6.28.2010

I thought this was professional gear.......

I figured out the almost fatal flaw of shooting Canon.  Maybe some of you really smart people out there can fill me in and educate me.  Lord knows I need it after this week.  Okay.  Where to start?  When I shot with Nikon you could ditch the silly "DCS...." at the beginning of every file and you could change the naming structure so that each camera's files had a unique identifier.  I called one camera KRT, another camera was D700 and a third camera was BOY.  And here's the important thing:  As long as I never reset the counter there was NEVER the possibility that I would have different files with the EXACT same name and number anywhere in my workflow.  Never ever.  I also knew which camera was having a maintenance issue because I could instantly identify troubled cameras by their three letter "call sign".

Seems eminently logical to me.  And to millions of photographers around the globe.  But not to Canon.  Canon will allow you to write copyright info to the metadata but you can't change the naming config. (If you can, let me know how---in the camera----and I'll send you a copy of my book.  One person only).  Who cares if you only shoot with one camera body?  But what do you do if you shoot two pretty new cameras like a 5d2 and a 7D?  When I shot my project on weds., thurs., fri. of last week I came home and started doing my regular workflow.  It was then I noticed LR 3 tagging some files with a "-2" which means that there's already a file in the folder with the original name.  Yikes.  I went back and looked at everything I shot and there was a 250 or so shot overlap.

So I went into the LR3 menus and figured out how to do a rename.  But it's a pain the butt because you have to conceive of a naming convention and make sure to keep track and reset for each camera you download from.  What a stupid idea.

My searches on the web were interesting.  I quickly learned that most people buy a re-naming program and run it on the folders after they are downloaded from the CF card to the hard drive.  Adding a big ole step.  And again,  you have to figure out a consistent way to tag the right camera.  So if you have  pocket full of CF's to download you are in a for a mondo fact finding session before you can get anywhere near messing with your files or doing any editing (in my book editing is "thumbs up or thumbs down" on images, not post processing.....).

I ended up buying the best reviewed of the renaming programs and I'm sure it will work fine but I shouldn't have had to do it.  It should be a simple matter to make the camera work for me rather than the other way around.  I guess this is in the same category as Nikon forcing people to buy Capture NX instead of bundling like Canon does with their software.  But what if you are in the field shooting for a magazine with two bodies and you need to do stuff quickly?

It just plain sucks and it makes me a bit angry.  What do you guys who shoot Canon do?  Don't tell me your whole workflow but what do you do to ingest images and how do you decide how they will be labeled or renamed?  These are pressing questions for me.  Last week, from Sunday to Sunday we shot nearly 4800 files.  I want to make sure that this first step (ingesting) doesn't screw up the rest of my workflow.  Anybody got suggestions?

Again, if I'm wrong, you know I'll apologize to Canon.   But if I'm right I'm sure I'm not the only one pissed off about getting dozens of menu options I'll never use but not getting the one feature that every pro would use.........

35 comments:

Miitan said...

It's never been much of an issue to me. I use Lightroom and it's very simple to sort by camera. I usually have LR rename the files when I import from the card anyway.

kwaphoto said...

Great post Kirk! My Olympus E-3 allows me to prepend the file name with letters as well...ex, I use "KA" in front of the file number. I shot with Canon DSLR's in the past and now have had conflicts with duplicate numbers between Canon D30 (the original I had in 2002), the 20D and now the G11....argh!

kirk tuck said...

Miitan, What if you want to shoot jpegs and drag them directly into iPhoto? What if you want to skip the re-naming step altogether and not have to mess with more software. It's silly.

jefflynchdev said...

Welcome to Canon land. Where thousands of professional photographers spend tens of thousands of hours swearing at their camera manufacturer. No. There is no magic bullet for renaming .CR2 files "in camera". Even the service tech I spoke with said in essence "suck it up pal. it ain't gonna change".

I use a LR3 folder structure to sort images into clients/projects/dates/camera during import. Not great but it does get the job done. If somewhat slowly.

