This is an unbiased and up-to-date 123RF review. By frequently updating the entire post, I guarantee the most accurate information.
123RF changed its prices and image sizes recently, as well as added new functionalities to the website. To my knowledge, this is the only 123RF review that reflects all the changes.
123RF Review Summary
123RF is a completely legitimate and safe stock photo agency, with dozens of widely-known enterprises as its customers.
You can choose between the more affordable subscriptions or the more expensive credits to purchase stock content for as low as $0.21.
All content is of exceptional quality, thanks to 123RF’s loyal contributors who can earn between 30% and 60% commissions.
- 110+ million pieces of content
- 90,000 new daily pieces of content
- 12,000,000+ active monthly users
- 300,000 contributors
- Trusted by Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, American Express, Deloitte
- Only $0.21/image (better prices than Shutterstock)
- Everyone gets a $25,000 legal guarantee
- Variety of purchase options
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 employ 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 exceptional quality, both technically and artistically. With over 90,000 new pieces of content added daily, its library contains more than 110 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 & catalogues, magazines and postcards
- L – Indoor & outdoor posters and printed banners
- XL – Backdrops, billboards and digital screen display
These are JPG files ranging in 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.
At 123RF, you can buy images on demand with Credits or get a fixed amount of download each month with a Subscription plan.
So what’s the difference?
You can use Credits at any time within one year of purchase to download any content on 123RF – photos, vectors, footage, and audio. Additionally, you can also buy an Extended License, when needed. While Credits give you more flexibility and options, they are more expensive than the Subscription plans.
Subscription plans are the best option for you, if you expect to have a steady need for content for a longer period of time. These plans allow you to download sizes from S to XL for both photos and vectors (vectors can also be downloads as EPS) that come at lower costs than Credits. These downloads come with a Standard License or Editorial Standard License.
Subscription plans are the most cost-efficient options, meaning the lowest price per image. You can choose between four different sizes of Subscription plans. The larger the plan, the more it costs, but the price per image gets lower.
Starting at $0.21/image Subscription plans are the best option for you, if you know, you’ll consistently need images (or vectors) for a long time.
You can choose between more expensive monthly plans, which you can cancel at any time, or cheaper annual plans, that bind you to a contract for 1 year. However, annual plans have the best price per download, starting at only $0.21/download.
|Plan Size||Monthly Plans||Annual Plans|
|10 images/month||$30 ($3.00/image)||$22.42 ($2.24/image)|
|150 images/month||$83 ($0.55/image)||$56.58 ($0.37/image)|
|350 images/month||$169 ($0.48/image)||$126.58 ($0.36/image)|
|750 images/month||$209 ($0.28/image)||$156.58 ($0.21/image)|
How does auto-renew work?
You can cancel auto-renewal at any time by going to My Account > Purchased Plan > Invoices. If you don’t turn it off, the next payment will occur when the previous runs out.
On Demand Credits
Credits are an alternative to Subscription plans. Using those, you can buy images one-by-one whenever you want because you’re not bound to any contract. This way, you get more freedom over your downloads, and also more options. However, Credits are more expensive than the Subscriptions.
Credits are the best option for you if you have inconsistent needs for images and/or you want to purchase an Extended license, videos, or audio.
All 123RF content is priced in Credits based on the size, file type, and license.
- S – 2 credits
- M – 4 credits
- L – 6 credits
- XL – 10 credits
You can directly purchase the image with your money, but this comes at the highest price. Therefore, I highly recommend purchasing Credit packs.
When you decide on Credits, 123RF gives you several options of Credit packs that significantly reduce price/credit.
- 40 Credits: $47 – or $1.18/credit
- 90 Credits: $105 – or $1.17/credit
- 200 Credits: $209 – or $1.05/credit
- 400 Credits: $399 – or $0.99/credit
Additionally, you may purchase a custom amount of credits. The minimum is 2 credits for $8, but you can also go higher than 400 credits. However, at this point, the price per credit doesn’t get lower than $0.99/Credit.
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 Footage & Audio
High-quality stock footage helps you visualize your stories, while audio makes them more interesting or sets the mood of your design.
123RF sells several resolutions of video that differ in price in Credits.
- 240WD – 20 Credits
- 480SD – 40 Credits
- 720HD – 60 Credits
- 1080HD – 70 Credits
- 4k/UHD – 180 Credits
Additionally, you can also purchase videos under an Extended license. These cost 50-100 Credits more, based on the License. More on that in the chapter 123RF Licenses.
Audio costs between 2 and 120 credits. Pricing depends on the Tier of the audio file; however, I did not find any logic behind assigning the tiers.
