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Meta vs. DALL-E 3: Facebook or OpenAI for Image Generation?

Facebook and OpenAI are two of the best AI companies in the world, so it only makes sense that they both have capable AI image generators. The question is, in a direct and in-depth competition, which one prevails?
Updated February 20, 2024
OpenAI DALL-E 3 against Meta AI Imagine, Visualized with Midjourney
OpenAI DALL-E 3 against Meta AI Imagine, Visualized with Midjourney

Remember that childhood dream of drawing anything your heart desired, the limitations of a mere pencil melting away? Well, AI image generators are turning that dream into reality, and two new names are duking it out for the best new tool: Meta’s AI Image Generator and DALL-E 3.

Well, I’m about to dive headfirst into this creative clash. Think of it as an artistic smackdown, pixels flying, and styles colliding. In this article, I'll explore their unique creativity, compare their outputs, and see which one sparks the people’s imagination the most. So, whether you're a seasoned painter or just another enthusiast, definitely stay tuned.

What are Meta and DALL-E 3?

Meta’s Imagine is a free AI image generator from Mark Zuckerberg and his team. It’s part of their AI systems lineup. Although they focus on AI research, they do have several consumer-facing products such as PyTorch and AR/VR glasses. 

Meta Landing Page

On the other hand, DALL-E 3 is the third generation of OpenAI’s image creation model. It’s integrated directly with the ChatGPT and their other AI tools. Unlike Meta, you can use DALL-E 3 for your own products as well using their API. The only downside is, it’s not free — but we’ll get to that in a minute.

DALL-E 3 Landing Page

How To Use Them?

Using Meta is pretty straightforward. All you need is a prompt and you’re good to go. Just head to their main website, input your prompt, wait for a few seconds, and download your favorite variation. No muss, no fuss.

DALL-E 3 is just a tad bit more complicated. You have two options when it comes to using this AI image generator. First, you can access it through ChatGPT if you’re subscribed to their Plus tier. It can be used interchangeably with prompts or you can also generate images using the context of your current conversation.

It also has a free option through Bing Image Create. With this interface, you can use it for free 15 times a day, then every succeeding prompt will be generated with a turnaround time of 10 to 15 minutes in my experience.

Meta vs. DALL-E 3 — Feature Comparison

Meta is like a single oasis in the middle of a desert. There’s nothing else there, except for water — in this case, Meta has no other features except AI image creation. No image generation history nor output parameter control. A single prompt and four variations, that’s all you get. 

If you’re using DALL-E with ChatGPT, the biggest advantage you get is instant prompt transformation. Since this model is conversational, ChatGPT turns your initial prompt into something that DALL-E can understand, leading to better AI images. However, the downside of this is that you have no control over this feature. Even with simple prompts, ChatGPT over complicates the final prompt as seen below:

On the other hand, using DALL-E with Bing won’t change your prompt. This is better if you prefer control over stylization, like driving a manual car instead of an automatic. Despite being free like Meta, DALL-E with Bing still lets you revisit past image generations and the prompts you used to create them.

Meta vs. DALL-E 3 — Output Comparison

Despite being free, I’ve always found Meta to be absolutely amazing at portraits, and the images you’ll see in the next few sections will prove that. DALL-E 3 still has that “AI” look where faces are too wax-like and flawless. However, for other realism examples, DALL-E performs generally better than Meta. This makes sense with Meta’s training set, which we’ll talk about later.

For digital art, DALL-E 3 is better than Meta. It’s far from the quality of Midjourney, but it’s still way ahead of Meta’s slightly poorer rendering and understanding of digital art prompts.  And, as always, high context prompts are DALL-E’s bread and butter. I’ve already said it before, but it’s definitely the best AI image generator in that criteria. 

Overall, I’d say that DALL-E 3 is a better image generator than Meta, but Meta’s free price tag makes it a great choice if you’re looking to dip your toes in the AI art space.

Portrait Realism

Various Realism

Landscape Image

Various Digital Art

Meta vs. DALL-E 3 — Price Comparison

Meta is completely free. No hidden fees or additional features hidden behind a paywall. You can access it now and use it to your heart’s content.

DALL-E 3 is free to an extent. If you want to use it with ChatGPT, you have to pay for GPT-4, which costs $20 a month. However, you can also use it with Bing Create, which gives you 15 free fast generations daily and unlimited normal generations.

Other Considerations

Besides creativity and other features, you also have to consider the ethical issues associated with Meta. For one, it’s trained using public Instagram and Facebook images. This is a huge breach of trust for many people.

There’s also the fact that, unlike other AI image generators, Meta doesn’t seem to be focused on this space. We’ve had no information about a second version of this model, something that their competitors focus on. 

That’s not to say that OpenAI is free from controversy either. There’s the leadership debacle a few months ago, as well as the lack of transparency with their research model and methodology.

And one last thing, both Meta and DALL-E aren’t as flexible as, say, Stable Diffusion and Midjourney. Because of their strict copyright laws, you’d often encounter a warning page instead of four image variations. This is both a blessing and a curse for their ethics and quality respectively.

The Bottom Line

When it comes down to it, both Meta's Imagine and DALL-E 3 have their pros and cons. Meta is free and great at portraits, but lacks features beyond simple image generation. DALL-E 3 produces higher quality for most prompts and has more flexibility through ChatGPT or Bing, but you have to pay for full access.

When judging Meta vs. DALL-E 3, we must think beyond the images themselves. This clash symbolizes opposing philosophies about artificial intelligence and its role in creativity.

On one side, I believe that Meta sees AI as a tool to simplify and democratize art. With Imagine, they ripped inspiration from public photos and packaged it into an easy-to-use web app. Their goal seems to be granting basic creative power to the masses. That said, this is also a massive ethical and privacy issue for most people.

DALL-E 3 is from a different school of thought. OpenAI views AI as a companion by collaborating with humans on creative pursuits. They train their models on curated datasets and offer ways to fine-tune the creative process. DALL-E 3 reflects a faith in human-AI symbiosis.

So which philosophy leads to better images today? In other words, which one should you actually subscribe to? I say, go for Meta if you’re looking for something free, but get DALL-E if you have some bucks to spare.

The bottom line is this: along with Midjourney and Stable Diffusion, Meta and DALL-E 3 are pioneering steps into an unmapped frontier. Artificial intelligence is progressing so rapidly in the generative art space. Just in the past year we've gone from DALL-E 2 to DALL-E 3, and Meta's Imagine wasn't even around 12 months ago. 

So, that's about it for this article. And hey, feel free to throw in your two cents in the comments. After all, art is subjective, and your opinion matters just as much as me.

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Written by John Angelo Yap
Hi, I'm Angelo. I'm currently an undergraduate student studying Software Engineering. Now, you might be wondering, what is a computer science student doing writing for Gold Penguin? I took up studying computer science because it was practical and because I was good at it. But, if I had the chance, I'd be writing for a career. Building worlds and adjectivizing nouns for no other reason other than they sound good. And that's why I'm here.
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