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Picture Quality Comparison: Hometheater vs Movie Theater

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
A recent trip to a local movie theater makes me wonder whether the picture quality of my hometheater is actually better than that of the IMAX theater. Sure the IMAX picture is BIG, but the picture itself is not sharp and the contrast is also not as good as hometheater projectors.

Is it just me or everyone else also has the same impression?
post #2 of 19
IMAX NOT AS SHARP!?....Imax sharpness blows home theater sharpness out of the water. Those are 8k images. Maybe your theater was out of focus. Or it wasn't a real IMAX, but fake imax. Or it was a 35mm film blown up to IMAX. Stuff shot in IMAX, like certain IMAX scenes in MI:4 and Dark Knight are incredibly sharp. Contrast is another story. The problem is that the Imax screen is so huge, it reflects tons of light back at the audience, which bounces back and washes out the black portions of the screen to a certain degree. It's especially bad with images that have large areas of light and dark. Even in regular movie theaters, I never see black blacks. It's always gray, so in that respect, yes, home theaters are often better.
post #3 of 19
Most I MAX theaters have switched to digital projectors twin 2K's.
They advertise 4K. 2K + 2K =4K? Not! I MAX is 2K except for the
small portions that are filmed in actual I MAX then they are 2K doubled.

A few I MAX theaters still use 70mm film prints. Each print costs $50,000.00.
The film resolution and clarity is off the charts. The new digital LIE MAX uses a $200.00 hard drive to store the film saving the company millions in making film prints.

I just saw Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocall at the Palms I MAX in Las Vegas.
The picture was on a 7 story screen. I could see artifacts and very Jaggy looking text etc. etc. Very sad and disappointing from the filmed I Max presentations.

My own home theater looks better.
post #4 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Laredo View Post

Most I MAX theaters have switched to digital projectors twin 2K's.
They advertise 4K. 2K + 2K =4K? Not! I MAX is 2K except for the
small portions that are filmed in actual I MAX then they are 2K doubled.

A few I MAX theaters still use 70mm film prints. Each print costs $50,000.00.
The film resolution and clarity is off the charts. The new digital LIE MAX uses a $200.00 hard drive to store the film saving the company millions in making film prints.

I just saw Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocall at the Palms I MAX in Las Vegas.
The picture was on a 7 story screen. I could see artifacts and very Jaggy looking text etc. etc. Very sad and disappointing from the filmed I Max presentations.

My own home theater looks better.

My MI:4 screening was on film. Looked awesome. The Dark Knight Rises preview also looked great, although there was quite a bit of vignetting. Don't know if it was the theater or the film itself.
post #5 of 19
There is no question that digital IMAX is no where near the image fidelity of true film 70mm IMAX. But the question remains, how does a modern well set up home theater compare to a properl setup digital IMAX theater?

One thing I would expect is that the much larger imax theater screen and relative close viewing position might make you more critical of the theater image and a valid comparison might be found by viewing your home theater from one screen height distance.
post #6 of 19
I have an Ultra Star CineAPlex in my town with 10 digital theaters using Christie projectors. Almost always now the bulbs need changing because the picture is to dim. I can understand they want to stretch their profits.

When the bulbs are new you can really tell the difference.

I have gone back across town to the old theater that uses 35mm film. I like it better than a dim bulb on a $100,000.00
Christie digital pro projector.

I just drove 3 hours each way to my nearest IMAX for a mediocre presentation of Mission impossible on a 7 story screen.

The quality of my home theater has me getting spoiled.

Plus no crappy endless commercials before the main picture.
post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 
I am NOT sure if one needs to be concerned about making a "valid" comparison because there are factors that we simply cannot control. It is the viewing experience we are trying to compare here.

Learning other people here also experienced poor picture quality of movie theater, including IMAX theater, I am convinced that my experience of last movie theater visit wasn't a fluke. Movie theater gives you BIGGER pictures, but poorer quality when compared to proper hometheaters.
post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by ccspruce View Post

A recent trip to a local movie theater makes me wonder whether the picture quality of my hometheater is actually better than that of the IMAX theater. Sure the IMAX picture is BIG, but the picture itself is not sharp and the contrast is also not as good as hometheater projectors.

Is it just me or everyone else also has the same impression?

You're not alone in your thinking; this is one case were empirical testing trumps theory. My last trips to the Palisades Imax (King Kong, The Dark Night) were quite disappointing, both in sound and PQ. Watching both these titles in my Home Theater proved to be a much richer experience, as the image was sharper with better color fidelity, and the sound was no contest.

Sure, from a theoretical standpoint this shouldn't be the case, but it is.

Below is a screenshot of a forty-five-year-old movie taken from my 120" Firehawk screen:



I find no real reason to go to movie theaters any longer, unless it happens to be the birthday party of one of my granddaughters classmates.
post #9 of 19
For folks that do Home Theater its a better option to watch at home in most cases for video and audio PQ.

