Explaining EXIF Data

EXIF data is additional information which is stored when you take a photo with a digital camera or use many photo editing applications. The EXIF data is supported with JPEG and Tiff files, although Gif and PNG do not support the use of this additional information.

History

EXIF was originally created by JEIDA, or the Japan Electronic Industries Development Association. Version 2.1 was released in 1998, and the newest version was released in April 2002. The EXIF standard is used by virtually every camera manufacturer in the world, even though the standard isn't maintained by anyone at the moment.

What's Stored in EXIF Data?

Digital cameras and photo editing software will store various pieces of information in the EXIF data. The date and time are the two most useful pieces of information; your camera will store the current date and time of each picture when it's taken. The camera will also store the camera settings, including the make and model, shutter speed, mode, ISO setting and aperture.

A thumbnail image is also stored in the data which is displayed on the LCD screen of the camera, in software and in file managers. If using software, then descriptions and copyright details can also be included in the EXIF data.

The EXIF data is embedded in the image file itself and is written by the digital camera or other software. The camera will normally store most of the information automatically, however, additional information such as copyright, author and details are normally left blank. These can be edited when the image itself is edited.

Location

EXIF data also allows the location to be saved, but only if your camera supports it. Only a few cameras make it possible to store the location; these include the Nikon Coolpix P6000 and Ricoh Caplio 500 SE cameras, which have built in GPS receivers. These cameras can detect the location of the photos and store this in the EXIF data.

Viewing EXIF Data

The EXIF data is embedded as part of the image file and can be read using a number of different pieces of software. It's possible to simply right click the file in Windows XP, Vista and 7 to read the EXIF data, however, it's important to mention that no changes should be made because any changes can corrupt the headers.

If you're using Windows XP, then it's simply a case of right clicking the file and clicking properties. All of the EXIF details will be outputted on the Advanced tab.

Various other freeware tools including ExifEditor, FxIF and IExifViewer can get the job done. There are also plugins for FireFox and Internet Explorer.

Risks of EXIF

EXIF stores a lot of personal information that you might not want other people to know. If you share photos with other people, then the EXIF data can be a liability. There are several tools which can also remove this information to make sharing the files much safer.

The Future of EXIF

EXIF is a very old standard which is no longer being updated; there are also more than a few problems with EXIF data. It doesn't support color depths above 24 bit, and it doesn't support videos. This has lead many camera manufacturers to develop their own proprietary standards for RAW images.

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