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What is EXIF data?

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EXIF data consists of ancillary tags used by digital cameras to store shooting information alongside the images captured. EXIF stands for EXchangeable Image File format and represents a standard for digital imaging first developed by JEIDA, the Japan Electronic Industries Development Association. Examples of EXIF tags include the date and time an image was taken, the camera brand and model, the lens used and its focal length, the aperture value and shutter speed, the exposure and metering mode, and whether the flash fired or not. Moreover, GPS-enabled cameras can also store the exact coordinates of the photo shooting location in EXIF tags. EXIF data is hidden, in the sense that it is not being shown when the image is displayed. Yet, all this information can be visualized via EXIF-viewers, such as the one below, in order to provide insights into how a picture was captured.

The EXIF standard also allows camera manufacturers to use a MakerNote tag to embed custom information alongside the images captured. For example, Fujifilm, Nikon, Pentax, and Sony take advantage of this tag to store the number of shots (or shutter actuations) that the camera has taken so far. Knowing the shutter count can be a useful indicator on how intensively a camera has been used and how much longer it might last before requiring shutter repair or replacement.

Jeffrey image exif
Hidden image metadata[Jeffrey Photography]

How to view EXIF data?

In order to display the metadata in an image file, just upload a new, unedited image using the dialog box below. Both compressed and uncompressed file formats will work, with smaller files uploading faster. This online tool does not require any software installation and is equally suitable for Windows and Mac users. The uploaded image will be automatically deleted after inspection of the EXIF metadata.

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The above EXIF metadata viewer supports a large number of different compressed and RAW image formats. In particular, all the file types used by the major camera manufacturers (Canon, Fujifilm, Leica, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax, Ricoh, Sigma, Sony) can be inspected.

Inspecting the EXIF metadata associated with an image can be helpful to improve one's photography. For example, I might have an image of a racing bike that shows too much motion blur. Checking the EXIF data on exposure parameters, such as shutter speed and ISO, can provide insights into how I might need to change the camera settings in order to capture sharper images of fast moving subjects in the future.

FAQ on inspecting EXIF metadata

Below are some frequently asked questions concerning EXIF information.

What is metadata?

Metadata is information about other data. In the case of EXIF metadata, it is hidden information about the image the EXIF is associated with and how that image was captured.

Which RAW formats does the EXIF-viewer App support?

The EXIF reader is based on Phil Harvey's Exiftool utility, which can analyze not only jpg and png images, but also a broad range of RAW file formats. Among the file types supported are those used by Canon (CRW, CR2, CR3), Fujifilm (RAF), Hasselblad (3FR, FFF), Leica (RAW, RWL, DNG), Nikon (NEF, NRW), Olympus (ORF), Panasonic (RAW, RW2), Pentax (PEF, PTX), Samsung (SRW), Sigma (X3F), and Sony (ARW, SRF, SR2).

If I upload an image to the apotelyt server, is it going to be stored there?

No, image files that are uploaded with the EXIF-viewer App will be automatically deleted once the EXIF information has been read.

Why doesn't the image I downloaded from the internet show any EXIF information?

EXIF data is not visible, but it still takes up space within image files. Webmasters often remove metadata in order to reduce the image file size and thereby make their webpages load faster. EXIF information can be deleted, for example, by using the Photoshop command "Save for Web".

My EXIF shows a metadata group labelled "ICC". What should I make of this?

The International Color Consortium (ICC) profile is used to ensure that colors display on different monitors consistently and in the way they were intended.

What information does the EXIF tag group "PrintIM" contain?

The Print Image Matching (PrintIM) tag is a proprietary data block that provides color enhancement information for Epson printers.

Is the metadata under the "IPTC" heading important?

The International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC) issued guidelines for recording image metadata related to press images. Most IPTC information is being added by software during image post-processing.

What is the EXIF tag group "XMP" about?

The Extensible Metadata Platform (XMP) section is a set of proprietary Adobe tags that replicate and regroup other image metadata for use by Adobe software products (Lightroom, Photoshop).

What kind of information is presented under the "MPF" heading?

The entries in the MPF section relate to the Multi-Picture Format specification, which provides information on two or more thumbnail images that are contained in JPG-images.

Are there any privacy issues associated with sharing images that contain EXIF data?

Yes, some of the EXIF metadata, such as the location-coordinates where a picture was taken, could represent sensitive, personal information. It might, hence, be desirable to delete the EXIF data when posting images publicly.

How did photographers keep track of shooting parameters during the times of film photography?

EXIF data only appeared with digital photography, so that photographers using film had to use paper and pencil to note down key exposure information (e.g. lens focal length, aperture, shutter speed) that they wanted to keep for future reference.

Further reading

Has your camera provided good services, but you are now ready for an upgrade? Check out how different cameras – new and not quite as new – compare in terms of size, sensors, features, and their reception by expert reviewers by selecting two comparators from the menu below. You will then promptly be taken to a detailed side by side comparison.

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