Shutterstock vs Adobe Stock: Which One is Best in 2022

Is Shutterstock better than Adobe Stock? Or is Adobe Stock better than Shutterstock? Are Shutterstock and Adobe Stock the same? Go ahead and find out everything about Adobe Stock vs Shutterstock.

These stock photo sites are at the top of the game, and while they have different strengths, it can be hard to decide which one to go for.

Stock Images Photos Vectors Video and Music Shutterstock > Shutterstock vs Adobe Stock: Which One is Best in 2022

Today, we put our extensive knowledge and expertise in the stock photo industry to answer these questions that constantly concern stock photo buyers, and tell you all the relevant points in the Shutterstock vs Adobe Stock debate.

Curious about which one comes out on top? Then dive right in! Don’t have a lot of time? No worries, we start with a TL;DR summary: 

TL; DR: Shutterstock vs Adobe Stock Comparison Summary

Shutterstock is a stock photo company that sells Royalty Free images online. Adobe Stock is Adobe’s dedicated stock photography service and provides high-quality images both as stand-alone and integrated into Adobe Creative Cloud. Both companies offer access to thousands of curated photos that are ready for use. However, Adobe Stock does not offer access to the same selection of images that Shutterstock does at a cheaper cost. Both offer the images in a royalty-free license.

For on-demand buying, Adobe Stock wins in flexibility and per-image rates. Shutterstock offers the simpler buying method, though.
For subscriptions, Shutterstock is a clear winner in terms of the lowest prices and high-volume plans. Adobe Stock has more multimedia download options.

In our opinion, Shutterstock is ideal for businesses of all sizes, marketers, and advertisers looking for great photos for commercial use. Adobe Stock, on the other hand, is a great match for graphic designers, artists, and creatives of all avenues that use Adobe applications to design trendy visuals.

Both agencies are great places to sell photos online if you are into taking photos and making some extra cash! Here you can also learn more about the contributor's program from Shutterstock and how to be a good Shutterstock contributor and the one from Adobe Stock where you can learn to be an Adobe Stock contributor. More insights about how to sell images you can find here.

ideal for
best features
what you must know
ideal for
Businesses, marketers, freelancers, bloggers
best features
The commercial value in images, the giant library, the tech features
what you must know
Has 400+ million images, and the lowest per-image prices with stock photo subscriptions
ideal for
Designers, graphic artists, creative marketers
best features
The image quality, the premium segment, the Adobe Creative Cloud full integration
what you must know
It's fully integrated into Adobe Creative Cloud, and images are super trendy

If you want to learn more about the why’s of our recommendation, read ahead! And if you want to test even more stock agencies with no risk, see about all the other stock photo-free trials we can recommend to you.

wwww.shutterstock.com homepage

What is Shutterstock?

Shutterstock is a stock agency that sells Royalty Free images aka stock images online. They’ve been around since 2003 and are at the top of the industry pretty much since. See our Shutterstock review!

Stock Images Photos Vectors Video and Music Shutterstock > Shutterstock vs Adobe Stock: Which One is Best in 2022
www.adobe.com homepage

What is Adobe Stock?

Adobe Stock is Adobe’s dedicated stock photography service, which operates as a stand-alone as well as integrated into Adobe Creative Cloud apps like Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator. It was launched in 2015 and has been hugely popular and a strong competitor to Shutterstock in the space since then. Read our Adobe Stock review!

Stock photos royalty free images graphics vectors videos Adobe Stock > Shutterstock vs Adobe Stock: Which One is Best in 2022

Adobe Stock Offers vs Shutterstock Free Trials

Shutterstock Free Trial Adobe Stock Free Trial
Number of downloads 10 images 10, 25, or 40 images
Trial period duration 30 days 30 days
Regular price $29/mo $29.99/mo, $49.99 or $79.99/mo
Cancelation window First 25 days First 30 days
Commitment (if you don't cancel) 1 year (11 months after free trial) 1 year (11 months after free trial)
GET YOUR
SHUTTERSTOCK FREE TRIAL
GET YOUR
ADOBE STOCK FREE TRIAL

Shutterstock has more recently introduced a free trial for their 10 downloads and a subscription for a one-year plan. With this offer, you sign up for an annual subscription (regularly priced at $29/mo) and you get the first month completely free, including 10 stock image downloads of your choice. If you cancel within the first 25 days, you are not charged a dime. More info is in our guide for Shutterstock Free Trial. 

