Glossary

Viewing and using EXIF data

Written by Gail Bjork

Read camera settings and scene information stored in digital images. Gain insights about how camera settings affect photo characteristics.

Almost all digital cameras and smartphones save photos with EXIF (Exchangeable Image File) data. Camera settings and scene information are recorded by the camera into the image file. Examples of stored information are shutter speed, date and time a photo was taken, focal length, exposure compensation, metering pattern and if a flash was used.

Cameras with built-in GPS receivers, if enabled, also store precise geographical information (street address, city, state, country) and GPS coordinates in each photo, known as geotags. Embedded geotags raise important security and safety concerns. For more information, read Geotags Compromise Your Security and Privacy

EXIF dataUse EXIF data as a learning tool

Many camera owners study EXIF to compare successful photos to those that are not. Data provides insight about how camera settings affect photo characteristics such as exposure, depth-of-field and subject movement.

Viewing EXIF data

EXIF data can be read by several applications. The software that came with your digital camera lets you view the data. Other viewing applications include EXIF web browser plug-ins, photo editing and organizing programs and smartphone apps and some printer drivers. The printer drivers use the EXIF data to automatically enhance images and can result in a better looking prints.

Preserving EXIF data

You can keep EXIF information in edited versions of original image files if they are Saved correctly. Most or all of the data embedded in the original will be in the edited file. Check the Help files of your photo editing software for specifics about preserving EXIF information during the editing process.

Viewing EXIF data at photo hosting sites

The information can be viewed online at photo hosting sites. It is often visible under, or to one, side of a photo on display. Or there will be a link or icon near the image that needs to be clicked to reveal the EXIF data.

Different photo hosting sites may use terms other than EXIF. For example, Flickr uses the word properties instead of EXIF; Picasa web albums have an area called Photo information; click on the More Information link to see additional photo EXIF data.

More about browser EXIF viewers

Using a browser EXIF viewer is great if you enjoying viewing photos posted online and want to gain insights about how a photo was taken. See a great action shot? Check the EXIF to see what focal length, shutter-speed and ISO settings were used.

There are EXIF viewers compatible with most browsers that must be installed as a plug-in. Some of the viewers only provide basic data but it can still be very useful.

Once the viewer is installed in your browser, right-click a jpeg image. As shown in the illustration to the left, click the EXIF Data link in the drop down menu. A window will open revealing available data.

For many, reading EXIF data is a worthwhile way to help improve their photo-taking skills.

Related reading: A listing of freeware including EXIF viewers and other useful free programs for the digital darkroom.

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.

51 Comments

  • Can anyone tell me if the lats and longs can be printed on to the photo,using a lumix FT4 camera,if I find this out,thank you

  • Mahbub, the “perfect” ratio between focal length and shutter speed is to set the shutter speed at least as fast, or faster, than the focal length. This helps prevent camera shake even for cameras with Image Stabilization. This is particularly important when using long, telephoto focal lengths.

  • EXIF Data of a particular shot has the following:
    Exposure: 1/60
    Aperture: f/5.0
    Focal Length: 46mm
    ISO: 3200 (set at Auto)

    There was a comment from someone on this shot who said that “the relationship between Focal Length and Shutter speed was “totally perfect”! The question by MS Karim with regard to relationship between Focal Length and Shutter (which you have already answered) and your answer is perfectly understandable.

    My question is… is there a “perfect” ratio between the two; meaning if Focal Length was 46mm should the shutter speed be closer to Focal Length number (in this case it was 1/60)as was implied by the one making the comment mentioned above?! That doesn’t make sense! Would welcome your opinion and comment on that.

  • M.S., yes there is a relation between focal length and shutter speed. The aperture size is typically smaller as you zoom in and the shutter speed will change accordingly to obtain proper exposure. In some cases, if you have ISO set to auto, the ISO number will change also.

  • Yes, there are programs that let you alter EXIF data. In addition, you may be able to access it by right-clicking an image, at least in Windows. Right-click a photo, click properties and a dialog box will open. Click the Detail tab to show the exif data, including the camera that took the photo. Click on the camera and other information, and it can be changed. Please note that the info may also give you the program name that altered the image and the date if image was modified (ie: Date created and Date modified).

  • i recently came across some horrible photos in my husbands’s laptop. the exif info tells me they were taken by a g12 canon camera and a blackberry 9800, which he both has. when i confronted him about it, he said the pictures were from his buddy’s files and he just copied them. he can’t explain why the exif info points to his devices. i am pretty sure that they were taken from our camera/bb. is there a way that exif info can be altered? my husband is techie ignorant, btw.

  • BMP is fine for some applications, but because of their large file size they are not appropriate for displaying on the web. JPEG, GIF and PNG are better. Also, some printing application programs will not recognize BMP images, only JPEGs (or RAW).

  • Digital1, I’m stumped. A few questions and suggestions.

    What file format are you using to save the images? jpegs? tiffs? Is your USB a U3 smart drive that may have some editing software on it? Have you tried burning the images onto a CD instead of using a USB drive?

    Try these: If you’re using layers, before saving to a JPEG, “Flatten” the image. If you’re saving as a TIFF, select “Discard Layers.” The properties should merge.

