Exchangeable image file format (officially Exif, according to JEIDA/JEITA/CIPA specifications) is a standard that specifies the formats for images, sound, and ancillary tags used by digital cameras (including smartphones), scanners and other systems handling image and sound files recorded by digital cameras. The specification uses the following existing file formats with the addition of specific metadata tags: JPEG discrete cosine transform (DCT) for compressed image files, TIFF Rev. 6.0 (RGB or YCbCr) for uncompressed image files, and RIFF WAV for audio files (Linear PCM or ITU-T G.711 μ-Law PCM for uncompressed audio data, and IMA-ADPCM for compressed audio data). It is not used in JPEG 2000 or GIF.
This standard consists of the Exif image file specification and the Exif audio file specification.
The Japan Electronic Industries Development Association (JEIDA) produced the initial definition of Exif. Version 2.1 of the specification is dated 12 June 1998. JEITA established Exif version 2.2 (a.k.a. "Exif Print"), dated 20 February 2002 and released in April 2002. Version 2.21 (with Adobe RGB support) is dated 11 July 2003, but was released in September 2003 following the release of DCF 2.0. The latest, version 2.3, released on 26 April 2010 and revised in May 2013, was jointly formulated by JEITA and CIPA. Exif is supported by almost all camera manufacturers.
The metadata tags defined in the Exif standard cover a broad spectrum:
The Exif tag structure is borrowed from TIFF files. On several image specific properties, there is a large overlap between the tags defined in the TIFF, Exif, TIFF/EP, and DCF standards. For descriptive metadata, there is an overlap between Exif, IPTC Information Interchange Model and XMP info, which also can be embedded in a JPEG file. The Metadata Working Group has guidelines on mapping tags between these standards.
When Exif is employed for JPEG files, the Exif data are stored in one of JPEG's defined utility Application Segments, the APP1 (segment marker 0xFFE1), which in effect holds an entire TIFF file within. When Exif is employed in TIFF files (also when used as "an embedded TIFF file" mentioned earlier), the TIFF Private Tag 0x8769 defines a sub-Image File Directory (IFD) that holds the Exif specified TIFF Tags. In addition, Exif also defines a Global Positioning System sub-IFD using the TIFF Private Tag 0x8825, holding location information, and an "Interoperability IFD" specified within the Exif sub-IFD, using the Exif tag 0xA005.
Formats specified in Exif standard are defined as folder structures that are based on Exif-JPEG and recording formats for memory. When these formats are used as Exif/DCF files together with the DCF specification (for better interoperability among devices of different types), their scope shall cover devices, recording media, and application software that handle them.
The Exif format has standard tags for location information. As of 2014[update] many cameras and mobile phones have a built-in GPS receiver that stores the location information in the Exif header when a picture is taken. Some other cameras have a separate GPS receiver that fits into the flash connector or hot shoe. Recorded GPS data can also be added to any digital photograph on a computer, either by correlating the time stamps of the photographs with a GPS record from a hand-held GPS receiver or manually by using a map or mapping software. The process of adding geographic information to a photograph is known as geotagging. Photo-sharing communities like Panoramio, locr or Flickr equally allow their users to upload geocoded pictures or to add geolocation information online.
Exif data are embedded within the image file itself. While many recent image manipulation programs recognize and preserve Exif data when writing to a modified image, this is not the case for most older programs. Many image gallery programs also recognise Exif data and optionally display it alongside the images.
Software libraries, such as libexif for C and Adobe XMP Toolkit or Exiv2 for C++, Metadata Extractor for Java, PIL/Pillow for Python or ExifTool for Perl, parse Exif data from files and read/write Exif tag values.
The Exif format has a number of drawbacks, mostly relating to its use of legacy file structures.
Since the Exif tag contains metadata about the photo, it can pose a privacy problem. For example, a photo taken with a GPS-enabled camera can reveal the exact location and time it was taken, and the unique ID number of the device - this is all done by default - often without the user's knowledge. Many users may be unaware that their photos are tagged by default in this manner, or that specialist software may be required to remove the Exif tag before publishing. For example, a whistleblower, journalist or political dissident relying on the protection of anonymity to allow them to report malfeasance by a corporate entity, criminal, or government may therefore find their safety compromised by this default data collection.
