07 Oct 2007 Which Microstock Websites have the Biggest Thumbnails?

Let’s compare thumbnails across microstock agency websites. Many agencies use different sized thumbnails in different parts of their websites. This list is the largest un-watermarked thumbnail size each microstock website provides. Size is specified in pixels. The subject photo is a rare gem from my recent shoots in London.

StockXpert thumbnail example Shutterstock thumbnail example BigStockPhoto thumbnail example Crestock thumbnail example Fotolia thumbnail example iStockphoto thumbnail example
66 x 100
67 x 100
73 x 110
73 x 110
73 x 110
73 x 110
LuckyOliver thumbnail example Dreamstime thumbnail example CanStockPhoto thumbnail example 123rf thumbnail example SnapVillage thumbnail example
80 x 120
87 x 130
99 x 150
112 x 168
132 x 200

Thumbnails attract buyers to the photo they’re seeking. They need to be large enough for the buyer to see what’s in the photo. Buyers simply click the thumbnail of a suitable photo to see the larger and watermarked preview. There is no need for a thumbnail to be any larger than required to see what’s in the photo. As you can see from the examples above, there is quite a range in thumbnail size.

StockXpertStockXpert and Shutterstock are the smallest, though you can still clearly see what the photo is about. 73 x 110 seems to be almost a standard with four agencies using that size. Then we start increasing in size up to 123rf and SnapVillage.

I purchase photos for this blog, using them to help illustrate the point of my article and provide a little color. I either pay for them at iStockphoto or use the referral credits I’ve accrued at 123rf. I then reduce the size so the longest edge is 200 pixels to display them in my article. I didn’t realize it before now, but that’s exactly the size of the thumbnail at SnapVillage.

There is nothing stopping me using SnapVillage thumbnails instead of paying for my photos. There is nothing stopping anyone doing so if 200 x 132 is big enough for their purpose.

  • Jan
    Posted at 08:51h, 18 July Reply

    Lee, using thumbnails of copyright protected images (without paying the license to use the image) is illegal. You put yourself into risk of lawsuit (- and your clients as well, if you use unlicensed thumbnail in some kind of work for them). Today there are several ways of tracking the use of image and you can bet sooner or later you will get into troubles… Yes, nothing can stop you from using the thumbnails illegally, but the risk is too high and those couple of buck that you spare will not be enough to cover the penalties from lawsuits… Rather play safe! Jan

    • Lee Torrens
      Posted at 09:49h, 18 July Reply

      Hi Jan. Thanks for your concern, but you’re missing some crucial information about the legality of use of thumbnails. My use of thumbnails here is not illegal.

      First, the agreements of the microstock agencies prohibit use of the original (un-watermarked) files and the watermarked previews. They do not prohibit use of the thumbnails, and many even encourage it when used to promote their services.

      Second, there are “Fair Use” laws which mean using portions of content in a reasonable manner is not in breach of copyright laws. There are multiple precedents which cite the use of thumbnail images as falling within Fair Use.

      Third, my use here is editorial. I’m not using the thumbnails on a product, an ad or to promote a service, so my use is not commercial.

      Fourth, the agencies are all very happy for me to use their thumbnails in this context. I know them all personally, and work with them very closely. I know for a fact that they prefer that I use the thumbnail and include them in posts like this rather than just leave them out.

      Fifth, and I really want you to take notice of this one: I own the copyright of this image!!! I even said that in the content of the post. How can I run a risk of a lawsuit using my own images?

      So thanks for your comment, but I suggest you educate yourself further before making such threatening statements. You clearly have a long way to go before fully understanding this topic.


      • Jan
        Posted at 10:48h, 18 July Reply

        Thank you Lee for the wider angle of view on this topic – you are right,it is more complicated than it looks like. My concern was, that majority of readers do not have the insights as you do, so they might misunderstand your article as: “let’s use thumbnails for whatever purpose…” You did not mention in your article that you are talking about your own images, and about editorial use only, thet’s why i got concerned about impact of your words… I did not want to threten you – sorry if it sounded like that. Take care. Jan

        • Lee Torrens
          Posted at 11:14h, 18 July Reply

          Hi Jan,

          Thanks for coming back and explaining. Your concerns are admirable, and I appreciate your explanation that you didn’t intent to sound threatening. It’s true that most readers won’t have the same background understanding of those of us who work in the industry, but it’s also difficult to try to explain those concepts in every post where I use or talk about thumbnails.

          Thanks again for your comments.


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