I use one monthly folder. My image counter was about 2300 (after a full loop... when will they use 5 digits?). When inserting my SD card to another Canon and back to mine, the image counter is now about 8000, in a new folder for the same month. Even after deleting the new images, folder, and .CFG file, my camera won't restore to the previous numbering.

What should I do?

I don't want to reformat my huge memory card. The issue in large number jump is the early recycling of image numbers, once copied to my computer. If one thematic folder happened to already host an older image with that number, this image will be destroyed and replaced, which is really bad. Plus, the incorrect ordering. (I already suffered a normal cycling once). I can't change the fact that Canon set none-unique (e.g. date based) or not-long (5-9 digits) numbers, so the only thing I can do is to have numbering progressing slowly. A jump of 5700 over 9900 is clearly not that way.

  • \$\begingroup\$ If you reset the entire camera you can get such result. But after this you should set time, file quality and so on. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 24, 2015 at 11:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not clear on your reluctance to reformat. It should be fast even with a "huge" card. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Dec 25, 2015 at 22:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ because I want to keep the sequence of image numbers to avoid any later colliding image file name on computer side, at least in a temporal window of about 1 year long. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 25, 2015 at 23:00

4 Answers 4


What should I do?

Reconsider your file naming scheme. The only thing you should be depending on the camera to do is put each image in a different file on the card. Expecting it to maintain state for you between cards is unreasonable and will, as you discovered, break in ways you don't want it to.

The EXIF data produced by most cameras provides a number of things you can use to name your files uniquely without regard to how the camera named them on the card. For example, every digital photo I've ever shot (16 years' worth) is stored in a directory tree using the format YYYY/MM/DD/hhmmss-nnn.eee, where the groups of letters are year, month, day, hour, minute, second, copy number and file extension:

YYYY MM DD hhmmss nnn eee
2015/12/20/085138-000.nef  <-- These two frames were shot
2015/12/20/085138-001.nef  <-- during the same second

Everything in the names except the copy number is derived from the image's EXIF information and none of it comes from the name of the file as the camera wrote it to the card. The copy numbers are determined by file uniqueness, so two unique images shot within the same second will have unique names. (It also means that if I import the same picture more than once, it will only ever be stored once.)

Just about everything in the process of copying the files from your card to the directory tree as described above can be done with a single invocation of EXIFTool. The exception is unique file detection, which I do in custom software.

  • \$\begingroup\$ looks interesting ! For linux/ubuntu, is it the package libimage-exiftool-perl (the only with "exiftool I see in synaptic) ? Is it drag&drop based even on linux ? On your example I see that date is not really part of the name (so the isolated files are not unique). is it possible to have also the date in the name ? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 26, 2015 at 17:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @FabriceNEYRET That's probably it. I use Red Hat, where it's perl-Image-ExifTool. EXIFTool is entirely command-line, but it's not hard to master and you can write short shell scripts to automate the import process. The path and file name can be arranged any way you want; I just happen to file mine by day in directories. This page has a few ideas on it that might help you get started: noseyparka.me.uk/2011/10/05/… \$\endgroup\$
    – Blrfl
    Commented Dec 26, 2015 at 17:51

You ask 'What should I do? and I would say that you should... do nothing. Don't worry about it. There's nothing important about the number selected, and no harm in it having jumped to a larger value.

But that said, if you really want the numbering to reset, take a look at the File Numbering option in the menu (see page 191 of your manual). Change it to "Auto Reset", and the next time you format your card, it'll go back to zero. If you then want to continue from there without resetting again, simply put the T back to "Continuous".

I haven't tried it, but I expect that if, once you've reset and then changed back to continuous, if you copy one of your photos with a higher number back to the card and take a shot, it will continue from there.

But, going back to my first point, I think relying on the camera's naming just isn't best practice. You say ". I can't change the fact that Canon set none-unique (e.g. date based) or not-long (5-9 digits) numbers, so the only thing I can do is to have numbering progressing slowly." But actually, there is something you can do: rename the photos as you import them, with a scheme based on the date and time. There are many, many programs that do this. I use ExifTool as part of a script which copies images from my memory cards, but there are many others.

I recommend this because, as you note, 4 digits isn't really that many, and keeping the files with their original short names just seems like a problem waiting to happen someday in the future.

  • \$\begingroup\$ see my Edit above. The problem is on computer side. (I don't seek turnarounds, I seek for solution to that very problem of restoring the sequence to the number it was the day before ;-) ). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 25, 2015 at 18:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ This answer is right, though. You should not rely on an ID being anything other than reset or whatever it is. \$\endgroup\$
    – user31502
    Commented Dec 25, 2015 at 19:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ I know that I need 1 or 2 years to make a complete cycle of numbers, and thus I organized my folders on PC in themes + year (which is already a pain). But with this huge jump it will cycle way to early, which will mess things. More generally, I think it is worth first trying to get solution to the hearth problem then seek for turnaround as a B-plan if there is really no A-plan solutions ;-) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 25, 2015 at 20:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mattdm : this suggest me a solution using a spare card that I can format. thanks ! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 25, 2015 at 23:02

One method I used on my Canon 60D is, if i want to shift the counter to DSC1001.JPEG from any lower or higher current counter:

Take one memory card, Put it into Camera, format, take one photo, put card in laptop card reader, rename the photo to DSC1000.JPEG i.e. one before the desired number, put card back in camera, shoot one photo and it will be DSC1001

  • \$\begingroup\$ My card is 64 Gb so I prefer avoiding transfering - formating - retransfering just for tests if possible. I meant to do what you suggest by deleting all 8xxx images, folders and .cfg files. But obviously there is one bit of information still stored somewhere, and it's likely to be in the camera itself (since my card inherited the current number of the host camera I temporarily inserted it in). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 25, 2015 at 19:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Or... maybe I should reset this number in camera by formating another card, then deleting again the big numbers in mine, then the let my camera find what is the biggest number on my card.... assuming this number is not registered in some secret file somewhere on my card. :-/ Just have now to find some sparse SD card on the small island I stand right now :-) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 25, 2015 at 19:07

Ok, here is a working solution:

  • On the regular SD card, renum & displace (or delete) the images with jumped numbers, delete their abnormal directory, and possibly its corresponding CFG file in CANONMSC.

  • Insert in your camera an unused spared SD card. Set numbering pref to auto-reset in your camera, and format the card. Possibly, take on picture to be sure to reset your camera internal counter. Then re-set the numbering flag to continuous numbering if you wish.

  • Now when you reinsert your regular card, numbering should resume to its normal sequence.

Note that this also suggests, when borrowing someone else camera, to first use it to reformat (the way above) a spare SD card to avoid the problem. And possibly, to do the same thing after your use of the camera, to not scramble you friend sequence on his ordinary SD. (i.e. reseting the internal camera counter again, so that it restart freshly with the highest number found on the next entered card).

(thanks to people here for inspiring discussion !)


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