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Time-Sync Your Cameras

by Jerry Weiner, CEO

When photographers carry around multiple bodies or have a second shooter (or third, fourth, or twelfth), the clocks on those cameras often vary drastically from each other. This later makes sorting the images in chronological order impossible, which, in turn, makes editing very difficult.

Here are some options for syncing your cameras’ clocks which, in turn, results in images that can be easily sorted by capture time.

3-2-1 Now!
Easy, but not terribly precise, this method requires one person for every camera body you are syncing and can be done on-site. Simply open up each camera’s menu and navigate to the clock setup. Prepare each camera to the same time, but don’t confirm the setting until everyone’s ready. Next, tell everyone to confirm the setting (usually just a push of a button) after you count to three. Then, it’s all up to personal reaction times. “3, 2, 1, now!” Everyone confirms at about the same time, and the clocks start counting (roughly) together.

The Computer Hook-up
Using your computer to set the clocks will give you a very precise sync, but it does require a little more setup time. Most digital cameras come with software which can be used to sync the camera’s clock to the computer clock. Consult your camera’s software documentation to find out how, and then sync each camera to the computer one at a time. With this method, each camera will be ticking along perfectly in sync.

One Per Minute
The idea of this method is to set one camera per minute while looking at a master watch. To start, get a clock that shows seconds. Prepare your first camera to match the time on the master watch plus one minute. Then confirm the camera’s clock right when your master watch reaches the new minute. The first camera is now set, and you have one minute (plenty of time) to prepare the next camera in the same fashion. Again, this is not the most precise method, but it should be more than adequate for event photography.

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Comments to: Time-Sync Your Cameras
  • Avatar
    October 11, 2013

    I use a variation of the ‘3-2-1 Now’ method. We all take a photo of something at the same time that I call the sync photo. It is usually of something that would be easy to spot when flipping through thumbnails in Lightroom. Then, after all the images are in Lightroom, I note the capture time of the sync photo from my camera and use Lightroom’s ‘Edit Capture Time’ feature to adjust the capture time of the sync photo from another camera. With all of the other images from that camera body selected, they are also adjusted by the same offset. It is easy to select the images from only one body by filtering on the serial number.
    With this method the synchronization can be done at the end of the event and photographers from different time zones don’t need to changes their camera’s date/time settings.

  • Avatar
    October 11, 2013

    Recently learned my favorite method- bring up the time on your smart phone at dateandtime.com and use the pop up clock to clearly display the time with seconds. Take a picture of the time with each camera. In Lightroom change the time of that image to sync. Exact match!

  • Avatar
    November 11, 2013

    The method I use is by attaching an inexpensive GPS to the camera which is set to sync time automatically with GPS when connected. I don’t shoot weddings but want to keep my primary camera in sync with another used for BTS videos.

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