Which Is Best in 2022?

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Trying to choose between Cloudinary vs imgix vs ImageKit vs Optimole to optimize your website’s images?

All of these tools offer a new breed of website image optimization where you can dynamically optimize images on the fly. The advantage is that you can create an optimal experience for each visitor. For example, visitors with 4K screens get a higher-resolution image than those on 600 px smartphones.

To help you choose between Cloudinary vs imgix vs ImageKit vs Optimole, we’ll go hands-on and compare each tool using the following metrics:

  • Optimization (we’ll run a real test using one JPEG and one PNG image)
  • Ease of setup on WordPress
  • Key features
  • Pricing

⏰ Cloudinary vs imgix vs ImageKit vs Optimole: Quick decision

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick summary of our results:

  • Optimole was the best at optimizing our test JPEG image.
  • Cloudinary was the best at optimizing our test PNG image (but also the worst at optimizing our test JPEG).
  • Optimole had the best overall optimization when looking at both the JPEG and PNG images.
  • Optimole and Cloudinary had the easiest setup process for WordPress users. You can be up and running on WordPress with just a few clicks and don’t need to deal with any technical steps.

Here’s a table comparing the key findings from our post – read on for a more detailed look at each service.

JPEG and PNG size refer to the file size of the optimized image delivered from each service. Lower is better.

Cloudinary vs imgix vs ImageKit vs Optimole
Cloudinary imgix ImageKit Optimole
* These refer to the original image format. All of these tools converted the images to WebP when we tested in Chrome.
** On WordPress – things might be different for other platforms.
*** imgix used to have an official plugin but no longer maintains it. However, third-party users forked that plugin, which is available at WordPress.org.
JPEG size* 98.8 KB 45 KB 41 KB 30.6 KB
PNG size 18.9 KB 34.8 KB 30.5 KB 28.4 KB
Ease of setup** ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐⭐⭐ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
WordPress Plugin ***
CDN
Dynamic Optimization
Hosted Asset Library
Free Plan
Start Price for Pro $89 / month $3 / 1,000 images +
$0.08/GB of CDN
$49 / month $19 / month

How we tested image optimization performance

If you want to understand how we tested these plugins, here’s the rundown…

Because all of these plugins dynamically optimize images based on each visitor’s device, there’s no single optimized image file to test like a more traditional WordPress image optimization plugin. In order to understand how much each tool can optimize each image, we had to get a little creative.

First, we took two images and added them to a page on our WordPress site:

themes.png – 96 KB

Cloudinary vs imgix vs ImageKit vs Optimole PNG test image

sunset.jpg – 233 KB

Cloudinary vs imgix vs ImageKit vs Optimole jpeg test image

Then, we set up each tool on our WordPress site.

From there, we loaded the page on the front-end and looked at the Network tab in Chrome Developer Tools to determine the file size of the delivered image. We also made sure to use the exact same resolution and browser (Chrome’s “Laptop with HiDPI Screen” emulation”).

The file size listed above is the size of the optimized image that was delivered on the front-end of our test site.

Again, all of these tools converted these images to WebP to deliver them in Chrome. When we reference file formats above, we’re referring to the format of the original image that we uploaded to each tool.

Cloudinary vs imgix vs ImageKit vs Optimole: Detailed comparison

Cloudinary

Cloudinary

Cloudinary offers on-demand delivery and optimization for both videos and images. It’s the only service on this list to support videos.

Cloudinary can manage your assets from the cloud. Then, you can dynamically manipulate and optimize your assets when you deliver them to your site.

Key features

  • Dynamically deliver the most efficient image format to each visitor.
  • Automatically adjust compression levels to ensure quality.
  • Scale and crop images when you deliver them.
  • Dynamically manipulate images.
  • Deliver assets from multiple CDNs including Akamai, Fastly, and CloudFront (Cloudinary can automatically choose the optimal CDN).
  • WebP support.
  • Optimize and manipulate videos.
  • Dedicated WordPress plugin, though you can use it with any website.

Ease of use / setup

To help you use Cloudinary on WordPress, the team offers an official plugin. With the plugin, you can connect to your Cloudinary account by entering your Environment variable URL.

Once you connect it, you’re done! Cloudinary will automatically sync your WordPress media library and start optimizing/delivering your images for you.

Pricing

Cloudinary uses a credit system for its billing, which makes it a little more complicated than other tools.

One credit entitles you to one of the following:

  • 1,000 image transformations
  • OR 1 GB managed storage
  • OR 1 GB net viewing bandwidth
  • OR 500 video processing seconds

For example, if you need 1,000 image transformations and 1 GB of bandwidth, that would cost you two credits (one credit for each).

Here are the plans:

  • Free – 25 credits per month for free
  • Plus – 225 credits per month for $89
  • Advanced – 600 credits per month for $224

imgix

imgix

To describe imgix, I’ll turn to the subheading from their homepage:

imgix transforms, optimizes, and intelligently caches your entire image library for fast websites and apps using simple and robust URL parameters.