Cheers!

kirk tuck said...

jefflynchdev,

I thought I'd broken LR3 the first time I went to import and re-name files. God forbid you also throw in a preset!!!! Slowed it down to a crawl. And that's on a fairly fast, very recent machine with lots of memory...

I bought a re-naming program and it looks to be light years faster than ingesting the cards straight into LR. I still can't believe photographers put up with this in 2010. (cue exasperated expression....)

Argos said...

I was beginning to think I was missing out on something when you broke off your love affair with Oly gear and bought the new Canon stuff. Guess I'm happy to have what I've got...

Bold Photography said...

Kirk - my big tower handles the import(s) no problem, but my laptops barf on LR3... so I do card transfers first, then do the import into LR3.

As far as handling two different cameras, there are several ways you can handle this. LR3 is smart enough to 'know' which camera took the photo, so you can sort by camera and rename accordingly. Or, rename by time. When I've shot big events with multiple cameras, that's what I did, as the time stamp was really important (oh yes, use EOS utility to sync each camera's time to the computer before the event to get that part right... ). At least it renamed the files with a (2) .... one program I used actually deleted files that had the same name!

The 1D class of cameras lets you rename the files, but the 5D/7D cameras don't. On the 5DII you can change the folder it puts the files in (in the camera) (page 73 of the user manual)

photovalve said...

I have three Canon bodies and wrote my own renaming software. It changes the prefix and adds in a prefix 1 or 2 when the number clicks over from 9,999 to 0. I just treat it as my first copy to hard drive task. I appreciate it's not for everyone but there you go. Love the blog by the way. Malcolm

Ron said...

Kirk, I have been using BreezeBrowser Pro as the first step of my workflow. It allows me to import images into different folders, and rename them with unique prefixes, while keeping the original file number. The batch renaming takes about 4-5 seconds to rename hundreds of images. One peek at the file details lets me know which body was used for the memory card I'm looking at. Yeah, it must be a pain if you're used to being able to set the prefix in the camera body. Since I've been shooting Canon all along, I didn't realize Nikon let you do that - cool feature but not a showstopper.

I also use BBPro for sorting and deleting images prior to opening up the keeper files in LR. For less than 100 bucks, it's a pretty versatile utility program. Current version will also do Canon RAW conversion, extract embedded JPEGS, lets you compare images side by side, exports web galleries - pretty much everything I need to do prior to image editing.

I have no interest in Breezebrowser, just use it constantly.

- Ron

Will Frostmill said...

Hi Kirk,
If you can change the copyright metadata, can you put the camera name in there, and point your autorenaming program to that? Would that speed things up?
Will

matt said...

i've used photo mechanic for years to do ingest, rename, and meta data. having it add a sequence number of its own helps to eliminate the multiple body file naming issues.

kirk tuck said...

Guys, I get that if you are a gifted programmer you could cobble together a little program to do this stuff. I've owned Photo Mechanic in the very early days of digital (think five pound Kodaks) and I get that, once you get over the annoyance of the camera not doing something very simple that Canon is obviously capable of doing, it's good to add a bunch of info to the file in terms of client names, dates, job numbers, etc.

But let's be real. It's 2010. You should be able to call the file whatever you want (as long as the suffix is there) via the camera's menu. Nikon has done it for years. Olympus as well.

I was amazed when i came across this. It's just cheezy.

Rob said...

Yeah welcome to Canon land... You looked at the flash system yet?? :-). IMO The easiest way is to name the high level folder differently for each body (Fred, John, Harry as you like) and use collections in LR or whatever is equal in what you use.

Anonymous said...

That's Canon for you. Beautiful images. Piece of sh@t on the handling details......

Anonymous said...

Don't blame me. I'm still a Nikon Shooter. The D700 might not have much "soul" but you can name the files anything you want!

Godfrey DiGiorgi Photography said...

@ Kirk:

Canon promotes the specific Camera Serial Number tag in its EXIF at least for all the mid-range and pro series bodies. Lightroom recognizes this tag. So if you have three Canon 5D II bodies, you can identify and filter for each one.

