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Thread: Keep EXIF orientation

  1. #1
    Professional User Mij's Avatar
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    Default Keep EXIF orientation

    Read this carefully please before you tell me IV already has this feature.
    I suppose like most people who have an orientation sensor in their camera I always have "Auto rotate image according to EXIF info" set. That means that Portrait pictures I take with the camera on its side have the EXIF orientation tag Right Top (or Left Bottom) and are automatically rotated upright when I view them. Normal landscape pictures have EXIF tag Top left and are not rotated. That works fine.

    If I now make a small edit to a Portrait image - enhance colors, remove red-eye or something - and then save again, there are two ways I might want to do it
    1. Save the image in the auto-rotated state (upright) and reset the EXIF flag to Top left
    2. Save the image rotated back to its original state and keep the EXIF flag as Right Top (or Left Bottom)

    I can do save type (1) by setting "Reset EXIF orientation tag" in the Jpeg save options, but if I clear that option I do not get save type (2). Instead I retain the EXIF flag as Right Top but still save the image rotated. As a result next time I view, the image is auto-rotated again onto its other side. Who would want to do that?
    The only way to achieve save type (2) AFAIK is to try to work out which way the image has been auto-rotated and set it back to its original state manually before saving it.

    All I am asking for is an automatic way of saving as type (2).
    IMHO it would be best if it were linked directly to that Jpeg save option whenever Auto-rotate was in use, since the option is confusing and pretty pointless as it is.

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    Professional User Skippybox's Avatar
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    So, you want to display auto-rotated, but be able to save in the original rotated state. Well, it sounds like a great idea, but has any program ever done it before?

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    Professional User Mij's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skippybox View Post
    So, you want to display auto-rotated, but be able to save in the original rotated state.
    Exactly. Personally, I select Auto-rotate in the main Options to view files "right way up" not to save them that way. I would use the lossless auto-rotate if I wanted to do that. However if others want Auto-rotate to both view and save rotated I have no wish to deprive them of that option.

    Well, it sounds like a great idea, but has any program ever done it before?
    I have no idea. No other program I know of has that bizarre Jpeg save option though, giving you a choice of selecting either the "right" EXIF rotation tag or the "wrong" one, assuming you understand what the program is about to do to your image and can work out what the "right" one is.
    I do not really want yet another option, it is confusing enough already. So my suggestion is that the last word is removed from "Reset the EXIF orientation tag" in the save options.

    Checking "Reset the EXIF orientation" is the "View and Save" option. It means - the user wants to save the image as it is now being shown, so keep it that way up and set the tag to Top Left when you save.

    Unchecking it is the "View only" option. It means - the user wants to keep the original rotation, so rotate it back by reversing any auto-rotation you did when loading and keep the tag as it was when you save.

    On occasions users may want to correct a rotation; there are occasions when the EXIF tag is recorded wrongly - perhaps you took the photo with the camera pointing straight down. In that case all you need to do is rotate the image manually until it appears "right way up" and then save with whichever of the options you prefer. Isn't that easier than what you have now?

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    Professional User Skippybox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mij View Post
    Exactly. Personally, I select Auto-rotate in the main Options to view files "right way up" not to save them that way. I would use the lossless auto-rotate if I wanted to do that.
    You're right, auto-rotate would have little value, if users just used lossless auto-rotate anyway. Unfortunately, I've never tried auto-rotate, since I have no sensor.

    No other program I know of has that bizarre Jpeg save option though, giving you a choice of selecting either the "right" EXIF rotation tag or the "wrong" one, assuming you understand what the program is about to do to your image and can work out what the "right" one is.
    Actually, XnView offers the same option, albeit in a different location. Notice that you can choose to reset the value, or pair it with a transformation. I don't think you can save using the original state with auto rotate on, though.



    I do not really want yet another option, it is confusing enough already. So my suggestion is that the last word is removed from "Reset the EXIF orientation tag" in the save options.
    I understand and would agree, but the term "reset" becomes ambiguous here, doesn't it? I mean, the user would ask himself: Am I resetting the EXIF orientation to the current state, or the original one? I would rather use two, something like "Save original orientation" and "Reset the EXIF orientation tag". See next paragraph.

