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8 September 2015

We had to laugh when we read the release notes for Phil Harvey's latest version of ExifTool. Version 10.01, released last week, included this note:

Leica programmers should all be ashamed of the complete shambles of metadata they have created

We emailed Harvey share the misery, telling him about Apple's problems with Leica and he pointed us to his Maker Note Idio(t)syncracies in which he lists the "idiosyncracies in files written by the digital cameras or software from various manufacturers."

Strong Roots. You can't grow a useful image library without correctly written Exif headers.

It's pretty scary stuff. Especially if you've already invested in something like the Leica S2.

But wait a minute, we thought. It's also a valuable resource before you make a commitment to any particular camera.

Take a look at Harvey's list of idiosyncracies to see how that manufacturer handles the Exif header of its image files. See if they play by the rules, "writing what should be a fairly simple file format," as Harvey puts it.

Leica, for example, has some pretty serious problems. One of four issues Harvey lists for the S2, for example, is this disturbing note:

Most of the offsets in this MakerNote IFD [Image File Directory] are relative to the start of the file instead of the Exif TIFF header (which is particularly cruel because they are broken if other software simply adds a leading JFIF segment, but there is no simple way to detect that this has happened. Normally this could be detected by analyzing the pointers, but this doesn't work here because all of the unused data in the Leica maker notes make normal pointer assumptions impossible).

That's the kind of headache you would pay to avoid. Because, as Harvey points out, there's nothing you can do about even when you know what the problem is. The data is simply trashed.

Which is not the kind of exposure you want for any of your images.

Harvey updates Maker Note Idio(t)syncracies frequently to keep up with the latest travesties. In fact, the page was last revised Sept. 4.

Bookmark it for the next time you have the urge to update your gear. And consult it just to make sure your next camera can write a simple Exif header accurately.

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