Regards filename collisions, I've never bothered to tell the camera to pre-pend an identifying signature to the name. I simply download each card's contents to a different date-ordered folder when importing to Lightroom (eg: 20100101-A, 20100101-B, etc). That way there are never any filename collisions, and later, when I'm assembling the work for a client, I have a standard naming policy for all files going to the client (usually something like [clientname]-YYMMDD-[SEQ3]. I select all files across however many folders they're segregated into and use LR's file renaming tools to name them in this sequence manner. I can then coalesce them all into one folder, if I so desire. The original camera filenames are irrelevant.

kirk tuck said...

Yes. No. Good grief, Godfrey, I'm not sure I even understand half of what you wrote but it seems to me you have to jump thru hoops to make sure nothing collides. Arabesques seem easy to practiced ballerinas but for us mortal who just want to take pictures it seems so obtuse.....

Godfrey DiGiorgi Photography said...

Jump through hoops? Huh?

When importing from a card, set it to your choice of "by date" folder, double click on the folder in the import box and add the descriptor you want. Takes less than 1 second per card. The tag I add is my unique identifier for the card (which I have magic markered onto every card I own) so I can track also which cards might develop a problem that way.

Renaming to the client export: in Grid, select all, call rename, pick the file template for date and sequence, add the client name. Click OK and it's done.

Filenames can't collide because the conditions that allow them to collide can't happen this way. There's no trickery about it. Each card downloads into its own folder, and there can be no filename collisions on each original card volume.

It's a lot less complex than figuring out Canon/Olympus/Nikon/whatever camera control software to edit names in the camera far as I'm concerned.

As for finding all the images made with a specific Canon 10D in my catalog ... I had three of them simultaneously ... open the filter bar, click on Metadata, set column 1 to Camera and pick "Canon 10D". Set column 2 to "Camera Serial Number" and pick them one by one to see each cameras output. How simple can that be?

Tengku Mohd Yusof said...

I anticipated this problem with my first digital camera - a Canon 350D. I use Windows XP and wrote a simple DOS command to rename and saved it in a batch file:

ren _mg_*.cr2 d013????ar.*

The above code will rename all cr2 files with AdobeRGB colour space. "d01" is the prefix for 350D. If my file goes above 40,000 shots I simply change 3 to 4 in the code. Suffix "a" indicates the file is using AdobeRGB colour
space. The "r" in the suffix indicates the original file is RAW.

DOs command for my 7D (for Jpegs file):
ren _mg_*.jpg db_0????a.*

The prefix for all files from 7D is "db". If I managed to take more than 100,000 shots with the 7D, my DOS command will look like this:

ren _mg_*.jpg db10????a.*

I copied all files from CF card to a new folder. Copy the batch file to the new folder, Clicked on the batch file, and a few seconds later all done.

To avoid further problems with file names, all scans from my slides, colour and B&W negatives comes with their own unique prefix and numbering. This is much more complicated than files from digital camera.

So far I have no issues with file names. But I wish that Canon just give us option to name our own prefix and the image counter goes 6 digits. And maybe an option to add a suffix or two.

kirk tuck said...

Wow. Smart guys read my blog.

Kurt Shoens said...

Kirk, those guys are way too clever! But all this renaming workaround to compensate for the camera is just too much.

So, uh, how much you want for the 85/1.8, 24-105, and did you say you have the 135/2?

Craig said...

"The 1D class of cameras lets you rename the files, but the 5D/7D cameras don't."

Yet another example of Canon intentionally gimping the 5D to encourage people to spend twice as much for a 1Ds...

kirk tuck said...

Kurt. I don't have the 135/2 but I'm boxing up the rest to send to you. Wait a second the phone's ringing. Gosh, it's Canon. They've apologized. They asked me to hold the camera up to the phone for a minute so they can do an audio firmware upgrade. Now I can name the files, "Kirk Rules". Oh wait. It was just a nice hallucination. Now, where were we on these lenses you were going to send to me!

Bill Beebe said...

There are alternatives, depending on what you really want to do.

Video

Install Magic Lantern Firmware to unlock more of the 5DMk2's potential in video.