    The other problem with yours is the forgotten scenario. What about the user who enables auto-rotate for editing, and wants to keep the EXIF (don't reset tag), plus save the current auto rotation. This user would probably not use auto-rotate for viewing.

    Another issue is, what happens if the user somehow manually rotates with auto rotate engaged? How could IrfanView remember and undo?
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Professional User Mij's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skippybox View Post
    Actually, XnView offers the same option, albeit in a different location. Notice that you can choose to reset the value, or pair it with a transformation.
    I hadn't loooked at Xnview. Some say it has stolen many of the best features from IrfanView. Perhaps it has stolen a few bad ones too.

    I understand and would agree, but the term "reset" becomes ambiguous here, doesn't it?
    Given a choice I would invert the logic and make it "Keep original EXIF orientation". That would be clearer and fit in better with the other "Keep ..." options. Just thought it was complicated enough without suggesting that though.

    Another issue is, what happens if the user somehow manually rotates with auto rotate engaged? How could IrfanView remember and undo?
    That is the point. Irfanview ignores the fact that manual rotations have taken place. If Auto-rotate is on, IV just inspects the EXIF tag before saving and applies the opposite rotation to what it did when opening. I moved this point up because it is important to understand before dealing with the others.

    The other problem with yours is the forgotten scenario. What about the user who enables auto-rotate for editing, and wants to keep the EXIF (don't reset tag), plus save the current auto rotation.
    I don't know why anyone would want to do that. However the user can use manual rotates to do whatever they want. Whatever they can see before they save is exactly the same as they will see next time if Auto-rotate is still switched on.

    This user would probably not use auto-rotate for viewing.
    Nothing to stop them doing that either. You save what you see and it will look the same next time if Auto-rotate is still off. If you then turn it on, of course, you will see the additional EXIF rotation.
    Last edited by Mij; 22.02.2009 at 03:36 PM. Reason: Second thoughts on name

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    Professional User Skippybox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mij View Post
    I hadn't loooked at Xnview. Some say it has stolen many of the best features from IrfanView. Perhaps it has stolen a few bad ones too.
    Maybe, but I use XnView for the things IrfanView can't do. If it has stolen things, I still prefer IrfanView's design. I don't think the option is completely terrible, considering the challenges of changing it. I think people like the option of retaining the tag or resetting it, regardless of orientation. But, saving the original orientation would be a delightful addition.

    Given a choice I would invert the logic and make it "Keep original EXIF orientation". That would be clearer and fit in better with the other "Keep ..." options. Just thought it was complicated enough without suggesting that though.
    That is better, but you should have a "Reset EXIF tag" option as well.

    That is the point. Irfanview ignores the fact that manual rotations have taken place. If Auto-rotate is on, IV just inspects the EXIF tag before saving and applies the opposite rotation to what it did when opening.
    Logically IrfanView could try to reverse its auto rotation, but would a user know how it is done? What if they make a discretionary rotation during editing? Will they know they have to "put it back" in order for IrfanView to restore the rotation?

    I don't know why anyone would want to do that. However the user can use manual rotates to do whatever they want. Whatever they can see before they save is exactly the same as they will see next time if Auto-rotate is still switched on.
    Well, I think users do like to preserve EXIF, including the orientation tag, as historical documentation (might want to know what orientation it was originally shot). But, they want auto-rotate to quickly aid them in editing and doing the adjustment rotations (it is also not always easy to know how an image should be rotated), which they want to save. So, when they view the images with auto-rotate off, the images are "right way up". Users do use different INIs and executables for different tasks. So, with only one option it becomes impossible. Unchecking "Keep original EXIF orientation" would save as is, but reset the tag, which they don't want. That is why I think two options are necessary.

    Nothing to stop them doing that either. You save what you see and it will look the same next time if Auto-rotate is still off. If you then turn it on, of course, you will see the additional EXIF rotation.
    No, I was referring to the same user above, who uses auto-rotate for editing and turns it off for viewing later.

    Of course a user who always has it off will likely encounter no problems. Although, I see a similar issue as the user who manually rotates with auto-rotate on. The user rotates the image, but notices that you can "Keep the original EXIF orientation", even though it doesn't apply and won't do anything. Consequently, the image will be saved as is with the incorrect/correct tag? I'm worried were going to need a save preview! Maybe the option needs to be "Keep original orientation (auto-rotated images only)"?

