Is there a perfect raster image format? TIFF has been around quite some time and is generally accepted as a preferred preservation format. There have been a few attempts to have a single file contain multiple resolutions with the purpose of providing resolutions for different uses, lower-resolution for web and higher-resolution for print. Even the semi popular JPEG2000 added multiple resolutions to improve the JPEG format. Kodak came up with a few ideas to do this as well. The Kodak PCD, PhotoCD or Image PAC files was one that was used for awhile before it was abandoned. Another was FlashPix.

I briefly mentioned FlashPix on an earlier post about the Microsoft Picture It! format. They are extremely similar. Both. have the same basic structure in a Compound Object format. Some of the FlashPix files generated by Picture It! even have the same identifiers in the CompObj header.

FlashPix was supposed to be the answer to all the problems with storing bitmap image data and how we view the web. Kodak partnered with some big names, Microsoft Corporation, Hewlett-Packard Company and Live Picture, Inc, were among them. Kodak marketed the format and even included it as a native file format to some of its new digital cameras. The format was made official in June of 1996, with a Whitepaper explaining all the benefits and architecture. There was a lot of hype, some even calling it, “Not your Grandma’s format“. Many graphics software started to include support for the new format, including Adobe Photoshop. So what happened, why didn’t the format catch on? Some say it was the size of storing multiple resolutions in one file, others believe it was the complicated Compound Object structure that lead to its demise. Either way, the format had a lot of hype in the late 1990’s, but by the year 2000, it had gone silent and all the websites went away.

FlashPix did have a big impact, and there were many software and hardware devices which were made compatible. There are a few stories left behind of those who scanned all their photos to the FlashPix format only to find a few years later it was unsupported on more modern computers. There was also a few early digital camera’s which could capture directly to the format. Take my Kodak DC260 zoom camera, circa 1998. Changing the Capture Preferences, I can switch between a JPG and FPX.

Using exiftool we can take a look at one of the images from the camera:

exiftool P0004795.FPX
ExifTool Version Number         : 12.73
File Name                       : P0004795.FPX
Directory                       : GitHub/digicam_corpus/Kodak/DC260/DC260_01
File Size                       : 251 kB
File Modification Date/Time     : 2024:01:06 12:54:20-07:00
File Access Date/Time           : 2024:01:06 13:20:46-07:00
File Inode Change Date/Time     : 2024:01:06 13:04:34-07:00
File Permissions                : -rwxrwxrwx
File Type                       : FPX
File Type Extension             : fpx
MIME Type                       : image/vnd.fpx
Code Page                       : Unicode UTF-16, little endian
Data Object ID                  : 13BC5A58-6B90-1B6B-12C9-0800201177F8
Data Object Status              : Exists, Not Purgeable
Creating Transform              : Source Image
Using Transforms                : 
Cached Image Height             : 1024
Cached Image Width              : 1536
Comp Obj User Type Len          : 16
Comp Obj User Type              : FlashPix_Object
Visible Outputs                 : 1
Maximum Image Index             : 1
Maximum Transform Index         : 0
Maximum Operation Index         : 0
Thumbnail Clip                  : (Binary data 18480 bytes, use -b option to extract)
Revision Number                 : 1
Create Date                     : 2024:01:06 12:53:29
Modify Date                     : 2024:01:06 12:53:29
Software                        : KODAK DIGITAL SCIENCE DC260
Image Width                     : 1536
Image Height                    : 1024
Subimage Width                  : 1536
Subimage Height                 : 1024
Subimage Color                  : RGB
Subimage Numerical Format       : 8-bit, Unsigned
Decimation Method               : None (Full-sized Image)
JPEG Tables                     : (Binary data 558 bytes, use -b option to extract)
Number Of Resolutions           : 1
Max JPEG Table Index            : 1
Scene Type                      : Original Scene
Software Release                : KODAK DIGITAL SCIENCE DC260
Make                            : Eastman Kodak Company
Camera Model Name               : KODAK DIGITAL SCIENCE DC260
Serial Number                   : 7577
Exposure Time                   : 1/180
F Number                        : 4.7
Exposure Program                : Program AE
Exposure Compensation           : 0
Subject Distance                : 0.520 m
Metering Mode                   : Center-weighted average
Light Source                    : Unknown
Focal Length                    : 24.0 mm
Max Aperture Value              : 4.6
Flash                           : No Flash
Exposure Index                  : 90
Sharpness Approximation         : 0
File Source                     : Digital Camera
Sensing Method                  : One-chip color area
Extension Create Date           : 2024:01:06 12:53:29
Extension Modify Date           : 2024:01:06 12:53:29
Creating Application            : Picoss
Extension Name                  : ijuhsimasa
Extension Persistence           : Always Valid
Extension Description           : Data Object Store 000001
Storage-Stream Pathname         : /Data Object Store 000001
Extension Class ID              : 56616000-C154-11CE-8553-00AA00A1F95B
Used Extension Numbers          : 1
Screen Nail                     : (Binary data 4304 bytes, use -b option to extract)
Subimage Tile Count             : 384
Subimage Tile Width             : 64
Subimage Tile Height            : 64
Num Channels                    : 3
Audio Stream                    : (Binary data 30780 bytes, use -b option to extract)
Aperture                        : 4.7
Image Size                      : 1536x1024
Megapixels                      : 1.6
Shutter Speed                   : 1/180
Preview Image                   : (Binary data 4164 bytes, use -b option to extract)
Focal Length                    : 24.0 mm

The file also does identify in PRONOM:

sf P0004795.FPX 
siegfried   : 1.11.0
scandate    : 2024-01-17T23:13:59-07:00
signature   : default.sig
created     : 2023-12-17T15:54:41+01:00
identifiers : 
  - name    : 'pronom'
    details : 'DROID_SignatureFile_V116.xml; container-signature-20231127.xml'
filename : 'P0004795.FPX'
filesize : 250880
modified : 2024-01-06T12:54:20-07:00
errors   : 
matches  :
  - ns      : 'pronom'
    id      : 'x-fmt/56'
    format  : 'Kodak FlashPix Image'
    version : 
    mime    : 'image/vnd.fpx'
    class   : 'Image (Raster)'
    basis   : 'extension match fpx; container name CompObj with byte match at 53, 36 (signature 2/2)'
    warning : 

If you notice, PRONOM has two signatures for the FlashPix format, this image was identified with signature #2. The first signature looks for the string “FlashPix Object”, but the second looks for the CLSID which is unique to each compound object format. FlashPix has the CLSID: {56616700-c154-11ce-8553-00aa00a1f95b}. Looking at many of the other samples I have there is much variation on the use of the string and CLSID.

FlashPix samples:
FlashPix Object({56616000-C154-11CE-8553-00AA00A1F95B}
FlashPix Object({56616800-C154-11CE-8553-00AA00A1F95B}
Picture It! FlashPix'{56616700-C154-11CE-8553-00AA00A1F95B}
LPI FlashPix'{56616700-c154-11ce-8553-00aa00a1f95b}
Picture It!'{56616700-c154-11ce-8553-00aa00a1f95b}
Flashpix Toolkit Application'{56616700-c154-11ce-0000-000000000000}

The images from the Kodak Camera use “FlashPix_Object” string so with the underscore it doesn’t match the first signature, but others I made using Picture It! software used a couple variations. Many don’t use the string at all. Others use a sightly different CLSID in both uppercase and lowercase. We will have to suggest adjustments to the current signature to identify them all.

Looking at the contents of the OLE container we can see some interesting things.

