8

I have two distinct models of lenses which are both 50mm f/1.8. I've analyzed example photos from each lens with exiftool and confirmed that the relevant information about the lens data is contained in the files. For instance, here is sample output from an example photo taken from each lens:

Lens Type: D
Lens: 50mm f/1.8
...
Lens ID Number: 118
...
Lens ID: AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D
Lens Spec: 50mm f/1.8 D

And the other one:

Lens Type: G
Lens: 50mm f/1.8
...
Lens ID Number: 176
...
Lens ID: AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G
Lens Spec: 50mm f/1.8 G

My problem is that Lightroom conflates these two lenses into the bin "50.0 mm f/1.8" in the Metadata filter bar at the top:

enter image description here

The EXIF data distinguishing these two lenses exists in the files, so this must be something to do with Lightroom's reading/display of that data.

Furthermore, looking at this question , I can see that Lightroom is capable of displaying the lens model in some situations, as in this screenshot:

enter image description here

However this is what it looks like for me, with no option to display Lens Model or Lens ID, only Lens Setting:

enter image description here

I'm using Lightroom 5.7.1, released in 2014 before the bug in the aforementioned question surfaced.

Update:

Despite the fact that Lightroom doesn't seem to recognise the Lens models in Loupe View, it can correctly identify the lens models for profile correction purposes:

enter image description here

  • How do I configure lightroom to display the lens model data (contained in the Lens ID field of the EXIF data) in Loupe view?
  • How do I filter my photos based on the lens model?
  • What are the two lenses? – mattdm Feb 17 '17 at 4:17
  • @mattdm - (1) AF Nikkor 50mm f1.8 D (2) AF-S Nikkor 50mm f1.8 G. No lens model information is displayed for any of my lenses though, and I want this. Lightroom does seem to be able to apply Lens Profile distortion correction though, which is odd. – Myridium Feb 17 '17 at 4:22
  • 2
    A good step towards answering the question yourself would be to run exiftool on the NEF and get a second opinion on what information it contains. – Peter Taylor Feb 17 '17 at 7:39
  • Just a note, but not enough to be an answer. exiftool finds the full lens spec for all 3 of my Nikons [eg AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G] but not my Tamron 70-300, for which it just displays an ID. Even with only an ID, I could in theory take a photo right now, with a known lens & compare [assuming I still have the lens in question] – Tetsujin Feb 17 '17 at 7:53
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    Sorry, I can't help on Lightroom itself [I don't like how it ignores data in the raw files so I won't use it.] Nikon's own ViewNX-i will show the data though, & as an upside, won't mess up the raw ;) – Tetsujin Feb 17 '17 at 9:03
5

I think the problem is that Lightroom only reads the Lens field, and your lenses don't fill it like eg. the XF in your screenshot.

Consider this info from my lens:

Lens Info                       : 15-85mm f/?
Lens Model                      : EF-S15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM
Lens                            : EF-S15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM
Lens ID                         : Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM

The Lens field is the only one of these which is part of the EXIF 2.31 specification.

I agree it would be nice to have the Lens ID info available, but the only possibility i see is to modify the EXIF data prior to import with exiftool, copying the ID to the Lens field.

Update: the Lens ID in my example is actually constructed by exiftool, it's not present in the file itself. Running exiftool -e (no composites) gives

Lens ID                         : 488

exiftool "-Lens<LensID" *.jpg copies the value from ID to Lens in my example, but a real solution is probably dependent on the individual lens/camera combination and the required result and needs testing, especially with raw files (we don't want to destroy any other EXIF data in the process).

  • Excellent observation about the -e flag! I find that the Lens ID field is missing. But I still have Lens ID Number: xxx. This leaves me with a few questions before a complete solution: (1) if I fill the Lens ID field, then will Lightroom read it? Other forums I have read say that Lightroom reads this field, and did not mention the Lens field... (2) How do I configure my DSLR/lens to fill this field every time? (3) How do I automatically generate this field for my existing photos (NEFs and JPEGs)? – Myridium Feb 17 '17 at 10:26
  • The problem is that these fields are all not standardized and LR only reads the Lens field. so (1) no (2) you can't, absent a custom firmware. (3) exiftool can copy data between exif tags. You'd have to experiment what works best for your lenses, i can't really say from here (eg something like: exiftool "-Lens<LensID" *.NEF) – ths Feb 17 '17 at 10:59
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    Thanks for the information. Both my DSLRs and all of my lenses, in all combinations, have all behaved this same way. Maybe it's a Nikon thing. I'd rather not modify the EXIF data manually because I value consistency across old and new photos more than detail (as long as the detailed information is somewhere in the metadata). But I appreciate the light you've shed on the situation. – Myridium Feb 17 '17 at 11:13
  • Another problem with this is automatic lens correction profile selection. I assume that doesn't really work in your situation? – ths Feb 17 '17 at 11:24
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    On the contrary, Lightroom correctly identifies the lens model when I do profile correction. – Myridium Feb 17 '17 at 11:39
2

I've come to a partial solution. It's not very satisfying, but at least I can apply library filters now:

enter image description here


Here's the TL;DR:

Lightroom cannot filter by lens model. In theory it could, but the developers haven't bothered to implement this.

