IMAX vs. Standard Movies Comparison Guide: What is the difference?

Looking to enjoy a movie Saturday, but you cannot tell which theater will make your experience unforgettable? Don’t look any further. Among the most common movie formats, we will be debating IMAX vs. Standard. To start, how does IMAX differ from Standard?

The main difference between IMAX and standard movies is in the resolution aspect. IMAX movies are shot with a camera that uses a 70mm film stock which creates around 18,000 lines of horizontal resolution. This resolution is thrice the number produced by standard films, which use 35mm film stocks. IMAX offers both high-quality video and 12 high-quality sound channels. Standard movie format is what TV offers.

Other differences between the two will be discussed further in this article. By the end of the article, you will know which movie format is the best and why so. Let’s get started.


IMAX Vs. Standard: comparison table

The table below will give a side-side comparison between IMAX and standard movie formats.

MeaningIMAX is a big-screen movie format cinematography that is ten times large than the standard movie format with high-quality audio channels and video quality.Standard is a regular cinematography format that uses limited pixel and basic audio channels. It is what is used in common theaters and televisions.
FoundedIMAX was founded on 20th august 1967 by IMAX corporationThe standard screen was founded and launched by French Physicist Henri Chretien in between 1879-1965
Video qualityDual 4k laser projectionStandard quality
Audio quality12 high-quality sound channelsBasic audio quality
Screen ratioAspect ratios of either 1:43:1 or 1:90:1Aspect ratio of
VarietiesWide array of productsLimited products
AvailabilityWidespreadMore Widespread

Differences between IMAX and Standard Screen

Meaning and origin

IMAX is a big-screen cinematography format that features images shot with 70mm film stock and creates 18,000 lines of horizontal resolution. This premium movie format cinematography was founded and launched on August 20th,1967, by IMAX corporation by a Canadian theater company.

Standard screen is a regular cinematography format that was launched in the 1920s by French Physicist Henri Chretien. Despite it being so basic, Standard is the foundation used by all other cinematography formats.

Video quality and Aspect ratio

When choosing a screen to enjoy the latest release, the quality of the images produced matters greatly. Between IMAX and Standard, which is the best, and how do they compare?

When IMAX corporation launched the IMAX cinematography format, they looked to correct the quality produced by standard screens. IMAX produces resolution three times better than what the standard format offers. Most advanced IMAX theaters have dual 4k resolution laser projectors. What this means is that IMAX theaters use two large screens with a 4k resolution.

IMAX screens have an aspect ratio of either 1:43:1 or 1:90:1. This means their screens are 6times larger than those standard screens. Most standard screens have an aspect ratio of 2:40:1, which is the same as what Dolby cinema offers. Albeit Standard has an aspect ratio of 16:9 on large screens and 3:2 on PCs.

You might be interested in watching a 3D film, but your standard screen cannot show this format. Lucky for you, IMAX has both 2D and 3D movies. Although the screen brightness is not that balanced in IMAX screen format, you will get to experience what your PC cannot provide. Most standard formats’ image brightness is at 14fL for 2D and 4.5fL for 3D.

When it comes to video quality and aspect ratio, IMAX takes the win.

Sound Quality

It would be frustrating to go part with some coins to pay for a movie ticket and watch a movie with mediocre audio. For that reason, we will compare the audio quality the two formats provide.

When it comes to sound quality, IMAX again takes the prize. IMAX theaters have 12 high-quality sound channels. This will give you an out-of-the-world experience where you will feel like a part of the story. On the other hand, standard screens offer regular audio formats. It is loud enough, but nothing special about standard audio quality.

The time Avengers end game was released, I decided to stream the movie on my PC. After 1 minute into the movie, I could not bare how flat it felt. I had to purchase an IMAX ticket and have never regretted that experience. The issue of availability will be discussed later in this guide.

Although IMAX does not attach speakers to their seats, you will not miss any sound effects or words in the film. Another cool fact about my experience is that I realized the film was shot using an IMAX camera.


IMAX understands that its features are top-tier. They have incorporated their technology in products like IMAX cameras, laser projection, GT 3D, small rotor, Grand Theater, and MPX under both stadium and seating settings.

A limited array of products use standard technology like cameras, television, PCs, and screens.


The amount you are charged to watch a movie really matters. In our case, IMAX charges a minimum of $20 for a single movie. This, however, depends on the location and the type of IMAX theater. You might end up paying more when you purchase a ticket from an IMAX theater that uses advanced technology. For example, you will not pay the same amount to watch 2D and 3D films.

For theaters with standard format screens, you will pay around $15. However, it would make sense to pay a few bucks more and enjoy and have an extraordinary experience at IMAX.


When it comes to the matter of availability, both formats are readily available. However, this is where Standard beats IMAX. You can access standard formats on your TV at home or on your PC. For theaters that show films in standard form, you will be paying to watch a film on large screens but with basic audio-visual quality.

There are about 1500 IMAX theaters worldwide in over 80 countries.

IMAX Vs. Standard: which should I choose?

The fantastic features discussed above clearly show that IMAX is the best cinematography format for your movie day out. You get to experience high-quality audio, large screens with perfect resolution, and 3D films, which are quite affordable.

However, whichever format you choose will be driven by personal preference. For example, if you want a quiet Saturday night watching the latest movie in an oversized T-shirt, the standard format will be available for you on your TV. Although, some of the latest television screens use IMAX technology for video quality.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • Is standard any helpful?
    Although standard film formats are very basic, most production companies use them as a foundation when creating advanced features for their formats.
    Electronics that use standard format are also affordable. In that case, most televisions and PCs use standard format. You can also access standard screens anywhere.
  • Is IMAX worth it?
    IMAX uses the latest technology to showcase some high-quality videos on large screens 40% larger and 26% taller than standard screens. IMAX also features 12 high-quality sound channels. The seat at IMAX is quite comfortable and closer to the screen. You will therefore feel like you are part of the story.
    Electronic companies adopt IMAX technology and produce televisions with 4k resolution and audio aspects with the same intensity as IMAX.
  • Do Dolby and Standard have the same image format?
    Dolby screens have an image format of 1:90:1, which some standard screens offer. Since the standard format is compatible with most electronics, their aspect ratio differs. For example, large screens at home have an image format with an aspect ratio of 16:9, and PCs have a 3:2 ratio.
    Despite the two having the same aspect ratio, Dolby’s image quality is 500times better than that of the standard format. Also, Dolby has 64 high-quality sound channels and 128 soundtracks. On the other hand, everything else about Standard is very basic.
  • Can IMAX theaters show films shot on standard cameras?
    Though, most films shown at IMAX are shot with regular cameras with high resolutions. This is because IMAX cameras are very expensive. And during movie shooting, cameras get replaced regularly.
    In fact, in the existence of IMAX, only Avengers Endgame and Infinity were shot using an IMAX camera. This is because they wanted to achieve all the high-quality features experienced in the films.


I hope the guide on IMAX Vs. Standard screen formats will help you make a simple decision for your next watching experience.

IMAX screens will provide you with a game-changing experience. You get to enjoy your favorite movie on large screens and high-quality visual-audio aspects. The amount you pay to watch a movie at IMAX will be definitely nothing compared to what you get. To understand how premium IMAX is, production companies are adopting the technology and creating TVs incorporating all the fantastic features.

Standard formats are cheap and readily available but have very basic audio-visual qualities. Despite being normal, most production companies use a standard format to advance their technologies.

Lastly, if you have to pay to watch a film, IMAX should be your first option. They are available in most states and countries.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.