Unique Filenames with Multiple Cameras


Today’s Question: When I photograph sporting events, I always have two or three camera bodies being used. The problem I have is when I import all the photos into Lightroom Classic there are always duplicated numbers because with each card the file number starts with the number 0001 as per my import preset. The only way I am able to get around this is to rename all the photos after import so there will be no duplicate filenames. I am hoping that there is a way upon import that this process can be simplified to save me valuable time.

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can solve this issue by altering your file renaming template, such as by adding the camera serial number to the filenames or by altering your approach to using the Start Number value for the sequence number for the filenames.

More Detail: Whether or not you’re actually renaming photos during import into Lightroom Classic, it is possible that you’ll have issues with potential duplicate filenames. If there are duplicate filenames in the folder you’re importing to Lightroom Classic will automatically add a parenthetical number at the end of the filename, but this certainly isn’t an ideal solution.

Instead, I recommend one of two types of changes to how you approach renaming photos during import.

The first example in this case would be to add an element to the filename that is unique for each camera. An obvious choice would be the serial number of the camera. You could therefore modify the file renaming template to include a value such as the camera serial number. This would help ensure that you have unique filenames that make sense in your overall workflow.

Another approach would be to change how you define the start number for the sequence number included in your file renaming template. When including a sequence number in a file renaming template you can choose to have up to five digits in that sequence number. You could then use an approach where you assign a single digit number to each camera body, and then use that number as the first digit of the sequence number.

That would mean that on the first import from the first camera for a given event you would set the sequence number to 10001, and for the second camera you would use 20001. For subsequent imports you would simply need to update the sequence number to the next value, so that if you had for example imported 500 images on the first import the sequence number for the second import could be set to 10501.