A Viewer for Camera Exif Data

Digital camera image files contain Exif data (Exif is Exchangeable image file format). This data describes the format of the image data. The camera is the source, and the value to camera users is that the camera settings are also recorded in the Exif data. Exif data can be in JPEG, TIFF, and raw image files, and also sound data files. Image formats PNG, GIF and JPEG2000 do not include Exif data. The current revision is Exif 2.2, and here is the Exif 2.2 specification.

How is Exif pronounced? Some acronyms are said as a word, and I've heard some try to say it like Exit but with an F. My own notion is that it's proper to pronounce the letters E X I F, like say UFO or USA or FBI or IRS or BBC.

There are several Exif viewers, but the problem is, the Exif data contains a standard area and a larger Makers area (camera Manufacturers area). If you only want to see f/stop, shutter speed, and ISO, then any viewer surely works. But if you want to see the real deal, you need better viewer tools that can decipher the Manufacturers section. Not many viewers are recently updated, which omits newest cameras.

An important factor is that to see all of the Exif, it has to be a JPG or Raw image straight out of the camera. Image editors like Adobe will leave out most of the Exif when they rewrite the file, and you'll never see most of it after that. Photoshop Bridge has menus to select which items of the Exif to retain, but its choices do not include the Manufacturers data (this section is also called Makers Data, or MakerNotes, same thing, Manufacturers section).

The Adobe File - Save For Web option saves as JPG, but specifically omits all Exif data.

The problem for Exif viewers is that the Makers data section is proprietary format, not standard, and manufacturers can and do change its format at will (adding things, which messes up viewer programs). I used to use PhotoME for my Exif viewer, and I liked it. It seemed to work fine on my D300 camera (2007). But then it failed to show the Makers data for my D800 (2012). Nikon had changed the format. But PhotoMe was last updated in 2009. Opanda is another popular viewer, last updated in 2008. These are obsolete now, they no longer work for the Makers data in many newer cameras. If your Exif Viewer is older than your camera, be very suspicious. You need something more current.


But there is a fantastic solution. Phil Harvey's ExifTool is the ultimate, and is often updated a couple of times a month (adding new cameras and fixes, etc). It is the good stuff! All for free. It is a command line viewer, however don't get excited by that. It can also work as a useful Windows program. At least for Windows, sorry, I'm not aware of a Mac version. I can only discuss the Windows version.

The link is http://www.sno.phy.queensu.ca/~phil/exiftool/. As you will see there, this is a Big Deal. Complete, and updated very frequently, and it receives great attention from the developer, and from techies too. There is a forum too, and if you want to read awhile there, you might become an Exif Expert.

There are instructions, but in short, for Windows use, just do this:

  1. There download the Windows Executable or the Mac OS X Package.
  2. Then this part is important. Way down near its page bottom is Related Utilities. In the Windows section there, download the ExifTool GUI for Windows. Or that link is Here.
  3. Extract both executables into one folder, any folder where you want it. I make a folder C:\programs\ for this type of thing, and then a subfolder exiftool\. Then you will have exiftool(-k).exe and exiftoolgui.exe. These two must be in the same folder.
  4. Then, following the instructions, rename the exiftool(-k).exe to be exiftool.exe. Remove the (-k).
  5. Then make a shortcut to exiftoolgui.exe, which is what you start.
  6. The ExifTool FAQ and forum.

It is a command line tool, and has many options. However, the ExiftoolGUI spawns exiftool, and filters out that part, and presents a normal Windows interface. If you click exiftoolgui.exe, then you see like this:

This is very easy to use. It has various features in its menu, GPS and modify date, and you can export the Exif data to a text file (in same folder with the image. Then you can text search it.) Best of all, it shows all of the data.

If you directly click the exiftool.exe, you see:

And typing Return to answer More shows several more pages. Or CTRL C will terminate it before the end.

BUT, ExiftoolGUI offers the Windows app shown just before this.

To make sure you understand what you may be missing, here's a sample of what is there. It does take some careful reading, it can be confusing. You can output a text file (shown below, output From ExifToolGUI), and then a text search can be very helpful to find things (I wish Search were in the program, but you can output the text file as shown below). For example, Commander Group A mode (TTL or Manual) is there, along with manual power level or TTL compensation. And in this case, the Commander in the hot shoe flash is also shown. But these are just the current settings in the menus. Note both of these say the Commander Mode is Off, not in use. This is true of all settings, like Self Timer: 2 seconds, even if not used, or Vivid, even if shooting Raw that contains no settings. It does take some attention. Many interesting things, some of which I marked below, with comments to the right side.