Path = P0004795.FPX
Type = Compound
Physical Size = 250880
Extension = compound
Cluster Size = 512
Sector Size = 64

Size         Compressed     Name
------------ ------------  ------------------------
188          192           [5]Data Object 000001
272          320           [1]CompObj
388          448           [5]Extension List
144          192           [5]Global Info
                           Data Object Store 000001
18704        18944         [5]SummaryInformation
816          832           Data Object Store 000001/[5]Image Contents
272          320           Data Object Store 000001/[1]CompObj
988          1024          Data Object Store 000001/[5]Extension List
1624         1664          Data Object Store 000001/[5]Image Info
4332         4608          Data Object Store 000001/[5]Screen Nail_bd0100609719a180
                           Data Object Store 000001/Resolution 0005
                           Data Object Store 000001/Audio_bd0100609719a180
1112         1152          Data Object Store 000001/[5]KDC_bd0100609719a180
72           128           Data Object Store 000001/[5]SummaryInformation
108          128           Data Object Store 000001/Audio_bd0100609719a180/[5]Audio Info
30808        31232         Data Object Store 000001/Audio_bd0100609719a180/Audio Stream 000000
6208         6656          Data Object Store 000001/Resolution 0005/Subimage 0000 Header
176378       176640        Data Object Store 000001/Resolution 0005/Subimage 0000 Data
------------ ------------  ------------------------
242414       244480        16 files, 3 folders

The main CompObj is where we find the identification information, but the Data Object Store 000001 directory is where all the image data is stored. In a multiple resolution image we might see additional Resolution directories. You may also notice a mention of an Audio directory. Yes, this image was captured and then audio was recorded with it. Not a video, but an audio clip associated with the image. FlashPix can contain audio streams. This isn’t the first time we have seen this, HP camera’s also have this function which as it turns out is stored in a FlashPix exif extension within a JPEG.

The FlashPix native format may have disappeared, but the format lives on as an extension to Exif data, allowing you to embed audio and other media within a JPEG file. The code for FlashPix was given to ImageMagick and is maintained by them.


Working in preservation and archiving for the last few years has caused me to change a habit most people use everyday. The double-click. I am usually opening a file in a hex editor or control clicking on a file to open it in a different software application than is default. Maybe it’s just me, but having control over opening a file is essential. The thought of double-clicking on a file and the uncertainty of what is actually happening scares me a little.

Of course opening an application executable requires a double-click or a right-click/open process and from there you can open the file of your choosing. Executables are run-able files because they have the required pieces for the operating system and cpu to interpret and well; run. We need executables in order to make sense of the files we preserve. Without something to interpret our the data in our files they are just a bunch of one’s & zero’s.

Take a PDF for example. By itself, it is hard to make sense of the file. You need Acrobat Reader, or any number of other executable software programs to open and render the PDF.

But what if you could take a file and wrap it in an executable so it is all self contained, the file format and an executable in one file! No separate software needed! On the surface this seems like a great idea, which is why a few software companies had this as an option. An early competitor of PDF, Common Ground had the option to embed the DP file into a self contained viewer. Many archive software tools have the ability to make “self-extracting” executables as well. One obvious downside is being unable to execute on a different platform or a later operating system. But at the time they were very convenient.

One software in particular added the option to export a few different formats into a special wrapper making them viewable on any Windows machine.

New Soft Technology Corporation Presto! PageManager is document management software which can view many different file types. The software helps manage document and photo scanning and keep everything organized. The software often came bundled with home consumer scanners, such as the UMAX Astra scanner I bought years ago. With the Windows version of the software you can take one or more photos and “wrap” them into a Presto! Wrapper.

Once exported to a Presto! Wrapper the files within have a portable viewer wrapped up with them. One double-click and Presto!, you can view, rotate, export, and print your images. The wrapper has a your typical .EXE extension and identifies as such.

sf Presto6-s02.EXE
siegfried   : 1.11.0
scandate    : 2024-01-09T23:39:36-07:00
signature   : default.sig
created     : 2023-12-17T15:54:41+01:00
identifiers : 
  - name    : 'pronom'
    details : 'DROID_SignatureFile_V116.xml; container-signature-20231127.xml'
filename : 'Presto6-s02.EXE'
filesize : 818301
modified : 2024-01-07T23:48:01-07:00
errors   : 
matches  :
  - ns      : 'pronom'
    id      : 'fmt/899'
    format  : 'Windows Portable Executable'
    version : '32 bit'
    mime    : 'application/vnd.microsoft.portable-executable'
    class   : 
    basis   : 'extension match exe; byte match at [[0 2] [232 94]]'

hexdump -C Presto6-s02.EXE | head
00000000  4d 5a 90 00 03 00 00 00  04 00 00 00 ff ff 00 00  |MZ..............|
00000010  b8 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  40 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  |........@.......|
00000020  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  |................|
00000030  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  00 00 00 00 e8 00 00 00  |................|
00000040  0e 1f ba 0e 00 b4 09 cd  21 b8 01 4c cd 21 54 68  |........!..L.!Th|
00000050  69 73 20 70 72 6f 67 72  61 6d 20 63 61 6e 6e 6f  |is program canno|
00000060  74 20 62 65 20 72 75 6e  20 69 6e 20 44 4f 53 20  |t be run in DOS |
00000070  6d 6f 64 65 2e 0d 0d 0a  24 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  |mode....$.......|
00000080  99 72 8f bf dd 13 e1 ec  dd 13 e1 ec dd 13 e1 ec  |.r..............|
00000090  5e 0f ef ec dc 13 e1 ec  b2 0c eb ec d6 13 e1 ec  |^...............|

The preservation of executables is, in my opinion, complicated. Running a 32 bit executable on a computer today might not even work. Then we have to get into the license of using the software and wether the license allows us to use it freely in perpetuity. So as much as this is an executable, knowing it is also a wrapper for regular images is important to know as an option for preservation. The files wrapped inside can be exported and preserved as a solution. So what makes this executable unique. Let’s look a little closer.

00005000  00 00 00 00 11 2e 40 00  00 10 40 00 80 1f 40 00  |......@...@...@.|
00005010  c0 24 40 00 00 00 00 00  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  |.$@.............|
00005020  50 6d 76 69 65 77 20 69  73 20 63 6c 6f 73 65 2e  |Pmview is close.|
00005030  00 00 00 00 5c 00 00 00  74 6d 70 00 5c 54 45 4d  |....\...tmp.\TEM|
00005040  50 00 00 00 20 4e 65 77  53 6f 66 74 20 56 69 65  |P... NewSoft Vie|
00005050  77 65 72 00 34 31 36 44  37 30 36 43 36 31 37 39  |wer.416D706C6179|
00005060  36 35 37 32 00 00 00 00  41 6d 70 6c 61 79 65 72  |6572....Amplayer|
00005070  00 00 00 00 70 6d 76 69  65 77 2e 65 78 65 00 00  |....pmview.exe..|
00005080  41 6d 70 6c 61 79 65 72  2e 65 78 65 20 67 72 65  |Amplayer.exe gre|
00005090  65 74 2e 69 64 20 56 00  41 6d 70 6c 61 79 65 72  |et.id V.Amplayer|
000050a0  2e 65 78 65 00 00 00 00  2e 2e 00 00 2e 00 00 00  |.exe............|
000050b0  5c 2a 2e 2a 00 00 00 00  4c 6f 63 61 6c 20 41 70  |\*.*....Local Ap|
000050c0  70 57 69 7a 61 72 64 2d  47 65 6e 65 72 61 74 65  |pWizard-Generate|
000050d0  64 20 41 70 70 6c 69 63  61 74 69 6f 6e 73 00 00  |d Applications..|
000050e0  57 72 61 70 70 65 72 00  43 45 78 70 76 77 44 6f  |Wrapper.CExpvwDo|
000050f0  63 00 00 00 43 45 78 70  76 77 56 69 65 77 00 00  |c...CExpvwView..|

It is indeed a wrapper, the header looks like any other EXE file, but a little further into the file we can see some specifics to the viewer. In all my samples I can see the string “NewsSoft Viewer“. That might be enough to distinguish it from other executables. See some samples here.

