I’ve been having problems with time on my cameras recently. It comes from using two Nikon bodies on most of the events I cover, the D300 and D700, and the need I feel to synchronise the time on the two of them.
When I get home from taking pictures I import the pictures from the CF cards onto my hard disk and an external hard disk, putting the images from both cameras into the same folder, renaming them so that they have a sensible and unique file name. Something incidentally that I just don’t understand why Nikon doesn’t incorporate into the firmware. It seems silly just to basically number them from 1-9999 and then start again. For most purposes it would seem to be useful and sufficient to allow photographers to choose a suitable naming convention which avoided duplication. My own preference would be yyyymmdd-xnnnn, where yyyy is the year, mm the month, dd the day, x a single character camera identifier and nnnn a sequential number, which is basically how I do things in Lightroom, except without the camera id digit which isn’t needed in that case.
Lightroom and other software can put the images in the order they were taken when you use more than one camera only if the times are synchronised. Another suggestion I’d like to make, this time to the writers of Lightroom would be to be able to lock the order it shows images in a folder by time. You can sort them this way, but sometimes it decides you want them in some different ‘user order’. I never do.
If your cameras have a different time, sorting on creation time will put your images in the wrong order, and it can be very annoying. So a couple of weeks ago, when I found the two bodies had somehow drifted to a few minutes different I spent a tricky ten minutes trying to synchronise the two bodies. And after quite a lot of button pushing and swearing sat back and relaxed when the two displays both changed with their hours, minutes and seconds in synch.
Unfortunately, when I next uploaded images to Demotix I got an error message complaining about the date on the images. After a little poking around I found that I had pressed at the wrong time at some point, and one of my cameras was now working in 2012 rather than 2011. I put it right. Then uploaded some more only to find I still got the complaint. Yes, they were 2011, but the month was 11 rather than 10, and with a few more button pushes things on the camera were fine.
Normally I would have noticed immediately I uploaded the files, as my import settings mean they would have gone into a different folder. But since my main computer was away for repairs I’d had to use my notebook, which hasn’t enough memory to run Lightroom.
It would of course be possible to make cameras automatically keep correct time (and change to and from Summer Time) but I don’t know it would be a good idea. I have a travel alarm clock that does so, which is fine so long as I only travel in the UK, but when I go abroad and set it to the local time, it keeps on that for a while to fool you, then changes back to UK time in the middle of the night, which can be fairly disastrous. So now I leave it at home. But perhaps the clocks could be more accurate – there is a drift of several seconds a week between the two bodies.
End of Summer Time
This morning as you will have noticed (unless you are in Russia) you probably put your clocks back and hour. Depressing, though I welcomed the extra hour in bed, we now have to suffer those early dark nights. Fortunately my alarm clock does that kind of think automatically, but my cameras don’t. So when I stop typing this, I’m going to go and tell them we are no longer on summer time. If you haven’t yet done so I suggest you do too. It took me a month or so to get round to it last time we changed the clocks.
Actually I did this one one body by mistake yesterday. So the pictures I took on one camera all think they were taken an hour earlier than on the other.
Fortunately it’s easy with the right software to change the creation date, and to do it as a batch process so that if you correct one image all the others selected have their date altered by exactly the same amount. I did some on Lightroom and some with my default image browser, ACDSee Pro, which I also find easier to use when adding IPTC captions to my pictures.