21 Feb 2011 PantherMedia

PantherMedia logoPantherMedia today announced their new contributor portal, finally replacing their dated and laborious submission system with a much easier and quicker process.

The agency has an interesting history, having evolved considerably over the past three years. They are now considered among the top ten microstock agencies in terms of earnings, and have a lot to set them apart from the others. Let’s take a closer look.


PantherMedia didn’t start life as a microstock agency. When the company launched in 2004 they resembled a traditional agency with staffed sales teams, midstock level pricing and payment by invoice. In 2008 they added an English-language version of their website at the same time and started their evolution towards the microstock business model.

Now they have credits, subscriptions, microstock-level pricing, payment by all the regular online methods and the shiny new contributor portal. They still have the sales teams and payment by invoice, but are, in almost every way, a microstock agency.

What Makes PantherMedia Different?

Euros – customers can pay in one of four different currencies, but contributors are paid in Euros. While not unique, most microstock agencies pay contributors in US Dollars.

Germany – PantherMedia is BIG in Germany. Alexa reports that 69% of their traffic comes from Germany. This is down from 80% in mid-2009, following the translation of their website into English in 2008.

Size-sensitive subscriptions – subscription customers at PantherMedia choose duration (1, 3, 6 or 12 months), quantity of images (100 or 750) per month with no daily limit, and the size (web, print or XXL). Contributors earn 50% commission on the value of each download (price / downloads), averaging 25-30 (Euro cents) for web size, 30 – 35 for print and 35 – 60 for XXL.

The Photo Community – photos can be uploaded separately to appear in the ‘community’ portion of the site where they’re not available for license like images in the ‘agency’. It’s like a mini-Flickr integrated into the site.

Sales teams – beyond the sales support staff that many microstock agencies maintain, PantherMedia has an established sales team actively generating sales for the agency.

Open ratings – some microstock agencies secretly rate images when they’re reviewed, but like BigStock, PantherMedia has open ratings from reviewers. Photos can be rated ‘recommended’ or – even better – ‘editorial tip’, receiving a boost in the search result placement. Only editorial tips are visible to the public, but contributors can see both for their own portfolio. It’s a little different in the Photo Community.

Price exclusive bonus – photos which are not available at other agencies for a cheaper price than at PantherMedia receive an extra 20% royalty.

Quantity bonus – bonus royalty increases are obtained as your portfolio size grows, paying 1% extra when you reach 250, up to a maximum of 10% extra for 10,000 images.

Distribution – unlike most microstock agencies who keep their list of distribution partners secret, PantherMedia publishes theirs. Their partners are also primarily non-microstock sellers of stock photo licenses, creating a valuable cross-market distribution opportunity.

PantherMedia Details

Web Address www.panthermedia.net
Google Pagerank 5
Alexa Rank 62,000
Portfolio size 1,500,000+
Minimum Image Size 1800 pixels on longest side
Vectors No, but raster illustrations (JPG) can be submitted
Footage No
Licenses Royalty Free (Commercial and Editorial), Extended Licenses: Corporate; and merchandising.
Compensation 30% (or 50% for images not available elsewhere at cheaper prices) + quantity bonus up to 10%
Pricing From €0.80 and up for credits or from €0.20 for subscriptions
Payment Methods PayPal or Wire Transfer
Payout Threshold €30
Referral Program 10% of referred buyers and contributors for two years
Application Process 10 question test, and a 40% acceptance rate on the first 20 images is required to avoid a 2 uploads per day limit
Exclusivity 20% higher royalty for images which are not available at other agencies for lower prices
Upload Methods FTP or web form. New contributors with large portfolios can also submit by hard drive or DVD
IPTC Data Yes
Currencies EUR, USD, BPS & PLN (Contributors are paid in EUR only)
Languages German, English, Polish
Headquarters Munich, Germany
Founded 2004

Pros and Cons

Distribution pricing and royalties – distributor license sales occur at the higher ‘invoice’ pricing levels of PantherMedia, though the distributors’ commission of 40 – 50% are taken out before the contributor royalty is calculated. Most distributor sales generate a higher royalty payment to the contributor than direct sales, but it is possible for certain sales to produce a lower royalty.

Size-sensitive subscriptions – receiving more royalties for larger size downloads not only feels better for contributors but is also more lucrative.

New contributor portal – the new submission process is well-structured and efficient, comparing well to the best in the industry. This turns perhaps the biggest detracting element of PantherMedia into an advantage.

Weak watermark – preview images are very large by microstock standards and the watermark only covers the top corner. Theft of images is thought to be less of an issue in the traditional market where buyers are more professional and have less need for small sized images. This is one aspect that PantherMedia hasn’t adapted for the microstock market. [Update: this has since been addressed with a much stronger watermark]

If you register to take your commissions via PayPal, PantherMedia verifies your account first by taking a €0.35 payment. This is a little unusual, but if it overcomes disputes over payments it’s not a big deal.

Other pros and cons include the lack of vectors and videos, but inclusion of editorial licenses. The agency system plays nice with ProStockMaster for contributors and Pixamba for buyers.