    I’ll keep looking for a solution. If you find one in the mean time, it would be great if you could share it!

  • Gail, when I edit a photo and do color correction, etc, then do a save as, everything looks great. However when go to transfer the images to a USB drive to take to a printing studio, i  get a pop up window that says some of the properties cannot be copied? I click okay, save anyway, then the pictures after printing do not retain my new adjustments i wanted, aka, brightness, gamma adjustment etc?

  • Mike, if you do a search for “batch edit EXIF data” there are several programs that let you batch edit EXIF data. I am not sure they will let you change only PM to AM. Most programs offer a free trial, so you might want to give them a try before buying. I’ve heard good things about Opanda’s Power Exif.

  • Is there a way to do a batch edit changing the Create Date from PM to AM. I have a program that allows me to change all of the images to the same date/time, but I want to keep the date/time and just change PM to AM. – Thanks 

  • Thanks for sharing the EXIF / Properties information. Good to know in case the images need to be reshot or improved by changing the camera settings.

  • […] nikon lens compatibility –> kali2 ada yang nanya lensa manual yang ini itu bisa masuk d3000 ga? […]

  • […] Re: COMPETITION: Fish of the Month (UK Mainland) Just realised there were no fish in July FOM and I've eaten my mullet I didn't take a pic with the paper (I don't buy papers). Is it really necessary to use a paper? I mean I am 100% sure I could photoshop the paper into the image (I got some puter skillz ) but I am 100% certain I can not change the EXIF data which would seem to me to be a more certain way to determine the date (and time) of the catch? EXIF information […]

  • Go to the main page where your image is displayed. In the right-hand column, under Additional Information click on More Properties to find the EXIF information.

    Flickr uses the word Properties instead of EXIF.

  • Jack, Any time you open and save an image, there is some modification to it. When saved (and edited) correctly, there is little perceptible loss of image quality when compared to the original. Yes, when you save an image using a program like Photoshop, it adds the program name to the EXIF data.

  • Hi Gail, Please answer this for me.
    If EXIF data on a posted picture shows “SOFTWARE”  (such as Adobe Photoshop CS4 for Windows os Photoshop Elements etc ) does that indicate that the picture has been modified? If so, is there a way to determine the modification?

  • Check your editing software to learn how to Save a jpeg image so the exif information will be removed in the copy. There are also programs that let you edit Exif data, such as EXIFeditor and Opanda PowerExif, to name a few. Here’s a related article about saving EXIF data which will help you understand the saving options in many photo editing programs.

  • I’m more curious: can you REMOVE such EXIF data? I mean, you can reconstruct an edited image from its original EXIF, after all.

  • As far as I know, there is no way to add EXIF date after photos have been uploaded. You may want to double check in the Flickr forums.

    Was the exif in the photos you uploaded originally? If an image is not saved properly after editing in some programs, the exif may be lost in the saved file (not the original file).

  • is there any way to automagically add the exif data for photos already uploaded to my flickr account to the map? i know the proper setting will do so going forward, but i am hoping i can apply the add-to-map to photos already uploaded.

  • You won’t lose EXIF information since the data is stored in individual images, not the camera. If you’re not going to use the camera for a long time, it is wise to remove the batteries. You will lose camera settings such as time and date, and any other changes you’ve made. The camera will return to the default factory settings. However, you can change the settings again when you reinsert the batteries.

  • thank you for that article. (EXchangeable Image Format) Extensions to image file formats that hold the camera settings used to take the picture. Developed in 1995 by JEIDA for JPEG images, EXIF data was added to TIFF, RAW and other formats later. Most digital cameras support EXIF and save the data in the file headers. However, when an image is edited, the EXIF data may be automatically removed by the software. An EXIF reader is a utility that is used to read, display and save EXIF data from a file. [Source].

  • Hi Gail,  I’ve tried that and although it works it doesn’t put the information I want on or below the image.  The main Exif info I would like is the date and time (if possible).  Can that be done?
    Thank you.

  • Yes, select an image or images and click the Print Button. Then press the Border and Text Options button. A Printing Options window opens. Click the Boarder and Text Options button > Select the radial button for EXIF information.

    In this window, you can also do additional things such as add a border, change the font type and size, and select if the EXIF info is printed below or on the image. The preview window shows you what the print will look like.

    You can also do this if you print contact sheets of photos. Album > Print Contact Sheet.

  • Is it possible to print a photo with the Exif information showing as well? (I use Picassa)

    Thank you

  • i own a sony cybershot DSC 110.I want to know that how can i adjust my camera’s DPI(Dots Per Inch) manualy.currently its on 72,however i want to increase it for a clear resolution.Please help.

  • alire, one of the ways to see the EXIF data when viewing a photo online is to use an EXIF viewer. I personally use Opanda Iexif. It’s FREE. Once th program installed, you simply right-click on an image that is posted on the web, click the iExif menu and a window will open to reveal available EXIF information. It’s important to note that if a person doesn’t Save a copy of an image correctly, EXIF data will not appear in the new file. Here’s information about how to  save EXIF data when editing images.