It is easy to organise the pictures you shoot with your Lumix camera when you use the custom folder and file naming facility.
The Lumix folder and file name customisation facility is especially useful for trips away when you are visiting different places. Instead of coming back with a pile of images with meaningless names in numbered folders we can take control of where images go and what they are called.
This feature is useful for a wide range of occasions, but it’s especially helpful when we’re away. I find being organised quite difficult and consequently my image archive isn’t especially easy to navigate. The file numbers that cameras produce tend to show only the sequence in which they were shot, and if you shoot only in raw format many browsers won’t be able to show you what places, people, things or occasions those files relate to. It is useful then if we can create folders with names that reflect where we took the pictures, and file names that have meaning too.
The system is good for any type of subject – landscapes, product shots or portraits – where you want to include some additional clues to the content of the folder or the pictures in it.
Deciding your naming convention
As we can name both files and folders via the camera we have some flexibility around the way we work. For example, if we are going to London for the day it might be enough to have a general folder with images named to reflect that we were in London. So, folder 104_PANA with images named P_LN6737.RW2 etc would work. We might instead make a folder called 104_LOND and just use the normal file numbering convention where the file name is linked to the folder name – such as P1046737.RW2.
If we are on a longer trip, to Italy for example, and we will be visiting a number a places we can set up a folder system to allow images from each location to go into individual folders. So, for our Italy trip we might set up folders for Pisa, Rome and Venice and use the same file naming system for all the images we shoot on the trip that marks them all out as having been taken in Italy.
Which way you use this flexibility is up to you and will depend on the occasion and how you like to work. Below are some suggestions around different ways to set up these systems.
Creating a custom folder
Custom folders can be created in the Settings (the spanner icon) menu using ‘Folder/File Settings’. Selecting this item takes us into a second menu, which shows us the folder currently in use as well as an option called Create a New Folder. When we select the Create a New Folder option the camera offers to create a new folder with a sequential naming scheme – so if the current folder is 104_PANA the new folder will be 105_PANA. Instead, we can select Change rather than OK, which then allows us to name the folder in a more meaningful way.
The customisable part of folder names can only be five characters long, and the default suggestion displayed when we select Change will be _PANA. If you want to create your own folder name you need to delete the suggested name by pressing Delete on the screen until all the letters are gone. The only part of the name we can change is the _PANA bit, so the number sequence will always be tagged on the front. If you change _PANA to ITALY the folder will be show up in your browser as 105ITALY. For readability you might choose to keep the underscore ( _ ) and just make use of the other four characters – for example 105_ITLY.
Custom file names
Lumix cameras use up to four characters followed by four numbers for their file names. We can’t change the last four numbers but we can alter three of the four characters at the beginning – though the first letter will always be P. Again, we need to think about how we will use these characters to make sense later, which may include using an underscore to separate the P from the letters we add. So, images taken in London for example could be named PLDN6737.RW2 or P_LN6737.RW2. If you are in Pisa though you can use that fixed P more creatively – such as PISA6737.RW2, but not everywhere begins with a P.
To change the file name structure we use the Folder/File Settings menu again, and select the third option File Name Setting. The first option in this menu allows us to link the file name to the folder name, so a folder named P105 gives us files that begin P105 – P1056737.RW2 for example. Selecting User Setting allows us to change the second, third and fourth characters, and we begin by deleting the default offerings in the text box. Starting with an underscore ( _ ) allows some space between the fixed P and your own letters or numbers, but it reduces our input to just two additional characters.
The customised file name beginning will appear ahead of raw, JPEG and movie files, and so will identify all images taken with the camera on that occasion.
It doesn’t take very long to create a custom folder, but if you want to plan ahead you can create all the folders you will need for a trip before you go. Then, as you travel between places you just need to select the folder you want to use in the Select Folder menu. File names however, have to be created right before you start using them, but it will save time if you decide before hand what file names you want to use and how you want to shorten the place names to make sense.
Although it is easy to create custom folders using the camera’s own menu and typing interface it is also possible to create folders on the card using your computer. You need to maintain the number and character naming convention otherwise the camera won’t recognise the folder. You can use lower case letters, but the camera will show them as upper case, but if you use too many characters and/or too many numbers the folder simply won’t show up in the camera’s menu and you won’t be able to select it as a destination for your pictures.
The folders you create using the camera are stored on the memory card. Yes, the memory card – not in the camera. If you take the card out, the folders will disappear from the camera’s selection menu.
Custom file names will be retained when cards are swopped in and out, as they are a function of the camera, but folders will not. The last folder you created using the camera will be suggested when a new card is used, but any other folder names created before that one won’t be.
I know that’s obvious if you think about it…but we don’t always.