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Infobank

Storage and archiving: File numbering and naming

File numbering

It was all so easy with film. You shot your pictures, sent the cassette off for processing, and the film came back with a number in the rebate opposite each frame – 27 or 16A, for example.

Digital is different. Image files are saved in folders on your media card and each file is assigned a number.

 

All EOS digital cameras place the files in a top-level folder with the name DCIM. This is an abbreviation of Digital Camera Images.

 

Open up the DCIM folder and you will find one or more numbered folders that contain the image files.

Up to 100 images can be stored in one folder. Once you reach this limit, the camera will automatically create a new folder.

You might also come across a folder labelled CANONMSC, short for Canon Miscellaneous. Inside, you will find files that end with the .CTG extension. Close this folder and leave it alone. These files contain data that helps with the storage and maintenance of the image files on the CompactFlash card.

Numbering choice

EOS digital cameras offer you a choice of file number systems - continuous or auto reset. Which you choose will depend on how you like to work.

Continuous numbering, as the name suggests, numbers each new image in sequence from 0001 to 9999.

If you remove one CompactFlash card and replace it with another newly formatted card, the sequence will continue.

The advantage of this system is that, until you reach image 9999, every file will have a unique number. This can help avoid problems when you download the images to a folder on your computer, but it might not be ideal for your set-up.

For instance, if you use two EOS non-pro digital cameras, you will obtain matching file names. The safest way to deal with this is by batch renaming.

Auto reset returns you to the start of the number sequence (100 for the folder, 0001 for the file) each time you insert a newly formatted card into the camera. Here, though, you will get duplicate file names every time you change cards. Again, the solution is batch renaming.

If the CompactFlash card you insert into the camera already contains image files, the numbering sequence in both continuous and auto reset modes will continue from the highest file number on the card, rather than continuing the camera sequence.

EOS professional cameras offer a third numbering system called Manual Reset. This allows you to create a new folder on the card when you want it, rather than every 100 images. This can be useful if you want to separate images taken at different times or of different subjects.

If you want to know the folder and file number of the image you have just taken, press the playback button on the back of the camera and, if necessary, the info button. The two numbers will appear in the top right of the LCD screen, along with the image.

File renaming

When you start using a digital camera, the names of the files are probably the last thing on your mind. But it won't be long before you have hundreds of the files downloaded to your computer. You've soon got to think about how you are you going to sort and store them.

There is no one system that will suit every photographer. You need something that can be adapted to the types and number of images you shoot. But the important thing is to get a system under way early, before you suddenly find you have thousands of images that need classifying.

A simple method is to create different folders on your computer for different sets of images. If you have a set of pictures from a recent trip to Athens, you could store them in a folder called 'Athens Aug 2004'. But this still leaves the actual image files with meaningless names like 'IMG.2813.JPG'.

A better solution is to rename the image files 'Athens_Aug_2004.001', 'Athens_Aug_2004.002', and so on. This would be tedious if you had to rename each file manually, but you don't. There are some software options available that will batch rename a group of files.

Canon's Digital Photo Professional software does the job very well. If you use the latest version of Adobe Photoshop, you can write an action that will batch rename files. Several other imaging applications, including BreezeBrowser, also automate the process.

If you are looking for other options, ImageGenius works with most Windows systems and a demo copy can be downloaded from the web. It costs $29.99 to register. Mac OS X users can download a demo copy of EasyBatchPhoto from www.yellowmug.com - this costs just $18 to register.

Batch renaming is only useful where a group of images can all have the same name with a sequential number. Instead of 'Wedding.001', 'Wedding.002', you might want to name the files 'Bride_and_groom.001', 'Bride_and_bridesmaids.002', and so on. If so, your only option is to change each file name manually.

Assigned names

The names assigned to images files vary slightly with different EOS cameras. Here's a guide to what you will see, and what it means.

EOS-1D, 1Ds

XXXX0001.JPG

EOS professional digital cameras use a four-character camera code as the prefix to the file name. This code is unique to the individual camera and is preset by Canon during manufacture. This means that even if you are using two similar cameras, the file names from each will be different.

XXXX0001.TIF

RAW files are saved with the TIF extension. This is a shortened form of TIFF, which stands for Tagged Image File Format.

EOS-1D Mark II, 1Ds Mark II

XXXX0001.JPG _XXX0001.JPG

As with the EOS-1D and 1Ds, the file name starts with a unique four-character factory-set code that identifies the individual camera. The first file name shown above indicates that the image was taken using sRGB colour management. When Adobe RGB is set, the first character becomes an underscore (second file name above). This only applies to JPEG image files.

XXXX0001.CR2

The camera uses the second edition of the Canon RAW file, indicated by the CR2 extension.

EOS-1D Mark II N

XXXX0001.JPG _XXX0001.JPG

XXXX0001.CR2

The file name starts with a four-character code that identifies the individual camera. A default code is set at the factory, but can be customised by the user. The code is alphanumeric. The first file name shown above indicates that the image was taken using sRGB colour management. When Adobe RGB is set, the first character becomes an underscore (second file name above). This only applies to JPEG image files. The camera uses the second edition of the Canon RAW file, indicated by the CR2 extension.

EOS-1D Mark III, 1Ds Mark III, 1D Mark IV, 1D X, 5D Mark III

XXXX0001.JPG _XXX0001.JPG

XXXX0001.CR2

The file name starts with a four-character code that identifies the individual camera. A default code is set at the factory, but can be customised by the user. The code is alphanumeric. The first file name shown above indicates that the image was taken using sRGB colour management. When Adobe RGB is set, the first character becomes an underscore (second file name above). This only applies to JPEG image files. The camera uses the second edition of the Canon RAW file, indicated by the CR2 extension.

XXXL0001.JPG XXXN0001.JPG XXXM0001.JPG XXXS0001.JPG

_XXL0001.JPG _XXN0001.JPG _XXM0001.JPG _XXS0001.JPG

A second setting is available which shows the image quality captured in JPG mode. In this setting, the fourth character is automatically changed. L = Large, M = Medium1, N = Medium2, S = Small.

EOS 10D, 300D, D30, D60

IMG_0001.JPG

IMG is short for image, and it is followed by the four digit file number. This means that the highest file number is 9999. JPG is the shortened form of JPEG and shows that image has been saved with JPEG compression.

CRW_0001.CRW

CRW is short for Canon RAW and is used here both as the description (prefix) and the file extension (suffix). This is the file name you will see when shooting with the RAW quality setting.

EOS 5D, 5D Mark II, 20D, 30D, 40D, 50D, 60D, 350D, 400D, 450D, 500D, 550D, 600D 1000D, 1100D

IMG_0001.JPG _MG_0001.JPEG

These are the file name styles for JPEG images shot with sRGB colour management (left) and Adobe RGB (right).

IMG_0001.CR2 _MG_0001.CR2

The camera also uses Canon RAW file second edition and the file name indicates sRGB (left) or Adobe RGB (right).

Other files

CRW_0001.THM CR2_0001.THM

When you shoot a RAW image, the camera also creates a very small file that produces the image you see on the screen on the back of the camera (it would take far too long for the RAW file to display). The small image is called a thumbnail, which is abbreviated to THM.

5F9Z0001.WAV

Some cameras have a built-in microphone and can record up to 30 seconds of commentary to be attached to each image. The sound is stored as a WAV (waveform audio) file.

MVI_0000.THM

The EOS 5D Mark II shoots movies. These movies have a thumbnail associated with them that can be displayed as a static image. This has a .THM extension.

MVI_0000.MOV

.MOV files are movie files from the EOS 5D Mark II.