Understanding EXIF data and how it can help us do better photography

Today, we shall be delving into what EXIF data is and why it matters to budding photographers. EXIF data has been used by many amateur photographers trying to get a hang of digital photography. It helps them to master the settings and controls of their camera. If you go through the EXIF of your entire collection, you will be surprised to note how a majority of them appears to be taken at the same focal length or at the same ISO. The ones that you consider are trash would often be around same specs as well.

The first thing that we should know is what EXIF stands for. It is an abbreviation of Exchangeable Image File. This is actually a large amount of information that your camera records along with the image and saves it on the memory card. It is quite simple to access that information as well. On a Windows computer simply right click on the image and go to ‘Properties’. If you are on a Mac click on ‘Get Info’. Another way to access the information is to access it using a photo editing tool like Photoshop.

What are the details that are available in EXIF data? – EXIF data includes information such as aperture value, shutter speed, exposure compensation, ISO, camera make and model, height and width of the picture, metering mode used, color representation, focal length, date the image was taken and a whole lot of other information depending on the camera make and model. Numerous modern digital cameras also come with GPS systems which burn the exact location data on to the image.

Why EXIF data is helpful for budding photographers? – imagine you are trying your hand for the very first time on a DSLR. You are unable to determine the right combination of aperture and shutter speed for your camera for a given amount of light. Other times you may be unsure why going for a higher ISO such as 800 in low light is creating noise in your pictures. Again you could be experimenting with motion blur on a slower shutter speed and yet be confused why the images are turning up overexposed. You will obviously try to make adjustments and shoot repeatedly. Instead of deleting the pictures that did not turn out well use a photo editing tool to analyze them.

Examining the EXIF data can give you valuable insights as to what changes you are having in the image quality when you implement the different settings. It also allows you to experiment with the settings and keep changing them till you start to associate each change in the settings with the resulting change in the picture quality. It is an important part of photography to shoot images, not always to achieve prize winning results but to keep experimenting and keep getting better. It is one of the most practice intensive professions out there and analyzing EXIF data analysis is definitely one of the best ways to approach it. Needless to say it also allows you to fine tune till you start taking better pictures by making calculations such as shutter time, aperture, ISO and even the kind of neutral density filters to use on the fly when shooting in different lighting conditions. It helps you basically to have better grasp at the technical aspects of photography so that you can compose a perfect picture in basically any lighting condition.

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