    So, I think it should be:

    _Keep original orientation (auto-rotated images only)
    _Reset EXIF orientation tag
    Last edited by Skippybox; 23.02.2009 at 02:45 AM.

  7. #7
    Professional User Mij's Avatar
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    Oh Skippybox, I really don't think you understand this at all. Let's recap. This is what the Feature request is about.

    Before I had a camera that recorded EXIF orientation, then the first thing I did after downloading from the camera was to go through all the images, find the Portrait ones and rotate them upright. I ended up with a mixture of rotated and unrotated images stored in the folder.

    I know half of you still do exactly the same, even if your camera does record EXIF orientation. Personally I would not have gone to the expense of buying a camera with that feature if I did not want to make full use of it, but live and let live, I think you will need to leave that Jpeg "Reset EXIF orientation tag" option checked at all times. I cannot see any reason why you would ever want to uncheck it, but do give me examples if I am wrong.

    What the rest of us do is to leave all the images just as they came from the camera. All our images are stored unrotated. When we view, we use Auto-rotate to automatically rotate those that need rotating as they are viewed. IMO that is what the feature is for and it works well for viewing.

    Sometimes though we spot a picture that needs a bit of editing. I would like to be able to edit exactly as others do. The only difference would be that we have Auto-rotate selected and (I would expect) "Reset EXIF orientation tag" unchecked, because we want to keep our EXIF tag unchanged. I see no reason why we would ever want to check it, but again give me examples if I am wrong.

    Attached are two pictures that need a bit of attention. Statue needs to be rotated about -5 deg and cropped. Pavement needs to be rotated 180 deg because it was taken from the wrong direction. Both appear as if they are being edited normally but when saved we find that they are no longer stored as they were. Nor are they displayed correctly when viewed again with Auto-rotate on.

    All I believe that is necessary is for the edited image to be rotated back before being saved, the opposite way to how it was rotated on opening. I think that should be a result of Auto-rotate being set, but it would not matter to me if it was because Reset EXIF tag was unset.

    Have a play with these two images for starters, Skippybox, please and let me know what you find.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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  8. #8
    Professional User Skippybox's Avatar
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    Oh boy Mij, I really don't think you understand me at all.

    Thanks for the images. It was fun and really useful trying them out. But, I still feel the same, and my understanding hasn't change much at all. I do find it interesting that despite you have this nifty EXIF feature, it did not make your life easier Mij! You are still rotating when editing/saving, instead of when viewing. I think your suggestion is great for the majority, but that some might be left out. I know you want to make it simple. Don't get me wrong, it is mighty confusing when you consider all the scenarios. Turning it all into one option is definitely a feat. However, I believe by doing so, you will cause exclusion. Now I'm not promoting or vouching for these methods, I just think that they are possible and might be appreciated. I know I would like to be given a choice, especially since your option takes something away.

    The first problem is some users want to keep all their EXIF preserved. They want to save the current orientation, but not reset the tag. They might like that they can have auto-rotate on during initial viewing/editing and it will rotate for them, which is how they will save most likely. If they rotate it some way, that's okay, too. Later they can view the rotated images fine with auto-rotate off perhaps in another IrfanView copy.

    The great thing is that they can determine from the embedded thumbnail and tag, how the image was originally positioned. In fact, with auto-rotate on, the embedded thumbnail will be auto-rotated as well in some programs, which makes it even easier to see how the image was. It will most likely match the unrotated image if it was saved auto-rotated. If not, then it will serve as a good reference. You see, you can't use Lossless rotate for this because it will reset the tag and rotate the embedded thumbnail giving you no reference. In effect, the embedded thumbnail will match the image. Additionally, with your method Mij, when you reset the tag, the new unrotated image will no longer match its auto-rotated thumbnail. This is why you absolutely need the two options, "Keep original orientation" and "Reset EXIF orientation tag".

