0 Replies Latest reply: Sep 20, 2010 2:37 PM by CactusTree
CactusTree Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
Loss of Captions only in Olympus Camera photos after migrating from Mac OS 10.5.11 and AP2 to Mac OS 10.6.4 and AP 3.03

I have had a problem where the captions written in Aperture 2 on a PowerMac G5 PPC running Mac 10.5.11 are no longer visible after migrating the photos to a new iMac running Mac OS 10.6.4 and AP 3.03. This occurs only in photos taken on Olympus Digital Cameras, no other brands are affected that I’ve seen (i.e. Nikon, Casio, Canon, Pentax). It occurs in both Preview and Aperture 3, replacing the previous Caption data with “OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA”. However, if the same photo is returned unchanged to the older Mac, the correct captions are still visible. Also, Graphic Convertor and CS2 are able to read the correct captions in the IPTC data on the new system. Brand new photos imported directly into AP3 in the new system do not seem to be affected, although I have not used it enough to be sure that it will not happen in the future.

I believe that this is a problem with a change in how the new Mac OS reads IPTC data. I think the new system reads data from the EXIF (and XMP) fields in preference to the IPTC information, and if there is any information in those other fields, it will not read the IPTC caption. For most camera brands this is not much of a problem, because they do not automatically place any caption information in these fields. However Olympus seems to desire to place it’s name everywhere in the metadata, and their standard metadata include writing “OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA” in the EXIF caption field (a very good reason never to use Olympus cameras in my opinion). If you ever have used Photoshop or Photoshop Elements (I have used fairly old versions only, this may have changed) to edit your photos in Aperture or previously in iPhoto and then migrated to Aperture, I noticed that the photos then have XMP metadata with “Olympic Digital Camera” written in many different fields, which also takes precedence over the IPTC caption in the Mac OS 10.6.x.

It is a very difficult problem, as once the AP2 library and referenced masters are brought over to the new system and upgraded to AP3, everything looks fine initially in the AP3 Library - even the captions are still there. However, pretty soon Aperture will start to realize that something has changed in the masters (even though nothing has really changed in the photo itself, just the way the system reads the IPTC metadata) and it will start to update the library, replacing your captions with “Olympus Digital Camera”. If you catch it early and try to stop the “updating” by using the “Write IPTC metadata to Masters” command, it will often not do anything, sometimes it will fix the problem for some photos and other times it will proceed to overwrite your previous captions with the Olympus caption - so don’t do that! I have tried all kinds of work arounds, and many of the more obvious options don’t help. I contacted Apple Support and Aperture, their response was that it was Olympus’ problem and a problem with the IPTC conventions. Olympus had no useful options either.

The best solution I have found so far is using ExifTool to remove the EXIF image description field, and the whole XMP box if the photo has been edited with Adobe products in the past. It’s time consuming process and a little intimidating for a terminal neophyte like me, but it’s easier than rewriting thousands of captions (and even if you do rewrite them in Aperture, Aperture will still change it back to “Olympus Digital Camera” once it decides that the master is somehow different than before). I will try to describe what has worked for me - some situations may be different. In particular, I suspect that writing the IPTC data to the masters upon exporting them for migrating to the new system makes this problem worse, as it causes Aperture 3 to realize that something has changed in the masters and make it update them; however often the masters without the IPTC will not be recognized for reconnecting. Consolidating the photos projects to be exported to the new system seems to help prevent problems within Aperture with the captions, but if you ever export the masters or use referenced masters, the problem will still be there until the EXIF caption is removed. I previously exported the masters (with the IPTC written them upon export in AP2) and then reconnected them in AP3, but this often seems to cause more problems with lost photos, time changes (mostly in the Adobe edited photos) and AP3 recognizing the master as “changed” and updating it, thereby losing the original captions.

Rule No. 1 - if at all possible, keep a copy of your original masters and Aperture 2 libraries as back ups (and it’s nice to be able to use them on your old system) - I’ve had to re-use them several times until I got things right. If your AP Libraries and masters are on a external HD, it may be best to make an exact clone of it (with the exact same name for the HD), so that you will not have to reconnect or relocate your masters.

