Valuable exercise- have a go (free meta data viewer and editor tool)

posted on 26th of august, 2010

Ever wanted to know more about what your CAMERA did to your photo? You know what YOU did but there was more?
There is the basic metadata (EXIF-Exchangeable image file format, IPTC-International Press Telecommunications Council) exposed through tools like Lightroom but there is more that can be accessed.
There is a free tool written by Phil Harvey that extracts a lot more detail than you would otherwise see. I have played with this tool over the past few years and it has kept up with new camera versions and been well supported. I wrote a tool once which imported my whole collection into a database to see what lens I should buy next based on how I shoot with what I have - fun geekish approach!

If you download his Windows Executable from his website you can simply drag and drop an image onto the file once unzipped file: "exiftool(-k).exe" and it will open a MS-DOS shell listing all the values.

There is also a free GUI (interface) that uses Phil's backend so you do not need to know the commandlines. Check out website

It is an incredibly powerful tool that can do so much if you are command line capable. Have a look at this website it really is worthwhile.
I have included a list of variables it reported on a JPEG file from a Canon MarkII.
There are so many interesting parameters to view and help you understand what the camera is doing. It has helped me to understand what features of my camera I need to learn about.

I'd love to run the Dreamstime catalogue through a tool like this to understand the lenses people are using for what subject. There would be such a gold mine of information.
I would be interested in any other free tools that others use to organise or process any files.

Tags listed from Canon MKII image:
ExifTool Version Number
File Name
File Size
File Modification Date/Time
File Permissions
File Type
Exif Byte Order
Camera Model Name
X Resolution
Y Resolution
Resolution Unit
Modify Date
Y Cb Cr Positioning
Exposure Time
F Number
Exif Version
Date/Time Original
Create Date
Components Configuration
Shutter Speed Value
Aperture Value
Focal Length
Macro Mode
Self Timer
Canon Flash Mode
Continuous Drive
Focus Mode
Canon Image Size
Easy Mode
Digital Zoom
Camera ISO
Metering Mode
Focus Range
Canon Exposure Mode
Lens Type
Long Focal
Short Focal
Focal Units
Max Aperture
Min Aperture
Flash Bits
Zoom Source Width
Zoom Target Width
Manual Flash Output
Color Tone
SRAW Quality
Auto ISO
Base ISO
Measured EV
Target Aperture
Target Exposure Time
Exposure Compensation
White Balance
Slow Shutter
Shot Number In Continuous Burst
Optical Zoom Code
Flash Guide Number
Flash Exposure Compensation
Auto Exposure Bracketing
AEB Bracket Value
Control Mode
Bulb Duration
Camera Type
ND Filter
Canon Image Type
Canon Firmware Version
File Number
Owner Name
Camera Body No.
Canon Model ID
Serial Number Format
AF Area Mode
Num AF Points
Valid AF Points
Canon Image Width
Canon Image Height
AF Image Width
AF Image Height
AF Area Widths
AF Area Heights
AF Area X Positions
AF Area Y Positions
AF Points In Focus
AF Points Selected
Bracket Mode
Bracket Value
Bracket Shot Number
Raw Jpg Size
Long Exposure Noise Reduction 2
WB Bracket Mode
WB Bracket Value AB
WB Bracket Value GM
Live View Shooting
Flash Exposure Lock
Lens Model
Internal Serial Number
Exposure Level Increments
ISO Speed Increments
ISO Expansion
AEB Auto Cancel
AEB Sequence
Safety Shift
Flash Sync Speed Av
Long Exposure Noise Reduction
High ISO Noise Reduction
Highlight Tone Priority
Auto Lighting Optimizer
Lens Drive No AF
Lens AF Stop Button
AF Point Selection Method
Superimposed Display
AF Assist Beam
Mirror Lockup
AF Point Area Expansion
AF Microadjustment
Shutter Button AF On Button
AF On AE Lock Button Switch
Set Button When Shooting
Dial Direction Tv Av
Focusing Screen
Add Original Decision Data
Assign Func Button
Tone Curve
Sharpness Frequency
Sensor Red Level
Sensor Blue Level
White Balance Red
White Balance Blue
Color Temperature
Picture Style
Digital Gain
WB Shift AB
WB Shift GM
Measured RGGB
Sensor Width
Sensor Height
Sensor Left Border
Sensor Top Border
Sensor Right Border
Sensor Bottom Border
Black Mask Left Border
Black Mask Top Border
Black Mask Right Border
Black Mask Bottom Border
Color Data Version
WB RGGB Levels As Shot
Color Temp As Shot
WB RGGB Levels Auto
Color Temp Auto
WB RGGB Levels Measured
Color Temp Measured
WB RGGB Levels Daylight
Color Temp Daylight
WB RGGB Levels Shade
Color Temp Shade
WB RGGB Levels Cloudy
Color Temp Cloudy
WB RGGB Levels Tungsten
Color Temp Tungsten
WB RGGB Levels Fluorescent
Color Temp Fluorescent
WB RGGB Levels Kelvin
Color Temp Kelvin
WB RGGB Levels Flash
Color Temp Flash
Raw Measured RGGB
AF Micro Adj Active
AF Micro Adj Value
Peripheral Lighting
Peripheral Lighting Value
Original Image Width
Original Image Height
User Comment
Flashpix Version
Color Space
Exif Image Width
Exif Image Height
Interoperability Index
Interoperability Version
Related Image Width
Related Image Height
Focal Plane X Resolution
Focal Plane Y Resolution
Focal Plane Resolution Unit
Custom Rendered
Exposure Mode
Scene Capture Type
Offset Schema
GPS Version ID
Thumbnail Offset
Thumbnail Length
Profile CMM Type
Profile Version
Profile Class
Color Space Data
Profile Connection Space
Profile Date Time
Profile File Signature
Primary Platform
CMM Flags
Device Manufacturer
Device Model
Device Attributes
Rendering Intent
Connection Space Illuminant
Profile Creator
Profile ID
Red Tone Reproduction Curve
Green Tone Reproduction Curve
Blue Tone Reproduction Curve
Red Matrix Column
Green Matrix Column
Blue Matrix Column
Chromatic Adaptation
Profile Copyright
Device Mfg Desc
Device Model Desc
Media White Point
Profile Description
Current IPTC Digest
Country-Primary Location Name
Originating Program
Image Width
Image Height
Encoding Process
Bits Per Sample
Color Components
Y Cb Cr Sub Sampling
Drive Mode
GPS Latitude
GPS Latitude Ref
GPS Longitude
GPS Longitude Ref
GPS Position
Image Size
Lens ID
Scale Factor To 35 mm Equivalent
Shooting Mode
Shutter Speed
Thumbnail Image
WB RGGB Levels
Blue Balance
Circle Of Confusion
Field Of View
Focal Length
Hyperfocal Distance
Light Value
Red Balance

