With the launch of the EOS 5D Mark IV, Canon introduces its first camera with the ability to input IPTC metadata directly into each image file, as it’s taken by the photographer. For many years, digital cameras have been able to add numerous details of shooting data — date, time, file numbers, and even some user-defined information such as the user’s name and fields for copyright information.
But IPTC data is different, and completely in addition to the EXIF shooting data we’re accustomed to seeing in our image files. Far from simply displaying camera settings, IPTC data allows the user to input very specific types of detailed information, which can be used for numerous purposes once images are downloaded from the camera to a storage area.
In this article, we’ll introduce this feature, and describe how it’s implemented in the EOS 5D Mark IV camera.
IPTC is an abbreviation for International Press Telecommunications Council, a clear hint to the background of this digital data. News photojournalists and news organizations require extensive archives for stored images, and methods to not only access these files quickly if and when the need arises, but also to have accurate and precise information saved along with them. IPTC data is a form of industry-standardized data within the photojournalism (and other) industries, allowing access to this info for a host organization, as well as sharing of this information.
For some time, different specialized software programs have been able to input this data as image files were downloaded to storage servers within news (and other) organizations. Now, for the first time in a Canon EOS camera, IPTC data is incorporated in the camera itself with the EOS 5D Mark IV.
(An important additional note: the same IPTC information capabilities are added to the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II camera, when firmware 1.1 [or higher] is installed in that camera. Initial versions of the 1D X Mark II require a firmware upgrade; this will become factory-installed from roughly Fall of 2016 onward on those cameras. Operationally, this will be the same as the factory-equipped IPTC capabilities we’re describing here for the EOS 5D Mark IV.)
Thirty-nine fields of standardized IPTC data can be registered to an EOS 5D Mark IV camera (we’ll describe the process shortly). The fields are:
- Image Content
- • Description/Caption
- • Description Writers
- • Headline
- • Keywords
- • Persons shown
- • Featured Org. Name
- • Featured Org. Code
- • IPTC Scene
- Image Rights
- • Creator/Photographer
- • Creator’s Job Title
- • Copyright
- • Credit
- • Source
- • Copyright URL
- • Rights Usage Terms
- • Title/Object Name
- • Job ID
- • Special Instructions
- • Category
- • Supplemental Categories
- • Urgency (pull-down menu)
- Contact Info
- • Contact Address
- • Contact City
- Contact State
- • Contact Zip
- • Contact Country
- • Contact Emails
- • Contact Phones
- • Contact Web URLs
- Event and Location
- • Event
- • City
- • Location
- • State/Province
- • Country
- • ISO Country Code
- • IPTC Subject Code
- • Intellectual Genre
- • Model Ages
- • Additional Model Info
While obviously many of these literally correspond to categories intended for large organizations, it’s equally clear how many of these could be used by individual photographers — working professionals as well as serious enthusiasts — to provide additional image data to the pictures they take, and have it added in-camera as the images are taken. Just a few and probably obvious examples:
- Photographers could enter general, broad keywords and have them applied to each image that they take, in-camera — various third-party software programs are able to read IPTC keywords and use them for search purposes, etc.
- A photographer can add precise copyright information to the IPTC shooting data for his or her digital images. Unlike the camera’s built-in copyright notice, this will allow users to input the actual copyright symbol into the data field, using their computer’s keyboard (the keyboard shortcuts are Option + G for Macintosh, and ALT + 0169 for Windows)
- A wedding or event shooter could pre-load detailed information about an event — dates, client names, places, and so on — and have it accompany each image file, from the time each image is taken in-camera
- Travel photographers could provide information at the start of each shooting day regarding locations, dates, and other details they may find helpful later
- Catalog and commercial shooters can pre-install information regarding clients for a particular shoot and their contact information, the types of products being photographed that day, locations where images are shot (if on-location), and so on
- Portrait photographers could include basic, fundamental information concerning locations, client names or categories, detailed contact information, etc.
A few important basics to understand about the IPTC data with the EOS 5D Mark IV camera:
- Information is input by the user into Canon’s supplied EOS Utility software (it’s included with the EOS 5D Mark IV camera — you’ll need version 3.5 or higher). It is then applied or uploaded into the camera, via a Windows® or Macintosh® computer, using a USB 3.0 cable to connect camera and computer.
- Information cannot be added, changed, or modified in-camera — there are no menu settings to change IPTC information on-the-fly. Therefore, think of IPTC information as basic, fundamental data that will accompany every picture or at least groups of pictures, rather than data you’d change for individual images, or groups of images.
For example, a portrait photographer could easily add IPTC data to indicate that he or she was photographing people at a particular school, company or location, but could not change IPTC info with the camera’s menu to identify different subjects by their names from one picture to the next, or one group of pictures to the next.
- Once IPTC information is entered into fields in the Canon EOS Utility software, and uploaded (applied) into the camera, the photographer can choose to add it to pictures; or to disable it (IPTC data already installed into the camera will not be added to subsequent images). But the IPTC info remains in-camera, once installed, and cannot be completely deleted via camera menu commands.
Applying or disabling IPTC information with the 5D Mark IV is done via a Custom Function on C.Fn menu screen 4 (“Add IPTC information — Disable or Enable;” Disable is the default setting.
Again, to be clear, disabling IPTC data does not remove it from the camera — it simply means it won’t be added to future shots, until you set this menu setting back to “Enable.”
- IPTC data does not change from shot to shot. It does not reflect actual photographic camera settings, like shutter speeds, apertures, and so on. It is not connected to the camera’s date and time settings, so it won’t change automatically with the passage of time.
- IPTC data is completely additional to the shooting data the camera normally attaches to original image files. The ability to add IPTC data does not in any way allow users to change normal EXIF shooting data.
- IPTC data does not change or influence actual image file names, nor does it allow re-naming of files.
- During image playback in-camera, you can see whether IPTC data is attached to an image, but you cannot see the actual IPTC data on the camera’s LCD monitor.
On the 5D Mark IV’s thumbnail + detailed information playback screen, scroll down the detailed info to the last item: “IPTC Information — Avail” appears if the info was recorded for the image; there is no reference to IPTC info if you had the Add IPTC Information set to OFF as a picture was taken (Regular EXIF shooting data continues to be visible as always.)
- To change IPTC data, you must re-connect the camera (via USB) to a compatible Windows or Mac computer, running Canon’s EOS Utility software version 3.5 or higher, call up the IPTC window, and DELETE the data currently in-camera. Then, enter new data, and APPLY that via EOS Utility. Again, it cannot be changed via the camera’s Menu.
- Only one set of IPTC data can be installed into the camera at one time. In other words, you cannot have one set of data for personal pictures, and then quickly switch to another for business or event shooting, and so on.