Geotagging

Use your GPS as a comprehensive location scout and to share images with others

Garmin Oregon 550t; DeLorme Earthmate PN-60; Magellan eXplorist 710

You don't need a camera with a built-in GPS to geotag your images although such devices make it simpler since they do it automatically as you shoot. You can get a separate geotagging GPS unit that connects to your camera, which also automatically geotags each photo as you shoot (but you must connect the separate unit to your camera in a manner that provides it with access to the GPS satellites overhead). You can use special geotagging software and a handheld GPS unit: Sync the camera's clock with the GPS unit's clock, then the software can tag the images (in your computer) based on the GPS-logged positions at each image's time of recording. You even can geotag images manually using any GPS unit: Just photograph the GPS unit's display right after you take a photo to record the location data, then enter the data into the image's EXIF metadata at your computer (this is certainly the most labor-intensive method of geotagging images).

Once you've geotagged images, you can use that data to search for images shot in a given location and look up exactly where a given shot was made. You also can plot your images on maps, showing exactly where each image was made. Once you've made your photo map, you can print it, email it, post it on your website or share it via a social-networking site such as Twitter or Facebook.

Photo-sharing sites like Flickr (www.flickr.com), Picasa (picasa.google.com) and Panoramio (www.panoramio.com) provide simple means to plot your images on a map—with or without GPS data. With Picasa, for example, you click on your image, click "Places," search for the location by name or latitude/longitude, zoom in to find the exact spot, then click there to place the image. Picasa even will tag the mapped images for you, adding latitude and longitude to the image's EXIF metadata.

Hikers often use EveryTrail (www.everytrail.com) to produce maps showing the routes of their hikes, with photos taken along the way keyed to positions on the map. This also can be useful to plot any outdoor photo excursion. Viewers can click on the thumbnails along the route to see large versions of each image. You can use a GPS unit with your digital camera or photos taken with a smartphone. If you use a GPS, download the trip's .gpx file from the GPS, and EveryTrail will create your map instantly. If you use a smartphone's camera, the EveryTrail app automatically plots your images to your map. EveryTrail is free, but requires you to sign up on their website. You can import photos from Flickr or Picasa, and they will be plotted on your map based on their timestamp, and you also can choose "Download your trip to Google Earth" to see your trip on 3D terrain.

ACME Mapper (mapper.acme.com) uses Google Maps and geotag data to plot your photos on satellite, terrain or topo maps. You even can use it to measure distances between plotted points on your map.

Examples Of GPS Units For Geotagging
DeLorme Earthmate PN-60 GPS and Topo North America mapping software (delorme.com): The Topo North America software can tag images with data recorded by the PN-60 GPS unit based on the times the images were shot and the times on the GPS track log.


Garmin Oregon 550t (www.garmin.com): This GPS unit comes with a built-in, 3.2-megapixel digital camera and automatically geotags images. The device has 85 MB of internal memory for photos and accepts microSD memory cards.

Magellan eXplorist 710 United States (www.magellangps.com): This rugged, waterproof GPS unit has a built-in, 3.2-megapixel digital camera and automatically tags photos as you shoot. The unit has 3 GB of internal memory and accepts microSD cards.

Examples Of Geotaggers
Unlike GPS units that have displays on which you can see data in the field, geotaggers just record the data; they don't display it.

Nikon GP-1 (www.nikonusa.com): Attach this geotagger to a compatible Nikon DSLR (most recent ones are compatible), and it automatically geotags your images as you shoot them. Data includes latitude, longitude and altitude.

Red Hen Blue2CAN (www.redhensystems.com): Like the Nikon GP-1 (and compatible with select Nikon DSLRs), the Blue2CAN geotagger tags images as you shoot with latitude, longitude and altitude. It's a two-piece product, with one piece that connects to the camera's 10-pin connector and another that you position so it has line-of-sight to GPS satellites. The second unit transmits data wirelessly to the camera-mounted piece via Bluetooth.

JOBO photoGPS2 (jobo.com): This shoe-mount geotagger records location data as you shoot, but doesn't attach it to the images. That's done in-computer via provided software and an Internet connection to the photoGPS web server.

