Viewing and using EXIF data

Almost all digital cameras save JPEG files with EXIF (Exchangeable Image File) data. Camera settings and scene information are recorded by the camera into the image file. Examples of stored information are shutter speed, date and time a photo was taken, focal length, exposure compensation, metering pattern and if a flash was used.

Other formats that included EXIF data inclue RAW and TIFF files.

EXIF dataUse the data as a learning tool

Many camera owners study EXIF to compare successful photos to those that are not. Data provides insight about how camera settings affect photo characteristics such as exposure, depth-of-field and subject movement.

Viewing EXIF data

EXIF data can be read by several applications. The software that came with your digital camera lets you view the data. Other viewing applications include EXIF web browser plug-ins, photo editing and organizing programs and some printer drivers. The printer drivers use the EXIF data to automatically enhance images and can result in a better looking prints.

Preserving EXIF data

You can keep EXIF information in edited versions of original image files if they are Saved correctly. Most or all of the data embedded in the original will be in the edited file. Check the Help files of your photo editing software for specifics about preserving EXIF information during the editing process.

Viewing EXIF data at photo hosting sites

The information can be viewed online at photo hosting sites. It is often visible under, or to one, side of a photo on display. Or there will be a link or icon near the image that needs to be clicked to reveal the EXIF data.

Different photo hosting sites may use terms other than EXIF. For example, Flickr uses the word properties instead of EXIF; Picasa web albums have an area called Photo information; click on the More Information link to see additional photo EXIF data.

More about browser EXIF viewers

Using a browser EXIF viewer is great if you enjoying viewing photos posted online and want to gain insights about how a photo was taken. See a great action shot? Check the EXIF to see what focal length, shutter-speed and ISO settings were used.

There are EXIF viewers compatible with most browsers that must be installed as a plug-in. Some of the viewers only provide basic data but it can still be very useful.

Once the viewer is installed in your browser, right-click a jpeg image. As shown in the illustration to the left, click the EXIF Data link in the drop down menu. A window will open revealing available data.

For many, reading EXIF data is a worthwhile way to help improve their photo-taking skills.

Related reading: A listing of freeware including EXIF viewers and other useful free programs for the digital darkroom.

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51 Responses

  1. Gail Bjork says:

    jim, to be honest, I don’t know. I’m sure you can get the answer by posting your question in this Panasonic digital camera forum.

  2. jim says:

    Can anyone tell me if the lats and longs can be printed on to the photo,using a lumix FT4 camera,if I find this out,thank you

  3. Gail Bjork says:

    Mahbub, the “perfect” ratio between focal length and shutter speed is to set the shutter speed at least as fast, or faster, than the focal length. This helps prevent camera shake even for cameras with Image Stabilization. This is particularly important when using long, telephoto focal lengths.

  4. Mahbub Shaheed says:

    EXIF Data of a particular shot has the following:
    Exposure: 1/60
    Aperture: f/5.0
    Focal Length: 46mm
    ISO: 3200 (set at Auto)

    There was a comment from someone on this shot who said that “the relationship between Focal Length and Shutter speed was “totally perfect”! The question by MS Karim with regard to relationship between Focal Length and Shutter (which you have already answered) and your answer is perfectly understandable.

    My question is… is there a “perfect” ratio between the two; meaning if Focal Length was 46mm should the shutter speed be closer to Focal Length number (in this case it was 1/60)as was implied by the one making the comment mentioned above?! That doesn’t make sense! Would welcome your opinion and comment on that.

  5. Gail Bjork says:

    M.S., yes there is a relation between focal length and shutter speed. The aperture size is typically smaller as you zoom in and the shutter speed will change accordingly to obtain proper exposure. In some cases, if you have ISO set to auto, the ISO number will change also.

  6. so far I know there is a relation between ISO – Aperture & shutter speed
    Is there any relation between focal length & shutter speed

  7. Gail Bjork says:

    Yes, there are programs that let you alter EXIF data. In addition, you may be able to access it by right-clicking an image, at least in Windows. Right-click a photo, click properties and a dialog box will open. Click the Detail tab to show the exif data, including the camera that took the photo. Click on the camera and other information, and it can be changed. Please note that the info may also give you the program name that altered the image and the date if image was modified (ie: Date created and Date modified).

  8. danniel says:

    i recently came across some horrible photos in my husbands’s laptop. the exif info tells me they were taken by a g12 canon camera and a blackberry 9800, which he both has. when i confronted him about it, he said the pictures were from his buddy’s files and he just copied them. he can’t explain why the exif info points to his devices. i am pretty sure that they were taken from our camera/bb. is there a way that exif info can be altered? my husband is techie ignorant, btw.

  9. Gail Bjork says:

    Tareq – it is my understanding that you can not tell if the EXIF information in a file is changed, including the date.

  10. Tareq Hadi says:

    How do I know if information on the EXIF file where not changed? mainly the date.

  11. Gail Bjork says:

    BMP is fine for some applications, but because of their large file size they are not appropriate for displaying on the web. JPEG, GIF and PNG are better. Also, some printing application programs will not recognize BMP images, only JPEGs (or RAW).

  12. JPG format is good and quality is also maintained. Have anyone tried the BMP image it is much better.

  13. Gail Bjork says:

    Digital1, I’m stumped. A few questions and suggestions.

    What file format are you using to save the images? jpegs? tiffs? Is your USB a U3 smart drive that may have some editing software on it? Have you tried burning the images onto a CD instead of using a USB drive?

    Try these: If you’re using layers, before saving to a JPEG, “Flatten” the image. If you’re saving as a TIFF, select “Discard Layers.” The properties should merge.

    I’ll keep looking for a solution. If you find one in the mean time, it would be great if you could share it!

  14. Digital1 says:

    Gail, when I edit a photo and do color correction, etc, then do a save as, everything looks great. However when go to transfer the images to a USB drive to take to a printing studio, i  get a pop up window that says some of the properties cannot be copied? I click okay, save anyway, then the pictures after printing do not retain my new adjustments i wanted, aka, brightness, gamma adjustment etc?

  15. Gail Bjork says:

    Mike, if you do a search for “batch edit EXIF data” there are several programs that let you batch edit EXIF data. I am not sure they will let you change only PM to AM. Most programs offer a free trial, so you might want to give them a try before buying. I’ve heard good things about Opanda’s Power Exif.

  16. Mike says:

    Is there a way to do a batch edit changing the Create Date from PM to AM. I have a program that allows me to change all of the images to the same date/time, but I want to keep the date/time and just change PM to AM. – Thanks 

  17. EBatts says:

    Thanks for sharing the EXIF / Properties information. Good to know in case the images need to be reshot or improved by changing the camera settings.

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