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Digital photo standards getting a push

Manufacturers of cameras and other digital imaging products are supporting new standards that would regulate how digital photos are displayed and printed.

Manufacturers of cameras and other digital imaging products are supporting new standards that would regulate how digital photos are displayed and printed.

Gathered at the Photo Marketing Association trade show in Orlando, Fla., the companies have also been busy introducing a slew of new digital cameras, printers and other imaging gadgets.

The most significant step in standards for digital photos comes from the Optical Storage Technology Association (OSTA) and the International Imaging Industry Association (I3A). The trade groups Sunday announced they are working on a standard to govern how images and video stored on CDs and DVDs would be displayed on devices.

The proposed MultiPhoto/Video (MPV) specification would create a standard format for a directory, table of contents and slide show when viewing photos from a disc, whether on a PC or DVD player.

The OSTA is best known for the MultiPlay standard, which gives a uniform way to organize and display the contents of an audio disc created by a PC's CD burner. The standard helps ensure that discs created on a PC can be played back on CD players and other home-electronics devices.

The MPV standard would ensure similar interoperability between PCs and DVD players for showing still images and video, according to the trade groups.

"Without MPV, there is no standard way for software applications on computers or consumer-electronics devices to understand the relationship between the still, video, audio and metadata content once those files are removed from the camera or to edit, organize and play back those files as a group," Felix Nemirovsky, chairman of the OSTA's MultiRead subcommittee, said in a statement.

MPV supporters include Hewlett-Packard, chipmaker LSI Logic and software makers Roxio and Planetweb. The trade groups said they expect to have a basic MPV specification ready by the second quarter of this year.

Also building support is a new version of the EXIF (Exchangeable Image File Format) standard for recording image data.

The original version of EXIF was created several years ago by the Japan Electronics and Information Technologies Industries Association (JEITA) and is widely supported by digital camera makers. EXIF-compatible cameras automatically record data such as exposure settings and the date when an image is created. The data, much of which can be useful in editing photos, can be retrieved when images are viewed in an EXIF-ready browser or other software.

The latest update of the EXIF standard, version 2.2, extends the data recorded to include information a compatible printer can use to automatically adjust its settings. Ideally, camera users could make clearer and more consistent prints without extensive image manipulation.

Companies announcing plans Monday to support EXIF 2.2 in upcoming cameras, printers and software include Eastman Kodak, Canon, Hewlett-Packard and Adobe Systems.