Core API v3#


For migration instructions from the v2 API check our migration guide.

This API provides a functional interface to all of ImageIOs backends. It is split into two parts: Everyday Usage and Advanced Usage. The first part (everyday usage) focusses on sensible defaults and automation to cover everyday tasks such as plain reading or writing of images. The second part (advanced usage) focusses on providing fully-featured and performant access to all the features of a particular backend.

API Overview#

imageio.v3.imread(uri, *[, index, plugin, ...])

Read an ndimage from a URI.

imageio.v3.imwrite(uri, image, *[, plugin, ...])

Write an ndimage to the given URI.

imageio.v3.imiter(uri, *[, plugin, ...])

Read a sequence of ndimages from a URI.

imageio.v3.improps(uri, *[, index, plugin, ...])

Read standardized metadata.

imageio.v3.immeta(uri, *[, index, plugin, ...])

Read format-specific metadata.

imageio.v3.imopen(uri, io_mode, *[, plugin, ...])

Open an ImageResource.

Everyday Usage#

Reading and Writing#

Frequently, the image-related IO you wish to perform can be summarized as “I want to load X as a numpy array.”, or “I want to save my array as a XYZ file”. This should not be complicated, and it is, in fact, as simple as calling the corresponding function:

import imageio.v3 as iio

# reading:
img = iio.imread("imageio:chelsea.png")

# writing:
iio.imwrite("out_image.jpg", img)

# (Check the examples section for many more examples.)

Both functions accept any ImageResource as their first argument, which means you can read/write almost anything image related; from simple JPGs through ImageJ hyperstacks to MP4 video or RAW formats. Check the Supported Formats docs for a list of all formats (that we are aware of).

If you do need to customize or tweak this process you can pass additional keyword arguments (kwargs) to overwrite any defaults ImageIO uses when reading or writing. The following kwargs are always available:

  • plugin: The name of the plugin to use for reading/writing.

  • extension: Treat the provided ImageResource as if it had the given extension.

  • index (reading only): The index of the ndimage to read. Useful if the format supports storing more than one (GIF, multi-page TIFF, video, etc.).

Additional kwargs are specific to the plugin being used and you can find a list of available ones in the documentation of the specific plugin (where they are listed as parameters). A list of all available plugins can be found here and you can read more about the above kwargs in the documentation of the respective function (imread/imwrite/etc.).

Handling Metadata#

ImageIO serves two types of metadata: ImageProperties and format-specific metadata.

ImageProperties are a collection of standardized metadata fields and are supported by all plugins and for all supported formats. If a file doesn’t carry the relevant field or if a format doesn’t support it, its value is set to a sensible default. You can access the properties of an image by calling improps:

import imageio.v3 as iio

props = iio.improps("imageio:newtonscradle.gif")
# ...

As with the other functions of the API, you can pass generally available kwargs (plugin, index, …) to improps to modify the behavior. Plugins may specify additional plugin-specific keyword arguments, and those are documented in the plugin-specific docs. Further, accessing this metadata is efficient in the sense that it doesn’t load (decode) pixel data.

Format-specific metadata is handled by immeta:

import imageio.v3 as iio

meta = iio.immeta("imageio:newtonscradle.gif")

It returns a dictionary of non-standardized metadata fields. It, too, supports general kwargs (plugin, index, …) which may be extended by a specific plugin. Further, it accepts a kwarg called exclude_applied. If set to True, this will remove any items from the dictionary that would be consumed by a read call to the plugin. For example, if the metadata sets a rotation flag (the raw pixel data should be rotated before displaying it) and the plugin’s read call will rotate the image because if it, then setting exclude_applied=True will remove the rotation field from the returned metadata. This can be useful to keep an image and it’s metadata in sync.

Further, this type of metadata is much more specific than ImageProperties because different plugins (and formats) may return and support different fields. This means that you can get much more specific metadata for a format, e.g., a frame’s side data in a video format, but you need to be mindful of the plugin and format used because these fields may not exist all the time, e.g., jpeg and most other image formats have no side data. In general we try to match a fields name to the name it has in a format; however, we may adjust this if the name is not a valid python string. The best way to know which fields exist for your specific ImageResource is to call immeta on it and inspect the result.

Advanced Usage#

Iterating Video and Multi-Page Formats#

Some formats (GIF, MP4, TIFF, among others) allow storage of more than one ndimage in the same file, and you may wish to process all ndimages in such a file instead of just a single one. While iio.imread(...) allows you to read all ndimages and stack them into a ndarray (using index=…; check the docs), this comes with two problems:

  • Some formats (e.g., SPE or TIFF) allow multiple ndimages with different shapes in the same file, which prevents stacking.

  • Some files (especially video) are too big to fit into memory when loaded all at once.

To address these problems, the v3 API introduces iio.imiter; a generator yielding ndimages in the order in which they appear in the file:

import imageio.v3 as iio

for frame in iio.imiter("imageio:cockatoo.mp4"):
    pass # do something with each frame

Just like imread, imiter accepts additional kwargs to overwrite any defaults used by ImageIO. Like before, the function-specific documentation details the kwargs that are always present, and additional kwargs are plugin specific and documented by the respective plugin.

Low-Level Access#

At times you may need low-level access to a plugin or file, for example, because:

  • you wish to have fine-grained control over when the file is opened/closed.

  • you need to perform multiple IO operations and don’t want to open the file multiple times.

  • a plugin/backend offers unique features not otherwise exposed by the high-level API.

For these cases the v3 API offers iio.v3.imopen. It provides a context manager that initializes the plugin and opens the file for reading ("r") or writing ("w"), similar to the Python built-in function open:

import imageio.v3 as iio

with iio.imopen("imageio:chelsea.png", "r") as image_file:
    props =
    # ... configure HPC pipeline and unicorns
    img =
    # image_file.plugin_specific_function()

Similar to above, you can pass the plugin kwarg to imopen to control the plugin that is being used. The returned plugin instance (image_file) exposes the v3 plugin API, and can be used for low-level access.