When we take a picture, the information we intend to record is the subject of the photograph, be it a landmark, as sunset, a selfie, or anything in between. However, virtually every camera and smartphone records plenty of additional data, which refers to numerous things, such as the model of our camera or specific settings and geolocation. Below you can see what the EXIF data is and how it can help you become a better photographer.
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What is the EXIF data?
The term EXIF is an acronym for EXchangeable Image File.
EXIF data can contain plenty of information on every photo, from the resolution and type of compression to the camera’s focal length, exposure time, metering mode, and much more.
Furthermore, some digital cameras and most of the smartphones also include the geographic coordinates of where the photo was taken, through GPS.
This info is recorded when we take a picture, and it is stored in the image file itself.
History of EXIF data
The creator of EXIF data is the Japan Electronic Industry Development Association (JEIDA).
JEIDA presented the 2.1 version of EXIF in June of 1998. The support of Adobe RGB color space began on 2003 in the version 2.21.
The latest version is 2.3 and was released in 2010. Since then, it has been revised in 2013 from JEIDA and CIPA.
Why EXIF data is useful
For someone who will take a few pictures every year during their vacation, EXIF data probably won't change their life. But for the professionals and hobbyists, EXIF can be invaluable.
With this data, we can understand for example why a picture was better than another.
Professional photographers know these details and can take advantage of them. The amateurs who just started, though, need to invest some time to learn more about EXIF data for various reasons.
First things first, with EXIF we can understand our camera's settings better, and thus become better at taking pictures.
Moreover, we will learn how to change these settings, comparing the results of our equipment with others through the EXIF data.
This way, we can choose better equipment, to suit us and the way we shoot photos.
We can also use the EXIF data as a potent tool to sort our photos
Using Windows Explorer and the function "Sort by," we can see our pictures in any order we want. There are only a few default settings, but we can add or remove as many columns as we want.
We just have to click on "View" tab and from "Sort by" we go to "Choose columns."
In this window, we can choose which columns we want to see and which to hide.
When we finish our choices, we press "OK."
Now, we can set the sorting of the files based on any criteria we want.
Also, we can group our pictures according to these criteria.
For more details about the columns in Windows Explorer, read our article:
What file types does EXIF data support
EXIF data is exclusively compatible with JPEG or TIFF files. Moreover, many manufacturers support RAW files, which can also store additional data. If we change a RAW picture type to a compatible one, then this data is transformed to EXIF.
Because of this limited compatibility with only a few file types, EXIF gets lost if the file format changes.
For example, changing a picture from JPG to PNG will remove all that data.
How can I view the EXIF data?
We can view the EXIF data either through the file's options or with third-party tools.
On Windows, we will find it by right-clicking on a picture, choosing "Properties," and then going to the "Details" tab.
If we wish to know more in-depth details, we will have to use individual apps or browser extensions.
As Windows users, we have many options. A lot of file editing programs can view EXIF data. Adobe Photoshop, for example, displays it with Adobe Bridge. Adobe Lightroom displays it with its built-in library.
Of course, we don't have to pay to see the EXIF data. GIMP has a built-in viewing tool, and it's completely free.
Apart from the image editing programs, we can also read EXIF data with the image viewing programs IrfanView and XnView. Furthermore, there are tools such as KUSO Exif Viewer, EXIF Reader, and Opanda IExif, which are designed specifically for this purpose.
Last, but not least, there are browser extensions designed for viewing EXIF data. For Firefox we have the Exif Viewer and the FxIF. Meanwhile, for Chrome the EXIF Viewer and the EXIF Reader will get the job done.
Edit and remove EXIF data
Every program that can show EXIF data also has the ability to process it. Usually, we only need to double click on the data we want to change.
Details tab on Windows
In case we need to edit EXIF data through Windows properties, we can click on the link "Remove Properties and Personal Information."
On that window, we have to tick "Remove the following properties from this file," and we can select what we want to delete. When we click "OK," it will erase the data we chose.
We can save any change with the "OK" button.
This practice can protect our privacy if we want to send a picture to someone. We may not want to reveal the capture date, our location, etc.
Edit with Opanda PowerExif Editor
After checking multiple different programs, we concluded that the best EXIF data viewing program is Opanda IExif, which has the most detailed presentation.
Besides, the most evolved tool for EXIF editing is Opanda PowerExif Editor. That's why we are going to see how to modify the data with its help.
To start, we open the program and drag the picture we want on the application's window. On the left, we will see a miniature of the photo, right underneath a few details, and on the right the EXIF data.
By double-clicking on any information, we open an edit window. In this window, we can edit any information, even the camera model or the image's ISO.
We change as much information as we want and click "Save" on the top right.
We must note that we can make as many EXIF data changes as we wish, but the picture won't be affected. EXIF data is stored separately than the pictures digital information; editing the EXIF data won't affect the image's quality in any way.
Disable location tracking on Android
A lot of us don't want Google and its services to know our location. We can disable the tracking of our location through our device's settings.
No matter what the general setting for our location is, our camera can track it. If we don’t want it recorded in the EXIF data, then we have to disable that choice.
Most of Android camera apps have a GPS setting - no matter who the manufacturer is. So we open the camera settings, click on the settings icon, and disable "GPS location info."
Do you use EXIF data?
Did you know about EXIF data? Have you ever wondered why it is useful?
Are you a professional photographer or a hobbyist with a passion for photography? Do you know something we didn't mention in the article?
Tell us in the comments and share your knowledge with our readers.
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