My topic of the day is the brokenness of digital camera automatic image rotation.
Well, new cameras nowadays have an orientation sensor that can tell if it’s being held in portrait or landscape mode, and record this information into the picture.
Unfortunately it doesn’t save the JPEG image itself as portrait. It still stores all of them as landscapes. At least that what Canon does.
Complicating the matter is the fact that I use incompatible software.
IrfanView has a great Lossless JPEG rotation feature. I can browse the images in a directory, and when I find one I need to rotate, I hit Shift-J, hit Enter, and the image is rotated for me. I can also choose the rotation direction (90, 180 or 270 degrees) before hitting Enter, but it stores the selected angle between rotations and because my portrait pictures are taken from the same angle (90° clockwise) I don’t need to re-select the angle. The conversion is also lossless, meaning, it doesn’t convert the picture into a bitmap (with its compression artifacts), rotates it and saves it (adding even more artifacts), but instead it manipulates the internal data matrices via some clever transposition and mirroring, without changing their values. Neat huh?
Buuuuut (just one t)… the problem is, IrfanView doesn’t change the EXIF information regarding the orientation. And it doesn’t rotate the thumbnail (as far as I know) that is actually embedded in every digital camera image.
And then I started trying XnView, a great freeware browser. The problem (for me) is, XnView does read the EXIF orientation information, and displays the image with the correct orientation. Which is great, and not so great. If I just upload the pictures on the internet assuming they’re already rotated, people viewing them have to rotate their heads 90° counter-clockwise, because, well, so far browsers don’t read and respect the EXIF orientation.
[And imagine if a new version of a browser started doing that. Incompatibility hell! Then one would need an update of all HTML authoring tools, old browsers would still be incorrect, etc. etc.
Come to think of it, that's the internet today, so why isn't anybody doing it (auto-rotation) yet?
Or, could one build an extension (for Firefox) or integrate (into Opera) an option to rotate images for the viewers? Client-side only, of course.]
And, because IrfanView doesn’t change the EXIF rotation information, pictures I’ve rotated in IrfanView are displayed rotated yet another 90° in XnView. Argh!
So what’s the point of this rant? Well, probably it’s that I suck because I use IrfanView, which is outdated…