My solution was to use the now deprecated ExifMeta plugin. I managed to find a link to an old version, 5.9. This plugin works fine with the latest version of Lightroom 5, and reportedly with Lightroom 6 too. Essentially, it allows you to filter by any EXIF field that exiftool is able to view. In my case, the Lens ID field (a composite field which exiftool constructs from the other data) is what contains the lens model information.

This plugin requires a bit of faffing around to get working, and you need to manually choose to read metadata from photos in the library. But at least it works, and should behave consistently.


Details

The heart of the problem is that Lightroom simply doesn't have the capability to filter RAWs by much of the available metadata. The "Lens" filter in Lightroom seems to correspond to the Lens field of the EXIF maker notes. For my equipment, this field is filled with the generic description "50mm f/1.8" and not the specific lens model, and so this is all that is displayed.

Investigating the EXIF data, I found that all of the information narrowing down the lens model was contained within the Maker Notes section. This section is not standardised, as ths says in the comments to their answer.

Here I run a command to check the non-composite EXIF fields outside of the Maker Notes which contain the word "Lens". Then I search the Maker Notes for (non-composite) fields containing "Lens":

enter image description here

And now I search for all fields, including composites and in the Maker Notes, containing "Lens":

enter image description here

It appears as though the composite field Lens ID is the one which is most suitable for my desired filter. With the MetaExif plugin, I'm able to store any such field in Lightroom's Catalog (taking at least an hour to process a catalog of 10,000 photos), and also filter by this field. Doing so with Lens ID yields the result shown at the top of this answer.


Drawbacks

  • The ExifMeta plugin is no longer in development. Who knows the compatibility in even a year's time.
  • Photos must be read by selecting them, and choosing File > Plug-in Extras > Update Selected Photos
  • Reading the data takes a very long time. Over an hour for 10,000 photos.
  • ExifMeta will not skip reading files which have already been read. The quickest way to find all Lens ID information is to filter by Lens ID, select everything with No Value, and choose to update these photos.
1

Most of the specific lens information in the EXIF metadata is contained in the "maker notes" section of the EXIF information.

The "maker notes" section of the EXIF information is a place where manufacturers can store non-standardized EXIF fields in whatever format they desire. What information and how it is recorded varies from one manufacturer to the next and often even varies from one model to the next within the same manufacturer's model lines. This is in contrast to the standardized EXIF fields which are the same across different camera manufacturers and models. Image editors, viewers, and converters don't necessarily display all of the EXIF information contained in an image file. Some don't even display all of the standardized fields.

Just because a specific image viewer doesn't display a specific item from the EXIF info doesn't mean the information is not there in the file. It may mean the info is not there. It may just mean the application is ignoring it.

Some applications will attempt, with varying degrees of success, to interpret and display the information contained in the "maker notes" section. If the application doesn't understand how to translate a specific number/hex code it will either leave it blank or display the untranslated code.

For the most part Adobe products ignore the "maker notes" section of the EXIF information. In fact, if one uses Adobe products to convert or export an image most of the "maker notes" section will be stripped from the exported image file.

To the best of my knowledge it is not possible to filter images in Adobe Lightroom using manufacturer specific fields from the "maker notes" section of the EXIF information. Theoretically it should be, but that capability has never been exploited by Adobe. They have consistently stated that they are not interested in "maker notes" information that varies by manufacturer unless they absolutely have to access it to enable a core function of the application.

It seems on this case they access only the most generic "Lens" field in the "maker notes" section from Nikon cameras. Probably because it requires the fewest number of possible values (e.g. all 50mm f/1.8 lenses have the same value) to be stored in LR's database. They ignore all of the other descriptive information with regard to sorting capability. They do use the more descriptive tags in the lens correction module because the have to for it to work correctly.

  • Please see my edit. Lightroom is capable of extracting the lens model information from the existing metadata: it correctly identifies the lens model in the Profile Corrections tool. – Myridium Feb 18 '17 at 6:31
  • @Myridium Please read the answer again carefully. "For the most part...", "... most of the 'maker notes' section..." – Michael C Feb 18 '17 at 15:21
  • Alright, I understand now. The capability to detect the lens model is there, so I wonder if there's a Lightroom plugin I can use to extend the filtering capabilities... – Myridium Feb 18 '17 at 16:07
  • According to exiftool, the Lens field is in the Maker Notes. Lightroom can filter by this field. – Myridium Feb 18 '17 at 18:17
  • Theoretically it can, but that capability has never been exploited by Adobe. They have consistently stated that they are not interested in "maker note" information that varies by manufacturer unless they absolutely have to access it to enable a core function of the application. – Michael C Feb 19 '17 at 3:58

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