I guess part of the question is wether identifying specific software executables is needed in preservation. Arn’t they all executables and should be treated similar? This isn’t the first type of executables I have seen like this. awhile back I came across another home software which allowed you to make a slideshow, complete with audio and wrap it into an executable to put on a disk so playback was easy for the user and nothing additional was needed. The software is called Family Album Creator, use at your own risk.

Picture It!

Most everyone has heard of Microsoft Office, the suite of applications used by millions everyday. Less people know about Microsoft Works, which was a lower cost alternative, but was quite popular as a home office suite of applications. One tool which often came with the Works suite was a digital image tool called Picture It!

Picture It! was a photo editing tool first released by Microsoft in 1996 geared to making photo editing easy and affordable.

Picture It! used a wizard type interface which walked you through acquiring an image and adding to it. One of the key features of the software was the ability to “stack” objects like layers. Because of this feature a new file format was used to save this information to disk. Meet the Microsoft Image (Picture) Extension format, commonly known as the MIX file format. It is very similar to the FlashPix image format, which was supposed to be an image file format to solve many delivery issues, but didn’t seem to gain hold despite being created by Kodak, HP, and others. In fact many of the MIX files I found on Microsoft disks are actually FlashPix files.

The MIX extension was also used by another Microsoft program, PhotoDraw, which causes confusion as they were similar, but PhotoDraw has some added features which may not be compatible with Picture It!. Both formats are based on the Microsoft Compound Object (OLE) container, and have a similar structure. Let’s take a look at a MIX file from Picture It! version 1.

7z l PictureIt1-s02.mix                 

Path = PictureIt1-s02.mix
Type = Compound
Physical Size = 48128
Extension = compound
Cluster Size = 512
Sector Size = 64

   Date      Time    Attr         Size   Compressed  Name
------------------- ----- ------------ ------------  ------------------------
                    .....          328          384  [5]Data Object 000001
                    .....          396          448  [5]Transform 000004
                    .....          872          896  [5]Operation 000001
                    .....          320          320  [1]CompObj
                    .....          292          320  [5]Global Info
                    .....          872          896  [5]Operation 000002
                    .....          144          192  [5]Operation 000003
                    .....          684          704  [5]Transform 000008
                    .....         1028         1088  [5]Transform 000009
                    .....          328          384  [5]Data Object 000009
                    .....          324          384  [5]Data Object 000005
2023-12-27 11:04:39 D....                            Data Object Store 000001
                    .....          328          384  [5]Data Object 000010
                    .....        20932        20992  [5]SummaryInformation
                    .....          200          256  [5]Microsoft Embedding Info
2023-12-27 11:04:39 D....                            Data Object Store 000001/Resolution 0001
                    .....         1400         1408  Data Object Store 000001/[5]Image Contents
                    .....          230          256  Data Object Store 000001/[1]CompObj
2023-12-27 11:04:39 D....                            Data Object Store 000001/Resolution 0000
                    .....           28           64  Data Object Store 000001/Resolution 0000/Subimage 0000 Data
                    .....           80          128  Data Object Store 000001/Resolution 0000/Subimage 0000 Header
2023-12-27 11:04:39 D....                            Data Object Store 000001/Resolution 0003
2023-12-27 11:04:39 D....                            Data Object Store 000001/Resolution 0002
                    .....           28           64  Data Object Store 000001/Resolution 0002/Subimage 0000 Data
                    .....          208          256  Data Object Store 000001/Resolution 0002/Subimage 0000 Header
2023-12-27 11:04:39 D....                            Data Object Store 000001/Resolution 0005
2023-12-27 11:04:39 D....                            Data Object Store 000001/Resolution 0004
                    .....           28           64  Data Object Store 000001/Resolution 0004/Subimage 0000 Data
                    .....         1792         1792  Data Object Store 000001/Resolution 0004/Subimage 0000 Header
                    .....          124          128  Data Object Store 000001/[5]SummaryInformation
                    .....           28           64  Data Object Store 000001/Resolution 0005/Subimage 0000 Data
                    .....         6976         7168  Data Object Store 000001/Resolution 0005/Subimage 0000 Header
                    .....           28           64  Data Object Store 000001/Resolution 0003/Subimage 0000 Data
                    .....          544          576  Data Object Store 000001/Resolution 0003/Subimage 0000 Header
                    .....           28           64  Data Object Store 000001/Resolution 0001/Subimage 0000 Data
                    .....          128          128  Data Object Store 000001/Resolution 0001/Subimage 0000 Header
------------------- ----- ------------ ------------  ------------------------
2023-12-27 11:04:39              38698        39872  29 files, 7 folders

This is a simple MIX file with one line of text, but contains a lot of content inside the OLE container. If I try and use the PRONOM registry to identify the file, I get:

sf PictureIt1-s02.mix 
siegfried   : 1.11.0
scandate    : 2023-12-27T11:06:32-07:00
signature   : default.sig
created     : 2023-12-17T15:54:41+01:00
identifiers : 
  - name    : 'pronom'
    details : 'DROID_SignatureFile_V116.xml; container-signature-20231127.xml'
filename : 'PictureIt1-s02.mix'
filesize : 48128
modified : 2023-12-27T11:04:40-07:00
errors   : 
matches  :
  - ns      : 'pronom'
    id      : 'fmt/111'
    format  : 'OLE2 Compound Document Format'
    version : 
    mime    : 
    class   : 'Text (Structured)'
    basis   : 'byte match at 0, 30'
    warning : 

Hmm, we know it is an OLE compound document, but it should identify as a Picture It! file as PRONOM has defined a PUID for the format. fmt/936 has been defined as “Microsoft Picture It! Image File 1”. So I am not sure why this file from version 1 is not identifying correctly. Let’s take a look. The PRONOM container signature for fmt/936 is looking for this:

    <ContainerSignature Id="17015" ContainerType="OLE2">
      <Description>Microsoft Picture It! Image File</Description>
              <InternalSignature ID="17015">
                <ByteSequence Reference="BOFoffset">
                  <SubSequence Position="1" SubSeqMinOffset="32"
                    <Sequence>'Microsoft Picture It! version 1 Picture'</Sequence>

The container signature is looking into the OLE container for the “CompObj” file (which seems to be required), then looks for the string “Microsoft Picture It! version 1 Picture” starting at the 32nd byte. That is pretty specific. The sample file I am using as an example has the following string of bytes.

hexdump -C PictureIt1-s02/\[1\]CompObj 
00000000  01 00 fe ff 03 0a 00 00  ff ff ff ff 00 68 61 56  |.............haV|
00000010  54 c1 ce 11 85 53 00 aa  00 a1 f9 5b 1e 00 00 00  |T....S.....[....|
00000020  4d 69 63 72 6f 73 6f 66  74 20 50 69 63 74 75 72  |Microsoft Pictur|
00000030  65 20 49 74 21 20 50 69  63 74 75 72 65 00 27 00  |e It! Picture.'.|
00000040  00 00 7b 35 36 36 31 36  38 30 30 2d 43 31 35 34  |..{56616800-C154|
00000050  2d 31 31 43 45 2d 38 35  35 33 2d 30 30 41 41 30  |-11CE-8553-00AA0|
00000060  30 41 31 46 39 35 42 7d  00 13 00 00 00 50 69 63  |0A1F95B}.....Pic|
00000070  74 75 72 65 49 74 21 2e  50 69 63 74 75 72 65 00  |tureIt!.Picture.|

