Repurposing Diffusion-Based Image Generators for Monocular Depth Estimation

Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, ETH Zürich
Teaser image demonstrating Marigold depth estimation.

Marigold is the new state-of-the-art depth estimator for images in the wild.


We present Marigold, a diffusion model and associated fine-tuning protocol for monocular depth estimation. Its core principle is to leverage the rich visual knowledge stored in modern generative image models. Our model, derived from Stable Diffusion and fine-tuned with synthetic data, can zero-shot transfer to unseen data, offering state-of-the-art monocular depth estimation results.

The gallery below presents several images from the internet and a comparison of Marigold with the previous state-of-the-art method LeRes. Use the slider and gestures to reveal details on both sides.

How it works

Fine-tuning protocol

Starting from a pretrained Stable Diffusion, we encode the image $x$ and depth $d$ into the latent space using the original Stable Diffusion VAE. We fine-tune just the U-Net by optimizing the standard diffusion objective relative to the depth latent code. Image conditioning is achieved by concatenating the two latent codes before feeding them into the U-Net. The first layer of the U-Net is modified to accept concatenated latent codes.

Marigold training scheme

Inference scheme

Given an input image $x$, we encode it with the original Stable Diffusion VAE into the latent code $z^{(x)}$, and concatenate with the depth latent $z^{(d)}_t$ before giving it to the modified fine-tuned U-Net on every denoising iteration. After executing the schedule of $T$ steps, the resulting depth latent $z^{(d)}_0$ is decoded into an image, whose 3 channels are averaged to get the final estimation $\hat d$.

Marigold inference scheme

Comparison with other methods

Quantitative comparison of Marigold with SOTA affine-invariant depth estimators on several zero-shot benchmarks. All metrics are presented in percentage terms; bold numbers are the best, underscored second best. Our method outperforms other methods on both indoor and outdoor scenes in most cases, without ever seeing a real depth sample.

Comparison with other methods

Refer to the pdf paper linked above for more details on qualitative, quantitative, and ablation studies.


  title={Repurposing Diffusion-Based Image Generators for Monocular Depth Estimation},
  author={Bingxin Ke and Anton Obukhov and Shengyu Huang and Nando Metzger and Rodrigo Caye Daudt and Konrad Schindler},