How can I keep track of the exposure settings I used when I transfer photos to my laptop? Is there a way to "tag" the settings info to each photograph? Thanks.

  • 1
    Do the photos on your laptop not have EXIF metadata?
    – scottbb
    May 26 '20 at 3:12
  • Thank you for responding. Brand new to DSLR. I saved as jpg files. When I hover over the gallery/grid view it shows me JPG format, date and time, dimensions and size (MB). That's all. In list view, there is similar info. I'm sure this is a true newbie question but with COVID I'm trying to learn this all with just online help. I am still googline EXIF Metadata (ta new term for me), so maybe I will figure it out. Thanks for your help!
    – Gin
    May 26 '20 at 23:14

Just about all modern digital cameras automatically capture EXIF metadata in the image files they record; I can't think of a camera that doesn't. This EXIF data includes date & time of capture, camera model number, and most importantly, exposure settings — aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.

There are a few cases where this can't be captured, but for most users, these case don't pop up often. These usually involve using very old or adapted lenses whose aperture cannot be controlled by the camera body, or when using "dumb" (no electrical contacts) extension tubes or bellows between the camera and lens. In these cases, the camera cannot record aperture setting information, so you would need to take exposure notes for those images, and edit them into the image files' EXIF data after you move them to your computer.

There are several programs that can edit EXIF metadata. I suggest starting with searching this very Stack Exchange for the words edit EXIF for several questions and answers regarding editing EXIF metadata.

  • Thanks so much. This is really helpful. I found the meta data by right clicking on the image, clicking on properties, then details and finally scrolling down. There has to be an easier way, but at least it's there. I will check out the site you mentioned for more help.
    – Gin
    May 26 '20 at 23:32
  • Hi @Gin. I'm not too familiar with Windows' built-in photo support (I haven't used Windows on a regular basis for almost 20 years), so I won't be able to help too much on that front. But as far as providing help.... the link in my answer was just pointing to searching this site (photo.stackexchange.com) for the words "edit EXIF". Also, specifically closer to your question perhaps, the existing question, Photo viewer for Windows that displays shutter speed/aperture/ISO?, might help? =)
    – scottbb
    May 26 '20 at 23:53
  • There were at least 2 free download options with that post. I'm going to try them out to see what I like best. Thanks so much for your encouragement and advice. Once I get the hang of the camera I plan to invest in and master Lightroom CC.
    – Gin
    May 27 '20 at 0:48
  • If you're going to go with LR, then I'd forego those other programs. LR is probably the best photo library management program. It will allow you to view, and even filter photos on, EXIF data. I'd ignore the other programs (for now), and just dive into LR as much as possible if that's where you're heading.
    – scottbb
    May 27 '20 at 0:57
  • 1
    Thanks for the push. It's not a large investment and why bother learning a lesser program?. I read that the CC version is what I want. It comes bundled with Photoshop, which I always wanted to learn anyway. This weekend, I'm jumping in. YOLO!
    – Gin
    May 28 '20 at 3:00

Assuming the lens you are using fully communicates with your Nikon D5600, that information is already attached in the metadata to all of your image files when you transfer them from your camera to your computer.

There are at least a couple of remote possibilities that would leave you without this information:

  • You are using an older Nikon or adapted lens that doesn't communicate lens information to the camera body. In the case of older Nikon lenses, we're talking about pre-1980s old. Any lens sold in a kit with a Nikon digital camera will fully communicate with the camera.
  • The utility you are using to transfer images from your camera or memory card to your computer is set up to strip each image of its EXIF metadata. This is not common, but it is also not totally unheard of.

The EXIF information contained in a digital photograph's metadata contains a LOT of information. Much of it is in standardized fields that are common to all camera brands and models because they have been specified in the EXIF specification. The EXIF specification also includes provision for a maker notes section in the EXIF data where a camera maker may include any other information they wish using non-standardized codes to record that information. How camera makers encode the information in the maker notes section is not always as straightforward as one might expect. Even within the same manufacturer's different camera models, the way they record information in the maker notes section can vary from one model to the next.

Standardized fields in the EXIF info includes things like ISO, aperture value, exposure duration (shutter "speed"), focal length, exposure mode, date/time stamp, images dimensions in pixels, etc. Maker note sections might include info such as camera serial number, focus distance information, autofocus settings, in-camera settings for things such as contrast, saturation, sharpening, and many other settings choices. It's all up to each camera maker what they want to put in there.

So how can you see this information? You can use an image viewer that displays it. Most image viewing applications include this capability. You just need to switch it on. Be aware that not all image applications display all of the information contained in the EXIF info, but they all hit the high points such as ISO, aperture, exposure time, etc. If you want to see everything included in the EXIF info, you can use an advanced tools such as EXIFTool.

With Windows machines, you can see the most rudimentary EXIF info right in the "Details" tab of the file properties!

enter image description here

Here's a portion of the EXIF info (from a different image than the one used above) displayed by Canon's Digital Photo Professional (which only works with Canon image files):

enter image description here

Here's a bit of the maker notes section displayed by a neat image viewing utility named Irfanview which is a popular "donationware" application:

enter image description here

Notice that some of the fields are in the maker notes section are left uninterpreted with a string of numbers that the camera used to record the value for specific fields. For example, the ISO Value used was not ISO 32767. The number 32767 is a proprietary code code used by Canon in the maker notes section that Irfanview did not recognize and thus left untranslated. In the standardized section of the EXIF info for the same image file, Irfanview correctly displayed the ISO Speed ratings field as ISO 2500.

  • 2
    Wow! You really know your stuff! When I said new, I mean new, as in never touched a DSLR before. I researched DSLRs last month, finally decided on the Nikon D5600 and got it a week or so ago. I have been watching various youtube videos to try to set it up and learn the basics about the exposure triangle. I decided to try to set it on Manual from the beginning, so it's important to me to track the settings for each photograph to improve. When I hover over the jpg, I get date and time, dimensions and size only. I'm sure the issue is me, not the camera.Perhaps I got a setting wrong.
    – Gin
    May 26 '20 at 23:23
  • OK, FOUND IT. Had to right click on image, click on property to find details and scroll down. Thank you!!
    – Gin
    May 26 '20 at 23:30
  • @Gin If you feel this answer best answers your question, please feel free to select it as your "accepted" answer by clicking on the little check mark to the left of the beginning of the answer. Only the user that asks the question has this option. Thanks!
    – Michael C
    May 31 '20 at 7:00

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