In December 2012, anti-virus programmer John McAfee was arrested in Guatemala while fleeing from alleged persecution in Belize, which shares a border. Vice magazine had published an exclusive interview on their website with McAfee "on the run" that included a photo of McAfee with a Vice reporter taken with a phone that had geotagged the image. The photo's metadata included GPS coordinates locating McAfee in Guatemala, and he was captured two days later.
Metadata Working Group was formed by a consortium of companies in 2006 (according to their web page) or 2007 (as stated in their own press release). Version 2.0 of the specification was released in November 2010, giving recommendations concerning the use of Exif, IPTC and XMP metadata in images.
Extensible Metadata Platform (XMP) is an ISO standard, originally created by Adobe Systems Inc., for the creation, processing and interchange of standardized and custom metadata for digital documents and data sets. IPTC was developed in the early 1990s by the International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC) to expedite the international exchange of news among newspapers and news agencies.
The following table shows Exif data for a photo made with a typical digital camera. Notice that authorship and copyright information is generally not provided in the camera's output, so it must be filled in during later stages of processing. Some programs, such as Canon's Digital Photo Professional, allow the name of the owner to be added to the camera itself.
|Orientation (rotation)||top-left [8 possible values]|
|Date and time||2003:08:11 16:45:32|
|Exposure time||1/659 s|
|Exposure program||Normal program|
|Exif version||Exif version 2.1|
|Date and time (original)||2003:08:11 16:45:32|
|Date and time (digitized)||2003:08:11 16:45:32|
|Components configuration||Y Cb Cr –|
|Compressed bits per pixel||4.01|
|Max. aperture value||2.00|
|Flash||Flash did not fire|
|Focal length||20.1 mm|
|MakerNote||432 bytes unknown data|
|FlashPix version||FlashPix version 1.0|
|Pixel X dimension||2240|
|Pixel Y dimension||1680|
The Exif specification also includes a description of FPXR (FlashPix-ready) information, which may be stored in APP2 of JPEG images using a structure similar to that of a FlashPix file. These FlashPix extensions allow meta-information to be preserved when converting between FPXR JPEG images and FlashPix images. FPXR information may be found in images from some models of digital cameras by Kodak and Hewlett-Packard. Below is an example of the FPXR information found in a JPEG image from a Kodak EasyShare V570 digital camera:
|Used extension numbers||1|
|Extension name||Screen nail|
|Extension class ID||10000230-6FC0-11D0-BD01-00609719A180|
|Extension persistence||Invalidated by modification|
|Extension create date||2003:03:29 17:47:50|
|Extension modify date||2003:03:29 17:47:50|
|Extension description||Presized image for LCD|
|Storage-stream pathname||/.Screen Nail_bd0100609719a180|
|Screen nail||(124498 bytes of data containing 640×480 JPEG preview image)|
The Exif specification describes the RIFF file format used for WAV audio files and defines a number of tags for storing meta-information such as artist, copyright, creation date, and more in these files. The following table gives an example of Exif information found in a WAV file written by the Pentax Optio WP digital camera:
|Number of channels||1|
|Avg. bytes per second||7872|
|Bits per sample||8|
|Related image file||IMGP1149.JPG|
|Model||PENTAX Optio WP|
|MakerNote||(2064 bytes of data)|
The "MakerNote" tag contains image information normally in a proprietary binary format. Some of these manufacturer-specific formats have been decoded:
Unfortunately, the proprietary formats used by many manufacturers break if the MakerNote tag is moved, i.e. by inserting or editing a tag that precedes it. The reason to edit to the Exif data could be as simple as to add copyright information, an Exif comment, etc. In some cases, camera vendors also store important information only in proprietary makernote fields, instead of using available Exif standard tags. An example for this is Nikon's ISO speed settings tag.
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