David Papp Blog

Merging Vacation Photos From Multiple Cameras

I like to travel with my family to different locations around the world. To remember these vacations, we have our own cameras. The advent of digital cameras has made taking many pictures very easy as you don’t have to worry about wasting film. To gain different perspectives and because different things are important to different people, we each usually have our own digital camera that we take pictures with. Cameras are now fairly inexpensive and most are small enough to fit in your pocket.

For those of you who have gone on vacation with family or friends and there are is more than one camera, it results in a dilemma. When you want to show off your digital photo album you have different folders of pictures taken at different times. Alas, there is a solution!

When a digital camera takes a picture, it stores the exact date and time that the picture was taken in a “hidden” section of the picture file called EXIF data.

It is very important at the beginning of your trip to ensure everyone who has a camera has set their date and time to be exactly the same. Make this part of your routine. Take into consideration if you are in a different timezone as well. This is important so you aren’t offset by hour(s) from the other cameras.

When you get back home and have offloaded the pictures from your camera (ensure you make BACKUPS!), you can copy all of the pictures from the different cameras into a single folder. (Check to make sure your file names don’t conflict though chances are very slim that they would.)

If you look at this folder now, all of your pictures will be sorted by file name… which isn’t chronologically. In the past my wife would spends hours renaming files to place them in proper sequence.

Now for some magic… 🙂

A friend of mine recommended an amazing program called “Bulk Rename Utility” – see http://www.bulkrenameutility.co.uk/

This free Windows based program allows you to view the embedded EXIF data/time information on when a picture was taken, sort all of the pictures in that folder by that date/time, and rename them all such that they are in order (e.g. Trip-0001.jpg, Trip-0002.jpg…).

The program is intimidating at first when you try to use it, however after you spend some time with it to understand how it works, it takes less than 1 minute to select a folder and rename thousands of pictures.

As always, I recommend you are working on a COPY of your files that you are renaming in case you make a mistake. Also always make a backup of your precious pictures. And now that you are back home, remember to change your date/time on your camera if you changed it due to timezones.

What nifty programs do you use?

10 thoughts on “Merging Vacation Photos From Multiple Cameras”

  1. Wow, this program really does sound amazing. I do, get annoyed when my family goes on vacation and we each have like 200 pictures from different cameras that we need to upload to our computer. This program, sounds like it could save a ton of time, in organizing all of them.

  2. This one’s an awesome tip. Yeah, organizing pictures from different cameras can be quite messy sometimes. Hardwork, really. I’m gonna try that ‘Bulk Rename Utility’ soon and see for myself the wonders it could offer.

  3. Well. I would say that bulkrenameutility just got a new user. It is great that such a program allows you to see the date and time at which poctures were taken. It helps to remember thos nice trips for sure. Thanks for the great post! 😀

  4. I must say, that Bulk Rename Utility sounds absolutely amazing. And free! Even more amazing. I wouldn’t mind paying for something that useful. It’s the perfect solution for the problem. Thank you so much for sharing this info.

    Yes, there are so many family pictures from so many different cameras. I have them in folders here and there on my computer as well as in backup, and they not as organized as I would want them to be. Being able to merge them that easily is impressive. I would certainly be willing to spend the time to learn the program, especially since it works so quickly. That would be time well spent.

  5. Oh, this program sounds good! I’ve been searching for something similar. It would really be a great help, and I see that it can be used to rename music files after their tags too.

  6. Very interesting. I plan on looking into thi sometime soon. I really need to get back into taking pictures. More of a hobby, but still fun.

    I’ll look into this program.

  7. Cool program…though I fail the see what the importance of setting the date and time of each camera so they are identical. Ok, obviously the date should be proper, but if my camera is a few minutes off yours, what does that matter?

    • If you are on vacation and several people are taking photos at the same time in a similar location, it helps to have your date and time sync’d that way the photos when merged will be together in sequence. Certainly off by a few minutes doesn’t matter. However it can be a problem when merging if you are off by an hour or more. Your photos will be out of sequence.

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