The Verdict

PantherMedia is among the top revenue generating agencies in the microstock market as evidenced by the ongoing earnings poll at Microstock Group and the many microstock contributors I’ve asked. With the new submission process and contributor portal, it’s very likely to be a financially worthwhile process submitting your content. None of the issues or weaknesses of the agency are deal-breakers, and it’s difficult to overlook their ability to generate revenue – the most illusive aspect of the smaller and newer microstock agencies.

I’ve already started uploading my portfolio and hope to get the majority of my better images online in the coming months.

You can register at PantherMedia here.

  • Tyler Olson - MicrostockGroup
    Posted at 05:18h, 21 February Reply

    You beat me to it… 😉 My panther post will be coming soon – thanks for the link though. I agree though, although PantherMedia isn’t one of the ‘big 4’ microstock sites they are certainly a steady mid-range earner.

  • Mikhail Lavrenov
    Posted at 10:29h, 22 February Reply

    I did feel Panthermedia has a good selling potential as I got some sales even with my tiny portfolio around 100 pics. But their upload process was horrible.

    I am glad they finally came with the new version, even though it took them so long. I tried it, uploaded a couple of batches and I like it a lot better than the previous one.

  • Zbynek Burival
    Posted at 14:45h, 23 February Reply

    There is one very painful thing for EU insiders – technically we should be all registered VAT payers and send invoices to Panther (or Alamy or Fotolia also based in EU) and they should send them stamped back to us. EU is in some ways extremely idiotic and VAT is real business killer. Dunno which idiot came with idea that selling stock photos is SERVICE and so if you sell picture outside EU – its 100% ok. If you sell it to other EU country, you will become immediately VAT payer (normally you would in my country only with year cash-flow over $60k) and your torture begins. Quaterly reports to financial office, prepaid taxes (always too high), tight controls etc.

    In fact nobody does apply this law till the last paragraph yet but with tight EU budget and EU squeezing every penny from us I think this will be serious problem pretty soon. That is one very importatnt reason to avoid microstock site based in EU – I can imagine swaping invoices with Alamy if necessary for those few sales per year but handling microstock downloads is absolutely impossible!!!

  • Marianne
    Posted at 01:25h, 24 February Reply

    Hi Lee:
    I know you’re not from the US (or the EU for that matter), but as you’re always so well informed, do you know how it works if you’re from the US and they pay you in Euros? Does PayPal convert the euros to US dollars? If so, do they take a commission out?
    Just curious if you or anyone else on the board here has any info. Thanks.

    • Lee Torrens
      Posted at 06:44h, 24 February Reply

      Hi Marianne,

      My understanding of how this works is:

      If your PayPal account has Euros as one of its supported currencies, then the funds are deposited as Euros, and you’re free to spend them as Euros or exchange them to any of your supported currencies at the PayPal exchange rate.

      You can add any currency you like to your PayPal account, and I don’t think there’s any limit to the number of currencies you can add.

      If your account doesn’t support Euros, I ‘believe’ the payment will be converted to your default currency when it’s received.

      Even though my account is with PayPal Australia, US Dollars is my default currency, but I’ve added Australian Dollars, Euros and Pounds Sterling. When I receive a payment from PantherMedia in Euros, it enters my account as Euros and stays that way until I convert it.

      Note that PayPal needs to offset costs of foreign exchange (and generate a profit), so their exchange rate is always less favorable than market rates. I recall reading somewhere that it was a flat 2% less.

      Please do your own due diligence on these details, but hopefully they help you understand and figure out where to look.


      • Tyler Olson - MicrostockGroup
        Posted at 06:49h, 24 February Reply

        That’s how I understand it too Lee and how I have things set in my Paypal account. Except I think Paypal gobbles up 2.5% of your cash in a conversion

      • Marianne
        Posted at 23:43h, 24 February Reply

        Thanks Lee & Tyler. That’s kind of what I expected. The PantherMedia site didn’t have anything specific and when I tried to access their forum it was in German. When I returned from a trip to Scotland, Italy & France a few years ago, I was unable to exchange my Pounds & Euros back to dollars. They are awaiting my next trip overseas. It may be quite a while before I use them.

  • Jaren
    Posted at 17:49h, 01 March Reply

    It would be nice to try uploading but I can’t read German and I can’t seem to find an English or translate tab. How did you all figure out the site?

  • Andreas G. Karelias
    Posted at 02:07h, 17 March Reply

    I uploaded a handful of images when Lee put up this review and they still have not reviewed them. This is very frustrating.
    Regards – Andreas

    • Wayne
      Posted at 01:26h, 03 April Reply

      I wrote to Panthermedia about my own submissions. Their response was that since the debut of the easy upload tool they have been swamped with submissions. Their backlog was in the area of 3 weeks.

    • Andreas G. Karelias
      Posted at 18:08h, 05 April Reply

      Well, things do not seem to be that well with Pantermedia. It is pity because they appear to be a very descent stock agency.

