Table of Contents
Rotate Photo Error
Description of Error:
You display thumbnail images of a folder of pictures. You see several that need rotating
so you select them and click the rotate button.
Then, you are displaying the same images in the Main Viewer (no thumbnail view)
and the pictures are upside down or they are rotated left or right. And you know you just
The first thought, for many people, is that PhotoELF has a bug in it.
We have received so many emails concerning this topic that we
have added it to the help, and hope people will check here first before
The number one cause of this problem, is that your camera is probably set to: Auto Rotate.
This is where your camera rotates the photo for you automatically. However, this feature persists in having a bug
in most of the cameras we have studied. The camera, incorrectly, rotates the photo, but neglects to rotate the thumbnail image
that is embedded in the JPG file along with the photo or vice versa.
So, when you display the photo in PhotoELF, it looks fine. But when you display thumbnails in PhotoELF,
that same photo appears to need rotating. This is because the camera neglected to autorotate the thumbnail.
You see the thumbnail image and it looks like it needs rotating, so you rotate the photo. But, the photo was already correct. And now it ends up getting rotated again.
Go into your camera's Setup menu and turn Auto Rotate off.
Don't use the last program you used that rotated the photos as it has a bug in it.
Doing this will solve future problems.
We have studied this problem to the Nth degree and we are confident that
PhotoELF is working 100% correctly and that the problem is in your camera or the last software you used.
If you still are unsure about this response, read the Long Answer below.
Here is what is happening:
Inside of a JPG image file are two images. One image is the picture itself and one image is a thumbnail image.
By rights, the thumbnail image should match the picture's orientation. However, some cameras and some other photo software
have bugs in them. And sometimes these cameras or other software rotate a photo, but neglect to rotate the thumbnail image.
It has been documented and fixed in a lot of them by now, but this problem does still exist in many digital cameras.
The end result is that the digital photo has a thumbnail image that does not match that of the photo's orientation.
So when you view a folder of thumbnails, you see a thumbnail that needs to be rotated and you rotate it. But, it ends up rotating
the correct image, incorrectly.
Many cameras seem to persist with this problem especially when you have your camera set to Auto Rotate.
This is where your camera is trying to be smart and it senses which way you rotated the camera when you snapped the photo.
It then rotates the photo for you automatically. However, it neglects to rotate the thumbnail image embedded in the digital file
in the same direction or at all.
How PhotoELF behaves:
When viewing thumbnail images of a folder of photos, PhotoELF opens the file up and starts reading in the file.
If a thumbnail image appears in the file, PhotoELF will load only that thumbnail and display it.
If a JPG file does not contain a thumbnail image, then PhotoELF has to read in the entire photo and create a
temporary thumbnail image for display. When photoelf creates a thumbnail, it is absolutely correct.
However, if a thumbnail does exist, PhotoELF uses it.
PhotoELF does not take the time to verify if the thumbnail matches the photos orientation. This
is done for the speed of loading the thumbnails. And because most photos are of the
The EXIF standard dictates that the thumbnail image must be 160 pixels wide and 120 pixels high. So it is impossible
to check for a miss-matched orientation and compensate for the camera error.
Speed: If PhotoELF had to read in the entire file (thumbnail and large image), it could take up to a full second
per image (or longer). This can add up quickly if you have hundreds or thousands of photos in a folder.
So, PhotoELF does not read in the entire file and compare it to make sure the thumbnail is correctly matching the orientation
of the larger image. And again, it cannot make that comparison if the file is an EXIF image.
Here is a quick way to determine if this is the problem in your situation:
- Get some fresh photos directly from your camera (make sure you rotated your camera for some of them).
- Display thumbnail images of your folder of fresh photos.
- Locate a thumbnail that appears to need rotating and click it. Then, instead of rotating it, switch back to the
Main Viewer or Full Screen View to see what that picture actually looks like.
- See if its orientation matches the thumbnail orientation you just saw. If it does not match, then you know this is the problem.
Whatever device or software last saved that photo, has a bug in it and has caused this problem.
Here is another test you can do:
Display a photo in the main viewer and press
the F9 key on your keyboard (or click the EXIF button on the toolbar). This will display the photo properties, including
the embedded thumbnail image. You can then compare and see if it, in fact, does or does not match the photo. If the
thumbnail orientation does not match the photo, and this photo is fresh from your camera (or other software), then
you know where the problem lies.
Turn Auto Rotate off on your camera.
How to fix your photos:
One way to solve a folder full of bad thumbnail images, is to perform a Batch JPG compress on all of them.
Using the latest version of PhotoELF, the JPG compressor now allows you to save the images with a thumbnail stamp.
PhotoELF correctly orientates the thumbnails. During the Batch Save operation, choose an appropriate compression
level and thumbnail stamp size and Batch Save these photos. All the thumbnails will then be correct.
Avoiding your next question:
We have received so many emails concerning this, that we can anticipate the next question:
PhotoELF must be the problem because when I display the folder of thumbnails using Windows Explorer,
or other software program, the thumbnail is oriented correctly.
This may be true. Other software sometimes generates a new and fresh thumbnail image (everytime) from the large
image inside of the photo file. This will give the appearance that the thumbnail is correct because the program is
manufacturing a thumbnail image for display purposes only. PhotoELF (by default) only generates a temporary thumbnail in this manner, if the image file does not have an embedded thumbnail. If it does have an embedded thumbnail, PhotoELF uses it.
PhotoELF can behave the same way
(click the hammer on the toolbar to enter preferences and look in the Thumb tab. You can choose to create a new thumbnail... every time, instead of using the embedded thumbnail.
PhotoELF defaults to using the embedded thumbail for speed reasons. Generating thumbnails for each photo can take 10 times longer.
PhotoELF assumes the embedded thumbnail is correct and 99.99% of the time, it is correct. Except for some cameras and some
bad software out there that have this bug in it.
Example: We tested a Canon S70 camera that produces this very problem when the camera is set to Auto Rotate.
When Auto Rotate is turned OFF in the camera, this problem goes away.
Please run these tests thoroughly before emailing us.
We are aware of this situation and PhotoELF is not the cause of the problem, but PhotoELF can fix the problem for you.