Lightroom Classic: Support "Subject Distance" metadata

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It's been 7 years since Lightroom dropped "Subject Distance" support. Seven years is a long time.  Cameras have changed a lot.  While, back in the day, lens subject distance wasn't particularly accurate it has improved markedly for no other reason to support flash performance.  The subject focus distance is the one item the camera sends to the flash to help calculate proper exposure.  

Subject distance is often helpful to photographers to help determine what went right or wrong with an image.  Subject distance has always been extracted using Phil Harvey's "EXIF Tool".  Unfortunately the EXIF Tool works only one file at a time.  There is no easy way to consolidate the information into a spreadsheet for statistical analysis.  

Back in the day LR3 did capture subject distance metadata.  Jeffrey Friedl's "Data Explorer" then captured the information in a meaningful format.  

The reason LR dropped subject distance support was because camera vendors said the information wasn't accurate.  These days the Canon EOS R puts the subject distance on their display as one option.  I suspect other vendors will do the same thing with their new mirrorless cameras.

Cameras have changed.  Photographer's needs have changed.  I hope this note motivates the Light Room development team to recapture subject distance metadata during import.
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Guy Huntley

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Posted 1 year ago

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John R. Ellis, Champion

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I agree that LR should add EXIF:SubjectDistance back to the EXIF metadata panel, Library Filter bar, and smart collections.  Just because it was highly inaccurate in some cameras at the time seemed like a weak product decision -- it was clearly useful to many users, and retaining it in LR didn't impose any significant engineering costs on Adobe or inconveniences on users.

However, the field has always been available internally in the catalog and easily made visible in the Metadata panel.  You can use the tag id "com.adobe.subjectDistance" in a tagset definition in a custom tagset that you can edit yourself or create with the Metadata Tagset Viewer plugin.  As a quickie experiment, I just added that field to one of my existing custom tagsets:



But you'll need either the Any Filter or Data Explorer plugins to search subject distance, e.g.