Ok, so this sample has a similar string but is missing the “version 1” text. It seems the samples used to created the PRONOM signature was working off samples which included the version 1 in the header of CompObj. Maybe when Microsoft learned they would be making a version 2, they decided a version number should be included going forward. Let’s take a look a file from version 2 to compare:

hexdump -C PictureIt2-s01/\[1\]CompObj 
00000000  01 00 fe ff 03 0a 00 00  ff ff ff ff 50 28 72 2d  |............P(r-|
00000010  4b 8c d0 11 a9 6f 00 a0  c9 05 41 0d 28 00 00 00  |K....o....A.(...|
00000020  4d 69 63 72 6f 73 6f 66  74 20 50 69 63 74 75 72  |Microsoft Pictur|
00000030  65 20 49 74 21 20 76 65  72 73 69 6f 6e 20 32 20  |e It! version 2 |
00000040  50 69 63 74 75 72 65 00  27 00 00 00 7b 32 44 37  |Picture.'...{2D7|
00000050  32 32 38 35 30 2d 38 43  34 42 2d 31 31 44 30 2d  |22850-8C4B-11D0-|
00000060  41 39 36 46 2d 30 30 41  30 43 39 30 35 34 31 30  |A96F-00A0C905410|
00000070  44 7d 00 f4 39 b2 71 50  00 00 00 4d 00 69 00 63  |D}..9.qP...M.i.c|

Ok, so it looks like they did update the version string for version 2. This file also does not identify correctly. A quick look at the wikipedia page for Microsoft Picture It! tells us they continued to release the software until version 10. Is there a different string for each version?

Diving into this and gathering many samples has brought a lot of variants to surface. Let’s see if we can list all the CompObj header variants.

Version 1 samples:
Picture It! Picture'{56616800-C154-11CE-8553-00AA00A1F95B}
Microsoft Picture It! Picture'{56616800-C154-11CE-8553-00AA00A1F95B}
Microsoft Picture It! version 1 Picture'{56616800-C154-11CE-8553-00AA00A1F95B}
Picture It! Collage'{56616800-C154-11CE-8553-00AA00A1F95B}

Version 2 samples:
Microsoft Picture It! version 2 Picture'{2D722850-8C4B-11D0-A96F-00A0C905410D}

Version 3 samples:
Microsoft Picture It! version 3 Picture'{18B8D020-B4FD-11D0-A97E-00A0C905410D}

Version 4 samples:
Microsoft Picture It! version 4 Picture'{18B8D020-B4FD-11D0-A97E-00A0C905410D}

PhotoDraw version 1 samples:
Microsoft PhotoDraw version 1 Picture'{18B8D020-B4FD-11D0-A97E-00A0C905410D}

PhotoDraw version 2 samples:
Microsoft PhotoDraw version 2 Picture'{18B8D021-B4FD-11D0-A97E-00A0C905410D}

FlashPix samples:
FlashPix Object({56616000-C154-11CE-8553-00AA00A1F95B}
FlashPix Object({56616800-C154-11CE-8553-00AA00A1F95B}
Picture It! FlashPix'{56616700-C154-11CE-8553-00AA00A1F95B}
LPI FlashPix'{56616700-c154-11ce-8553-00aa00a1f95b}
Picture It!'{56616700-c154-11ce-8553-00aa00a1f95b}
Flashpix Toolkit Application'{56616700-c154-11ce-0000-000000000000}

Ok, there is a lot to discuss here. First of all, it seems MIX was only used in Picture It! until version 5 (2001), then the Picture It! software used a new format, PNG Plus to store the layered stacks. More on that in a future post! Although some later versions seems to be able to open the older MIX format. Version 4 of the MIX format seems to be the last as the 2001 software had only version 4 files on it. Probably safe to say only the 4 versions are needed for identification.

You may notice the additional unique identifier I included in each format. This is called a Class ID for the OLE format, which A LOT of formats use. Each “format” has a unique ID associated with it to help distinguish it from other formats. This Unique ID could possibly be a better solution for identification. It does cross over with the PhotoDraw format, but the FlashPix format seems to have a unique ID. With all the variations in the version 1 strings, the ID remains the same. For version 3 and 4 the ID is the same, which could mean they are interchangeable. It is also the same as PhotoDraw version 1. Not to complicate things.

So it seems in order to get proper identification of these similar formats we need to:

  • Clean up version 1 identification for fmt/936
  • Add a signature for 2, 3, and 4
  • Add a version 2 signature for the PhotoDraw format
  • Add some additional signature variations for the FlashPix format.

The Class ID’s could be used to distinguish different versions and formats, but many of the ID’s are identical, this could mean they are the same format. But for now we can just add the additional variation strings and it should identify everything for now. The FlashPix format needs more research as there is so many different variations and it’s so close to the MIX format. Take a look at my GitHub submission, maybe you have some additional variations to add?

Digital Negatives

One of the important parts about Digital Preservation is to gather significant properties of the digital files we hope to preserve. This can allow us to base our risk assessments off of more data than just an extension. For example, a TIFF file is a mighty good preservation format. Well documented and adopted by the preservation community, and with hundreds if not thousands of software tools to render and make use of the format. But if a TIFF file uses compression like LZW, or if it happens to have multiple pages, those are good things to know about. Most formats might have a stable set of properties, but sometimes can have properties which adds more risk to the format becoming difficult to render or migrate.

A DNG or Digital Negative developed by Adobe was supposed to solve the issues with proprietary RAW digital camera formats. Rendering a PhaseOne IIQ file often times requires the full CaptureOne software which can be expensive. Adobe spends quite a bit of resources in adding support to its Camera RAW toolkit and adding the ability to take majority of these RAW formats and move them into a DNG. There is also more and more camera manufacturers who image directly to a DNG as their native RAW format. This is the case for Apple’s ProRAW format which uses the DNG specification.

Another manufacturer is the Insta360 camera’s. Their 360 camera’s can use two lenses to capture 180 degrees from each and then stitch into a 360 photo or video. They can capture compressed images and videos, but also in RAW. Because of the two lenses and sensors, their DNG’s can get quite large. For this reason I recently asked PRONOM to adjust their signatures to allow for a bigger offset of DNG information in the larger RAW images.

exiftool IMG_20230913_141939_00_039.dng 
ExifTool Version Number         : 12.70
File Name                       : IMG_20230913_141939_00_039.dng
File Size                       : 143 MB
File Type                       : DNG
File Type Extension             : dng
MIME Type                       : image/x-adobe-dng
Exif Byte Order                 : Little-endian (Intel, II)
Subfile Type                    : Full-resolution image
Image Width                     : 5984
Image Height                    : 11968
Bits Per Sample                 : 16
Compression                     : Uncompressed
Photometric Interpretation      : Color Filter Array
Make                            : Arashi Vision
Camera Model Name               : Insta360 X3

DNG files are actually based on the TIFF format, TIFF/EP to be precise, which means there is some good history behind the format and understanding of its structure. DNG does add many new tags and new features, so there is much more going on. Here is a TIFFInfo view of a DNG. Lots of new tags…..

