Saturday, March 1, 2008
Gadget Bag: Path Finders
All-in-one watches that do more than tell time for photographersThis Article Features Photo Zoom
As we go farther into the wilderness for our photography, some tools have become an integral part of our sense of direction and help us to survive and calculate any sort of conditions or odds that may rear their ugly heads. As technology consolidates these tools, such as GPS units, altimeters, thermometers and compasses, into one highly functional device, the easier it’s becoming to get off the beaten path to find a one-of-a-kind shot. And as expedition and outdoor technology converge, we’re seeing a surge in small, lightweight, high-tech watches that can make our photography more productive in the field.
If you're the adventurous type of outdoor photographer who likes to wander into uncharted territory, a GPS unit will be indispensable in keeping you aware of your surroundings and headed in the right direction. Some of the first GPS watches produced for the market a few years ago were bulky navigational devices that bore no resemblance to a wristwatch, but as the form factor has been shaved and redesigned to resemble a more traditional-looking timepiece, the technology is getting better, too.
An ideal tool for outdoor photographers, these all-in-one watches provide data in any sort of inclement weather or elements. They enable us to better predict and track our movements and help us get shots that may be impossible
to get any other way.
One of the most refined and feature-rich wrist-top computer/watch systems with GPS navigation is the Suunto X9i. It’s more like a tiny computer you wear like a watch, with PC software that records and stores data. With the X9i, you can plan and visualize routes you want to take with your computer because the watch links up via a USB cable to power itself; it works with software like National Geographic’s TOPO! and Google Earth, which lets you draw your own trails and create your own hikes with waypoints (a set of coordinates, latitude and longitude, that describe an exact geographic location). You can set up waypoints that give directions, the distance you’ve traveled and how far you have until your destination. Other features include an altimeter that tracks elevation, a barometer that tells the temperature, a watch with dual time and a calendar. Estimated Street Price: $499.
All of these GPS-enabled wristwatches track your routes and store them as data that can later be analyzed on a computer via a USB connection. You can mark where you’ve taken a great shot and navigate back there to shoot again.
Page 1 of 2
Get 11 Issues of Outdoor Photographer for only $14.97!
That's 77% off the cover price!