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EXIF: A Format is Worth a Thousand Words

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2007
2 pages
This article describes the innovative technology of Exchangeable Image File Format or Exif providing law enforcement with an effective tool that can determine when a photograph was taken, tie photos to a specific make and model of camera, or pinpoint the location were an image was created.
Exchangeable Image File Format, "Exif" for short, defines the file structure and metadata tags used by digital cameras. The Exif standard, originally created to enhance interoperability between photographic imaging devices, can be found in both JPEG and TIFF files. The Exif standard associates a variety of information with a photograph, such as the date and time the image was taken and the make and model of the digital camera used. It also stores camera settings such as shutter speed, film speed, flash settings, aperture, focal length, and metering mode. Many of the popular digital camera brands support the Exif standard. Investigators who frequently handle child pornography cases usually have the tools and knowledge to obtain evidence associated with contraband images. However, law enforcement who does not handle these cases regularly may be unaware of the important data that can be derived from digital images. The Exif standard is an effective tool at gaining important data from digital images.

Date Published: January 1, 2007