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How to sort scanned photos by date in Lightroom

Alan Harper

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Joined
Sep 27, 2016
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Hi

I just spent some time trying to figure out why my scanned photos don't sort by date, and I think I understand it more or less. I searched through this forum to see if this question had been answered before, and I don't think so, although obviously many people understand the issue already.

There are two data fields that store the time that a photo was recorded, as opposed to the time that the digital image was created. These are the IPTC "DateCreated" field and the EXIF "DateTimeOriginal" field.

If you use the "IPTC" metadata panel in Lightroom, you will see a "Date Created" field under IPTC:Image. You can type into this field a date, which should be the date that the image was created (photographed, not scanned). Unfortunately, while you can change this date easily, it doesn't affect how Lightroom sorts and categorizes your images.

If you then bring up the "Edit Capture Time" dialog, you will see the time you just entered as the capture time. If you hit "Change" without changing the data in the dialog, then suddenly the image will sort correctly.

Why is this? It seems that Lightroom sorts by the EXIF "Date Time Original" field if it exists, and by the "Date Time Digitized" if it does not, and ignores the "Date Created" field. When you use the "Edit Capture Time" dialog, the "Date Created" is used as a suggestion for the new value of "Date Time Original", which is then written into the file when the dialog is dismissed.

So the answer is to either
(1) Use the "Edit Capture Time" dialog, which will set both these fields to the same value
(2) Type values into the "Date Time Original" field and then synchronize this data to "Date Time Original" using exiftool (exiftool "-DateTimeOriginal<DateTimeCreated" *.*)
(3) Do the first half of (2), and then get John Beardy's "Capture Time to Exif plugin" to copy the fields.

I don't have this plugin yet, so I can't vouch for it, but I it appears to do exactly what you need here, and many other things as well.

If this is well-known behavior of Lightroom, and I am stating the obvious, just let me know and I'll delete this post.
 

Alan Harper

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Sep 27, 2016
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I know it is bad etiquette to follow up one's own post, but, just as a head's up to anyone else who is trying to get these various date fields correct for some scanned slides, here is my experience.

I had a bunch of scanned slides (I have now processed about 500 of them), in which the IPTC Date Created field was correct, but the EXIF "Date Time Original" was missing. As mentioned in the original post, these images sorted in Lightroom by the EXIF "Date Time Digitized" field, which is not useful to me.

So I used the "Capture Time to Exif plugin" to run exiftool with the option "-DateTimeOriginal<DateTimeCreated" on these 500 photos. This step took about 30 minutes.

I then read the metadata from these files in Lightroom ("Metadata:Read Metadata from Files") command. This took about 3 hours for 500 photos.

After doing this, I found that some photos still did not sort correctly. While I was trying to figure out why they were not sorting correctly, I noticed that the number of photos that sorted incorrectly was slowly decreasing. It turns out that Lightroom has to "discover" the changed date and apply it, even after reading the metadata from the file. In my case the dates were updated at a rate of about 7 photos/minute, so this step took about 40 minutes.

I have seen many rants about how slow Lightroom is. But really, 5 hours to update one field in the metadata of 500 photos and have it recognized in Lightroom? This is the only database I know of where its speed can be measured as "up to one transaction per minute." And this is on a very fast computer (4 GHz Intel Core i7 with 32 GB of RAM and a RAID 5 disk).
 
Joined
Sep 29, 2007
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Southampton, UK
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Oh wow, that's horribly slow. Something definitely seems off there.

Have you optimized the catalog recently? Where's the catalog stored? And what connection is that RAID 5 disk?
 

rob211

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Joined
Mar 17, 2014
Messages
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Location
Walnut Creek, CA USA
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Yeah, I've gone down that path with dates as well. Lr does some date-foo in the background to find a suitable date from the many choices to prioritize sorting and such, but when I've used the same plugin I don't think it took long at all; I think I might have noticed even though it may have only been with maybe 100 files at a time. But maybe it's file type. Exif is kinda different than IPTC in that it's written into a RAW itself, so if the RAWs were big and Lr had to write anew say 500x36MB I could see it slowing down. But that's a WAG...
 
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