There’s not much to add to that!

Key features

  • Dynamically compress images and convert them to optimal formats (like WebP).
  • Automatically resize images based on a user’s browser and resolution.
  • Add watermarks or other additions.
  • Generate text overlays.
  • WebP support.
  • Deliver images via a CDN.

Ease of use / setup

Unfortunately, imgix is the only tool on this list not to offer a dedicated WordPress plugin or any dedicated WordPress documentation.

While I was able to set up all of the other tools within minutes, imgix took me some time to figure out and get working. Eventually, I figured out that it’s not that difficult, but the lack of an official WordPress plugin or WordPress documentation made it harder than it needed to be.

To get started, you’ll need to sign up for an imgix account. Then, you can add your WordPress site’s URL as a source.

When you add your source, you’ll also be able to specify your imgix domain, which is where your images will be served from.

Then, you can use the third-party-maintained Images via imgix plugin which, while it hasn’t been updated in three years, seems to still work.

Pricing

Unlike all of the other tools, imgix offers pay as you go pricing based on your usage.

You’ll pay $3 per 1,000 master images that are accessed each month, plus $0.08 per GB of CDN bandwidth that you use.

For example, if you access 2,000 master images and transfer 3 GB of bandwidth, your monthly bill would be $6.24.

What is an “accessed master image”? Every image that you upload to imgix is a master image, but imgix only bills you for the images that are accessed each month. That is, the images that you need to deliver to visitors.

For example, if you have 3,000 images, but visitors only view 2,000 of them in a month, you’d only be billed for the 2,000 images (plus your bandwidth).

ImageKit

Imagekit

ImageKit is another tool that offers real-time image optimization and manipulations. You can transform a single master image using different parameters and ImageKit will also automatically deliver an optimized image for each individual user.

Key features

  • Automatically scale and compress images based on each visitor’s device.
  • Deliver images via Amazon CloudFront CDN.
  • Dynamically manipulate images.
  • WebP support.
  • Dedicated WordPress plugin, though you can use it with any website.

Ease of use / setup

To get started, you’ll need to register for an ImageKit account. Then, you’ll need to set up your WordPress site as an “Origin” in your ImageKit account.

Once you add your WordPress site as an origin, you’ll get an Endpoint URL. To use that URL, you can install the official ImageKit WordPress plugin and paste in the endpoint URL.

From then on, ImageKit will automatically handle serving and optimizing your site’s images.

Pricing

ImageKit offers a forever free plan that allows for up to 20 GB of bandwidth per month.

If you need to exceed that, the cheapest paid plan is $49 per month for up to 40 GB. Beyond that, you’ll pay $9 for each additional 20 GB.

There are also some one-time fees for certain features. For example, you’ll pay $50 one-time if you want to use a custom domain name.

Optimole

Optimole

Unlike the other tools that also let you manipulate images, Optimole is mainly focused on image optimization (though it does offer some manipulation, like adding a watermark).

You can automatically optimize your images with compression, resizing, and formats (e.g. converting to WebP).

Optimole will also automatically deliver the optimal image size for each visitor and it can help you implement other techniques like smart lazy loading.

Note: Optimole is a creation of Themeisle’s sister company.

Key features

  • Automatically scale images based on each visitor’s device.
  • Automatically compress images – you can choose different compression levels.
  • Serve images via Amazon CloudFront CDN (over 200 locations).
  • Unmetered bandwidth.
  • Smart lazy loading to speed up initial page load times.
  • WebP support.
  • Dedicated WordPress plugin, though you can use it with any website.
  • Add watermarks to images.

Ease of use / setup

Optimole offers a dedicated WordPress plugin. Once you install the plugin, all you need to do is enter your Optimole API key.

Optimole will automatically sync your media library, optimize your images, and deliver them via the CloudFront CDN. You can be up and running in under a minute.

Pricing

Optimole offers a forever free plan, as well as a number of premium plans.

The free plan supports around 5,000 monthly visitors and includes all features except the option to use a custom domain name.

Paid plans start at $19 per month for up to 25,000 visits.

All plans come with unmetered bandwidth.

Final thoughts

Overall, two services stood out in our testing:

  • Optimole had the best overall optimization performance, offers a fast non-technical WordPress plugin, and has a free plan.
  • Cloudinary also performed well (especially for the PNG test), offers a fast non-technical WordPress plugin, and has a free plan.

ImageKit and imgix also made a big difference in image optimization and offer dynamic image manipulation. However, they aren’t quite as easy to use for regular users and still lagged a bit behind Optimole and Cloudinary in the overall experience.

If you’re looking for some other ways to optimize your website’s images, you can also consider the following posts:

Do you have any questions about choosing between Cloudinary vs imgix vs ImageKit vs Optimole? Ask us in the comments!

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