Capture Time for Analog

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Today’s Question: I am about to embark on a project to copy about 10K slides with my 5D Mark IV. These slides range from the 1950s to 2006. Since the RAW files will have the digital capture date, should I change the digital capture date in Lightroom after import to the date the slide was actually captured or should I use some other metadata field to record the actual slide capture date and leave the digital capture date alone?

Tim’s Quick Answer: I do think it is a good practice to set the capture date for analog images to a date as close as possible to the original date of capture. In the case of photographing slides, I actually recommend changing the date on the camera, rather than saving that step for after importing the photos into Lightroom.

More Detail: Capture time is obviously useful for locating images, and for referencing when a photo was captured. For analog images that are scanned or photographed, the capture time in metadata will obviously be wrong in terms of when the source image was captured. I think it can be very helpful to update the capture time for those images to a value that is as close as possible to when the source image was actually captured.

Obviously in many cases it may be difficult or impossible to determine when a specific image was captured. I recommend developing a system in advance so you can best manage this issue. For example, you might always set the date to the earliest (or latest) date you believe matches the date of capture. You could also use the month and day values to help identify that the date is not necessarily known precisely. For example, you could use January 1st as the date for any photo where the year is not known precisely.

You could even use the time to represent specific situations about your knowledge (or lack thereof) of the date of capture. And, of course, other metadata fields could be updated with notes indicating what you know about the original capture.

As noted above, I do think it is generally easier to set the camera to the date you want to establish for the image. This will help streamline your overall workflow and help you keep the images more organized. But of course it is also possible to use the “Edit Capture Time” command in Lightroom to adjust the date and time later in your workflow.