I have happily been using Microsoft's Pro Photo Tools for about 10 years to batch-add keywords, location etc. to my CR2 files.

Late last year it stopped working and from what I see it is a problem with the latest version of Bing maps.

I have been trying to find an alternative and everything I have tried is either very old and works to a certain extent or only writes to a sidecar file or database. Photo Mechanic looks like it does what I want but I do not want to use any other functions of Photo Mechanic so it will cost me £150 just to edit the metadata. I think I managed to do it with Adobe Bridge over the weekend but have not been able to do it again. According to Adobe, Bridge can not do this so I may have done it another way I have forgotten about as I did try a couple of other bits of software at the same time.

Exiftool can do all I want, but I would like to have a GUI available.

I want to write my data into the file so it stays with the file; if I do it in Bridge for example and stop using Bridge I have lost all the metadata. A sidecar file is just as bad.

The only other option I can see is to convert all my photos to the DNG format and that will allow me to add metadata to them via Adobe software.

Does anybody have any software suggestions or a Pro Photo Tool hack to get it working again?

Example part of a CR2 file with XMP data added (Fireworks Night are the keywords I added but can not remember how I did it):

%ˆ    Î è    Canon Canon EOS 6D  H      H      2018:11:03 20:45:25 Anthony
<?xpacket begin="" id="W5M0MpCehiHzreSzNTczkc9d"?>
    <x:xmpmeta xmlns:x="adobe:ns:meta/" x:xmptk="XMP Core 4.4.0-Exiv2"> 
        <rdf:RDF xmlns:rdf="http://www.w3.org/1999/02/22-rdf-syntax-ns#">  
            <rdf:Description rdf:about="" xmlns:xmp="http://ns.adobe.com/xap/1.0/" xmp:Rating="0"/>
<?xpacket end="w"?>  Fireworks  Night

When I look back at some of my photos for an example of the Pro Photo Tools input data, I cannot find one. I have the horrible feeling that Lightroom has overwritten them as all the files now contain Adobe XMP data and not Pro Photo Tool's data. If this is the case all my keywords etc. have been removed.

The data I am seeing now must be coming from the sidecar file, as renaming the sidecar file removes the keywords from Bridge.

  • XMP Data can be "forced" into RAW files although it was never designed to do so. Anyway the data needs to be written into the CR2 file. As I said Pro photo tools used to do it ( I have been writing to CR2 files for 8 years without a problem ) and Photo Mechanic can do it. I have just found the Breeze software which says it can do it. I tried meta++ and it did it but Adobe software would not read the modified files. – Bonzo Nov 20 '18 at 22:39
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    "and it did it but Adobe software would not read the modified files"... Whoops, I think you no longer "have never had a problem". This is exactly the sort of thing people who advise against writing to RAW files are talking about. I imagine it would be much worse when you only discover it has this result in software you want to use further down the road... because that's the real issue: just because software you're using now handles the non-standard files doesn't mean that something else will. Just keep that in mind. :) – junkyardsparkle Nov 21 '18 at 4:35
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    A sidecar file is just as bad. - Why? – flolilo Nov 21 '18 at 14:47
  • Whoops, I think you no longer "have never had a problem". Comes under the "I have been trying to find an alternative and everything I have tried is either very old and works to a certain extent" part of my original question. Sidecar files can get lost and if I want to send a photo to somebody I would have to send the sidecar file as well or export the image from Lightroom. I know there is a risk writing to the Raw file but I was happy to accept it. – Bonzo Nov 21 '18 at 20:19

It is strongly discouraged to edit the actual RAW file - especially so when adding metadata that is not supposed to be there. Basically, you could wreck your file(s) beyond hope at any time.

This is the main reason why most software uses sidecar-files or internal databases: If they get lost or corrupted, at least the picture is still there. This process is - in contrast to editing the actual file - non-linear, which means that it can be reversed at any time. E.g. if you accidentally deleted the shutter speed data, then you could restore it at any time. If you delete it from the original file, it is gone forever.

Overwriting RAWs (or any original file) is always considered bad practise. You would not, for example, start to shift paragraphs in your master's thesis in the only copy of your document1 - you would copy the document, name it properly (e.g. thesis_2018-11-21_shifted.doc, and work with that "new" version. Also, when you finished editing, you should not delete the "old" version - what if you mistakenly deleted a paragraph in the new version? It would be lost forever. It could take days or even weeks until you notice - if ever. And it would be too late to reverse the change, anyway.

1 Of course, you would have at least 20 versions saved at different on- and offsite locations.

Pre-"GUI necessary"-edit (not recommended!):

Exiftool can do that.

exiftool TEST.CR2 -XMP:Keywords="This is my test 123" -XMP:GPSLatitude=15,57.060000S -XMP:GPSLongitude=5,40.594000W -XMP:GPSAltitude=10

With the result:

exiftool test.cr2 -XMP:All
    XMP Toolkit    : Image::ExifTool 11.11
    GPS Altitude   : 10 m
    GPS Latitude   : 15 deg 57' 3.60" S
    GPS Longitude  : 5 deg 40' 35.64" W
    Keywords       : This is my test 123
    Rating         : 0

This will create a new file and rename the old one to *.cr2_original - because it is bad to simply overwrite RAW files (see above). Still, there is the -overwrite_original-switch. But I would never use that with any original file - ever.

Locations are needed in the same coordinate system as in Bridge.

I tried it and it leads directly to Longwood House (altitude is a wild guess). Bridge seems to refuse multi-word keywords for some reason, but works flawlessly with single-word ones. This could come down to incompetence on my side.

  • If I convert my photos from CR2 to dng I can add the metadata which is probably the way to go as I believe it was written to accept metadata. I am unsure about using Exiftool in case as you say one wrong character and I could delete/corrupt the file or ten's of files! That is why I prefer a GUI as you can see what you are editing. I do not like software with internal databases as if I decide to change from the software the data is lost. – Bonzo Nov 21 '18 at 20:26
  • @Bonzo GUIs are even more prone to errors than a decent script, as they tend to have larger dependencies and more lines of code. Software with internal databases usually offer to export the metadata as either SQL database or sidecar files - now the logic from one program could be different to that of another program, but that could happen even with in-RAW-metadata. – flolilo Nov 21 '18 at 20:57

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