Here at PWD we edit a lot of events, and one of the most troublesome issues we run into is that of having multiple un-synced cameras shooting an event. Whether photographers carry around multiple bodies or have a second shooter (or third, fourth, or twelfth), the clocks on those cameras often vary drastically from each other. This makes sorting the images in chronological order impossible, which, in turn, makes editing very difficult.
To make things easier on everyone, we always recommend syncing your cameras’ clocks. This lets us sort all the images by their time stamps and get straight into the editing. So how do you time-sync cameras? There are a few methods.
Easy, but not terribly precise, this method requires one person for every camera body you are syncing and can be done on-site. Simply open up each camera’s menu and navigate to the clock setup. Prepare each camera to the same time, but don’t confirm the setting until everyone’s ready. Next, tell everyone to confirm the setting (usually just a push of a button) after you count to three. Then, it’s all up to personal reaction times. “3, 2, 1, now!” Everyone confirms at about the same time, and the clocks start counting (roughly) together.
The Computer Hook-up
Using your computer to set the clocks will give you a very precise sync, but it does require a little more setup time. Most digital cameras come with software which can be used to sync the camera’s clock to the computer clock. Consult your camera’s software documentation to find out how, and then sync each camera to the computer one at a time. With this method, each camera will be ticking along perfectly in sync.
One Per Minute
I don’t recommend this last one if you have more than three cameras because it can be a bit more time consuming. The idea of this method is to set one camera per minute while looking at a master watch. To start, get a clock or watch that shows seconds. Prepare your first camera to match the time on the master watch plus one minute. Then confirm the camera’s clock right when your master watch reaches the new minute. The first camera is now set, and you have one minute (plenty of time) to prepare the next camera in the same fashion. Again, this is not the most precise method, but it should be more than adequate for event photography.
There you go. Just choose the method that works best for you, and post-production will be that much easier. Do you have another way you sync your cameras? Let us know in the comments section below.
Shameless Plug: If you’d rather not worry about things like this, PWD Labs offers a complete array of post-event image services which can remove the post-production burden from you, the photographer. Just send us your out-of-camera images, we’ll edit and process them to your standards, and we’ll return the processed images to you. It’s that simple.