this may sound as a very stupid question so please don't laugh at me. My old digital camera (Nikon Coolpix s6) was recording the EXIF orientation tag in the JPEG file, so my picture viewer software was displaying all pictures properly rotated without any "manual" rotation.

My new camera (Olympus) is not doing this job with the orientation tag and if I want to see my picture on the computer I have to manually rotate them (I'm using a lossless software for doing this).

But now comes my question. If I want to lab-print my pictures should I send out the original ones or also the rotated ones are good? In other word, will the software/hardware of the lab guess that the picture is not 4:3 but 3:4 and automatically rotate it back or not?

I didn't have this problem before because with the Nikon the display rotation was actually only virtual because the real file was not touched at all and was only a matter of displaying.

Thanks a lot for your answer,


2 Answers 2


The machines auto crop the photos to the correct aspect ratio for the print (which annoys me when they don't offer the ratio the pictures were taken in!) so I assume they detect the orientation by looking for the longest side.

I can't say this with 100% certainty, but I think if this weren't the case I think there would be masses of complaints from people who had had their portrait photos cropped to landscape resulting in lots of headless photos!

edit: I have actually printed both portrait and landscape shots in the UK without any problems.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks Matt, this was my guess too... Let's see if somebody here tried already to print rotated pictures \$\endgroup\$
    – toto
    Jan 3, 2011 at 12:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Now I think about it I've definitely printed both portrait and landscape oriented photos in labs in the UK, since I edit most of my photos I'll always rotate them to the correct orientation in order to work on them. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matt Grum
    Jan 3, 2011 at 12:47

Printing a photo is much simpler than displaying on a monitor - simply because the end user is free to rotate the paper in his/her hands (and in fact does this automatically naturally) - hence no need for EXIF orientation info (the best orientation is uniquely determined by image vs paper aspect ratio). EXIF info is only useful when displaying on a monitor or divice you CAN'T rotate (easily). Here you have to use software to rotate the image (either using the EXIF info or by you telling the software the correct rotation).

  • \$\begingroup\$ Ricibob, you are right: you can always rotate the paper, but I was thinking of lab-printing and I can't believe the operator is there changing the paper orientation every second picture. \$\endgroup\$
    – toto
    Jan 4, 2011 at 7:05
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Sure - but the lab can (and does) do software rotation of the image - but it doesn't need access to EXIF info to get that right - that is determined uniquely by aspect ratio of the photo vs the paper. Eg if you send a mix of landscape and portrait photos to the lab its printer will software rotate all the portraits to landscape to match the aspect ratio of the paper. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ricibob
    Jan 21, 2011 at 8:53

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