This is the original Exif in the original camera file. Repeating, if you output a JPG from Adobe software, even if it "retains" basic Exif, it still removes most of this (keeps some basic, but removes almost all). Adobe usually has a Preferences menu where you can select to retain some specific items, but most items will not be offered there.

Menu File - Save As - JPG does retain some, but menu File - Save For Web does not retain any Exif data.

So, you do want to look at the Exif in your original camera file, straight out of camera.

---- ExifTool ----
ExifTool Version Number		: 10.27		9/23/2016 version
---- File ----
File Name			: 801_2222.NEF		A raw file
Directory			: .
File Size			: 36 MB
File Modification Date/Time	: 2016:07:25 10:44:42-05:00
File Access Date/Time		: 2016:08:03 14:48:03-05:00
File Creation Date/Time		: 2016:08:03 14:48:03-05:00
File Permissions		: rw-rw-rw-
File Type			: NEF
File Type Extension		: nef
MIME Type			: image/x-nikon-nef
Exif Byte Order			: Big-endian (Motorola, MM)

---- EXIF ----
Subfile Type			: Reduced-resolution image Thumbnail TIF image
Image Width			: 160
Image Height			: 120
Bits Per Sample			: 8 8 8
Compression			: Uncompressed
Photometric Interpretation	: RGB
Camera Model Name		: NIKON D800		Camera model
Strip Offsets			: 120068
Orientation			: Horizontal (normal)
Samples Per Pixel		: 3
Rows Per Strip			: 120
Strip Byte Counts		: 57600
X Resolution			: 300
Y Resolution			: 300
Planar Configuration		: Chunky
Resolution Unit			: inches
Software			: Ver.1.10
Modify Date			: 2016:07:25 10:44:41
Artist				:
Subfile Type			: Reduced-resolution image Embedded JPG, for rear LCD and histogram
Compression			: JPEG (old-style)
X Resolution			: 300
Y Resolution			: 300
Resolution Unit			: inches
Jpg From Raw Start		: 1059328
Jpg From Raw Length		: 3966257
Y Cb Cr Positioning		: Co-sited
Subfile Type			: Full-resolution Image	The raw image
Image Width			: 7424
Image Height			: 4924
Bits Per Sample			: 12
Compression			: Nikon NEF Compressed
Photometric Interpretation	: Color Filter Array
Strip Offsets			: 5025792
Samples Per Pixel		: 1
Rows Per Strip			: 4924
Strip Byte Counts		: 32670659
X Resolution			: 300
Y Resolution			: 300
Planar Configuration		: Chunky
Resolution Unit			: inches
CFA Repeat Pattern Dim		: 2 2
CFA Pattern 2			: 0 1 1 2
Sensing Method			: One-chip color area
Subfile Type			: Reduced-resolution image ? Dunno, guessing for B&W histogram maybe?
Compression			: JPEG (old-style)
X Resolution			: 300
Y Resolution			: 300
Resolution Unit			: inches
Other Image Start		: 178176
Other Image Length		: 881083
Y Cb Cr Positioning		: Co-sited
Reference Black White		: 0 255 0 255 0 255
Copyright			:
Exposure Time			: 1/60		The basic Exif section, most viewers show some of this
F Number			: 5.0
Exposure Program		: Aperture-priority AE
ISO				: 100
Sensitivity Type		: Recommended Exposure Index
Date/Time Original		: 2016:07:25 10:44:41
Create Date			: 2016:07:25 10:44:41
Exposure Compensation		: 0
Max Aperture Value		: 2.8
Metering Mode			: Center-weighted average
Light Source			: Unknown	This was hot shoe bounce flash under shaded patio
Flash				: On, Return detected
Focal Length			: 48.0 mm
User Comment			:
Sub Sec Time			: 50
Sub Sec Time Original		: 50
Sub Sec Time Digitized		: 50
Sensing Method			: One-chip color area
File Source			: Digital Camera
Scene Type			: Directly photographed
CFA Pattern			: [Red,Green][Green,Blue]
Custom Rendered			: Normal
Exposure Mode			: Auto
White Balance			: Auto	Raw is not affected by settings, but embedded JPG shows them on rear LCD and histogram
Digital Zoom Ratio		: 1
Focal Length In 35mm Format	: 48 mm
Scene Capture Type		: Standard
Gain Control			: None
Contrast			: Normal
Saturation			: Normal
Sharpness			: Normal
Subject Distance Range		: Unknown		See Focus Distance in Maker Notes
GPS Version ID			:
Date/Time Original		: 2016:07:25 10:44:41
TIFF-EP Standard ID		: 1 0 0 0