Shutterstock Free Trial Try Shutterstock for Free > Shutterstock vs Adobe Stock: Which One is Best in 2022

The Adobe Stock Free Trial has been around for a while (hint: since before Shutterstock’s) and works pretty much identically: it’s a first month free for an annual plan with 10 downloads per month (which goes for $29.99/mo), and you can cancel free of charge within the first 30 days.

Adobe Stock pricing and membership plan Adobe Stock > Shutterstock vs Adobe Stock: Which One is Best in 2022

More recently, the mechanism was added to their next two plans. So now it’s possible to get 25 and even 40 downloads for free, for 30 days. In all cases, after the initial month, you get charged the regular price per month, for 11 months, unless you cancel. 

buiyu > Shutterstock vs Adobe Stock: Which One is Best in 2022

Is Adobe Stock Free with Creative Cloud? — Yes, you can use your Adobe Stock free trial integrated with Creative Cloud apps, like Adobe Creative Cloud Express, Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, Lightroom, and more. 

Adobe stock vs Shutterstock Free Trials Contrast Conclusion

Both Adobe Stock and Shutterstock offer high-res royalty-free stock photos for free, and the system is almost identical. However, this is what you need to know:

Our experts think
The good
The not so good
Shutterstock
Shutterstock
Start Free Trial
Our experts think
It's a very good deal to test the waters in stock photography
The good
The regular price is cheaper (if you stay subscribed)
The not so good
Doesn't include video or audio files
Adobe Stock
Adobe Stock
Start Free Trial
Our experts think
It's very good for artists to verify image quality before committing to pay for a subscription
The good
Offers more downloads, including video and audio
The not so good
Regular prices are slightly higher (if you stay subscribed)

Promo Codes for Shutterstock and Adobe Stock

Our collaboration with Shutterstock brings you an exclusive Shutterstock Coupon Code with 15% off that applies to almost everything on their site: images and videos, both on-demand and subscriptions, even the new Flex subscription. And from time to time, we have flash offers with even better discounts!

Shutterstock Coupon Code and Promo Code 2022 Shutterstock > Shutterstock vs Adobe Stock: Which One is Best in 2022

While we work closely with Adobe Stock to bring you all the latest news and the best service, at this time we do not have an Adobe Stock promo code available. 

Pricing Comparison – Subscriptions & On-Demand Packages

Shutterstock and Adobe Stock have stock photo subscriptions and on-demand buying options available. Subscriptions are ideal for those needing images constantly, and on-demand makes more sense for occasional use instead of subscription plans.

Subscription Plans 

Monthly Plans Shutterstock Adobe Stock
Number of monthly downloads 10, 50, 350, 750 3, 25, 40, 750
Monthly price $49 to $249 $29.99 to $249.99
Price per image $4.90 to $0.33 $9.99 to $0.33
Annual Plans – billed monthly
Number of downloads 10, 50, 350, 750 10, 25, 40, 750
Monthly price $29 to $199 $29.99 to $199.99
Price per image $2.90 to $0.26 $2.99 to $0.26
Annual Paid – paid upfront –
Number of downloads 10, 50, 350, 750
Price (one payment upfront) $299 to $1,999
Price per image $2.49 to $0.22

Both stock agencies have very similar plans, with relatively the same prices and identical smaller and biggest plans (fun fact: Shutterstock invented the stock photo subscription!).

The main difference is that Adobe Stock monthly subscription plans let you roll over unused downloads from one month to the next, as long as your plan is active. Comparing Shutterstock, which does not have this feature. However, what Shutterstock does have is a mid-high volume plan of 350 downloads per month, whereas Adobe Stock has two low-volume options for 25 or 40 images. Another key difference, Shutterstock has a yearly prepaid option that offers the lowest per-image rates of all. Adobe Stock does not include any such offer. Therefore Shutterstock is slightly cheaper.

Stock Photo Royalty Free Image Prices and Plans Shutterstock > Shutterstock vs Adobe Stock: Which One is Best in 2022

Combined Subscriptions (Multiple Media Downloads)

Plan Shutterstock (Flex)* Adobe Stock
Number of downloads per asset 25 images/3 videos/6 audio files 25 images/audio files – 3 HD videos
40 images/audio files – 6 HD videos
750 images/audio files – 25 HD videos
Price per month $69 $69.99 to $249.99
Price per month with annual plan $49 $49.99 to $199.99
Price per year paid upfront $499
*Learn more about the brand-new flex subscription

One hot topic in pricing right now is that of hybrid subscription plans, that let you download multiple stock content types indistinctly. 

Shutterstock recently introduced the FLEX subscription, which lets you download images, video clips, and music tracks with one single plan, which comes at $49/mo for 25 credits (how many of each media type you can download varies). 