    The next problem is some users want to keep the original orientation and reset the tag. For example, say you are putting an image with its metadata online. The web software might try and use the EXIF to auto-rotate the image, but you don't want it to. Therefore by resetting the tag to Top-Left, you can keep the EXIF with the image and still show the image as is. There is no way to do this in IrfanView besides Save, other than Lossless rotation. However, it isn't very convenient because you have to do it in two steps.

    I found it interesting that you didn't mention what should happen to the embedded thumbnail. If you change the orientation, shouldn't you be offered to update it. This seems very important considering that Windows tries to use it.

    I thought I should tell you how XnView works for all this. If auto-rotate is off, the tag is kept whether the image is rotated or not. If auto-rotate is on, the tag is reset whether the image is rotated or not. In both modes, the embedded thumbnail is preserved or it can be regenerated. The tag can be reset or modified and the embedded thumbnail rebuilt at a later time as well for any JPG.

    Personally, I don't have a sensor and I don't go through my images and rotate them either. I just rotate them during viewing. Of course that might change if I ever edit them or get a camera with a sensor.

    So, in IrfanView you can decide Mij whether you want the embedded thumbnail choice, too. For now, I see two options, "Keep original orientation" and "Reset EXIF orientation tag".

    "Keep original orientation" would only be available when auto-rotate is on; otherwise it is dimmed. It would be checked by default in auto-rotate mode.

    "Reset EXIF orientation tag" would always available. It would be unchecked by default in auto-rotate mode, checked by default when auto-rotate is off.

    So, what do you think. Still too complicated? Still too unreasonable?

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    Professional User Mij's Avatar
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    Clearly neither of us understand what the other is saying. That is the nightmare of autorotate. It is difficult enough to explain what actually happens in IrfanView and almost impossible to describe what you would like it to do.

    Actually I find XNView even more confusing. Hard to discover where to turn auto-rotate on and off (in General>Operations not in Read as stated in Help). As you say, with Autorotate On the tag is always Reset to Top Left. You cannot preserve the current setting when you save with Autorotate on; the very time where I think you most need to. What is worse if you look at the EXIF rotation tag in the Viewer it tells you that the tag is already Top Left even before you save. Back in the Browser it is still Right Top. Yet in lossless operations you can choose whether to keep the tag or not. In Irfan View you can't. and

    Back in IV, if Autorotate and Reset/Keep orientation tag remain as independent selections there are 4 different combinations. I would like to be able to retain the tag with Autorotate either On or Off (2 combinations). Those who want to Reset the tag probably also want to do it with Autorotate on or off (2 more). So to me the obvious choice is to keep the two selections independent and for Reset tag to always mean reset it and Keep tag to always mean keep it. The only occasion where I see possible justification for forcing the Reset option onto the user is after a Lossless rotate according to EXIF tag operation.

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    Don't worry Mij, I understand what you are saying. I think you have exposed a major flaw in the whole automatic rotation concept, and all viewers should adapt a common solution.

    That is the nightmare of autorotate. It is difficult enough to explain what actually happens in IrfanView and almost impossible to describe what you would like it to do.
    Finally I think we can agree on something! I think it is very difficult to convey ideas about such a topic, like auto-rotate. It is just too much to envision and describe.

    Notice I didn't say XnView does it right. It has its quirks like any program. And so far, we aren't aware of a program that can undo the autorotation when saving. Thanks for pointing out the disparity of the rotation tag between browser and viewer, I did not notice. I think that only adds to the confusion, but I see that that must be how the save function works with autorotate enabled.

    I know you want a total of four combinations from the single option in Save. And I know you want to always keep the tag and undo any autorotation by default. I agree, you could force a reset after a Lossless rotate according to EXIF.

    I wanted six combinations from two options in Save. I, too want to undo any autorotation by default. I decided to change my mind, and always keep the tag by default, regardless of whether autorotate is enabled.

    So, with autorotate off, there is only one option to decide, "Keep EXIF orientation tag" (2 combinations). With autorotate on, there are two options to decide, "Keep original orientation" and "Keep EXIF orientation tag" (four combinations). "Keep original orientation" undos the autorotation, and obviously "Keep EXIF orientation tag" retains the tag.

    I do have a question though. I know autorotate is pretty handy, but why do you prefer to store your images unrotated Mij? What is the benefit?

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