One of the reasons I’ve been using Lightroom 5 for editing photos lately is due to a plugin created by Rob Cole. Aperture and Lightroom both lack a trivial way to access the ocean of metadata inside of the files created by a Fuji X100s. ((Aperture in particular is weak here, it does not allow you to pick non-default EXIF and metadata fields that are embedded in an image at all — and it may in some circumstances stomp on that data.)) By using the ExifMeta you can import a cornucopia of fascinating details that you may not even realize are embedded in your images until you look. Significant amounts of interesting data specific to the manufacturer of your camera may be hiding in your files previously unseen! ((Rob Cole also writes and distributes several other fantastic plugins for Lightroom, notably TreeSync, which allows you to maintain a structured hierarchy of photos you can designate as an easy way to carry a portfolio on your iPad.))
The ExifMetaLrPlugin relies on a piece of software written by Phil Harvey called exiftool, which is a utility for neckbeards to read, write, and massage EXIF photo data. It isn’t easy to use if you don’t have experience using command-line utilities in general, and since it doesn’t hook in directly with software like Lightroom, Rob Cole’s plugin acts as a middleman to leverage the powerful capabilities of exiftool for Lightroom users without spending more time in their terminal. ((Not that there’s anything wrong with that of course, but personally I’d rather be working in Lightroom than traversing gigabytes and gigabytes of photos in a shell without image previews or easy sifting and sorting))
There is a bit of a learning curve to ExifMeta and the nuances of Lightroom processing workflow is not second nature to me yet, but suffice to say after reading the documentation (which you will likely need to do even if you’re an experienced geek that normally can just figure things out) you will be importing vendor-flavored metadata in no time.
Some examples of the useful information I’ve been able to get with this from my Fuji photos are which film emulation mode was used when using Fuji’s JPEG engine, which version of firmware was used on the camera when I took the photograph, the serial number of the camera (!!!), the focal length, field of view, hyperfocal distance, which Flash settings were used, and if there were any warnings when I took the shot. ((e.g. was there a Focus Warning on-screen? an Exposure Warning? It’s in the file!))
Rob Cole and Phil Harvey have generously written some great software that they’ve shared with the world that has made it much easier for me to while also enabling me to learn more about my photography and what makes a particular exposure look the way it does. It also helps me prioritize my wedding and culling process by allowing me to easily find those photos more likely to be out of focus or improperly exposed. It has saved me considerable amounts of time and effort, and has made Lightroom a much more attractive option for working on my photos.
- ExifTool — the amazing command-line tool for photography
- ExifMetaLrPlugin — the equally amazing Lightroom plugin to get a backstage pass to your EXIF data