EXIF (exchangeable image file) data is a record, showing what digital SLR camera settings were used to take a photograph. This data is recorded into the actual image file. Therefore each photograph has its own unique data. EXIF data stores information like camera model, exposure, aperture, ISO, what camera mode was used and whether or not a flash fired.
The image below is an example of what EXIF data looks like. This information differs depending on what EXIF reader is used to see the metadata.
How is EXIF metadata useful?
For beginners, reading an images EXIF data can be a very useful learning tool. When I first started using a digital SLR camera, I got into a habit of taking a notepad with me so I could write down the settings used for each shot. That way if I liked the results, I could replicate the shot at another time. Later on I learned about EXIF metadata and realized I didn’t need to write down the settings after all. Instead, it was all recorded for me when I took the photograph. All I needed was a way to read the data.
EXIF metadata readers
Metadata readers allow you to view the image, then read the EXIF information so you can recall the camera settings. When you first start out in digital SLR photography, all the camera settings can seem overwhelming. There are so many different settings, that it can be hard to remember what one’s were used for each shot. Over time, studying each photo’s EXIF metadata, will help you understand what settings are needed for specific shots.
Listed below are some of the most popular ways of reading a photographs metadata:
- When you preview a photograph in windows picture viewer, you can right click on the image and choose properties. Click the summary tab along the top, then if you don’t see the EXIF data instantly, click the advanced button. You should then see all the information that was recorded when the photo was taken.
- There are many free EXIF readers available. One of the most popular freeware programs is called EXIF Reader – image data file analysis. EXIF Reader can obtain metadata from photographs taken with the following camera models: Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Epson, Sanyo, Ricoh, Casio, Toshiba, Fujifilm, Kodak, Konica, Sony, Minolta, Pentax, Kyocera and Panasonic.
- If you already own a graphics editor like Photoshop CS2 and above, you can read the EXIF data with the programs File Browser feature (File / File Info, along the top toolbar).
Reasons why you may not be able to read a photographs EXIF metadata
Some graphic editors tend to strip out EXIF metadata from an image when it’s edited. For example, earlier versions of Jasc Paint Shop Pro or Photomatix, are well known culprits. Usually upgrading to the latest version of the program will solve this problem.
Photography Assignment – Grab your DSLR camera and give this a try
Reading a photographs EXIF metadata will allow you to recall what camera settings were used when you took the shot.
Assignment: EXIF metadata lesson
- Download and install a free EXIF reader called EXIF Reader – image data file analysis. Even for those who own a copy of Photoshop CS2 with its inbuilt reader, will appreciate the extra details EXIF reader displays.
- Open up a few different photographs within EXIF Reader and read through the numerous metadata columns. Look specifically for metering mode, aperture, exposure (shutter speed), focal length and ISO. These are the camera settings most beginners want to replicate for specific types of shots.If for some reason, you can’t view the images EXIF data, it may be because you have edited the original photograph with a graphics program that has stripped this information out.