tiffinfo IMG_20230913_141939_00_039.dng 
TIFFReadDirectory: Warning, Unknown field with tag 33421 (0x828d) encountered.
TIFFReadDirectory: Warning, Unknown field with tag 33422 (0x828e) encountered.
TIFFReadDirectory: Warning, Unknown field with tag 50937 (0xc6f9) encountered.
TIFFReadDirectory: Warning, Unknown field with tag 50938 (0xc6fa) encountered.
TIFFReadDirectory: Warning, Unknown field with tag 50940 (0xc6fc) encountered.
TIFFReadDirectory: Warning, Unknown field with tag 51009 (0xc741) encountered.
TIFFReadDirectory: Warning, Unknown field with tag 51107 (0xc7a3) encountered.
=== TIFF directory 0 ===
TIFF Directory at offset 0x889946c (143234156)
  Subfile Type: (0 = 0x0)
  Image Width: 5984 Image Length: 11968
  Bits/Sample: 16
  Sample Format: unsigned integer
  Compression Scheme: None
  Photometric Interpretation: 32803 (0x8023)
  Orientation: row 0 top, col 0 lhs
  Samples/Pixel: 1
  Rows/Strip: 11968
  Planar Configuration: single image plane
  Make: Arashi Vision
  Model: Insta360 X3
  Software: v1.0.69_build1
  DateTime: 2023:09:13 14:19:40
  Tag 33421: 2,2
  Tag 33422: 1,2,0,1
  EXIFIFDOffset: 0x8
  GPSIFDOffset: 0x3e6
  DNGVersion: 1,3,0,0
  DNGBackwardVersion: 1,3,0,0
  UniqueCameraModel: Insta360 X3

An IFD (Image File Directory) is the building block of a TIFF file. A TIFF file can have multiple IFD’s within a single file. But an IFD can also be a thumbnail, metadata or GPS info. For a DNG, they use the IFD structure as well, but often, the first IFD is a lower resolution of the full image.

 <File:ExifByteOrder>Little-endian (Intel, II)</File:ExifByteOrder>
 <IFD0:SubfileType>Reduced-resolution image</IFD0:SubfileType>
 <IFD0:BitsPerSample>8 8 8</IFD0:BitsPerSample>
 <IFD0:Model>Canon EOS RP</IFD0:Model>
 <SubIFD:SubfileType>Full-resolution image</SubIFD:SubfileType>

But not always the same way.

 <IFD0:SubfileType>Full-resolution image</IFD0:SubfileType>
 <IFD0:PhotometricInterpretation>Color Filter Array</IFD0:PhotometricInterpretation>
 <IFD0:Make>Arashi Vision</IFD0:Make>
 <IFD0:Model>Insta360 X3</IFD0:Model>

 <IFD0:SubfileType>Reduced-resolution image</IFD0:SubfileType>
 <IFD0:BitsPerSample>8 8 8</IFD0:BitsPerSample>
 <IFD0:Model>iPhone 13 Pro</IFD0:Model>
 <SubIFD:SubfileType>Full-resolution image</SubIFD:SubfileType>
 <SubIFD:BitsPerSample>12 12 12</SubIFD:BitsPerSample>

It can get confusing, especially for tools we use to extract metadata and significant properties from a DNG for preservation. Within Rosetta, the preservation system I use at work, there is no dedicated DNG extractor, so we use JHOVE, as it is the tool we use for our TIFF images. This presents a problem as the process only extracts properties for the first IFD assuming it is the main IFD, but in many cases it reports back the image is much smaller in pixel dimensions than it actually is. More work is needed to improve extracting correct significant properties for DNG and other RAW image formats.

Adobe released a new version of DNG this year. In June, DNG version was finalized. The new version brought a few new features, two of which are including JPEG XL compression and a new HDR colorimetric value. In order to add JPEG XL compression DNG version 1.7 is required. Here is how one looks in exiftool, created with Adobe DNG Converter 16.1.

exiftool _MG_9375_1.dng 
ExifTool Version Number         : 12.70
File Name                       : _MG_9375_1.dng
File Size                       : 5.4 MB
File Type                       : DNG
File Type Extension             : dng
MIME Type                       : image/x-adobe-dng
Exif Byte Order                 : Little-endian (Intel, II)
Make                            : Canon
Camera Model Name               : Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT
Preview Image Start             : 91884
Orientation                     : Rotate 270 CW
Rows Per Strip                  : 171
Preview Image Length            : 10305
Software                        : Adobe DNG Converter 16.1 (Macintosh)
Modify Date                     : 2023:12:18 11:45:06
Artist                          : unknown
Image Width                     : 3516
Image Height                    : 2328
Bits Per Sample                 : 16
Compression                     : JPEG XL
DNG Version                     :
DNG Backward Version            :

I had recently submitted a new signature for DNG 1.7 to PRONOM, but I found this new DNG version falls outside the signature I created. I had made the assumption all DNG’s report their version based on the last two values of 0.0, so I created the signature to look for This is wrong now that I can see an example of version

In order to fix the issue, I would need to change all the DNG signatures to remove the last two bytes so:

12C601000400000001070000 would change to 12C60100040000000107

This would allow for identification if some DNG files have a point version.

The pace at which manufacturers are producing camera’s with new features is much faster than the Digital Preservation community can keep up with. As new technologies get released, we play catch up trying to identify new formats and variations to existing ones. I guess that is job security?


Lets talk TIFF, or Tagged Image File Format. It is well documented and accepted by the community. The format has been around since 1986, first developed by Aldus as a image format for scanners. The TIFF format is now used worldwide as a preferred format for scanning and preservation of cultural heritage objects.

As amazing as the format is, there are a few features of the format which can be a preservation risk. I want to focus on three of those risks.

The Tagged Image File Format has a well known header:

A TIFF file begins with an 8-byte image file header, containing the following
Bytes 0-1: The byte order used within the file. Legal values are:
“II” (4949.H) LSB (IBM)
“MM” (4D4D.H) MSB (Mac)
Bytes 2-3 An arbitrary but carefully chosen number (42).
Bytes 4-7 The offset (in bytes) of the first IFD.

Putting this poster of the TIFF structure in your office will impress your co-workers, guaranteed. Thanks Ange!

The three risks I have been pondering lately are:

  • Multiple IFD’s
  • Metadata
  • DNG format

TIFF version 6.0 was released in 1992 and is the most recent version. Although some vendors are free to add their own private tags. In 1995 Adobe added an addendum which added some additions for use with PageMaker.

One of the main features of the TIFF format is its ability to hold multiple pages. In Adobe’s words:

TIFF has always supported what amounts to a singly linked list of IFD’s in a single TIFF file, via the “next IFD pointer,” though most applications currently ignore any IFD beyond the first one. Probably the best use for a linked list of IFD’s is when you want to store multiple different but related images in the same file—a ‘burst’ of images from a camera, for example.

Adobe PageMaker® 6.0 TIFF Technical Notes

Take note of the highlighted text, software like Adobe Photoshop will ignore any IFD beyond the first one. Even worse, Photoshop won’t even mention there are additional IFD’s. I have used many document scanners which default to multipage TIFF capture and have lost pages because of this. Because of this I have always built my workflows around single page TIFF’s for all scanning and we check against this as a rule.

What also makes this hard is how some capture software uses additional IFD’s. CaptureOne is a popular imaging software used by photographers and cultural heritage institutions. We have used it to connect to our PhaseOne cameras for capture of books and other flat objects. By default the software exports the final TIFF image with a thumbnail.

With the “No Thumbnail” unchecked we get this TIFF structure:

identify _MG_0193.tif 
_MG_0193.tif[0] TIFF 3456x5184 3456x5184+0+0 8-bit sRGB 51.3136MiB 0.030u 0:00.026
_MG_0193.tif[1] TIFF 107x160 107x160+0+0 8-bit sRGB 0.000u 0:00.007

 <IFD1:SubfileType>Reduced-resolution image</IFD1:SubfileType>
 <IFD1:BitsPerSample>8 8 8</IFD1:BitsPerSample>

So Imagemagick identifies two pages 0 and 1 with the second a much smaller resolution than the first. Exiftool reports back IFD0 and IFD1 with IFD1 having a SubfileType of a Reduced-resolution image. Makes sense, it is a thumbnail. In looking at the specifications for TIFF 6.0, I can find no mention of the word “thumbnail”, but the specification does make mention of “reduced resolution” images:

If multiple subfiles are written, the first one must be the full-resolution image. Subsequent images, such as reduced-resolution images, may be in any order in the TIFF file.