Sony GPS-CS3KA (www.sonystyle.com): This geotagger saves the GPS data to a Memory Stick or an SD card. You then transfer your photos and the GPS data to your computer, and the provided image-tracker software links the data to the photos.

i-gotU GT-120 Travel & Sports Logger (www.i-gotu.com): This water-resistant geotagger logs location data, then you use the supplied software to sync it with the photos and tag the images.

27 Comments

    Just visit metagps’s website and seems its M2 is still not available and happen to see another one http://www.e-geotag.com which called Easytagger GPS and feel more competitive. It adds a logger inside besides record gps information simutaniously. Also it supports heading too.

    You don’t need Mapsource to get GPX files from your new Garmin GPS units. There is an option in the setup menu to use your GPS as a USB mass storage device. located there is a list of GPX files from every day you turned on your unit. every track log ever recorded boy your GPS is conveniently stored in GPX format.

    To deal with this problem ( I have a Canon, so can’t plug my GPS into my camera ), I’ve written a piece of software ( Exif Harvester ), which now provides geo-tagging support. It would really have been easier for me to simply use something else on the market, but anyone who builds software for a living seems prone to reinventing the wheel from time to time. 😀 Plus, it was a good learning experience.

    You didn’t mention this specifically in your article, but I do think outdoor photographers are wise to carry a hand-held GPS unit, with maps and a compass. While these things don’t work in all situations, maps fall out of date, and batteries die, the devices can be wonderfully helpful. Especially for people who hike in the snow, or other situations where it can be easy to lose the trail. There are units that perform only as data loggers, which work well enough for geo-tagging purposes, but if you ever find yourself “turned around,” they aren’t much help.

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    Hi friends, I just finish of develop http://www.whereisthepicture.com and i think that maybe can be interesting for you.

    You can upload a picture with gps information, like photos from iphone, smartphones, etc and then the system show you de position where was maked the picture.

    At the moment is only a version beta, but I hope you enjoy it!

    Regards,

    Paco Fernandez

    Another option (for those who have smart phones) is to get a geotagging app. I bought the Phototrip app for $0.99 for my iPhone and used it on a trip to Europe. I made sure my Canon DSLR and the iPhone were synched to the same time, then set the app to create a “waypoint” every 10 minutes – and in some cases I added a specific waypoint for a special location. When I got home, I used Breezesys’s Downloader Pro which merged the GPS information downloaded from the iPhone and the raw images from my CF cards. I used Downloader Pro because I already owned it, but I believe the freeware tool Geosetter will also add the GPS information (and there are probably others as well).

    Now all of my trip’s photos are geotagged for much less cost than buying a separate GPS unit.

    For around $90.00 on Amazon you can get an Eye-Fi Pro 8GB, Class 6 SDHC Wi-Fi Card, with a lifetime geotagging chip, and a free downloadable Droid App that allows you to send your pics wireless from any Wi-Fi hotspot to your laptop, or online picture storage. No more running out of space, no GPS gadgets to buy, lose from the hotshoe, or software to buy and find out that your OS is not compatible. I think I like this better; tried some of the other methods and they … aren’t optimal to be polite.

    Most geotagging applications work only with jpg files. I carry a QStarz gps with me to record my track but then have a laborious process to follow if I wish to geotag the raw files that I take with my Sony A900. Even the Sony gps will not geotag raw files.

    The AMOD device hangs from your belt – does not have to be attached to the camera, taking up space and possibly the flash shoe.
    HoudahGeo (for Mac) links the GPS info (from the AMOD) to the camera files (RAW and JPEG).

    For a couple years we’ve been using Photolinker for Mac. As the article mentions, sync time on your camera and GPS units, then your first step upon transferring images to computer is running GPX and image files through Photolinker. Images will all be geotagged for use in desktop and web apps, it’s awesome! Now I know EXACTLY where I took that particular polar bear image! http://www.earlyinnovations.com/photolinker/

    I use my iPhone as a GPS data logger. The big advantage is that it uses GPS outdoors and automatically switches to WPS (WiFi based position like the EyeFi) when indoors.
    I’m a Mac user, so the latest release of iPhoto with the Places functionality makes it very easy to organize my photos based on location.
    The iPhone app I use for geologging is GeoLogTag. It’s easy to use and accuracy is very good.