Shutterstock Flex 25 Home > Shutterstock vs Adobe Stock: Which One is Best in 2022

Compare Adobe Stock, which seems to be testing something similar, as they have turned their mid-to-high volume plans into “mix&match” subscriptions that enable images, audio, and HD video downloads. For example, the 25 images a month plan is also good for up to 3 HD clips and 10 audio files (for the same price). Plus, these plans add a 20% discount for the purchase of 4K videos, premium content, and extended licenses. And don't forget that unused downloads can be piled onto the next month.

Adobe Stock free trial Get 10 Stock images free Adobe Stock Adobe Stock 1 > Shutterstock vs Adobe Stock: Which One is Best in 2022

Subscription Plans Conclusion

If you only need images, either agency will meet your needs just fine, but Shutterstock has slightly cheaper prices, while Adobe Stock has more options for small budgets, and rollover of downloads.

Now, if you also need videos and music tracks, it gets trickier. Shutterstock’s Flex plan includes access to 4K stock footage and music and is reasonably priced. Adobe Stock’s mix&match plans have more options in terms of volume of downloads and are affordable, but they don’t include 4K videos, only a discount. What suits you best is tied to what exactly you are looking for. 

On-Demand Plans

On-Demand Pack Shutterstock Adobe Stock
Pack size 2, 5, 25 (images) 5, 16, 40, 80, 150 (credits)
Pack price $29 to $229 $49.95 to $1,200
Price per image $14.50 to $9.16 $9.99 to $8
Pack valid for One year One year

When it comes to buying images by paying as you go, these agencies have different buying systems: Shutterstock has image-on-demand packs, and Adobe Stock sells credit packs. 

With Shutterstock on demand packs, you pay for image downloads upfront and then have a whole year –from the purchase date– to use them. You can only download images (photos, illustrations, vector graphics) with a Standard license for commercial use. Though they have Enhanced licenses packs too as well as video packs, plus music tracks and Editorial licenses that sell by the unit, separately. 

Adobe Stock credit packs are bundles of a fictional currency (the credits) that you pay upfront, and then you can use those credits to download media; credit packs are good for one year from the day you buy them. All media is priced in credits starting at 1 credit per Standard license image, and the added bonus in this system is you can download images, 3D assets, videos, Premium images, Extended licenses, and Editorial content, all with the same credit pack. 

On-Demand Pricing Conclusion

If you work mainly with images and only need a handful here and there, Shutterstock's system is very simple, and their prices are alright. 

If you need different media formats, however, Adobe Stock’s buying method is slightly more complex but much more flexible for your needs. 

Extended Licenses (Enhanced Licenses)

Extended Licenses Shutterstock Adobe Stock
Number of downloads 2, 5, 25 1
Price $199 to $1,699 $79.99
Price per image $99.50 to $67.96 $79.99 (or less, when using credits)

Last but not least, both stock photo agencies have Extended license images available, on-demand and at a higher price point than Standard images.

 In Shutterstock, you buy them in packs, in Adobe Stock you can buy them by the unit, or with credits. 

Extended License Price Conclusion

In Shutterstock, the buying process and licensing terms are much simpler, but in Adobe Stock the price for an Extended license is cheaper. So the clear winner here is Adobe Stock.

Licensing Differences and Similarities

Shutterstock and Adobe Stock both work with Royalty Free licenses only. This license type gives you a battery of usage rights for a one-time fee. Basically, pay once and use the image forever. Here are some differences and similarities between the two contracts. 

Standard License Shutterstock Adobe Stock
Buying method Subscription,
image pack
Subscription,
credit pack
Price per license $0.22 to $14.50 $0.26 to $9.99
Valid for Perpetuity Perpetuity
Commercial use (marketing, advertising)
Web views Unlimited Unlimited
Print copies/digital reproductions 500,000 500,000
Broadcast/theatrical/streaming Projects with up to a $10,000 budget Limited to 500,000 viewers
Legal warranty $10,000 Unlimited

Shutterstock and Adobe Stock Licenses: Common Traits

Both agencies give you the right to use images for commercial purposes such as marketing and advertising, without restrictions regarding geographic location, medium, or time. 

In both cases, you may use the images in print or digital designs, up to 500,000 copies/reproductions. 

You may also use the content on social media, without limitations on audience numbers. 

You can edit these images in many ways: cropping, flipping, color correcting, overlaying text, adding custom elements or filters, etc. The only thing you cannot do is edit them or use them in a way that puts the content, the models, the photographer, and/or the agency in a bad light (this is known as Sensitive Use). 