The specification also gives us this warning:

TIFF readers must be prepared for multiple images (subfiles) per TIFF file, although they are not required to do anything with images after the first one.

Scary to think about how a reader is not required to do anything, not even warn against multiple IFD’s (Subfiles).

The EXIF specifications seem to expand on this through attributes:

Attribute information can be recorded in 2 IFDs (0th IFD, 1st IFD) following the TIFF structure, including the File Header. The 0th IFD records compressed image attributes (the image itself). The 1st IFD may be used for thumbnail images. 

Page 97 of EXIF Specification

Take a look at the information and Figure 6 on page 21-22 in the EXIF specification.

Adobe early on decided to use their own tags for thumbnail data. Since Photoshop 5, Adobe has stored the thumbnail in Tag 1036.

 1036 Photoshop Thumbnail             : (Binary data 4625 bytes, use -b option to extract)

There is another TIFF structure sometimes used in older FAX compressed multipage TIFFs and now used in the DNG Specification. The SubIFD tag was writable using the libtiff “thumbnail” tool, but is now depreciated. Originally described in the TIFF/EP specification, DNG files use SubIFD trees.

DNG files are often talked about in the same way TIFF files are, and many tools handle both seamlessly. One of the major differences is that DNG files switch their IFD use. IFD0 is often the reduced-resolution thumbnail and SubIFD the full-resolution image.

<IFD0:SubfileType>Reduced-resolution image</IFD0:SubfileType>

<SubIFD:SubfileType>Full-resolution image</SubIFD:SubfileType>

This can cause issues when trying to extract technical metadata from images, knowing which IFD to get the main image details requires a bit of work. I’ll save DNG for another blog post.

TIFF Metadata is a vital part of preservation. The metadata can provide technical properties of the file along with some descriptive information. It amazes me how much the embedded metadata can vary from a scanner or camera capture device. The digitization lab I worked in for years had scanners from Epson, Fujitu, Canon and others. Along with cameras made by Canon, PhaseOne, and Copibooks. Each one with a vastly different set of metadata using different standards. Even when each workflow produced final uncompressed TIFF images, they all varied in metadata.

The TIFF images with the leasT amount of metadata was from the Epson scanners. When using the free Epson Scan software, not a single metadata field was embedded, no dates, scanner model or manufacturer. More was embedded when you used the Silverfast professional software included with each Epson, but even then if you didn’t add any IPTC fields, the metadata was limited.

The most metadata came from the camera systems, especially the PhaseOne/CaptureOne systems. Even though it produced the most and had valuable properties, there were some issues. I already discussed the thumbnail issue, but PhaseOne decided they wanted to change how some of the tags were used.

CaptureOne has quite the list of white balance options. Which is great for the photographer, but not so great for adhering to the TIFF standard.

According to the EXIF TIFF Specification, there are only two values allowed for White Balance, Auto or Manual. A CaptureOne produced TIFF will have this value if Auto or Manual are not chosen:

41987 White Balance                   : Unknown (5)
37384 Light Source                    : Other

The different lighting situations should be identified using the “Light Source” 37384 tag, but alas they chose to add to white balance instead. When I asked about this, they responded that they requested this update to the TIFF spec, but they weren’t willing so they took matters into their own hands. You can read the conversation on the JHOVE issues page.

The TIFF format is very accepted in the Cultural Heritage community as a preferred preservation format. The specification is well understood and documented. I just hope we can continue to openly discuss issues that arise in preservation which add risk to our collections. Some issues are minor compared to others. Sometimes it’s the tools we use to validate formats like TIFF which are wrong and need to be corrected. The talk more about these issues and how to manage them.

MP4 & 360

Recently I have been exploring the MP4 format, more specifically the ISO Base Media File Format. It appears to be quite the versatile format. Based on the general Box/Atom format. Don’t mean to go much into the format here as there are so many formats which use this structure, like Quicktime MOV, Jpeg2000, to the more recent Canon RAW CR3. I have also been digging into the DASH MP4 format, but we’ll save that for a later time.

One of the more interesting uses of MP4 lately is 360 or spherical video. They are becoming more and more popular with content creators and also used for mapping like Google street view.

A while back I picked up a Insta360 Nano S camera. It attached directly to my iPhone. With a camera on each side it could capture images and video which could later be processed to produce some interesting results.

Of course it needs to be processed first so it doesn’t look like you are peering out of your peephole. Insta360 provides software for you to process the video into a regular video or some fun creative spherical video that makes you look like you are walking on a small globe.

The formats produced by the Insta360 Nano S are plain old JPG and MP4, but uses the extensions .INSP and .INSV respectively. Neither of which are documented in PRONOM yet. But because of the nature of 360 camera’s there is a little more under the hood. If you would like to look at some samples you can find some here.

The INSP file begins like any other EXIF JPEG file, but ends with a little additional info.

The 360 cameras have some additional information from the different gyros and accelerometers, as well as GPS information. The INSP file stores much of this information after the end of the JPG format. You can also see a string of alphanumeric numbers at the end, which is consistent with most of the files I have seen. One python parser of the additional data calls it the magic number. “8db42d694ccc418790edff439fe026bf” would make a good pattern for a signature.

The INSV files are similar, except they use the MP4 base media format.

Mediainfo indeed sees the file as an MPEG-4 with a AVC codec, but with a invalid extension.

Complete name                            : VID_20210222_170428_005.insv
Format                                   : MPEG-4
Format profile                           : JVT
Codec ID                                 : avc1 (avc1/isom)
File size                                : 41.1 MiB
Duration                                 : 7 s 608 ms
Overall bit rate mode                    : Variable
Overall bit rate                         : 45.4 Mb/s
Encoded date                             : UTC 2021-02-22 17:04:18
Tagged date                              : UTC 2021-02-22 17:04:18
IsTruncated                              : Yes
FileExtension_Invalid                    : braw mov mp4 m4v m4a m4b m4p m4r 3ga 3gpa 3gpp 3gp 3gpp2 3g2 k3g jpm jpx mqv ismv isma ismt f4a f4b f4v

In addition to a video and audio track, there is a text track.

ID                                       : 3
Format                                   : Timed Text
Codec ID                                 : text
Duration                                 : 7 s 600 ms
Bit rate mode                            : Constant
Bit rate                                 : 240 b/s
Frame rate                               : 10.000 FPS
Stream size                              : 228 Bytes (0%)
Title                                    : Ambarella EXT
Language                                 : English
Forced                                   : No
Encoded date                             : UTC 2021-02-22 17:04:18
Tagged date                              : UTC 2021-02-22 17:04:18

With a little Exiftool magic, thank you Phil, we can see some of the extra data within the video file.

Serial Number                   : ISS2418ND7XH4H
Model                           : Insta360 Nano S
Firmware                        : v1.17.12.3_build1
Parameters                      : 2 947.866 946.388 964.646 0.000 0.000 90.000 942.993 2891.656 952.520 -0.682 -1.501 89.186 3840 1920 1040
Preview Image                   : (Binary data 578944 bytes, use -b option to extract)
Time Code                       : 62.155
Accelerometer                   : 0.0717358812689781 0.837667405605316 -0.541449248790741
Angular Velocity                : -0.00380666344426572 -0.0143540045246482 0.0170918852090836

Thanks to tools like Exiftool and MediaInfo we can take a peek into some of these formats. New ways of using the existing formats and new formats entirely keep popping up making it hard to know exactly what you have. Initially I just assumed the Insta360 formats didn’t need anything extra as they just used well known format with their own extension, but I needed to look a little closer. Many other cameras are now putting additional data at the end of a standard JPG. It will be interesting to see what new ideas camera developers come up in the coming years.

