few oddities.

Ecommerce: For this search, the results were more colorful and lively. Just among photos, we had more than 440,000 hits, roughly half of which show people in different scenarios. Even without people in the images, the results impressed us. A small shopping cart on a keyboard button or miniature shipping packages and a delivery van next to a laptop are just a few of the options that caught our eye.

Creative: Looking into a supermarket through a laptop.

Antivirus: With this term, it was possible to see how COVID-19 has left its mark on the world of stock content. Just under 100,000 results turned up among the images. Alongside the usual suspects pertaining to IT security, we also found quite a few depictions of masks, syringes, and medical subject matter. Here, a filter option to make our results more contextually accurate would have been helpful. For our EXPERTE.com review's purposes, we added "PC" to our search, making the results more relevant.  

Business: It isn't a big surprise that such an all-encompassing term yields almost 20 million images. By checking the boxes next to vector graphics and illustrations, this more than doubles to 44 million. At times like these, filters are an absolute necessity. Unfortunately, limiting search results to only those with people in them didn't work particularly well. Likely, this is because business without people is hard to visualize.

In terms of business, it wasn't easy to find creative options.

Email marketing: In total, Adobe Stock returned 182,000 results for this search query. To gain an overview, we limited these to photos of which there were just over 60,000. If looking for images of people with greater definition, in vivid color, and blue, this shrinks to 9 results. Despite being manageable, none of the results were particularly creative or of exceptional quality.

With filters, it's possible to make large numbers of results much more manageable.

In answer to our search queries, Adobe Stock provided quite a bit of content, but not all of it was accurate or relevant. Too often, the results were average or had nothing to do with our search. Quality is good, but there was a noticeable lack of creativity.

CategoryScore

Web hosting

4

Ecommerce

5

Antivirus

3

Business

4

Email marketing

4

Score: 4 / 5

4.

Selection of Videos, Audio, Vector Graphics & Illustrations

The selection and quality of video content offered by Adobe Stock are impressive. All the same, this is reflected in the price, especially if you need 4K quality. When using our keywords and phrases, web hosting returned only a few thousand video results, whereas business yielded upwards of 2 million.

The illustration and vector graphic results were more creative. Searching for digital graphics provided plenty of futuristic artwork, while pastels served up some nice color combinations. Rounding things out were the hits for paintings. Adobe Stock provides quite a comprehensive and creative selection of results.

Adobe Stock's video selection is enormous, as are their prices.

Audio on Adobe Stock is stored in a huge database of music ranging from classical to pop. You won't find any jingles or background noises. According to support, they also aren't planning to introduce these anytime soon.

Overall, quality and quantity are both good, and you'll find plenty of content for everyday usage.

CategoryScore

Videos

4.7

Vector Graphics

4.3

Audio

4

Score: 4.3 / 5

5.

Licensing Conditions

Adobe Stock doesn't make things complicated when it comes to what you can and cannot do with any media you've purchased licenses for. Most of the time, the standard license is more than adequate. Should you want to publish the image on a high-traffic website (i.e. more than 500,000 unique views), you'll need to purchase an enhanced or extended license.

Adobe Stock doesn't resort to smoke and mirrors when it comes to licensing.

To be on the safe side, you can purchase an extended license, with which you can use image, video, and audio files for anything, even articles for resale or sales templates. Exceptions are only made for content that has an "Only for editorial purposes" note on it. These cannot be included in advertising materials and require author and stock photo provider attribution.

Score: 4.7 / 5

6.

Support

Regardless of how sleek a platform's website is, or how wide its selection of media is, support should not be difficult to get in touch with. With Adobe Stock it is, and your journey begins with a click on Account Settings. This opens an external Adobe website which includes an overview of all of the services you're using. Click on the contact button and a chat window should open, but only during the provider's hours of operation.

In case you have problems outside of operating hours (Monday to Friday, 9 to 4:45), you'll need to be patient.

On the page's footer, you'll find a link to the provider's help center. Clicking on this will open an external page titled "Adobe's Help Center". Select Support from the menu, and you'll finally find contact options. Once again, outside of the provider's operating hours, these are limited.

Still, if you reach out during business hours, the support you'll receive is both fast and competent.

Score: 3.7 / 5

7.

Pricing

Adobe Stock is on the pricier end of the stock photo provider spectrum. In exchange, you'll get high-quality content and logical filters, and, so long as you use Creative Cloud, a great deal of synergy with your other Adobe products. For just access to basic stock photos though, prices are a bit steep.

Another difference pertains to the credit packs, with which you can download videos and premium media, as well as the subscriptions that include all other standard stock content. Should you choose the credit pack option, be aware that after a year these will expire.

