How Many IMAX Cameras Are There?

IMAX cameras are specialized filmmaking cameras known for capturing stunning, high-resolution images on large screens. Among its key features include larger film formats, enhanced resolution, and immersive sound. 

However, what’s really special about IMAX cameras is their scarcity. 

If you don’t know, there’s currently only eight IMAX film cameras worldwide, making them exclusive tools for filmmakers aiming to deliver unparalleled cinematic experiences. 

Existing IMAX Cameras

15/70 Film Cameras

The 15/70 film format, integral to IMAX filmmaking, features frames 15 perforations wide and 70 mm in height. This expansive format allows for a larger image area than standard film, resulting in improved resolution and intricate detail. 

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Beyond visuals, the 15/70 format incorporates high-quality, multi-channel sound systems, further enhancing the cinematic experience. 

Currently, eight 15/70 IMAX film cameras exist, distinct from digital counterparts. In March 2022, IMAX announced that they are developing next generation IMAX film cameras that are more compact, lighter, and quieter. 

They are aiming to release the first four units within two years, bringing the total to 12 cameras. This expansion allows for production of two IMAX films at the same time. 

Digital IMAX Cameras

IMAX Digital 2K was introduced in 2008. It uses a digital camera system that captures footage at a resolution of 2K. While it does not match the resolution of traditional 15/70 film, it offers practical advantages in post-production. 

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In 2014, IMAX with Laser 4K debuted, which features an advanced digital system that captures content at a resolution 4K. The incorporation of laser projection technology improves brightness, contrast, and color to films. 

Advantages of Digital Cameras Compared to Film

Top Gun Maverick: Digital IMAX Footage

Digital IMAX footage streamlines post-production processes, allowing filmmakers to apply color corrections, special effects, and editing quicker. The cost efficiency of digital production encompassing film stock, processing, and storage, enhances accessibility for a wider range of film makers. 

Additionally, digital cameras excel in low-light conditions, providing filmmakers with flexibility across different shooting environments. 

Disadvantages of Digital Cameras Compared to Film

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Journey to the South Pacific: Entire Film Shot Using IMAX 65mm Cameras

15/70 film cameras offer an unparalleled warmth, texture, and aesthetic quality that digital formats find challenging to replicate. While digital cameras like IMAX with Laser 4K boast high resolutions, they might not entirely capture the immense details and resolution of large-format film, such as the 15/70 format. 

Digital camera technology also evolves rapidly, and equipment may become obsolete more quickly compared to film cameras. 

IMAX-Certified Cameras: 

  • Arri Alexa LF (4.5K camera)
  • Arri Alexa Mini LF (4.5K camera)
  • Panavision Millennium DXL2 (8K camera)
  • Red Ranger Monstro (8K camera)
  • Red V-Raptor (8K camera)
  • Sony CineAlta Venice (6K camera)
  • Arri Alexa 65 IMAX (6.5K camera)

Filmed for IMAX

  • These are films/content that are post-processed or digitally remastered for IMAX screens. 
  • Allows flexibility as filmmakers can use different cameras during production, potentially lowering costs. 
  • Post-production optimization for IMAX maintains visual quality. 
  • Limits the benefits of the large format. 

Shot with IMAX

  • Films/content that are captured using IMAX cameras during the actual filming. 
  • Captures the full potential of IMAX technology, providing unparalleled image quality and immersive experience. 
  • Needs specialized training. 
  • Preferred for authentic IMAX experience.
  • Size of IMAX cameras can post logistical challenges and higher production cost.

The choice between the two boils down on the project’s scale, budget, and director’s vision. 

For large-scale, visually impactful productions, Shot with IMAX is preferred for the real immersive experience. For projects with budget constraints, Filmed for IMAX offers a more flexible approach while still delivering enhanced visual quality on IMAX screens. 

Why Are IMAX Cameras Limited?