GoPro has a 360 camera as well and looking at a sample .360 file, I can see it also uses an MP4 base media format, but uses two video tracks to store video from the two cameras. Might need to dig into that format soon as well.

JPG Structure

If you hadn’t been over to see the posters made by Ange Albertini, head over now. Below is his poster on the JPG image file format. This is the basic JFIF file format, which stands for JPEG File Interchange Format. There are also raw JPEG streams and Exif, Exchangeable Image File Format.

The basic format is pretty straight forward. There is a start of image marker FFD8 some format information, then the raster compressed data, then an end of image marker FFD9. Identification of a JPEG file should be pretty straight forward. Knowing the start and end marker values and then the type of JPEG based on the Application data, can be very specific. That is until some software engineers start playing fast and loose with the format specifications.

A while back I received a JPG file which didn’t identify using the latest PRONOM signature. It’s happened before, some new phones came out and started using a newer version of the exif specification so I submitted an update to PRONOM for JPG’s using exif 2.3 and greater. But also may need to submit another signature soon for the newly released Exif 3.0 specification! But this JPG I received wasn’t a new version, it should have been identified with the current PRONOM signature. It started with FFD8 and when I went to look at the end of the file for the end of image marker FFD9, it wasn’t where I expected it to be.

This JPG file had an additional 9632 bytes after the FFD9 end of image marker. But why? The image rendered just fine in multiple JPG viewers. The only warning from Exiftool was for “Unrecognized MakerNotes”, which is not too uncommon. So I went to the JPG Exif specification.

EOI, Recording this marker is mandatory. It shall be recorded in this position.

But reading a little further we see…..

Moreover, Exif/DCF readers should be implemented to operate without interruption even if certain kinds of data have been recorded after EOI of the primary image defined in the Exif standard. Specifically, unknown data after EOI of the primary image should be skipped. (see section 4.7.1)

So the extra data is allowed by specification. Any readers should ignore or skip any data after the EOI (End of Image). Well that makes identification more difficult. All the PRONOM signatures are based on having the EOI marker at the “End”. Some have allowance for padding, but not enough for the worst offenders……

The image referenced above was created on a Huawei MHA-L29 cameraphone. But since finding this image, I have also found many Samsung phones do the same thing. Here is one from a Samsung SM-G975U1. Much less padding but enough to throw off identification.

Apple iPhones are also not exempt from this “feature” either. When using the MacOS ImageCapture tool with the HEIC format, a bug can add an excessive amount of empty data at the end of the converted JPG file.

So, when it comes to identification, if your JPG files don’t seem to identify correctly, look closer at the end of the file, it may have some “extra” data.

What’s the 411?

I am dating myself by using the phrase “What’s the 411?” Back in my day (before the Googles), if you wanted quick information you could pick up the “land line”, a corded phone in your home which could only make phone calls, and dial 4-1-1 and you would be connected to an operator that could help you locate businesses, tell you the time, answer simple questions, and was infinity smarter than Alexa.

Around the same time I was using 4-1-1 to answer all my questions, digital camera’s were just coming on the scene. One of those was the Sony Mavica line of digital camera’s. They were unique as they used a floppy disk as the storage media. They had a small LED screen for capture and playback of the captured images. In order to quickly preview the images captured on disk, the camera generates a hidden thumbnail file for each image, this file has the extension .411. When I first saw this file when I copied a floppy from my Mavica cameras, it reminded me of the old information line. I first assumed it was a metadata file as the first few Mavica camera did not use EXIF in their files, but they are simply a raster image in a 64×48 pixel file. Of course Sony did not document this file format and probably hoped no one would noticed as they are hidden on the floppy FAT12 formatted disk.

Video showing index of floppy disk.

One could argue the value of documenting and possibly identifying thumbnail formats as many in digital preservation have chosen not to keep the Thumbs.db file or other hidden files not meant to be preserved or accessible to the user. I have found documenting any format found through technical appraisals provides value to everyone, which may ultimately determine not to keep such formats in their repository, but knowing what they are is vital to the process. Come listen and chat with me about this topic at iPres 2023!

Usually the first part of documenting a format is looking for specifications online or documented somewhere. Since Sony did not publicly release any specifications for this format, we have to use others reverse engineering or do so ourselves. There have been a few attempts to document a conversion of the 411 format to a common raster format like BMP. Like this C code for conversion to BMP, or to NetPBM formats like PPM, or the Java “Javica” software which makes use of the 411 files. My first step was to see if we could find some common patterns in the many samples I have from my Mavica collection. Running Marco Pontello’s TrIDScan, across my 54 samples came up with no common patterns, this was expected as all the reverse engineering efforts points out the format is probably based on the CCIR.601 specification which is MPEG based on frames.

With no common patterns among all the samples, creating a PRONOM signature is not possible. In the future, file identification may be based more on dynamic pattern matching instead of the current static patterns we look for now. Until then, this may need to be submitted as an extension only entry. Two things to note, the files created by the camera are all named starting with “MVC” which could also be used for identification. You may also notice that every .411 file is exactly 4608 bytes. The extension .411 is also pretty unique, so I doubt it will clash with any other format for the moment.

Embedded WAVE, thanks HP 👋

Digital Preservation is all about identifying risks. This is done through a process which includes identification, validation, and metadata extraction. The more you know about the digital data you need to preserve over time, the more you can do to minimize those risks with the goal of making the data accessible over time.

Many formats are pretty straight forward, they are identifiable through a header and then have some binary bits or plain text that is readable by certain software. Others are more complicated. A common practice for more complex needs is to use a container. Word processing programs started out with plain text with maybe some formatting codes mixed in, then many moved to the Microsoft OLE container so you could have additional content embedded in a single file. Today file formats such as DOCX use a ZIP container, which houses all the text, images, formatting and anything else the format supports. Knowing what the format is and knowing what it may contain is important to preservation.


I collect older digital cameras, specifically cameras with unique file formats, raw and otherwise. When I picked up a HP (Hewlett-Packard) point and shoot camera awhile back, I was initially unimpressed as it would only capture in a JPEG format and only 3 quality settings. While looking at a copy of the manual, I saw the camera was capable of capturing audio clips or voice memos for each photo taken. This can be handy when taking many photos and need a reminder about the context. This was not unique to HP, as many cameras could do this, normally a JPG was captured and the Audio would have the same name connecting the two. But when I recorded some audio on my little HP, placed the SD card in my computer, I couldn’t find the additional audio file. I also not the only one to ask about this.

There are many types of JPG files. Raw Streams, JPEG File Interchange Format (JFIF), and Exchangeable Image File Format (EXIF). Normally these formats have raster image data sprinkled with metadata. I have seen JPEG files embedded into other formats and containers, such as MP3, PDF, etc, but JPEG’s are not container formats. Or so I thought…..

