Just before the 2011 winter holiday break got fully underway, J.J. Abrams revealed that he had been giving serious consideration to shooting parts of his Star Trek sequel in the IMAX format. The sci-fi film’s casting thereafter dominated headlines during the buildup to the start of production in early 2012, leaving question about the movie’s technical attributes without a surefire answer (officially speaking).

While the recent spate of Star Trek 2 set photos has primarily re-ignited discussions about the identity of actor Benedict Cumberbatch’s villainous onscreen counterpart in Abrams’ movie, one of the set pics also confirmed that the new Trek installment is indeed being filmed in part via the use of IMAX cameras.

For the definitive proof (tip of the hat to /Film for catching this) check out what’s right next to Cumberbatch’s right arm in the Star Trek 2 set pic below:

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Here’s where things get even more interesting: since Star Trek 2 is going to be post-converted into 3D – rather than shot natively in the stereoscopic format – which suggests that fans could get to see the Trek sequel in regular 2D IMAX rather than IMAX 3D in theaters. In fact, the film might not even be released in IMAX 3D at all, given how tricky it will undoubtedly be to convert the portions of Star Trek 2 originally shot for true 65mm IMAX presentation into three dimensions (with excellent results, that is).

This also puts Star Trek 2 in a curious position as the movie is going to be a far more CGI heavy project than previously-released tentpole titles which were partly shot in the IMAX format (see: The Dark Knight, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol). Movies that mix live-action material with large amounts of CGI are known for suffering after they’ve been blown up to IMAX size, as the higher resolution and frame rate calls extra attention to the weaknesses in the digital effects. That could also ring true for the non-native IMAX portions of Star Trek 2.

How do you prefer the crew of the Enterprise? In IMAX or 3D?

Cinephiles are already going to be hard-pressed to provide a tentative answer to the “IMAX or 3D?” issue which will be very much put to the test in 2012, thanks to highly-anticipated upcoming titles like The Dark Knight Rises and Prometheus promising to utilize the different technologies for a more effective viewing experience.

Star Trek 2 should only add more fuel to that ongoing debate, as it seems moviegoers could be able to view the sci-fi sequel in both 2D IMAX and regular 3D, so as to better compare and contrast how the formats affect the same film, and thus determine which one really does enrich the viewing process by offering a more immersive experience.

Look for Star Trek 2 to soar into theaters around the U.S. on May 17th, 2013.