PhotoME - EXIF and IPTC Metadata Editor
A few years ago, I wrote an article about EXIF reader software. This was back in a time when EXIF and digital photography in general were relatively new and things have changed over time. Today, just about every program that can display images can display at least some EXIF or IPTC data too. But I recently came across a free program called PhotoME that impressed me enough to devote this week's PhotoTip to letting you know about it too.
PhotoME, which stands for "Photo Metadata Editor," was created by Jens Duttke in Germany and is distributed via his website photome.de. It is a Windows-only EXIF and IPTC reader/editor that integrates with the right-mouse-click context menu in Windows Explorer and runs on most any version of Windows up through Vista. It also integrates with most web browsers including Firefox, Internet Explorer and Opera. There is no Mac OS version.
But it's what it does once you open it that really matters of course, and PhotoME really delivers. Jens seems to have put some serious time into supporting the idiosyncrasies of different camera manufacturer's raw file formats in order to show you as much as he can. I can only directly test Nikon support but the program can find and interpret pretty much everything, even fields such as white balance that Nikon hid. Based on screen shots on his website, the program seems to do equally well with Canon, Fuji, Minolta, Pentax and just about every other manufacturer.
Information is organized into tabs but they really just jump to various places in the same long list of fields supported. You can use the scroll bar to locate what you are looking for up and down regardless of which tab you clicked on to start with. The easiest way to find something though is to use the full text search. By typing in what field you are looking for in the search box the results are automatically filtered to include only those fields that contain whatever you typed, either in the field name or in its value. Multiple strings can be searched for at the same time by separating them with a semicolon.
Each field listed includes the field name, its contents, the official name for that tag and its hexadecimal tag ID and data format. Hovering your mouse over the field name will show a short description using a tool-tip window.
Field value displayed in blue type can be edited in PhotoME. Clicking on one of these pops up an edit window appropriate to the data type. Again, the program clearly has had some thought put into how best to do this. Date fields give you a calendar display. Fields supporting only a limited number of values give contextually appropriate dropdown lists or lists of labeled check boxes. If an image includes GPS data, PhotoME can show you the location via Google Maps. Some fields can't be edited but also won't fit in a simply list. Clicking on them opens a display window with more detail. A few fields can't be interpreted but the program can at least show you the hex data in case you can interpret it yourself. Generally though, if PhotoME can't, you won't be able to either. The program supports suppression of unknown or binary tags if you prefer.
As you might expect, the program will display full RGB histograms and thumbnails. In the histogram window, display of individual channels can be turned on and off independently as desired. The thumbnail display allows you to turn on or off the display of which focus point was selected in-camera when AF was used. Manually focused shots of course won't show this but for some odd reason images taken with my old Nikon D2x on manual focus default to showing the central AF point anyway — a small quibble. The focus mode EXIF tag correctly shows manual focus for such shots.
On my current Nikon D300 and apparently other newer cameras the program goes one step further and offers a larger window showing your image with an overlay of the camera's focus point pattern indicating which point (or points) were in use. The focus bracket overlay seems to show up better on images with dark backgrounds, but the grid can be seen well enough even on lighter images.
You can register any number of programs you want by image file type to be available to open images with from within PhotoME. Quick Launch buttons for each program will be displayed in the upper right of the PhotoME window, letting you easily edit or process any image you are looking at. The program can also export selected field data as text or html in various formats. Since the author lives in Germany, the program supports more languages than just English. If you prefer, you can run PhotoME in German (as you might have guessed), French, Spanish and Italian. Built-in help is not extensive but it is easy to access throughout. The author seems to be actively releasing new versions regularly and supports PhotoME via a forum on his website.
In addition to camera raw images and jpeg, the program also supports TIFF, DNG, and PNG files as well as limited support for ICC/ICM color profiles.
Back at the turn of the century, Microsoft released Windows ME that came to be regarded as the worst version of Windows ever released. Indeed, PCWorld magazine rated it as one of the worst technical products of all time. Thankfully, while PhotoME may share a similar moniker, that's where the similarity ends. PhotoME is highly recommended. Not so with Windows ME. Although if you are running Windows ME still, PhotoME supports it. All around, PhotoME is a great program.