Comments (5)

Posted by Markbfowler on January 20, 2012
DF/Tools has an inexpensive utility for viewing/editing/deleting all metadata in a photograph. It's expecially great for keywords. http://dftools.fwlr.com/
Posted by Bevanward on August 28, 2010
Hi Gavril
Circle of Confusion is a really useful for working out what F to use. Have a look at the website CoC. Once you know what this is for your camera you can create a depth of field calculator - have a look at this website DOF calculator
Posted by Gmargittai on August 28, 2010
That's a lot of information, really impressive, I wonder what the "Circle Of Confusion" means.

You can view some of these in Photoshop itself, and even add keywords and other user data.
Posted by Fleyeing on August 27, 2010
Thank you very much for pointing to this tool. I never heard of it! For the past 5 years, I have been using Irfanview and found Exifer (that isn't developed any more) a bit buggy. Of course there is the "Microsoft Pro Photo Tools" too. The guy really did a great job! Also the GUI developer.

As for EXIF, I never felt the urge touching it, but IPTC is another cup of tea.
A big "useful" for this post. I almost missed it since the title of the post is a bit misleading. ;-)
Posted by Jdanne on August 27, 2010
exiftool exists for Linux, too.

Comments (5)

This article has been read 1927 times. 4 readers have found this article useful.
Photo credits: Bevanward.

About me

I moved to Adelaide, Australia in 1978 from Auckland, New Zealand, as a child. Raised in Townsville, North Queensland, I left home to work in Central Australia where I first became interested in photography as a field geologist. From there I took a role in Johannesburg, South Africa, returned to Australia to marry, moved to Santiago, spent five years there in the capital of Chile and since have moved back to Brisbane, Australia where I am now based. I live with my wife of eight years and our three year old son. I have spent the past 10 years travelling all over the world and as part of my trav... [Read more]

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