If you are a photographer, chances are that you have heard of EXIF data. However, many people do not realize how useful EXIF Data can be. EXIF refers to Exchangeable Image File Format. This data provides a ton of information about your camera and can be extremely helpful.

Back in the days of film photography, a camera would imprint the time and the date onto each photo. While this was a great way to remember when the photo was taken, if the camera’s date was wrong then your picture was as well. More importantly, your great image was imprinted with this date.

Digital cameras have changed this. A digital camera will record not only the date and the time that the photo was taken, but will also record all the camera settings that were used when the photo was taken. This includes the aperture, shutter speed, and the ISO settings as well as the focal length, if the flash was used, and a lot more.

This information is stored with the photo in what is referred to as the EXIF data within the jpeg file. When an image is copied to your computer the EXIF data is stored there as part of the image as well.

Viewing the EXIF Data

There are several ways to view the EXIF data of a photo. Most web photo applications such as Flickr will show the EXIF data next to the photo if the information is available. Photoshop and other paint programs also will show the EXIF data within the settings. If you are using Windows XP, you can right-click on the image and then choose properties and then click on Summary in order to view the data.

Using EXIF Data

One of the best ways to use EXIF data is as a learning tool. Examining the data from photos taken by other professional photographers can help you learn more about taking similar images. Knowing the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO settings that were used can provide you with information about setting up your own shots. This can be invaluable information as you are on your photography journey.

Another way to use EXIF data is for comparing different shots that you have taken. Using this data, you will be able to learn about why some shots may have worked while others did not. For example, perhaps you changed the shutter speed and that provided a clearer shot or maybe you used a higher ISO and the picture came out clearer. Understanding the different settings that were used and the effect that these settings had on the image is a great way to learn and improve your images in the future.

While using EXIF data is not necessary for every image that you take, it is a great feature to learn about when you are first starting out in digital photography as it offers a great way to improve your photography overall.