Subscription 10Credit Pack 5Subscription 40
Billing Subscription Credit Pack Subscription
One-Time Fee $0.00 $49.95 $0.00
Price per Month $29.99 $0.00 $79.99
Contract Period (Months) 12 0 12
Included Content
Photos / Month 10 5 40
Videos / Month 0 0 0
Licence For
Online & Print
Social Media
Marketing & Ads
Online & Print
Social Media
Marketing & Ads
Online & Print
Social Media
Marketing & Ads

When comparing providers, Adobe is definitely on the higher end of the spectrum:

1.
Pexels
Free
$0.00
yearly price
2.
Unsplash
Free
$0.00
yearly price
3.
Pixabay
Free
$0.00
yearly price
4.
Storyblocks
Starter
$240.00
yearly price
5.
123RF
Subscription 10
$269.00
yearly price
6.
Depositphotos
Subscription 30
$299.00
yearly price
7.
Dreamstime
Subscription 15
$300.00
yearly price
8.
Shutterstock
Subscription 10
$348.00
yearly price
9.
iStock
Essential Subscription 10
$348.00
yearly price
10.
Adobe
Subscription 10
$359.88
yearly price
11.
Pond5
Membership
$999.00
yearly price
12.
Alamy
Image 10 pack
$5,387.88
yearly price
13.
Getty Images
10 Pack Small
$18,000.00
yearly price

Conclusion

Review
8.7
good
Visit Website
Configuration & Usage
10 / 10
Licensing Conditions
9.4 / 10
Selection of Videos, Audio, Vector Graphics & Illustrations
8.6 / 10
Stock Photo Selection
8.0 / 10
Support
7.4 / 10

Adobe Stock markets itself as professional and that's exactly who its target group is. If looking for images for your blog or small business, Adobe Stock's prices all but rule the platform out from consideration. Still, you should take a look at the Free content on offer. For those who have a bigger budget to work with, Adobe Stock is definitely an attractive media database. Contact channels and times could be improved: After all, if you're paying such a high premium, support should reflect this.

Adobe Stock will be particularly appealing to those who already work with Creative Cloud. Media can be directly positioned in website layouts, or for magazine and video previews. The countless templates for graphic design, illustrations, and film make life easier for creatives the world over.

Adobe Stock Test
Adobe Stock
(5,527,007 )
large selection of high-quality photos
caters also to niche topics
good filter options
pricey
credits only valid for a year
8.7
good
Photos / Month
5 - 750
Videos / Month
0 - 18
Licence For
3 types
Billing
2 types
Adobe Subscription 10
$29.99
monthly price
Visit Website »

Customer Ratings

Adobe Stock's customer ratings are varied, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, support came in for quite a bit of criticism. We've compiled a number of these reviews, collating them into an average so that you can have a rough idea of what users are saying.

Customer Ratings
4.6 / 5
5,527,007 Bewertungen
Visit Website
We analyzed the reviews and ratings from various portals and found 5,527,007 ratings with an overall rating of 4.6 out of 5 .

Alternatives

Poor experiences with Adobe Stock's support? Getty Images impressed us with its fast, competent staffers, all of whom answered questions to our satisfaction. Beyond that, they also serve up exclusive media material that's next level.

Supposing that your budget is a bit more limited and filters and usability aren't your top priorities, Dreamstime is worth considering. Its database is more affordable than most of the platforms from our sample, however, its licensing conditions are more complicated, necessitating more time for image research.

More of the best alternatives to Adobe Stock can be found in the list below:

Best Overall 2023
Depositphotos Test
Depositphotos
(8,942 )
Depositphotos wins us over in the review with an intuitive platform, a huge media archive, a simple licensing model, fast support and a fair price.
large portfolio of media
fast, competent support
good value for money
free media available
pricing structure slightly complicated
9.4
excellent
Photos / Month
0 - 750
Videos / Month
0 - 25
Licence For
4 types
Billing
2 types
Depositphotos Subscription 30
$24.92
monthly price
Visit Website »
iStock Test
iStock
(3,180 )
huge selection
easy to use
good filter options
straightforward licensing conditions
no audio files
9.2
excellent
Photos / Month
1 - 750
Videos / Month
0 - 50
Licence For
3 types
Billing
2 types
10%
Off Credits
Code:
ISTOCK10
iStock Credit Pack 1
$12.00
monthly price
Visit Website »
Getty Images Test
Getty Images
(8,662 )
top-quality media
intuitive to use
numerous filter options
very expensive
not geared towards small businesses
9.1
excellent
Photos / Month
1 - 10
Videos / Month
1 - 10
Licence For
3 types
Billing
Credit Pack
Getty Images Single Small
$175.00
monthly price
Visit Website »
Shutterstock Test
Shutterstock
(32,443 )
extensive media catalog
fantastic support
unclear pricing structure
packages are only valid for a year
pricey
9.1
excellent
Photos / Month
0 - 350
Videos / Month
0 - 25
Licence For
4 types
Billing
2 types
Shutterstock Subscription 10
$29.00
monthly price
Visit Website »
Get 10 free images
Pond5 Test
Pond5
(12,734 )
large selection of videos & music
affordable and free content
easy to use
lack of filters (photos)
inconsistent pricing
8.9
good
Photos / Month
10 - ∞
Videos / Month
10 - ∞
Licence For
3 types
Billing
2 types
20%
on your first order
Code:
HELLO20
Pond5 Membership
$83.25
monthly price
Visit Website »
Author: Julia P. Manzau
Julia P. Manzau has more than 30 years of professional experience in leading editorial and marketing positions in the premium automotive, mechanical engineering, and healthcare industries. She studied Political Science and History in Bonn, Marketing at the St. Galler Business School and earned a BA in Media Engineering (CCI). Since 2015, she has worked as a freelance writer. For EXPERTE.com, she focuses on software, the Internet, and marketing.
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