---- MakerNotes ----					The Good Stuff is in here
Maker Note Version		: 2.10
ISO				: 100
Quality				: RAW
White Balance			: Auto1
Focus Mode			: AF-S
Flash Setting			: Normal
Flash Type			: Optional,TTL-BL	This was a hot shoe flash
White Balance Fine Tune		: 0 0
WB RB Levels			: 1.8984375 1.44140625 1 1  Temperature degrees K is not in Exif. These are multipliers for red and blue and two green Bayer channels (RBGG)
Program Shift			: 0
Exposure Difference		: -0.3	Difference in actual and metered ambient exposure, usually zero outdoors, usually large indoors with flash
Compression			: JPEG (old-style)
X Resolution			: 300
Y Resolution			: 300
Resolution Unit			: inches
Preview Image Start		: 25348
Preview Image Length		: 94699
Y Cb Cr Positioning		: Co-sited
Flash Exposure Compensation	: 0
ISO Setting			: 100
External Flash Exposure Comp	: 0
Flash Exposure Bracket Value	: 0.0
Exposure Bracket Value		: 0
Crop Hi Speed			: Off (7424x4924 cropped to 7424x4924 at pixel 0,0)
Exposure Tuning			: 0
Serial Number			: 3046677	Camera serial number
Color Space			: sRGB
VR Info Version			: 0100
Vibration Reduction		: Off		What you did, or maybe lens does not have it
VR Mode				: Normal
Active D-Lighting		: Off
Picture Control Version		: 0100
Picture Control Name		: Standard	JPG does this, seen in the rear LCD Preview, but raw NEF data is not affected
Picture Control Base		: Standard
Picture Control Adjust		: Full Control
Picture Control Quick Adjust	: Normal
Sharpness			: 4
Contrast			: Normal
Brightness			: Normal
Saturation			: Normal
Hue Adjustment			: None
Filter Effect			: n/a
Toning Effect			: n/a
Toning Saturation		: n/a
Time Zone			: -06:00
Daylight Savings		: No
Date Display Format		: M/D/Y
ISO				: 100
ISO Expansion			: Off
ISO2				: 100
ISO Expansion 2			: Off
Vignette Control		: Normal
Auto Distortion Control		: Off
Lens Type			: G
Lens				: 24-70mm f/2.8
Flash Mode			: Fired, External
Shooting Mode			: Single-Frame
Lens F Stops			: 6.00
Contrast Curve			: (Binary data 578 bytes, use -b option to extract)
Shot Info Version		: 0222
Firmware Version		: 1.10b
Repeating Flash Output External : 1
Repeating Flash Count External	: 1
Flash Exposure Comp 2		: 0
Sequence Number			: 0
Shutter Count			: 13537		** Users ask about this, here it is
Auto Bracketing Set		: AE & Flash	
Auto Bracket Order		: 0,-,+		Camera settings are not necessarily being used
Auto Bracketing Mode		: Flash/Speed
Flash Sync Speed		: 1/250 s
Flash Shutter Speed		: 1/60 s
Flash Control Built-in		: TTL	Internal flash menu, even if door is closed.
Commander Channel		: 1
Commander Internal Flash	: TTL	These are the settings, but Commander is not used this time
Commander Internal Manual Output: Full
Commander Group A Mode		: TTL
Commander Group A Manual Output : 1/51
Commander Group B Mode		: Manual
Commander Group B Manual Output : 1/128
Modeling Flash			: Off
Commander Internal TTL Comp	: +1.0
Commander Group A TTL-AA Comp	: +2.0
Commander Group B TTL-AA Comp	: +1.0
NEF Compression			: Lossless
Noise Reduction			: Off
NEF Linearization Table		: (Binary data 46 bytes, use -b option to extract)
WB GRBG Levels			: 256 486 369 256  256 times the "WB RB Levels" multiplier above
Lens Data Version		: 0204
Exit Pupil Position		: 97.5 mm
AF Aperture			: 2.9
Focus Position			: 0x32
Focus Distance			: 2.00 m	D-lens report, but Nikon zoom lenses are often grossly wrong
Focal Length			: 47.6 mm
Lens ID Number			: 147
Lens F Stops			: 6.00
Min Focal Length		: 24.5 mm
Max Focal Length		: 71.3 mm
Max Aperture At Min Focal	: 2.8
Max Aperture At Max Focal	: 2.8
MCU Version			: 149
Effective Max Aperture		: 2.8
Raw Image Center		: 3712 2462
Retouch History			: None
Shutter Count			: 13537
Flash Info Version		: 0105	iTTL version, third party too
Flash Source			: External
External Flash Firmware		: 2.01 (SB-800)		Hot shoe flash used
External Flash Flags		: Fired, Bounce Flash
Flash Commander Mode		: Off	I think this one is the Commander mode in hot shoe flash, internal Commander above
Flash Control Mode		: iTTL-BL
Flash Compensation		: 0
Repeating Flash Count		: 1
Flash GN Distance		: 2.0 m	  TTL BL can use this, even if zoom D-lenses can be quite inaccurate
Flash Color Filter		: None
Flash Group A Control Mode	: Off
Flash Group B Control Mode	: Off
Flash Group C Control Mode	: Off
Flash Group A Compensation	: 0
Flash Group B Compensation	: 0
Flash Group C Compensation	: 0
External Flash Compensation	: 0
Flash Exposure Comp 3		: 0
Flash Exposure Comp 4		: 0
Multi Exposure Version		: 0100
Multi Exposure Mode		: Off
Multi Exposure Shots		: 0
Multi Exposure Auto Gain	: Off
High ISO Noise Reduction	: Off
Power Up Time			: 2016:03:09 13:04:17
AF Info 2 Version		: 0100
Contrast Detect AF		: Off			Live View off
AF Area Mode			: Single Area
Phase Detect AF			: On (51-point)		Viewfinder used
Primary AF Point		: C6 (Center)
AF Points Used			: C6
Contrast Detect AF In Focus	: No
File Info Version		: 0100
Memory Card Number		: 0
Directory Number		: 102
File Number			: 2222
AF Fine Tune			: Off
AF Fine Tune Index		: n/a
AF Fine Tune Adj		: 0
Retouch Info Version		: 0200
Retouch NEF Processing		: Off