View of HP Photosmart 433 folder in HP Photo & Imaging Gallery

Lets take a look at an image I took with my HP Photosmart 433. We’ll start with identification:

siegfried   : 1.10.1
scandate    : 2023-05-25T12:27:04-06:00
signature   : default.sig
created     : 2023-05-22T08:43:02-06:00
identifiers : 
  - name    : 'pronom'
    details : 'DROID_SignatureFile_V112.xml; container-signature-20230510.xml'
filename : 'GitHub/digicam_corpus/HP/Photosmart 433/IM000959.JPG'
filesize : 178922
modified : 2023-05-25T11:23:32-06:00
errors   : 
matches  :
  - ns      : 'pronom'
    id      : 'x-fmt/391'
    format  : 'Exchangeable Image File Format (Compressed)'
    version : '2.2'
    mime    : 'image/jpeg'
    class   : 'Image (Raster)'
    basis   : 'extension match jpg; byte match at [[0 16] [366 12] [178907 2]] (signature 2/2)'
    warning : 

IM000959.JPG was identified as x-fmt/391 which is a compressed Exchangeable Image File Format. version 2.2. Pretty straight forward. Next lets look at validation:

Jhove (Rel. 1.28.0, 2023-05-18)
 Date: 2023-05-25 12:35:16 MDT
 RepresentationInformation: GitHub/digicam_corpus/HP/Photosmart 433/IM000959.JPG
  ReportingModule: JPEG-hul, Rel. 1.5.4 (2023-03-16)
  LastModified: 2023-05-25 11:23:32 MDT
  Size: 178922
  Format: JPEG
  Status: Well-Formed and valid
  ErrorMessage: Tag 41492 out of sequence
   Offset: 606
  MIMEtype: image/jpeg
   CompressionType: Huffman coding, Baseline DCT
    Number: 1
      FormatName: image/jpeg
      ByteOrder: big_endian
      CompressionScheme: JPEG
      ImageWidth: 640
      ImageHeight: 480
      ColorSpace: YCbCr
      DateTimeCreated: 2021-11-16T09:04:04
      ScannerManufacturer: Hewlett-Packard
      ScannerModelName: hp PhotoSmart 43x series
      DigitalCameraManufacturer: Hewlett-Packard
      DigitalCameraModelName: hp PhotoSmart 43x series
      FNumber: 4
      ExifVersion: 0220
      FlashpixVersion: 0100
      ColorSpace: sRGB
      ComponentsConfiguration: 1, 2, 3, 0
      CompressedBitsPerPixel: 1.568
      PixelXDimension: 640
      PixelYDimension: 480
      MakerNote: 0, 97, 48, 101, 114, 32, 78, 111, 116, 101, 115, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0
      DateTimeOriginal: 2021:11:16 09:04:04
      DateTimeDigitized: 2021:11:16 09:04:04
   ApplicationSegments: APP1, APP2, APP2, APP2, APP2, APP2, APP2, APP2, APP2, APP2, APP2, APP2, APP2, APP2, APP2, APP2

I removed a few lines to show important parts, but we get some similar information about the format, a JPEG with EXIF version 2.2. We also learn that HP improperly ordered their tags and put Tag 41492 out of sequence, but we can ignore that for now. Looking close at the output does not give us any indication of audio formats. There is a clue when we see the mention of a Flashpix version and additional Application Segments.

Since this is an image with EXIF data, lets also take a look at the output of Exiftool.

ExifTool Version Number         : 12.62
File Name                       : IM000959.JPG
Directory                       : .
File Size                       : 179 kB
File Modification Date/Time     : 2023:05:25 11:23:32-06:00
File Access Date/Time           : 2023:05:25 11:24:42-06:00
File Inode Change Date/Time     : 2023:05:25 11:24:39-06:00
File Permissions                : -rwxr-xr-x
File Type                       : JPEG
File Type Extension             : jpg
MIME Type                       : image/jpeg
Exif Byte Order                 : Little-endian (Intel, II)
Image Description               : IM000959.JPG
Make                            : Hewlett-Packard
Camera Model Name               : hp PhotoSmart 43x series
Orientation                     : Horizontal (normal)
X Resolution                    : 72
Y Resolution                    : 72
Resolution Unit                 : inches
Software                        : 1.400
Modify Date                     : 2021:11:16 09:04:04
Y Cb Cr Positioning             : Co-sited
Copyright                       : Copyright 2002-2003
Exposure Time                   : 1/29
F Number                        : 4.0
ISO                             : 100
Exif Version                    : 0220
Date/Time Original              : 2021:11:16 09:04:04
Create Date                     : 2021:11:16 09:04:04
Components Configuration        : Y, Cb, Cr, -
Compressed Bits Per Pixel       : 1.567552083
Shutter Speed Value             : 1/30
Aperture Value                  : 4.0
Exposure Compensation           : 0
Max Aperture Value              : 4.0
Subject Distance                : 1 m
Metering Mode                   : Average
Light Source                    : Unknown
Flash                           : Auto, Did not fire
Focal Length                    : 5.7 mm
Warning                         : [minor] Unrecognized MakerNotes
Flashpix Version                : 0100
Color Space                     : sRGB
Exif Image Width                : 640
Exif Image Height               : 480
Interoperability Index          : R98 - DCF basic file (sRGB)
Interoperability Version        : 0100
Digital Zoom Ratio              : 1
Subject Location                : 0
Compression                     : JPEG (old-style)
Thumbnail Offset                : 2046
Thumbnail Length                : 7112
Code Page                       : Unicode UTF-16, little endian
Used Extension Numbers          : 1, 31
Extension Name                  : Audio
Extension Class ID              : 10000100-6FC0-11D0-BD01-00609719A180
Extension Persistence           : Always Valid
Audio Stream                    : (Binary data 117820 bytes, use -b option to extract)
Image Width                     : 640
Image Height                    : 480
Encoding Process                : Baseline DCT, Huffman coding
Bits Per Sample                 : 8
Color Components                : 3
Y Cb Cr Sub Sampling            : YCbCr4:2:2 (2 1)
Aperture                        : 4.0
Image Size                      : 640x480
Megapixels                      : 0.307
Shutter Speed                   : 1/29
Thumbnail Image                 : (Binary data 7112 bytes, use -b option to extract)
Focal Length                    : 5.7 mm
Light Value                     : 8.9

Ohh, what do we have here? Exiftool mentions an audio stream. An audio stream inside the JPEG? How is this possible? The Flashpix format was originally developed by Kodak in which collaborated with HP. This was later added to the EXIF specifications. Below is an screenshot from the Exif Version 2.2 spec.

Exiftool mentioned Flashpix and additional APP2 segments. Lets take a look at the raw file in a hex editor.

Ahhh….. In one of the App2 segments we can see something familiar. A RIFF WAVE header! Lets see if we can extract the WAVE file.

exiftool -b -AudioStream IM000959.JPG > IM000959.WAV

mediainfo IM000959.WAV
Complete name                            : IM000959.WAV
Format                                   : Wave
Format settings                          : WaveFormatEx
File size                                : 115 KiB
Duration                                 : 10 s 681 ms
Overall bit rate mode                    : Constant
Overall bit rate                         : 88.2 kb/s

Format                                   : ADPCM
Codec ID                                 : 11
Codec ID/Hint                            : Intel
Duration                                 : 10 s 681 ms
Bit rate mode                            : Constant
Bit rate                                 : 88.2 kb/s
Channel(s)                               : 1 channel
Sampling rate                            : 22.05 kHz
Bit depth                                : 4 bits
Stream size                              : 115 KiB (100%)

MediaInfo can give us details on the embedded WAVE file, which is pretty terrible quality but is a PCM audio stream.

Embedded audio inside a raster image is not common. Most software which can render a JPEG image will most likely ignore the embedded WAVE and not even give a warning it exists. IM000959.JPG opens fine in Adobe Photoshop, but saving to a new format or making any edits will delete the WAVE file. Imagemagick also will remove the WAVE with any editing with no warning.

In order to ensure the embedded audio stream is preserved we first need to know it is there, this is where tools like exiftool can be used to extract metadata from the file and the image can be associated with having an audio stream and handled differently than any other JPEG file. More work is needed, Exiftool may mention an Audio Stream, but currently does not have the ability to pull any data from the stream.