You will probably want to see if you really have this problem before trying to fix it. Open the master taken with an Olympus camera that had a caption written to it in Aperture 2 in Preview and look at the caption information (command-I) under IPTC - if it says “Olympus Digital Camera” where you previously had something else, then it’s a problem. Under the TIFF (which is really from the EXIF data) box in Preview information, it will say the same thing under image description. With the same photo, if you import it into Aperture 3, it will also have “Olympus Digital Camera” as the IPTC caption. If it is already in Aperture 3 from a previous version, if you click on the photo for a full view, you may see the previous caption “update” to “Olympus Digital Camera”. Your actual master is okay (you can look at it in CS, Graphic Convertor, or an older Mac running 10.5. If you have never written anything in the IPTC caption, this problem is not visible, but you still have the EXIF Olympus caption waiting there to cause trouble in the future.

If you already have problems with changing captions on several photos in Aperture 3 Libraries, it is usually easier to just start over than to fix the photos one by one. Most fixes keep on reverting back until you get rid of the EXIF:ImageDesription box with “Olympus Digital Camera” in it. My process has been as follows:

Export the Aperture 2 Projects with consolidated masters to an external HD or your new computer.

2. Prior to opening an Aperture Library that you are migrating to MacOS 10.6 - Aperture 3, importing a project , or reconnecting to the masters from an imported Library or Project, use ExifTool to remove the EXIF image description in the masters. If you have used Photoshop or Adobe products which leave an XMP metadata field, it is probably better to remove this also at the same time.

To use ExifTool:

I will describe this in more detail for those of us (like myself) who know nothing about using terminal.

A: Download and install the free EXIF-tool. (Many, MANY thanks to Phil Harvey, I think that it’s thanks to people like him that the world progresses).

B: I found it helps to have just one folder where I run ExifTool on the same HD where I am planning to store my Aperture Libraries and-or referenced masters. Name it something like “EXIF-ProcessingFolder”, and then you can move the projects or the folders with your masters in and out of it without having to copy them, and you can always use the same script - which help prevent errors! Put the unopened projects or folders with the masters you want to remove the EXIF image description into this folder. Don’t forget to keep a back-up copy of your photos!

C: Open Terminal (under Utilities in Applications). You will see
“last login: xxxx on ttys000
Network name: ~username$” and an open box (which becomes solid grey when active in terminal)
Note that your mouse will not work in Terminal, you must use the keyboard and arrow keys to move around the text (copying and pasting does work).

D: First we will “change directory” to get to the place we want to work on:
-in the open box at the end of the last line in the terminal, type “ cd “ (space-cd-space, no quotation marks) - the space after cd is important - and then drag and drop the icon for the “EXIFProcessingFolder” that you made in the previous step on your HD to the open box after “ cd “. Before you hit return, copy the file path (it will look something like ” /Volumes/NameofYourHD\ Folder/ Subfolder\EXIF- ProcessingFolder”), and copy it into the PASTEFilePathHERE part of the command line below. (I keep several copies of the command line on a document to paste and copy from). THEN hit return, and terminal will tell you where it is at like this: “NetworkName:EXIF-ProcessingFolder UserName$”.

E: I like to check where I am at this point, so I type in “ls” (I remember it as “let’s see”) and hit the “return” key to see the contents of the folder where the terminal is at. It should return a list of the different projects, folders or files in the EXIF-ProcessingFolder. That’s good. (If it doesn’t do this, start over with the “ cd “ command to change directories until you’re in the right place).

F: Now copy the entire command line including the substituted “PASTEFilePathHere” from below and paste it into the open box in the terminal and hit return. It will start processing your photos. You can watch its progress if you want by looking at the Date Modified of the Subfolders (but not files). When it is all finished, there will be a message in the terminal stating how many files were processed, how many were changed and how many unchanged. It may take a while; often I will receive some error messages in the terminal while it is working, mostly about duplicate rotation information - I just ignore it.

G: When it is finished, type “exit” in terminal, it will reply with “logout [Process completed]”, and then you can quit Terminal. I have not found out the way to stop the process if I need to while it is running, so if I need to I quit terminal, and that stops the process.

