ExifTool by Phil Harvey

ExifTool by Phil Harvey: http://www.sno.phy.queensu.ca/~phil/exiftool/

I’ve been playing around with this tool for a while, mainly using it to add {IPTC} tags to images so that Photoshop can read the entries, but recently I tried it on some {350D} .CR2 {RAW} files, and was stunned to find that not only did it add in the tags, but the rest of the file was unharmed by this activity.

After messing around with DPP (see older post) I discovered that version 5.63 would throw away the DPP recipe data already in a file when adding tags. I posted to the forum, and within 5 hours I got to test out a pre-release 5.64 which totally solved the problem.

Now that’s service.

So, whilst I’m on a roll: does anyone know of a Spotlight plugin for {OS X} that will index the metadata within a RAW file ? I’m pretty sure Automator can take care of adding in the tags after I import the files (or I’ll run an AppleScript via Image Capture) so once Spotlight gets hold of the IPTC info everything {iPhoto} does can be implemented with a handful of Finder Smart Folders.


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  1. The standard image plugin certainly claims to handle com.canon.raw-image documents, but I have no idea how many of the exif tags it will try and interpret. Might be worth experimenting and seeing what it can handle.

  2. It certainly does do some, yes: I think this is the same reason that under 10.4, iPhoto will (finally) do Canon PowerShot G3 RAW file import correctly. Unfortunately the 350D uses a different RAW format, which is where it all falls down again, and unlike my previous hack for the G3 (simply changing the string inside the .CRW file to say G5) I can’t get this to work by telling the system it’s really a 20D image (which has the same .CR2 extension).

    I guess that once Apple realise they’re actually selling the 350D and that they claim iPhoto compatibility for it, someone might actually consider the possibility of using a DSLR in RAW mode, at which point the Smart Folders will work as well as iPhoto – I’m betting it’s Quicktime thing, but that’s from someone who hasn’t even finished an Objective C program…

    The biggest stumbling block to writing a plugin (apart from potentially clashing with the existing Canon raw importer) is that ExifTool is the most feature rich metadata tweaker I’ve found, but it’s in Perl rather than C so non-trivial to hack into the example Spotlight image file metadata indexer that is in Apple’s Developer Connection download library. Of course, if I examine the extension (eep !) and then just run strings over the file and spellcheck for valid words, it might just do the trick, but it’d be uglier than I’d care to think about.

  3. Pedro Leite

    The Spotlight image plugin reads the exif tags of JPEG… just make a suitable thumbnail along side the photo?

  4. Now would you believe I hadn’t considered that ? I was so set on trying to keep everything inside one file so it was easy to backup I’d become rather single minded about it…

    Ok, it looks like ExifTool has been written with this in mind and support copying of tags from one file to another, so one possible workflow might be:

    1. copy the images from the camera
    2. use ExifTool to tag the .CR2 file with IPTC data
    3. use dcraw to create half-size images, and pipe through cjpeg to create a JPG file
    4. use ExifTool to copy the tag data from filename.CR2 to filename.JPG

    The editing in DPP wouldn’t (now) adversely alter the tags, and the JPG preview could be updated afterwards if desired, and there’s also room for a filename.PSD in there too for more extreme retouching (or 1 degree rotations in my case, as I always seem to lean on an otherwise nicely framed shot…)

    Thanks, Pedro, for making me think about it a little more: an Automator action to make those steps feel like a single step is now on the go !