---- Composite ----				Derived from other sections or values
Aperture			: 5.0
Auto Focus			: On
Blue Balance			: 1.441406
CFA Pattern			: [Red,Green][Green,Blue]
Image Size			: 7424x4924
Jpg From Raw			: (Binary data 3966257 bytes, use -b option to extract)
Lens ID				: AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED
Lens				: 24-70mm f/2.8 G
Megapixels			: 36.6
Other Image			: (Binary data 881083 bytes, use -b option to extract)
Preview Image			: (Binary data 94699 bytes, use -b option to extract)
Red Balance			: 1.898438
Scale Factor To 35 mm Equivalent: 1.0			Crop factor
Shutter Speed			: 1/60
Create Date			: 2016:07:25 10:44:41.50
Date/Time Original		: 2016:07:25 10:44:41.50
Modify Date			: 2016:07:25 10:44:41.50
Thumbnail TIFF			: (Binary data 57816 bytes, use -b option to extract)
Circle Of Confusion		: 0.030 mm
Depth Of Field			: 0.51 m (1.77 - 2.29 m)  A few properties revealed
Field Of View			: 40.2 deg (1.46 m)	This appears to be horizontal width
Focal Length			: 48.0 mm (35 mm equivalent: 48.0 mm)
Hyperfocal Distance		: 15.34 m
Light Value			: 10.6	This is EV of settings at ISO 100 (this link computes it)

ExifTool seems awesome to me. And it's free. And updated frequently (and modern, keeps up with the new camera models)

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