Image search engines sift through the web searching by type of image, by license or by tags and keywords. There are of course, standalone photo reservoirs like Flickr, Stock.xchng, Photobucket, Morguefile et.al; but your kind of image may just be tucked away in some other obscure corner of the web. Google Image Search is powerful but it always pays to have a few more options up your browser.
This is where these five image search engines come into the picture.
In Greek mythology, it’s a giant with a single eye. As a stock photography search engine, it keeps both eyes on sites like BigStockPhoto, Flickr, Fotolia, Cutcaster, StockVault, Photos.com, ShutterStock and stockx.xchng. The search interface is typically simple and you can search by selecting specific stock photo sites or all of them in one go. A horizontal menu and also a dropdown let you view results by respective site. Clicking on the thumbnail previews takes you to the source where you can see the details attached with the photo.
Cyclo.ps gives the user a Lightbox account where he can save (by clicking the little plus icon), tag, share, and print (only the thumbnail) his selected photos. Visitors can also add comments to your shared images.
Type in your query and you can get what you are searching for amidst millions of images and videos. This search platform delivers both. The web app looks into the RSS feed of variety of news sites and content providers like Yahoo and extracts the image previews. Clicking on the thumbnail preview takes you directly to the source. The source webpage opens in a two frame layout with a Pixsy brief on top and the source page below. You can filter the search by content type (image or video), category and source (BBC, MSNBC, Rolling Stone, Webshots, Yahoo etc).
The site is very neat and uncluttered.
Ferret out the image or video you want using Spffy’s multiple searches. Spffy checks out a cross-section of sources like stock photo sites, web sources like Flickr, public domain sites and videos from YouTube. You can tune your stock search with settings for royalty-free, rights-managed and news/archival. Web search on Flickr can also be similarly configured for relevance.
The Canada-based search engine company looks at the visual shape rather than the meta-data. This gives rather interesting results which are distinct from the others profiled here. The image search is fast though the number of results is not plentiful. You enter a keyword and then select an image from the results to do a similarity search. A moving slider to control the number of images per page is the only preference tool to set.
Picsearch indexes the web for images and is probably the best of the lot. The About Page of the site says that its unique search algorithm is due for a patent. The search engine has indexed more than 3,000,000,000 images. You can set a few preferences like an interface language.
Advanced search options give you several image factors like color or black and white, animation or image, portrait or landscape and more importantly the ability to search by image size. You can also use normal search operators to fine-tune your search. The site also comes with a family filter to keep out you-know-those kind of images away from the mix.
There are two things I really liked about the site. Firstly, its speed; and secondly, the Image Directory which is a vast collection of subject specific images. Oh yes, there’s a third thing to like too – it comes with a Firefox extension.
In listing these five sites, I have tried to go beyond the omnipresent searches provided by the regulars like Google, Yahoo and Bing. When it comes to search, often a single tool does the job; but there are also times when many need to be pushed into action. Along with these five, you can check out two others we have profiled before ““
Do remember that although these search engines may give you the right image – using the image itself is subject to copyright. So do check the sources before you click on save. If unable to do so, what are search engines for”¦hunt out a few more.
Which is your image search engine of choice? Does your image search go beyond the biggies? Let us into the picture.
Image Credit: Playingwithbrushes