    http://www.galarina.eu/GeoLogTag/News/News.html

    After using several different software packages for geotagging, I went for Geosetter (http://www.geosetter.de/en/). I found it superior to everything else out there, on the market. What I REALLY want, is like what Nikon has, but for Canons. The ability to just plug in a GPS unit, and auto-log the coordinates when you take the picture. Better yet, add a small compass to it, so it shows location, AND direction. I know my android G1 has the above capabilities. I like MS programs, and I keep meaning to check out the Pro Photo tools again. When I last tried them, they were still pretty new, and not very feature complete.

    I have been using gpicsync (code.google.com/p/gpicsync/)for a long time. I like it because it will tag RAW files, something other programs sometimes have problems with… It takes GPX files, and a directory of images, and tags away. It will even generate a google earth kml file that can be handy for uploading to a website to share. Also — if you geotag, Lightroom will show coordinates that can be clicked which will open a browser and then go right to google maps 🙂

    I bought a Jobo PhotoGPS last year because I do not want to be tied to the camera by USB cable. This is a simple to use hot shoe mounted device which allows me to attach the geotags to my photos when I download them to my PC. My only irritation has been that some of the tags come with only arabic or chinese characters for the street address depending on where I use it, if somebody out there knows an easy way of translating these into English I would like to know about it.

    Unfortunatly direct connection of a GPS is not common until now. Nikon is on top with some DSLR (D2x -D3x, D90, D200-D700 and the new D5000).
    I use the “Solmeta Geotagger N2 Kompass” as it saves the direction of view, too. It writes directly to NEF and/or JPEG. It is placed on the hotshoe and connects directly to the body with a short cable. Easy!
    Info (mostly in German) on http://www.gps-camera.eu

    Being both a GIS analyst and a photographer, what’s frustrating is that we’re stuck with using Long/Lat when geocoding our pictures. Which makes automating the integration of geocoded photos into a GIS project just that much more difficult when we’re working in UTM, or Albers, or some other coordinate system.

    Long/Lat is not really the best choice for land navigation and topo issues.

    Hi, how can I contact with Josh Weisberg? For there will be a new and more convienant geotagging device available on the market.

    Wanna introduce it to him.

    I have used Geosetter as well and was impressed by how easy it is to do bulk geotagging. However, the software is very slow to write the geolocation information to the pictures. Also, many times it doesn’t connect very well to the server for geolocation information. After a while I started (again) using Picasa…their newest version supports geotagging very well via Google Earth…so you have to have both installed.

    To OrganizePictures,
    Take a look at this if you are planning to add geotags with Picasa (at least with version 3.5.0 []79.74,0]).
    In: http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Picasa/thread?tid=56c7f584f0691581&hl=en

    Here is a summary of the changes Picasa made to the metadata (the image was a JPEG image straight from a Pentax K20D camera):

    1. The caption was written to the IPTC Caption-Abstract.

    2. All maker note information was COMPLETELY DELETED! (So all information about camera-specific settings is lost.)

    3. The byte order of the EXIF was changed from big-endian to little-endian! (Which goes against the current MWG Recommendation.)

    4. The EXIF software tag was changed! (From “K20D Ver 1.00” to “Picasa 3.0”.)

    5. An EXIF ImageUniqueID tag was added.

    I bought a Garmin eTrex Vista HCx for geotagging images from four cameras. I intended to use Garmin’s MapSource software to create gpx files that Pro Photo Tools 2 could import and add to images. No joy. MapSource crashes on my Windows 7 64 bit machine every time I try to save tracks to gpx files. I found a freeware program EasyGPS that does work with the device for creating gpx files, but, if I use Pro Photo Tools 2 to add the GPS data to the files from the gpx files, it always adds the location for Osborne County, Kansas to my files when I add them to the images . Again EasyGPS to the rescue. If I use it to add the coordinates to my files they show up properly in the files. So I use EasyGPS to download from my device, to create gpx files and to geotag the files. I still find Pro Photo Tools useful for converting those coordinates to a place name/address.

    Geosetter can’t download from the device.

    Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful and beneficial to your readers.

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