Alamy now accepts 24MB files.


I've often written about the 48MB file size minimum that some picture libraries require for submission. In an unexpected move the library that has the most images online Alamy has now decided to accept images of a minimum size of 24MB, instead of the 48MB they required before.

They give their reasons as the following:-

"We are making the change for a number of reasons. It’s clear that for a lot of photographers it will simplify their work-flow by reducing the need to upsize. We’ve also looked at the requirements of our customers and looked at submission standards elsewhere. We believe that by setting the minimum level at 24MB we can offer an even more user friendly route to market for photographers without compromising on quality. We are not relaxing our view on the suitability of certain cameras and our recommended camera list and our unsuitable camera list remain largely unchanged. Photographers who have a good spec camera will not have to upsize if they don’t want to. We see a large number of QC failures as a result of poor upsizing, this move gives photographers an opportunity to submit images at their native resolution or with minimal upsizing.

Alamy emphasises that it does not want photographers to downsize images and it still recommends the 48MB files"

On the subject of interpolation it says the following:-

"If necessary, interpolate (upsize) the file to 24MB using a specialist, professional software package. If you have a camera that is capable of producing an uncompressed 8 bit file size of over 24MB then leave it that size. We recommend Adobe Photoshop although other software is acceptable. If using Photoshop version 7 or higher select the bicubic option. We advise that you do not use “step” or incremental interpolation. Check your software’s default settings to ensure that all sharpening is turned off."


Personally I hate interpolation, which is the upsizing of digital camera files to produce a "bigger" image. I think its a con for clients. In a way its deception. A possible picture buyer wants a picture to fill a double page spread, so they search a picture libraries archives to source a file that is of a suitable size to do that (usually 48MB+). If they are searching a library such as Alamy then they will have no idea whether the file is a "genuine" 48MB+ file or a file that has been upsized. They won't be able to tell from the images on the website and the only way they will be certain that the file is good enough is when they download it. 

A colleague of mine was once advised by Alamy to upsize his images to 100MB+ as that was what advertising clients liked! He was using a Nikon D1X camera at the time. 5.47MP. So they were advising him to upsize a 15MB image to 100MB+ ???? 

When I ran my own picture library I refused to take any upsized files. I also set a limit on film scans. 35mm scanned to no larger that 35MB and MF scanned to no larger that 70MB. Having been involved in a scanning business for a while I believed that these sizes were the upper limit for quality files. 

pentax *istD

I can't really complain about Alamy, in the years that I've been with them they have made me an awful lot of money. Currently this figure is in excess of $200,000. So they have to be doing something right. However in the last 2-3 years my sales via them have dropped substantially. There is no doubt that the microstock libraries are taking lots of business away from conventional image libraries, because they are cheaper certainly but also I suspect because they have very high quality control standards. None of the ones I contribute to will accept upsized files. In a world that is now dominated by electronic publishing, internet etc., they have no need to. They also check every image submitted to them, to assess image quality, they also check the files after they are keyworded and captioned and will reject a file if it doesn't meet certain standards. Some of these libraries reject more than they accept. 

Alamy have a different system, which doesn't involve looking at all the images in a submission. A few years ago they claimed to have checked only about 5% of all images submitted to them. Since they are now approaching 20 Million images, that leaves a lot of room for some not so great stuff to be sitting on their website. There are many images that I have with them that I wish were smaller in size. Up to now their 48MB minimum requirement has resulted in my upsizing some files that I would rather have not. Some 35mm scans, and some 6MP digital camera files don't take kindly to these enlargements. The other thing to remember is that the vast majority of image library sales are for files less than A4, so 48MB files are not necessary for that.


I was hoping that Alamy would now decide to not accept upsized images at all, but that is not the case. To me this results in even more confusion for the picture buyer. How on earth do they know what they are getting. When a client buys a A3 sized file they have no way of knowing whether it is taken on a D3X, Medium Format film or whether its been upsized from a 6MP digital camera. Since Alamy were accepting 6MP images upsized to 48MB a few years ago, and have still left them on their site, this could well happen. Some clients wouldn't notice, but many would. 

In terms of how this will affect me, I have decided to upsize no more files that I send to Alamy from now on. This will obviously include m4/3 files which I have been interpolating to 48MB from their 34MB native size. I will no longer do that. It doesn't affect the 50,000+ files that I have sitting on the Alamy site currently, and there is nothing that I can do about that. However it means I won't have to be working with two different file sizes and won't have to put up with uploading what I regard as less than 100% satisfactory image quality any more. Thats something at least.


pentax *istD

All images taken by D & A and currently residing on the Alamy website.