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A camera is not engineered as a display device, so you may need a different method of displaying your photos.

I copied a jpeg to my SD memory disk created by a Nikon camera. When I select that image with my camera, I get a "Cannot display image" message. Sony says my camera can only display images it creates. Any clue as to why that would be? I thought a jpeg was a jpeg.

In this excerpt from Answercast #44, I look at the reasons why a camera cannot display jpeg files that are created on a different camera.

When a jpeg is not a jpeg

It's actually a little known fact, but, no, a jpeg is not necessarily a jpeg.

There are in fact options within the jpeg format that not all cameras (in particular) will support for display purposes.

A camera is not a display device

Remember, a camera's primary purpose is to create those images.

  • So as long as they are creating a valid jpeg file, they may not necessarily need to include all support for all the different variations that are possible in jpeg files.

  • As a result, it simply means that a camera may not be able to display every jpeg file.

It sounds like you're taking a jpeg that was created by your Nikon and moving it to a Sony – and the Sony can't read it. That doesn't surprise me, to be honest.

Don't use the camera for display

The thing to do, of course, is not rely on your camera to be the device on which you view your jpegs. The thing to do is to view your jpegs on a device that's designed for that, be it:

  • Your phone (of all things)

  • A tablet

  • A PC

  • Or whatever...

  • That has software that properly interprets all of the various jpeg options that might be used.

So, the short answer is no, a jpeg is not a jpeg and what you're describing doesn't really surprise me that much at all.

Article C5697 - August 15, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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1 Comment
A Richter
August 17, 2012 10:55 AM

JPEG is not exactly a file format; it is a compression function. The actual files produced in-camera are JFIF, and there will be differences from one provider to the next. Differences mean incompatibilities, and the rest follows to fit.

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