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I took a bunch of pictures, and when I loaded them onto my PC, I discovered the time on my camera was set incorrectly. Now this normally wouldn't be a problem...but I am combining pictures from multiple cameras, and I would like the have the photos sorted chronologically, which is not possible since the timestamps are off on one set of images.

What's a good/easy way to mass adjust the timestamps stored in an image, without affecting any of the other EXIF data or the image data itself? Bonus points if the tool can also adjust the file's timestamp to match the EXIF timestamp, but that's not required.

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Excellet question - I've had exactly this problem: I was shooting a wedding, and one camera was adjusted for daylight savings, while the other wasn't. doh! –  AJ Finch Aug 27 '10 at 10:09

5 Answers 5

ExifTool can do that for you.

Example from the linked page:

exiftool -AllDates-=1 DIR

This would set all date fields in image in the directory DIR back one hour.

ExifTool is very powerful when it comes to manipulating meta data in images. I would recommend to practice on copies of the files to get the command to do what you want, before unleashing it on your original files (that you, of course, will have a backup copy of somewhere).

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The nice thing about this tool is it lets you mass adjust by offsets...thats really handy. Compared to other tools, which can bulk "set" a datetime, but not adjust by an offset. If your camera regularly shifts time stamps by 7 hours, for example, this tool would be able to fix all timestamps in one fell swoop! –  jrista Aug 26 '10 at 1:28
    
@jrista My two answers both let you adjust by offset –  davr Aug 26 '10 at 18:08
    
@davr: I saw your EXIF Date Changer tool one. The upvote on it is mine. ;) That tool basically offers the same benefit. I guess the Picasa one works that way too...however their approach is really convoluted and confusing..I don't think most people would understand how to use the "adjust by" option. –  jrista Aug 26 '10 at 18:12
up vote 4 down vote accepted

I've used EXIF Date Changer in the past, and it's worked pretty well. It's got a GUI so you don't have to fiddle about with reading man pages and learning command line arguments. Only (very minor) downside is it can't modify images in place, it needs to make a copy when modifying, so it doesn't affect the originals.

The hardest part really is trying to determine the exact time offset of the pictures after the fact. You have to find something that was captured by two different cameras, or hope someone took a picture of a clock/watch/etc.

EXIF Date Changer Screenshot

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If you use Picasa to manage your photos, it has a basic option for fixing times on photos. I haven't used it to know if it affects EXIF, file timestamps or both, but it's there. Select the images you want to fix, then click Tools -> Adjust Date And Time...

picasa adjust date screenshot

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To clarify: yes, it works with multiple images (adjust by the same amount). Yes, it affects (some) file metadata: it affects "Date taken" and "Date created", but leaves "Date modified" to the original date. (How I know: see its Properties in Windows Explorer, the Details tab.) –  Evgeni Sergeev Aug 17 '13 at 12:40

You could also try the excellent and seemingly little known Microsoft Pro Photo Tools. Free and allows you to mess around with all sorts of meta data. I mainly use it for copying GPS data: I take a photo on my iPhone (which geotags it), when I take pictures with my 50D, and then copy the iPhone GPS data to the 50D pics later. Works with RAW too.

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Right on with the little known...I've never heard of it. –  davr Aug 26 '10 at 18:10

Since I do a lot of geotagging of photos and also use multiple cameras on many occasions, I have really liked the Lightroom's Edit Capture Time. See: http://blogs.oreilly.com/lightroom/2007/10/adjusting-your-photos-capture-1.html

Mostly my work flow with capture time goes as following:

  1. Start up GPS and switch the screen to show current time with seconds
  2. Take photo of the GPS screen with every camera
  3. Take photos... and more.. and more..
  4. Download photos to computer
  5. In Lightroom, select photos from one camera, select photo of the GPS clock, edit capture time to all photos.
  6. Repeat 5. for all different cameras
  7. Geotag all photos from GPS's track log
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That's a good process...but if you're disciplined enough to go to the trouble of starting up the GPS and taking a picture of the GPS, seems like just setting the time on the camera in the first place would solve the problem :) –  davr Aug 26 '10 at 18:09
    
Seriously: I have lightroom, I had this problem, and I didn't know about this? Fail! ;-s Thanks for this tip - my favourite so far from this site! –  AJ Finch Aug 27 '10 at 10:11
    
My DSLR's clock drift a lot. Timezone changes two times a year. So the in-camera clocks are always minutes or hours off. And I want 1 second position accuracy. This hastle would be much more easier if for example Lightroom could always set the camera clock to correct time when connected to camera. –  oherrala Aug 30 '10 at 4:16

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