High manufacturing and maintaining cost are the primary reason IMAX cameras are very limited. These cameras are not sold publicly since they require special training to operate and are very expensive to develop and maintain. 

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Operating IMAX cameras need specialized training due to their unique features and large-format requirements. Cinematographers and operators must undergo training to master the intricacies of IMAX technology, ensuring the optimal capture of high-resolution and immersive visuals. 

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IMAX productions also have limited demand compared to standard films. The unique viewing experience it offers only caters to a limited audience, resulting in fewer movie productions and reduced need for a large volume of IMAX cameras. 

Impact of Limited IMAX Cameras

The limited number of IMAX cameras has a huge impact on how movies look and feel. 

These cameras are specialized since they make movies look amazing on really big screens. But because there aren’t many of them, movies shot with IMAX become exclusive and unique. 

Filmmakers also have to think hard about whether it’s worth using these cameras because they can be expensive. 

The limited number of IMAX cameras also pushes filmmakers to be more creative. Filmmakers are forced to come up with new and innovative ways to use these rare resources, leading to unique and memorable moments in movies. 

As new technology gets developed, filmmakers wonder about the future of IMAX film cameras. Many people prefer using digital cameras since they are more practical, but others believe that movies shot on film have a special look. 

While this is true now, we don’t know in the future if digital technology will catch up and be able to replicate the natural effect of film cameras. 

Future IMAX Film Cameras

IMAX is currently developing smaller, lighter film cameras to address the noise and bulkiness of older generation IMAX cameras. IMAX is currently working with filmmakers that have used their cameras before to gather feedback for improvements. 

While, there’s no official date of when these new generation IMAX film cameras will be available, the company aims to release them within two years from its announcement in March 2022. 

With all these improvements and additional cameras available, we should see increased production of IMAX films. 

The reduced size and weight of these new cameras may also attract filmmakers who previously found IMAX equipment impractical. 

IMAX’s commitment to improving its film camera reflects a strategic evolution, promising a more accessible IMAX experience in the film industry. 


The exclusive nature of IMAX cameras comes from high manufacturing cost and specialized training requirements. The limited quantity of IMAX cameras has a profound impact on the film industry, prompting filmmakers to be innovative with resources. 

IMAX’s ongoing development of smaller, lighter cameras signals a promising shift towards increased accessibility of the technology and broader adoption. 

The future of IMAX film cameras holds the prospect of more diverse cinematic experiences, balancing technological advancements with the unique aesthetic appeal of traditional film.


What are the logistical challenges of shooting a film with an IMAX camera?

These large and heavy film cameras demand specialized training and incur high cost for rental, transportation, and maintenance. The limited number of IMAX cameras requires advanced planning, and their noise during operation necessitates careful scheduling. Limited run times for IMAX film reels and challenges in post-production also add complexity. 

How is the development of new IMAX camera technology changing filmmaking?

New features for IMAX technology will include a quieter and compact design. It also features a number of usability enhancements. Existing cameras and lenses will also get major upgrades as part of the program. 

Kodak is offering enhanced technical support and manufacturing of the 65mm film stock, Panavision will provide a global network of enhanced service and maintenance of IMAX cameras, and FotoKem will work alongside IMAX camera and post-production departments to improve production workflow and post services. 

All these changes should make it more accessible for filmmakers to shoot IMAX films, which should improve the number of IMAX content for consumers and fans. 

Will digital IMAX technology eventually replace film cameras entirely?

The future of film cameras, including IMAX, remains uncertain as the industry undergoes technological advancements. We believe that film cameras will only get obsolete if digital cameras can replicate 1:1 the quality and look of film cameras. 


John Doe

John Doe

I am John, a tech enthusiast with a knack for breaking down complex camera, audio, and video technology. My expertise extends to social media and electronic gadgets, and I thrive on making the latest tech trends understandable and exciting for everyone. Sharing my knowledge through engaging content, I aim to connect with fellow tech lovers and novices alike, bringing the fascinating world of technology to life.

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