And you can use them in client work – as in, designing a visual for your client. 

Key Differences Between Shutterstock and Adobe Stock Licensing

Shutterstock allows using the images in videos for YouTube or film/TV broadcasts, provided the project’s budget doesn’t exceed $10,000. This is unique to the agency, pretty much no other site has this restriction. 

Adobe Stock, on the other hand, enables broadcast-oriented use, as long as the estimated audience doesn’t surpass 500,000 viewers. 

Plus, Adobe Stock has a special license for video, templates, 3D assets, and Premium and Editorial images. It’s called Enhanced license, and it includes all rights from Standard plus unlimited reproductions/viewers. 

License Comparison Shutterstock > Shutterstock vs Adobe Stock: Which One is Best in 2022

This is where it gets tricky, as Shutterstock also has an Enhanced license, but it expands Standard rights to include unlimited reproductions/project budgets, and the use of the images in products for resale –think of mass reproduction or any item where the image is the core value, like t-shirts or posters–. And it’s available for all their content. 

www.shutterstock.com licensing

Even more complicated, all the aforementioned rights can be found in Adobe Stock too… under the name of an Extended license. This contract enables unlimited print copies and unrestricted number of viewers for broadcast projects, plus products for resale.

9394C4C1 598A 492A ACED E0B21679FCFC 4 5005 c > Shutterstock vs Adobe Stock: Which One is Best in 2022

Finally, both agencies offer a legal warranty, indemnification in the case someone wrongly accuses you of copyright infringement or other legal violations related to your use of the photos. But whereas Shutterstock offers $10,000 for a Standard license and $250,000 for Extended license images, Adobe Stock provides full, unlimited legal coverage in all their licenses. 

Licensing Comparative Conclusion

Shutterstock has very simple terms and covers most intended uses, but the budget limit restriction is unusual, it can be difficult to abide by due to having to calculate the total project budget. Plus, the legal warranty is limited. If you are a blogger or business owner who only needs images for marketing, this might be more than enough.

Adobe Stock complicates things with having mid-tier licenses for some assets, but their terms are much easier to comply with and have unlimited coverage. Creatives and users from all trades that value a good pricing deal and full legal backup might be more comfortable with Adobe Stock’s licensing. 

Image Library and Image Quality Analysis: Size, Style & More

We’ve talked about how much images cost and what you can do with them. Let’s talk about exactly what kind of images, how good is the image quality and how many you can find on these stock photo websites and how good is their royalty free content.

Content Library Shutterstock Adobe Stock
Still images (photos, vectors, templates, graphics) 400+ million 250+ million
License type Royalty-Free Royalty-Free
Extended license?
Stock footage 24+ million 24 million
Music/Audio? Tens of thousands Tens of thousands
Premium content
3D content

Shutterstock has one of the largest stock imagery catalogs on the web – it’s massive! For any given keyword or theme, you find days’ worth of results. It’s also an uber-commercial library, the images are ready to go from their site onto your ad. Thoroughly checked for technical quality and commercial value, each one of Shutterstock’s photos is suitable for professional use and comes in high-resolution at very large sizes. 

Pro-tip: Shutterstock tends to have entire photo series (images taken in the same photoshoot) in their collections. While this means that there is a considerable amount of repetitive pictures with little variations, it is also a valuable resource for visual storytelling.

Adobe Stock has nothing to envy in terms of library size, their collection is a huge –fun fact: their catalog was built on the base of the former Fotolia agency, which had tens of millions of images–. But since Adobe is strongly creative-oriented, the pictures in their stock library have a clear trendy feel, and they select them for their artistic potential as much as their commercial value. They’re all HD and large-sized, suitable for large format printing and all kinds of digital work. This catalog includes a Premium segment, as well as 3D content.

Pro-tip: Adobe Stock is a designer’s dreamland in terms of imagery. Their content is super relevant and the photos have a touch of artistry and originality that helps them stand out in the crowd. 

Library Analysis Conclusion

Shutterstock is the best choice for those who want images that sell –an idea, a concept, a product, etc.– and don’t need a lot of touch-ups. Businesses of all sizes, marketers, bloggers, solopreneurs, would find the best value for their cash here. 

Adobe Stock is your go-to if you are an Adobe fan –working with Photoshop, Illustrator, Creative Cloud Express, etc.–, but most of all if you’re a visual artist or graphic designer. Even if your creations are bound for commercial use, every time you want the images to have relevance in the design, Adobe Stock content serves you best.

