If you live in the United States (and aren’t fortunate enough to reside in Arizona), you probably set all of your clocks back an hour on Sunday to switch out of daylight saving time. I’ll put aside, for now, the arguments about why the daylight saving time system is outdated and annoying, and just ask you this: did you remember to change the clock on your cameras?
When you first get a new camera, generally the first thing it asks you when you turn it on is to set the clock. In the grand scheme of things, having an inaccurate clock on your cameras won’t really drag you down or ruin your life, but it sure could make things more difficult in the future. Unfortunately, camera clocks don’t update automatically like your cell phones or computers do; you’ll have to do it manually.
Here are a few big reasons why it could be helpful if you get the time right:
1. Recreating Images
If you end up looking back at an image from a year ago, or three, or five, and want to know what the light looked like at a certain location at a certain time of day, it would be really helpful to know that the timestamp in your camera was accurate. Being off by an hour, or worse, could mess up an entire shoot. Even being just a few minutes off could be bad. For nature work, if you look at a timestamp and see that an image was taken five minutes after sunset, when really it was seven minutes before, that could change how you approach another shoot and throw off your images.
2. Keeping Commercial Clients Happy
Your commercial clients, hopefully, have some sort of digital asset management system in place to keep images organized. Having accurate dates and times is incredibly helpful in keeping the system running smoothly, and they might get annoyed with you if you turn in images with inaccurate time stamps. If you turn in images from a paid shoot to a client and the times are off, it just looks unprofessional. Get the details straight, and your clients will appreciate it.
3. Keeping Multiple Camera Operations in Sync
If you’re shooting something with more than one camera body, especially any kind of event or photojournalistic situation, having your cameras’ clocks in sync is essential for knowing the order of events and keeping images in order while you’re editing. It’s pretty easy to get them “close enough” to being in sync: just set up the time on two bodies while looking at a clock that has seconds on it, then hit “OK,” or whatever button is used to set the time on the cameras, simultaneously.
This is especially important if you're shooting an event — a wedding, for example — and you have more than one shooter. Editing images from multiple cameras that aren't in sync is a nightmare for getting the day's timeline straight. Save yourself the headache. Sync your camera's clocks as well as your watches.
4. Don't Forget About Travel
Whether you're on the road or in the air, changing time zones on your camera while traveling will help keep your travel photos accurate as well.
If you don’t know how to set the time on your camera, just wander around the settings menu and you’ll probably find it. If you must, look it up in the manual.
Luckily, as long as you remember to check the camera when you’re checking your other clocks, it should always be accurate. If you live in a place that doesn’t observe daylight saving time, it might be good to put a reminder on your calendar once a year or so just to check and make sure everything is in sync. You never know when you may suddenly need an accurate timestamp. And if you forget to do it and need to adjust the time on your images in postproduction, you can do that in Lightroom.
Bonus tip: whenever I change my cameras’ clocks, twice a year, I also check to make sure I haven’t missed any firmware updates. It’s a great habit to be in.
Have any of you run into trouble by not having a camera's time set correctly, or been really happy that you did? I'd love to hear stories below.
Lead image by Pixabay via Pexels.