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Midjourney vs Stable Diffusion: What’s the difference?

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  • 4 min read

Midjourney and Stable Diffusion are AI image generator tools creating a buzz lately. Launched to the public in mid-2022, these AI tools have distinct characteristics and capabilities that cater to user preferences and needs.

In this article, we’ll compare Midjourney and Stable Diffusion based on their features, ease of use, image quality, pricing, and more.


Midjourney

Midjourney made its debut in mid-2022 as a for-profit tool. Unlike its counterpart, Midjourney doesn’t require extensive technical skills to set up and operate.

The platform is accessible through the Discord app and offers a straightforward interface but has certain limitations in customisation.

Ease of use

Midjourney is undeniably user-friendly. You can get started with just a few parameters added to your prompts and create masterpieces from these few parameters.


Image quality

Midjourney’s latest V5 model generates high-quality images that closely match the text prompts.


Unique features

Midjourney allows you to upload images as part of your prompts, allowing the bot to combine them with your text for visually coherent outputs. It also offers an anime-optimised model invoked with the ‘–niji’ parameter.


Censorship

Midjourney has stricter content policies and may result in account suspension if prompts contain explicit or suggestive language.


Pricing

Midjourney allows a free trial through the Discord bot, granting users approximately 25 minutes of digital art creation time.

Premium subscription plans, including Basic, Standard, and Pro tiers, are priced at $10, $30 and $60 per month with a Mega plan at $120 per month.


Ownership of the images

Midjourney, during its free trial, licenses images under Creative Commons, essentially relinquishing ownership. However, subscribing to any paid plan grants a general commercial license and ownership protection.

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Stable Diffusion

Stable Diffusion, in contrast, adopts an open-source approach, making it highly customisable and widely available. It offers online usage, with basic functionality accessible for free or through a paid subscription, and the option to generate images on your computer.

Ease of use

While it may require more effort to set up, Stable Diffusion offers a wide array of advanced features and allows the use of custom art models.


Image quality

Stable Diffusion can generate high-quality images, and with the right settings and customisation, it can compete with Midjourney regarding image quality.


Unique features

Stable Diffusion excels in upscaling capabilities, enabling experimentation with various upscaling models. It also offers features like inpainting and outpainting, expanding your creative possibilities.


Custom art styles

Unlike Midjourney, Stable Diffusion allows users to download custom models tailored to replicate art styles, from realistic to origami.


Censorship

While the official base model of Stable Diffusion doesn’t permit explicit content generation, custom models can provide a workaround.


Pricing

Stable Diffusion offers the source code for free download, but using it requires a robust computer with a dedicated graphics card.

Alternatively, it can be used online or on cloud-based virtual machines. Additionally, Stable Diffusion offers a web-based image generation app called DreamStudio, priced at about $10 to 1,000 credits, which is reasonable.


Ownership of the images

Stable Diffusion provides users with a Creative ML OpenRAIL-M license with certain restrictions: the images should not violate any national, federal, state, local or international laws, or the images you generate should not exploit, harm or attempt to exploit or harm minors, and so forth.

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Midjourney vs Stable Diffusion: Which one is better?

The choice between Midjourney and Stable Diffusion depends entirely on your needs and budget. If you value user-friendliness and ease of use, you should opt for Midjourney.

However, if you seek customisation and open-source code and are willing to invest the effort in setting up and fine-tuning the tool, Stable Diffusion offers a broad range of possibilities, including upscaling, inpainting, outpainting, and replicating diverse art styles.

Both tools have strengths, and the decision depends on your skills, needs, and preferences.

Here’s a tabular representation of the comparison:

AspectMidjourneyStable Diffusion
Ease of useUser-friendly and accessible through DiscordRequires more effort to set up, versatile
Image qualityHigh-quality images with V5 modelHigh-quality images with customization
Unique featuresImage uploads, anime-optimized model, and censorshipUpscaling, inpainting, outpainting, and styles
CensorshipStricter content policiesOfficial models don’t allow explicit content
PricingFree trial with paid subscription plansSource code available for free, paid cloud use
Ownership of imagesFree trial under Creative Commons, paid plans retain ownershipUsers have commercial rights to images

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Kumar Hemant

Deputy Editor at Candid.Technology. Hemant writes at the intersection of tech and culture and has a keen interest in science, social issues and international relations. You can contact him here: kumarhemant@pm.me

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