Bonus Services Facedown: What’s in Each Box

A big reason for both these agencies to be fan favorites is that they offer a lot more than just stock photos. Next, we are going to see what each of them includes in their services and how those bonuses can impact your decision for one or the other.  

Additional Media (Footage, Music, Vectors & More)

While these are primarily stock photo sites, both companies include a huge selection of vector illustrations and graphics in their catalogs and have expanded to include dedicated video and audio collections years ago. Let's look at their video quality compared to each agency.

Stock Footage Video Royalty Free HD 4K Video Clips Shutterstock > Shutterstock vs Adobe Stock: Which One is Best in 2022

Shutterstock Video has 24+ million clips and growing, all content being HD and 4K or even higher resolution. You can buy these clips on-demand with a video pack, with a video subscription, or as part of the mix-and-match Flex subscription. They also have Shutterstock Music, a collection with tens of thousands of tracks which are also available on demand by the unit, or with a subscription –there is even an unlimited music plan–, including Shutterstock Flex. 

Adobe Stock has a video collection with around 24 million files as well, HD and 4K quality guaranteed, plus tens of thousands of tracks in their audio library. You can buy stock videos and music tracks on-demand paying as you go, but now with the mix&match option in their mid-tier image subscriptions, you can access video downloads within your plan… and get between 3 and 6 HD videos and from 10 music tracks for free with the Adobe Stock Free Trial! A big plus is an integration into the Adobe Premiere software.

Royalty Free Video Stock Footage HD Video Loops Clips Adobe Stock > Shutterstock vs Adobe Stock: Which One is Best in 2022

Last but not least, Adobe Stock has dedicated 3D assets collections, which are absent at Shutterstock. 

Editing Tools

Shutterstock rolled out their own Shutterstock Editor some years ago. This is a user-friendly, web-based image editor that performs simple but effective edits very easily. It’s also completely free for all. Very useful.

Free Online Photo Editor Image Editing Software Shutterstock > Shutterstock vs Adobe Stock: Which One is Best in 2022

Adobe Stock is fully integrated into Adobe Creative Cloud. You can access the entire library from any of the Adobe tools (Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, etc.), without leaving your designing board. Adobe apps are rather complex. But if you want a user-friendly option, there is Creative Cloud Express (formerly Adobe Spark) which is simple to use and has a free version you can access. 

Adobe Creative marketing and document management solutions > Shutterstock vs Adobe Stock: Which One is Best in 2022

FAQs 

Both sites have extensive coverage of frequently asked questions for users, neatly organized. 

Shutterstock has a dedicated help center where you can search for your question or keywords related to it, or simply surf through categories like billing and payment or technical help. You have the option to start a live chat, set up a call, or send an email with your question/problem. Mind you, the live chat support is not that great. 

Shutterstock Help Center > Shutterstock vs Adobe Stock: Which One is Best in 2022

Adobe Stock provides a “learn and support” section that is packed with basic information and answers to common questions, as well step-by-step guides and even tutorials. There is also a search bar to find the info you need, plus a community forum where you can interact with both Adobe representatives and other users, which can be helpful.  

Adobe Stock Learn Support > Shutterstock vs Adobe Stock: Which One is Best in 2022

Blog

Both agencies have dedicated blogs for creatives. Shutterstock focuses more on marketing design and technical advice. Adobe Stock puts emphasis on visual trends and artistic development. 

The Shutterstock Blog Creative Design and Photography > Shutterstock vs Adobe Stock: Which One is Best in 2022

Bonuses Conclusion

Shutterstock thrives on giving buyers solutions to work faster and easier. Adobe Stock’s perks are more about inspiring and empowering creatives. None is better than the other, they’re convenient depending on your profile and needs. 

Adobe Stock pricing and membership plan Adobe Stock 1 > Shutterstock vs Adobe Stock: Which One is Best in 2022

The Moment of Truth: Which is Better, Adobe Stock or Shutterstock? 

Just like we summarized earlier, our conclusion to this comparison is that each agency serves best different types of buyers. 

Everything in Shutterstock caters heavily to business-minded folk. Their ideal customer is someone who wants photos that can sell an idea visually, that is affordable, easy to get, and can be turned into marketing designs quickly. If this is what you look for, Shutterstock is for you. 

Adobe Stock is oriented to the creative community. This includes marketers and designers working commercially, but with their core in beautiful, groundbreaking visuals. Their entire service aims at making the design workflow more efficient and providing state-of-the-art content. If this sounds appealing, go for Adobe Stock. 

Are you team Shutterstock or Adobe Stock for the win? Let us know!

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