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Canon EOS 5D Mark III: File Name Customization and Other Features That Make Sense

My EF8-15mm f/4 Tele Fisheye attached to the EOS 5D Mark III loaner gives the camera a sexier look than the 50mm f/1.4 or EF24-105mm typically used in Canon ads. Two days of handling the new body I must say this: the grip is much nicer to hold compared to the Mark II. So much so that it makes you think if you want to spend a few hundred dollars for the BG-E11 Grip which features a multicontroller and a multifunction (M.Fn) button for those who need them.
The image counter on previous 5D models including the Mark II were limited to just 3 digits. This can be quite annoying when you have a large capacity flash card and all the camera ever shows is 999. On the 5D Mark III this is expanded to four digits. Currently display is limited to a strange 1,999. I guess this is a easy firmware fix should Canon decide it’s needed.

OK here’s the reason I wrote this post — File names you can finally change. It seems more and more of EOS 1 exclusivity ported to the 5 series and that’s a good thing. How so? If you currently work with two 5D Mark II bodies like I do, two bodies with identical file naming convention is a sorting disaster waiting to happen. In the 8 years I’ve been shooting Canon cameras, I’ve lost count the number of times my images from two bodies conflicted and the inconvenience it caused resulting in increased workflow in order not to mess up the shooting sequence. I copy all images into one large pool before sorting them by Date and Time (using BreezeBrowser’s unique filters). Working with an associate who shoots with Nikon cameras I know they have had this basic capability for a long time. In any case, kudos to Canon for this very useful improvement.

[ Read pages 152 – 153 of manual for more info. ]

10 thoughts on “Canon EOS 5D Mark III: File Name Customization and Other Features That Make Sense

  1. The customisable file name is indeed a very handy feature. I have had hours of trouble trying to separate files from two Canon cameras, one of them a point-and-shoot compact.

    About the image counter, I doubt it can be made to show more than 1999 with a firmware upgrade. The available symbols on the LCD screen cannot change (this is not a dot-matrix screen that could display any symbol made of dots) and it looks like the first of the four digits is too narrow to be able to display anything except “1”. There is just not enough space between the left bracket and the second digit.


    1. Here’s my workflow when separating the various Canon file names from various cameras including a PowerShot G11. Goes without saying that before a shoot either alone or in a team, the first thing to do is sync the clocks (making sure the date hasn’t been accidentally changed while doing this – it has happened before).

      For people reading this thread and going “huh?” the whole idea of sorting their pictures properly (collectively from 2 or more CF and SD cards) is so the entire pool of images are filtered according to the date and time at which they are taken. Most methods alter the file’s date and times stamp. I found the perfect software to tackle this BreezeBrowser’s unique nondestructive sorting capability (meaning original time and date preserved).

      I have BreezeBrowser rename the set of photos from each camera (can be as simple as appending an alphabet or number to the default file name just to make the set unique). Repeat for the other sets. After this step, you can then pool them all into one folder and use BreezeBrowser again to Rename and Sort them in order of Date and Time. You’ll now get a properly sorted images.


  2. The renaming of files is just a s/w issue – so why hasn’t canon done something about for the hundreds of thousands of pro togs like me who use 4 x 5D II’s?? Having an extra step in the workflow to re-name files is … an extra step! Time costs money and shooting with four cameras over a 16 hour wedding means a lot of memory cards need to filed, renamed and backed up. Far better for Canon to let us rename in camera!



    1. I feel your pain, Andrew, coming from someone who shoots with just 2 x 5D II’s. I work in a Windows 7 environment and at first I thought the file name appendage feature was much welcome feature to help reduce my workflow ie you could copy all images from however number of CF cards into one folder and Win 7 would optionally append “( )” so as to not overwrite any of the duplicates found.

      However, I noticed after some time the timeline of my shots (with both time synced bodies) would not tally up and I think (present tense because I never really put extra effort into confirming my suspicion) when Win 7 renames those duplicate files, the time stamping gets changed and this, as you know, would cause all sorts of problems later on when sorting.

      Sadly, Canon seems to put more effort in keeping EOS 7D line active with recently released firmware and totally ignored their all time best selling full frame flagship body. Sigh!


  3. I’m trying to customize the file naming on my new Mark iii. I get to the very place in your images above and can scroll over the letters and numbers to try to select them but nothing works to actually select them. So if I were trying to add the “A” you’ve got the selector on after “Jan_” what do I do? I think I’ve tried all the obvious choices and hope I’m screwy instead of the camera. thanks much to anyone who has the answer, Joe Oliverio


    1. Hey Joe, this may also be obvious but have you looked at the manual (or has that not helped either)? I only played with this feature while I had the loaner. I had not gone ahead with the purchase the way I had anticipated due to its prohibitive cost.

      I downloaded a copy of the manual in PDF (28MB) and extracted pages 152 – 153 the benefit of your immediate reference (and others who may need this too).


  4. Hi Jan, Thanks for the link. I did look at the tiny print manual but its much easier on my eyes to use the pdf. So it appears I was doing what I was supposed to but the “set” button was not working. I accidentally figured out that hitting the trash can button and deleting the default IMG_ was necessary before I could add new characters. The manual shows a blank space there where new users will be actually be seeing IMG_ instead. I appreciate your quick response. thanks!


    1. Joe: Many thanks! I spent 20 minutes trying to change the file name and was about to give up until I found your post about the necessity of first deleting the IMG. As you pointed out, the manual shows a blank space, but nary a word about the necessity of getting rid of that IMG first.


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