Sometime I see photos on the Internet where some number inscripted, like on the image below. I would say that it's a day/month/year, but I doubt, particularly about the last one, because photos I saw unlikely from the year denoted by the number.
(Also not sure if it's used on digital or film photos?)

enter image description here

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Probably the year, 1998. AFAIK i saw somewhere else this way for year \$\endgroup\$ Dec 4, 2020 at 16:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ There were digital cameras in 1998, just not very many interchangeable lens digital cameras (but there were a few of those, too, if you had the dough). \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Dec 4, 2020 at 18:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ That looks like a film photo. Some electronic film cameras had data backs that could optionally imprint a few digits-worth of information, practically always by using red LEDs, in a corner of each frame. Most often the "data" would be the date and/or time, but there may have been other possibilities. Data backs were add-on options to some SLR systems, and they were a standard feature on a few "point-n-shoot" pocket cameras. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 4, 2020 at 19:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SolomonSlow Inexpensive point and shoot film cameras of the 1990’s had an option to write date and time onto the exposure. It was a very common and ordinary feature of consumer compact cameras by the mid 1990’s because there was so little marginal cost . \$\endgroup\$ Dec 5, 2020 at 14:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is a very good explanatory video: How a film camera superimposes the date onto photos \$\endgroup\$
    – osullic
    Dec 5, 2020 at 15:16

2 Answers 2


It is day/month/year.

It is not uncommon though for the date to be incorrectly set in camera (even today, a shocking number of images are shot in 1970 as 1970-01-01T00:00:00 is the epoch of the time system most computers use). Some cameras will reset to a more recent date by default, but the same problem exists.

The date shown in your example is 26 June, 1998.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Interesting, why would manufacturer allow to set date earlier than a camera was made? \$\endgroup\$
    – R S
    Dec 4, 2020 at 17:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ Unix time, also called Epoch time or UTC, is an integer that starts from 1 & goes to … a lot, depending on which version is used. 1 == 1Jan1970 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unix_time For different reasons, things made by Apple like to set 'unknown' dates to 24Jan 1984 (the date of the first ever Mac) Different operators use different base dates for different reasons, but they're all based on UTC. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 4, 2020 at 17:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Other systems use 30 December, 1899. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Dec 4, 2020 at 18:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @RS From a manufacturing point of view adding the requirement to ensure that the date function in the camera can't be set before the camera's date of manufacture means that the software injected into the camera has to be aware of the date of insertion. This adds unneeded complexity that would significantly increase the component cost of the camera and for little (if any) end user benefit. \$\endgroup\$
    – Peter M
    Dec 4, 2020 at 18:42

The meaning is camera dependent, and even setting dependent. My Nikon 8008 film camera I could choose

  • YY DD MM
  • MM DD YY
  • DD MM YY
  • DD HH:MM

and I think a few others. (Frame number on the current roll? 24hr time?) It got confusing enough, as I used different ones at different times, that I would scrawl the format on a sheet of paper and start a project with a snap of that sheet of paper.

In your case it looks like Day month year.


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