Still Images

Learn to live with, and overcome, the file rename "issue". No camera system is perfect, and attempting to find one is a fool's errand. A number of excellent solutions to your problem have been proposed. Pick one, incorporate it into your work flow, and move on.

Paul Amyes said...

I don't use Lightroom but I'm using CS3's Bridge and when I use the the photo importer utility it allows me to rename the files, order them, make copies to another location and append meta data. I work with 2 Canon bodies and have never had any problems with duplicating file numbers and I know which camera does what as the serial number and model number are recorded as well.

As to the developing a naming convention, mine is relatively simple and is date and place or person's name followed by a 4 digit number. I've had this workflow in place now for 7 years and I've had absolutely no problems.

kirk tuck said...

Bill, all the Magic Lantern Firmware stuff was fixed in a recent firmware upgrade by Canon. Now the camera does 24/25 fps, manual exposure, manual auto level controls without any work arounds. Makes you think they could easily let you change file names.

I think I'd rather pick my solution than any of the multi-step workarounds that have been proposed. But since I don't get that choice I'll just pick one. It may not seem like this is an important post to all the posters and readers who are highly tech savvy but there are many people out there who need to know what's out there and what the options are for them if they want to shoot Canon. I think this has be a very valuable exercise. I learned a lot. Which is the direction I wanted this to go in.

There are no perfect cameras but we're getting closer with every rev...

John Caradimas said...

It might be irrelevant to pros, but not all Nikon cameras allow you to alter the naming scheme either. The D700, D3whatever, they do. The D90 and lower bodies do not. I also find this to be frustrating.

Gordon Buck Jr. said...

Downloader Pro from Breeze Systems (who also make BreezeBrowser Pro) will help you rename files and add information as the files are downloaded from the camera.

Dave Elfering Photography said...

The trick here is to stand on one leg, hop up and down and sing "Ina Gadda Davida". If that doesn't work repeat the procedure but sing it backwards.

Seriously though, I'd never given this issue much thought and have been pretty lazy. But since I'm putting my business plan together to handle shooting for others you've illuminated an issue before I get to it via the ugly school of experience/hard knocks.

You're right. If a camera can be made to shoot hidef video and 80 gazillion frames per second, it should be able to let you determine your own naming scheme.

Steve Burns said...

You could:

Rename upon ingest with downloading software.

Place in a separate folders and then rename, and then combine.

Over write and don't sweat the small stuff. (hah!)

Shoot with professional Canon gear and use their unique file names.

Chuck it all and shoot with Nikon or something else.

Yeah I have their 1D series with unique file names. And I also have their 5D's which I place in separate folders and then rename, then combine my take prior to edit.

Honestly I don't know what they were thinking when the designed the non 1D type of bodies.

R. Scott. said...

Rename the folder for your cards, I shoot with 2 30D cameras and have dedicated cards for each camera. The cards will have a unique folder number making life easier. I then pull this folder across to my main system.

Not the best system in the world but it works. Resetting the folder numbers can be a pain, but I put a brief overview on my Blog.

Bold Photography said...

Kirk, if you want to borrow my 135/2, let me know...

Bold Photography said...

Oh, and let me guess - the next direction will be the Leica M9...

kirk tuck said...

Thanks Bernard. As to the Leica M9, I reviewed the M8 and the M8.2 and I've played with the M9. Interesting cameras but still evolving. I think I'll wait on those. Now.....isn't Sony making some interesting stuff????

Bold Photography said...

Most of the Sony DSLRs are rebranded Nikons.. same sensor (minus the Nikon secret sauce), very similar bodies but with an in-body IS.

The Leica S2 is a very, very interesting concept but you will need to sell your car AND mine to get one if you want a lens. Reviews like this make me think that walking isn't such a bad idea: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/cameras/s2-1st.shtml

For the M9, here's a very, very interesting toy: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/lenses/50mm-nokton.shtml and this review is written in a style that you'll appreciate (almost thought you wrote it).

Both of those are evolving systems - S2 in its infancy, the M9 in the first phase of round two. That's the drawback.

But oh boy, they make amazing images....