As far as I can tell, the pricing of audio does not depend on file length, size, category, genre, or authors. Most likely, 123RF assigns the tiers based on popularity.
In general, 123RF sells its content under two licenses: a Standard (Royalty-free) and an Extended license.
A Standard license allows you to use the content for all your commercial, personal, and advertising projects.
An Extended license gives you the rights to resell a product that incorporates the content. Moreover, you also need an Extended license for Editorial usage content for more than 500,000 print runs.
Extended License pricing
- Print – 50 credits
- Electronic – 75 credits
- Comprehensive – 100 credits
You need an Extended license, when the content (Source: 123RF License):
- Becomes an integral part of the product which adds value to the product itself.
- Is being distributed as a part of the product offering.
- Is being used in a product that’s been given free of charge but has a money generation model such as third party advertising attached to it.
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 Contributor program is rather easy to understand, so let’s just give it a quick look.
Reasons to choose 123RF Contributor program:
- You earn 30% – 60% commissions for each license sold
- Your work is offered to 5 million+ buyers
- 123RF sells the content across 4 countries and in 17 languages
You can upload photos, vector illustrations, video clips, and audio files. All of these can be also be sold under an Extended license that costs tens of dollars. By getting a 60% commission on such a sale, will earn you a lot of money.
How much does 123RF pay Contributors?
123RF commissions to Contributors are based on your Contributor level.
For example, by being a level 8 Contributor, you will earn $0.432 for each photo downloaded with a subscription plan, and 60% of each sale made with Credits.
|Contributor level||License Points||Subscription||Credits|
You can improve your contributor level by acquiring more License points. But how can you earn License points?
You get a predetermined amount of Licence points for each sale.
For selling photos, vectors, and illustrations, you can get between 1 and 100 License points, based on the images size and license. Video footage will yield between 20 and 255 License points, while with music and sound effects you can get between 2 and 120 License points.
Your Contributor level is determined as the sum of License points acquired over the last 12 months.
How will 123RF pay you?
123RF pays you when your earnings reach US$50.00. You will be paid 15th of every month via PayPal, Skrill, Payoneer, or Alipay (China).
May I sell content elsewhere?
Yes, none of the content on 123RF is exclusive. You can upload to 123RF and also other stock photo sites.
Do I remain the owner when someone purchases my content?
Yes, you’re only selling them the right to use your content and not the ownership. This way you retain the ownership to your content, and you’re free to do with it whatever you want.
How to become a 123RF Contributor?
If you want to become a 123RF contributor just follow the steps below.
Follow these steps to become a 123RF contributor
Total Time: 10 minutes
You can click here.
Verify your account
You will receive an email that you need to verify in order to activate the account.
Upload your ID
To properly verify you, 123RF will need your ID. They promise to encrypt everything; thus, you can safely upload it to your account settings.
Upload a minimum of 10 pieces of content
123RF team will have to review your content first, to determine whether or not you’re a good fit.
Wait to get accepted
This can take up to a couple of days.
123RF Free photos
123RF offers 10 free images during its free trial.
Also, it’s super-easy to claim. Just click here.
You don’t have to worry about getting charged because you can cancel any time. Thus, you can start a free trial, get 10 free images, and cancel. At no cost for you!
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 colour palette tool.
- Calendar: A calendar helps you plan your social media marketing campaigns
How to sell photos on 123rf?
To sell photos to 123RF, you need to create a free Contributor account and upload 3 of your best photos, first. When you get accepted, you can start uploading your photos to earn money.
How to download 123rf images without watermark?
To download images without watermark from 123RF, you need to purchase a license first. It costs from $0.21 upward.
Is 123RF a safe site?
Yes, 123RF is a reputable stock photo agency with years of experience and millions of satisfied customers. It is trusted by Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, American Express, Deloitte, and many more.
What does 123RF mean?
123RF is a stock photo agency of Inmagine Group. “RF” in its name stands for “Royalty-free”, the type of license that this company is most widely known for.
When do I need to cite 123RF as a reference?
123RF and the contributor’s name needs to be cited whenever its content is used in editorial and video film television broadcast (documentaries etc.)
Conclusion | 123RF Review
123RF is one of the cheapest stock photo agencies to buy Royalty-free images from. It is trusted by several giants, including Google, making it 100% legit and safe to use.
Faithful and regular contributors can earn decently from 123RF while retaining the right to contribute to other agencies as well.
Matic is a photographer and avid teacher of photography from Slovenia. In 2020, he founded Photutorial.com, website/blog dedicated to teaching photography, writing honest and helpful reviews, and inspiring photographers.