Our Review: 

123rf (123-royalty-free) has been a slow but steady earner for me for more than 10 years now. Before the April 2010 update to their site sales results were rather sad considering the time the site has been around and the otherwise good looking traffic and image collection the site had attained in that time. Since the makeover which brought in several new social features image sales seem (very cautiously) to have improved.

In January 2012 123rf announced they would be changing their current offer of 50% commission in favour of a tiered system starting at 30% and extending up to 60% based on the value of images downloaded from your portfolio in the past 12 months. These changes came into effect on January 2013.


Site Features

123rf now has all the site features you would expect of the major players in the microstock industry, good search, lightboxes, international languages sub-sites, subscriptions, phone and live chat support etc.


A Unique Collection

Like istockphoto, fotolia and others 123rf have their own premium collection of images called EVO. The EVO collection is handpicked by editors (invitation only) and has 4 different price tiers between 5 and 40 times the credit cost of a standard image.


123rf allow you to mark 5% of your portfolio as favorites (under ‘faved’ in your account). These images are given better search rankings, this allows you to showcase some of your favorite images or attempt to steer buyers towards images you want to sell e.g. your favorite from a batch of similar concepts.



I've re-written this review since the April 2010 update to 123rf. The previous review was somewhat negative, I think deservedly so. Stagnation seemed to have set in and the other sites at the 'lower end of the big 6' were certainly leaving 123rf far behind. Since the new site design launched things have drastically improved, if not in sales certainly in site usability - 123rf appears to have 'turned a corner'. The site is clean and professional, not just visually but in features like 'your personal account manager' and the general language that the site now uses (the old version of the site had phrases like "Sit back, Watch the Moolah roll in" on the photographers sign-up page).

While 123rf is not going likely to become your best earner in the near future, over the years 123rf have proved their reliably to perform and should continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
I recommend you upload to 123rf. 123rf also represents great value as an image source for buyers.

As of 2015 123rf has slipped down to 9th place in my earnings rank, overtaken by strong competition from photodune and depositphotos - I think overtaken is the key phrase here, I don't think 123 are going backwards, it's simply the cometition is getting better at the game.



For more details see 123rf.com


Site Details
Media Types (in addition to RF Images): 
This site accepts editorial images
This site accepts video footage
This site accepts vector illustrations
(sort by agency)
Real US$ Cost of 1 Standard Image: 
6.8 (compare prices)
Referral Scheme: 
Yes, 15% of purchases for first year and a commission around 10% on each sale a referred photographer makes (compare rates)
Cost of a standard image (1600x1200) 2MP approx: 
4 Credits
Royalty Rate: 
50% [as of Jan 2013 Tiered, Starting at 30% increasing to 60% based download value (credits used) in past 12 months] (compare)
Cost of 1 Credit (basic): 
$ 1.7
FTP Upload: 

Address: ftp://submit.123rf.com
Username: [Yourusername]


10,150,350 or 750 images per month, Length of Subscription 1 or 12 month
Monthly 10 images/month $39 (based on converted price)
Monthly: 150 images/month $89 (based on converted price)
Annual: 10 images/month $349 (based on converted price)
Annual: 150 images/month $849 (based on converted price)

(compare subscriptions)
Reseller(?) details on application 123rf.com/partners/index.php (list all)
Site Statistics
Approx. size of photo collection (0 = no current estimate): 
110,000,000 Images (compare)
Alexa Traffic Rank: 
926 (a measure of the site popularity, lower number is better)
Alexa 3 Month Change: 
-86% (measurement of the increase of site popularity compared with three months ago, negative is a decrease)
fan page link (list all)
@123rf (list all)
Overall Rating: 
6/10 (compare sites)

Randi Scott's picture

Thank you

Randi Scott (not verified) on Thu, 2010-03-18 13:46
It is quiet in here so I thought I'd be the first :-) I'm just getting my feet wet in the world of stock photography and I found this article very helpful. I post tutorials on my blog and it's annoying when you get lots of hits and no thank yous. So thank you :-) Randi Scott
Steve Gibson's picture

write something that is

Steve Gibson on Mon, 2010-03-22 00:50
write something that is factually incorrect or controversial, they'll comment! lol
Kimberley's picture

123rf review

Kimberley (not verified) on Thu, 2010-10-14 04:04
Thank you. I'm in the market to start using commercial-free stock images and after a quick hunt around 123rf seems to be the best on the surface. On further investigation, I came across blog posts that just seem more ads (and probably are), but your review seems completely impartial and has helped me to make the decision to precede. Thanks again!

Add new comment

Popular content