Here are the command lines to use with ExifTool
(copied and modified from Casamagnolia-wSzxs8’s post)


To delete the EXIF:ImageDescription of photos in a folder without subfolders: (you do not have to paste the folder location with this command, but the terminal must be in the correct directory)

exiftool -P -overwriteoriginal_inplace -m -EXIF:ImageDescription= *.jpg


To delete the EXIF:ImageDescription of Aperture Projects, Aperture Libraries or photos in a folder with subfolders (i.e. if your folders are separated by dates) - (it’s all one line without a return, you need to paste the File Path from step D above over the “PASTEFilePathHere” and then copy the whole thing and paste it into the terminal; mind the spaces; if you include the return at the end it will run as soon as you paste it into the terminal.):

exiftool -P -r -overwriteoriginal_inplace -m -EXIF:ImageDescription= PASTEFilePathHERE

(an example of final script for recursive folders): exiftool -P -r -overwriteoriginal_inplace -m -EXIF:ImageDescription= /Users/userName/Desktop/EXIF-ProcessingFolder
please note that this script will change files in the file path pasted into the command, even if you are not currently in that directory from step D above.



To delete the EXIF:ImageDescription AND the entire XMP metadata fields (for files previously processed with Photoshop, which now have the Olympus Digital Camera in several XMP fields) of photos in a folder with subfolders (i.e. if your folders are separated by dates) - (it’s all one line without a return, you need to paste the File Path from step D above over the “PASTEFilePathHere” and then copy the whole thing and paste it into the terminal; mind the spaces; if you include the return at the end it will run as soon as you paste it into the terminal.):

exiftool -P -r -overwriteoriginal_inplace -m -EXIF:ImageDescription= -XMP= PASTEFilePathHERE

(my limited explanation of the commands are -P saves the date-time of the original format; -r processes the sub-folders recursively; -m decreases the number of error messages; -overwriteoriginal_inplace copies the original file and pastes it onto the changes; -EXIF:ImageDescription removes the EXIF:ImageDescription metadata box; -XMP removes the entire XMP metadata file (I couldn’t figure out how to get rid of just the fields with Olympus Digital Camera written in them, and I don’t see any loss of information that I use, and as an added benefit, I suspect that it helps prevent incongruencies in reading the time & time zone between Aperture and PhotoShop).

After processing the files with the ExifTool, I then move the projects or folders of referenced masters back to where I intend to keep them permanently (so that I don’t have to relocate them in Aperture later on after reconnecting with them).

Import the project or upgrade the library in the new system with Aperture 3. If the Aperture Library is already connected to the referenced masters, do not to open it before you have removed the EXIF:ImageDescription from the masters, as it will start to change the caption information in Aperture, and then you will have to manually change the captions back in Aperture.

If the library is using referenced masters and these are in a new place from the last time the library was open, reconnect to the masters by going to Located Reference Files under the File menu, and navigate to where the masters are and reconnect all. Sometimes some photos will not reconnect, in which case you’ll have to re-import them. You will not need to reconnect the photos if you have already been using the Aperture Library and the photos are already connected, but it would be good to make sure they are all still connected.

Check to see that the problem is fixed - open some of the previously affected masters in Preview and you should see the correct Captions now. If you had already been using the Aperture Library and the caption still shows “Olympus Digital Camera”, check the master in Preview to make sure it’s fixed, and then change the caption in Aperture. Check your library for captions with “Olympus Digital Camera” (in the search box - Add Rule - IPTC - Caption includes...); if you have used Photoshop in the past to edit your photos and didn’t remove the XMP boxes, check them also (by searching in EXIF:Software - Adobe in the search box) for “Olympus Digital Camera” captions and check the time of the photos (they may be 1 or more hours off). Be sure to click on a photo to make sure it won’t “update” and change the caption again.

I hope this helps other people with the same problem. It took me ages to get it figured out and it is a very tedious and time consuming process. I wish Apple would consider how this could all be avoided. Please feel free to add suggestions or comments.

iMac mid 2010 i7, Mac OS X (10.6.4)