      After uploading a sample of 20 images they spent a lot of time until they reviewed them and did so only when Lee promised to help, for which I am most grateful. Then they accepted all of my uploaded images, except my highest seller in other agencies (an image that has brought over more than 6.000 USD), and classified the people images from the sample of 20 as “unfinished”, or something similar.

      This peculiar treatment for the people images was based on their argument that no model releases were uploaded, which was totally untrue. Model releases had in fact been uploaded. I sent them an e-mail informing them of their error, and the fact that model releases were properly uploaded, and after a few hours they came back and accepted the people images. Later that night and all of a sudden, someone from Panthermedia decided to change the status of an already accepted image to rejected. This has never happened to me before in any of the 24 stock agencies that I upload to.

      Anyway and despite these shortcomings, I decided to enrich my portfolio with them and since March 18th I have uploaded another 70 images, half of them between 18th and 19th March. They have yet to review any of these 70 images despite the fact that two-and a half weeks have passed since.

      This is very frustrating to say the least. Not even iStockPhoto take that long for non-exclusive contributors. If they have a problem and a huge backlog, at least they should put a warning informing contributors of the fact that there will be delays, and provide an estimate of the delays.

      I would be most grateful to know if other contributors have faced similar problems to mine.

      Best regards to all.

  • Wayne
    Posted at 02:18h, 24 March Reply

    I joined, uploaded via FTP and started to edit my photos but became confused with the very last part about Rights and Commission. I’d like some clarification if you could from your own experience with the site.
    Can Editorial photos be sold with extended licences? I have no idea what New web price means or whether it is good to check it or not. They haven’t explained subscription well so even here I don’t know what is best. As to commissions would you say that the top microstock agencies (iStockphoto, Dreamstime, Shutterstock, Fotolia) would qualify for 50% commission?

    Maybe I should (and will) be asking Panthermedia directly. Most of their forum seems to be in German.

    • Lee Torrens
      Posted at 04:04h, 24 March Reply

      Hi Wayne, PantherMedia are still re-writing their contributors guide, so unfortunately it is a little difficult to find the specifics of some aspects. I’ll do what I can to help.

      Yes, images marked as editorial use only can be offered with extended licenses. The ‘corporate’ extended license, at least, doesn’t conflict with the Editorial requirements.

      The “New Web Price” is just ‘microstock’ pricing. Previously, PantherMedia were a midstock priced agency only, so for them, the microstock level pricing is new. It would be a smart idea for them to change that name.

      And finally, if you’ve got your content on those agencies you mentioned, you won’t qualify for the 50% commission. You’ll have to specify 30% to be in compliance with the PantherMedia rules.

      I hope that helps,

      • Wayne
        Posted at 06:43h, 24 March Reply

        That really helped, Lee. Thanks. I had unchecked extended licence and was unsure about the other parts. I will correct my initial uploads and, hopefully, see a few sales.

        Thanks again,

  • Robert Walters, PantherMedia
    Posted at 03:26h, 06 April Reply

    Hi everybody, I am sorry for the confusion on some points and would like to take the opportunity to explain the background and answer your questions.

    If you click on the flag at the bottom of each page, you can switch languages. We also have an english speaking forum and our photographers (and ourselves) are happy to answer in English. In your account settings, you can also opt-out German language, so you will block German from the forum.

    Info regarding the commission system can be found here:

    Info on the contributor portal can be found here:

    The tax situation is easy at PantherMedia. If you request your payout, and your are a non-German citizen, we will send you a credit note at the end of the month and transfer the full net amount (without VAT) to your desired account (paypal, clickandbuy, bank transfer). There is no need to send us invoices. All payouts at PantherMedia is in EUR.

    I am sorry for the upload and review problems. Currently, there are two problems. First, we were taken by surprise in the huge upload rate (six times higher than before). We are now scaling up in staff and are trying to get down on the backlog, but that may take a while. Second, there is indeed a problem with the first 20 images. Usually, they should ne prioritized, meaning that the first 20 images are reviewed on the same/next day of the upload to enable new contributors to upload their full portfolio. Our IT is currently fising this bug. Your other images are all in the pending line and will be reviewed as fast as possible. I have also looked at your two rejected images and have discussed that with the reviewers. We have accepted the images now.

    Editorial images can be sold in the corporate licence model, but not in the merchandising licence model. Merchandising articles are always commercial products, so putting celebrities or similiar editorial images on a coffee mug is not allowed. New web price refers to web licences sold on invoice only (not credit and not subscription payment) and are offered at 1,90 and 4,90 instean of 4,90 and 9,90 Euro. This option is only active if you upload exclusive images (50% + quantity bonus). If you also upload to other microstock sites, please choose 30% + quantity bonus as your commission.

    If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact our support directly. We are happy to answer all questions! I wish you a lot of success on PantherMedia!


  • Paul
    Posted at 06:03h, 15 April Reply

    Panthermedia website it’s horrible and the upload process it’s a pain, we are in 2016 and the website it’s stuck in 2000

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