For the vast majority/great unwashed to whom a Home Theater means a HTIB or to whom "theater sound" means the TV speakers ?? those folks still go wow at cheapo cineplex " theater sound"......sigh.
post #10 of 19
Thread Starter 
I am surprised that the topic is NOT often discussed much here or other forums online. I remember when I built my hometheater a few years back. The objective was to be able to watch movies like in the theater at home. The reference picture quality was often measured by the "film-likeness" of the video. Now, we have lost the reference standards.

I am sure that most professionals recognize the picture quality deficiencies in theaters. Why hasn't it been a topic of discussions? Theater nowadays really charge people an arm and a leg going to theater while not providing the "ultimate viewing experience".
post #11 of 19
I've always preferred watching movies at home....even if the sound/picture was worse...there are too many other positive aspects of viewing in the comfort of your own space....simple things like pausing the movie to use the bathroom come to mind

Now, with a decent audio/video experience in my own home, I haven't been to a theater (of my own desire) in several years.
post #12 of 19
Picture quality in theaters has been going downhill for years. Film projection in particular has suffered due to the use of digital internegatives, sloppy film printing, and of course the fact that most theaters no longer have skilled film projectionists who actually know how to focus a picture.
The advent of digital projection has not improved things that much. There is still no comparison in what we see today compared with a 35mm IB Technicolor film print projection of 60 years ago when the labs were putting out pristine quality prints.
post #13 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by taffman View Post

Picture quality in theaters has been going downhill for years. Film projection in particular has suffered due to the use of digital internegatives, sloppy film printing, and of course the fact that most theaters no longer have skilled film projectionists who actually know how to focus a picture.
The advent of digital projection has not improved things that much. There is still no comparison in what we see today compared with a 35mm IB Technicolor film print projection of 60 years ago when the labs were putting out pristine quality prints.


An out of focus picture at any movie theater really upsets me.

But even in focus we have a 4K picture on a very large screen so on a per two yard basis we get a 780P picture?? versus that same two yard screen at home getting an 1080P picture??

IMHO to me it looks sharper on a home screen DIY two yard screen at 1080P ??

Just my opinion but it does look better at home.

Russ.
post #14 of 19
I still do both. At home I have a better sound system but a much smaller screen (120). The IMAX (in king of Prussia) has worse sound but much larger screen.

At home, I may get distracted because of the 2 kids. In the theatre, I get left alone

At home, I have to wait for the BD. In the theatre, I get to see the latest. Try to watch MI4 at home. You can’t.

It’s nice to find 2 hours of undisturbed time slot to watch a movie then eat out at a nearby restaurant.
post #15 of 19
I've really started to despise going to the theater to watch a movie. The whole experience is starting to get to me. From the overpriced tickets and snacks, to the obliviously rude moviegoers. It's just no more fun.

As for the PQ, I agree that home theaters, even my 51" Samsung, have a better picture. I feel that a trip to the movies now is only to watch a newer movie on a larger screen. But lets face it, if all we wanted to do was watch the newest movies, we could easily "acquire" them for home viewing.

I think I've grown out of going to the movies. Simply because when I was younger I wasn't aware of the costs, rude people, and mediocre picture and sound quality. Now though, I can have a dinner date, go to the lakeside park, and go home to watch my newly purchased Blu-ray. All around, a better experience for the same cost as a date to the movies.

I admit though, I don't have kids yet. I can see how this would change things up.
post #16 of 19
What is missing in today's multiplexes of course is the warmth and ambience of the cinema's of 50 years or more ago. Anyone remember the magnificent picture palaces? Today's multiplexes are like cold black tombs. There is no colorful decor, screen curtains and proscenium lighting are now unheard of, they are inevitably freezing with the AC blasting on you from everwhere, and the sound level is usually about 130db. Add to that the obnoxious people on their cell phones and the 300lb guy who walks in with a gallon of pocorn and sits right behind you! Then you have the endless digitally projected commercials and about 20 previews to suffer through before the movie starts. And, more often than not, the movie itself is adolescent garbage.
The final nail in the coffin for me is the switching to digital projection. IF I go to the cinema and pay $15.00 to see a movie, I expect it to be the best viewing experience possible, which is 35mm film projection, not digital. I can get better digital projection at home thank you.
post #17 of 19
Those who think new cinema theaters are sharp, walk up to the screen and check their convergence. You'd be surprised how off they are but from the stadium seats, the PQ looks fine.
post #18 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by MasterofBlasting View Post

I've really started to despise going to the theater to watch a movie. The whole experience is starting to get to me. From the overpriced tickets and snacks, to the obliviously rude moviegoers. It's just no more fun.

For price, most theaters have cheap prices for movies before 12pm or 6pm.
I go to a couple in my area because it's only $6 before 12pm.
The drink/popcorn combo still costs $12 though.
post #19 of 19
Unless my kids get really vocal and drag me to the cineplex I prefer to tell my kids to wait for the blu ray.
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