Wednesday, February 21, 2007

February 19, 2007 HelpLine

Labels: HelpLineHow To

Examining EXIF

Q) I'm looking for the perfect photo organizer. Most of those I've tried, if you try to organize images by their date, want to use the date they get from the EXIF data for the image. That's probably fine if we're only organizing digital photos, but many of my image files are pre-digital, scanned from negs, slides or prints. The EXIF data for these shows the date the image was scanned (digitized). That's of very little interest; what the record needs is the date the photo was taken. Is there any way to alter the Date Created in the EXIF data? I've seen one sophisticated piece of freeware called Exifer. But that doesn't work on TIFF files, which most of mine are. This must be a problem for anyone digitizing older images.

Graham Jacks
Via the Internet

A) EXIF stands for exchangeable image file format. The file system was developed to help avoid a scenario where every digital camera would have a different means of writing images to memory cards. While we often call the files JPEGs, JPEG is actually a compression method and not a file format. Technically, then, what gets written to the card is an EXIF file, but I'm not going to try to swim upstream here, so JPEG it is.

One of the benefits that came with the development of digital cameras and, more specifically, EXIF, is the ability to store metadata. The common definition for metadata is data about data-not a particularly helpful definition, but it's cute nonetheless. If I apply that definition to digital images, it would go something like this: Think of the actual image as a bunch of pixels or image data. Now, if you want to describe that image data in terms of when it was shot, or what the exposure was, or what camera shot it, or what the white balance setting was, or how large it should be printed, then you'd be describing the metadata. All of that information would be embedded in the file, but NOT in the image itself.

Now back to your question. While EXIF was specifically developed for digital camera use, it can be used in images that are generated through other means. Currently, it's designed only for JPEG and TIFF files. You're right that the Exifer program, like many others, only works on JPEGs. However, there's a commercial application that will do what you want to do. Check out www.opanda.com/en/pe/index.html, which allows batch processing of images.

There's another option that acts like a plug-in for the Windows operating system, allowing you to right click on a file and select Properties to edit EXIF data on a TIFF file: www.colorpilot.com/exiffarm.html. If you download the free version, it can only work with one file at a time.

If you have any questions, please send them to HelpLine, PCPhoto Magazine, 12121 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 1200, Los Angeles, CA 90025 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


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