Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Why can't I insert metadata at the capture stage?

Mike Ashenfelder from the Library of Congress interviewed me recently for an article on their website Titled "Mission Possible: An Easy Way to Add Descriptions to Digital Photos." He was asking why adding information (metadata) to images is so difficult. I told him that this was an issue I had raised at the First International Photo Metadata Conference in 2007. I noted that photographers need ways to insert metadata as early as possible in the process; and asked why it wasn't possible to have some device that could be used to input information and tag it to the images I was shooting at the time of capture. There were engineers from Canon and Nikon in attendance, and it seemed that they understood the question, but I'm not aware of any progress in this area.

However, since manufacturers and developers do seem respond to input from those who purchase their products, perhaps what is needed is a grass roots appeal? With that in mind, I've included details on how to contact several of the larger digital camera manufacturers. If a number of you contact them, asking if they are working on improvements on how metadata (information) can be added to the Exif or IPTC at the time of capture, perhaps something will change?

Ask them "Why isn't there a 'Add Description' button for my camera?"
In the section labeled "Inquires" select your country and region for a listing of who to contact. In the US you can call Nikon Technical Support from 8AM - 2AM (Eastern) 7 days a week at 1-800-645-6687.

To contact Canon by email
In the US you can you can call Customer Service 1-800-385-2155


In the USA call Toll Free: 1-800-224-6767

In the USA call Digital Camera support Monday-Friday, between 9am-9pm Eastern at 1-888-553-4448

There are options to email, phone, or live chat from the link above. 

Let us know if you find anything out by adding a note in the comments below.


John Cluff said...

It is easy to add descriptions to photos if you use iPhoto and an iMac computer. Now if they would create a way to print the description and metadata on the back of the photo when you print the picture.

John Cluff said...

You can add metadata and description on photos easily if you use iPhoto on an iMac. Now if they will just add an option to print the information on the back of a photo when you print the picture on the front.

David Riecks said...

John: Note that this article was about entering data at the time of capture. In other words at the same time, or immediately following the pressing of the shutter release on your camera.

Last I checked, iPhoto is a program on a Mac desktop or laptop computer which allows you to organize your photos (rate, rank, annotate, and slight retouch like remove redeye). It requires downloading the images to another device. In addition, unless things have changed, the only way to permanently associate the information (like a caption) is to create a new image in addition to the original -- as iPhoto does not update the metadata in the original file.

Other programs, like Adobe Bridge, Photo Mechanic, Expression Media/Media Pro allow you to add information directly to the original image -- after they are downloaded to another device.

I'm still looking for an easy way to add information at the time that I take a photo, and you can expect to see a post when I find such a solution.