Geotagging Solution

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by jerry_curtis, Mar 21, 2012.

  1. This was a tough one. I wanted to get GPS coordinates into my Exif data. Rather than spend close to $200 for hardware or software, I wanted to find a program that would let me enter the GPS data after I captured it on another device - cell phone, GPS, etc. Easier said than done. Programs I found were either too expensive - $50 to $100 - or not what I wanted. I received lots of suggestions - close, but no cigar. People kept telling me I could drag a photo onto a map - but first I had to know where the photo was taken.
    Then someone on the forum recommended two apps: GPS4cam and Geotag Photo (Lite and Pro). They range from free to $4.00 They both do basically the same thing. You activate the app, and your cell phone records coordinates every 30 seconds, or whatever interval you select. While the app is running, you take photos here and there. I bought both of them. Free is cheaper (obviously), but free apps use lots more battery power by running ads. I got that from BBC News.
    When you get home, you upload the images to your computer and load the GPS data file onto your computer. With GPS4cam, you take a photo (with your camera) of the barcode that appears on your phone.
    After the app does its thing, each photo has GPS coordinates in the Exif data. Using Lightroom 4, you can see where the photos were taken and even see the route you followed. I think Google Maps will show locations, too.
    Of course, each coordinate will not line up exactly with each photo, but it still lets you know if you took a photo in one town or another. Actually, you can get the exact coordinates if you tell the app, either by shaking the phone or pressing a button, to record the coordinates there and then.
    The apps are available for both Apple and Android devices. I just started using Geotag yesterday, so I have more learning to do.
  2. Are you talking about photos taken with an iPhone? These are geotagged automatically at the time of exposure.

    Sorry if I misunderstood your workflow.
  3. I don't get the point of geotagging. You know where you were when you shot the pictures and if it's important for other people to know you can include it in the caption data fields, naming the town or event or whateve is relevant. What am I missing?
  4. I take it the apps require roaming to be activated, to be able to determine where you are? That may be a costly affair if you travel abroad frequently....
  5. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    As I mentioned in Jerry's earlier thread on this topic, I have Nikon's GP-1 and I used that a lot during a trip to the Galapagos Islands last year. It is very convenient to have Geo tagging on those images because it is not always easy to know exactly where (i.e. which island) each image was captured. E.g., the animals are slightly different from island to island.
    That is all very handy now we have LightRoom 4. I first noticed that ealrier this year when I used the beta trial version. For example, now from the Google map inside LightRoom 4, I can immediately zero into all images captured at one location, even though they may be in different folders.
    On a related note, I am a little disappointed that the D4 and D800 do not have GPS built in, while some $300 Coolpix AW 100 already has that feature.
  6. @Shun: Nikon have probably left the GPS out because of energy consumption. Based on my experience with Garmin GPS units I expect that the battery use of GPS will be significant. Most GPS units take some time to lock on to the necessary number of sattelites. This can take minutes. Leaving the unit on all time will drain the batteries. Furthermore reception indoors, outdoors in cities with a lot of high buildings (inner cities) and outdoors under dense foliage may range from nonexistent to poor. I can imagine that Nikon c.s. want to avoid the discussion about GPS. BTW, I use my Garmin Oregon for geotagging but it will take 2 AA-s per day.
  7. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I use a Samsung Android phone. Once my wife switched on the GPS on it and the phone got quite hot after merely 15 minutes or so. Therefore, I realized that it was consuming a lot of battery power, and sure enough, battery level went from almost full to less than half quickly.
    However, so far I haven't noticed that the GP-1 is draining the battery all that much, and it does not get hot either. Some of you noticed that I went to the Southern California Indian Wells tennis tournament last week. On purpose, I did not bring a charger with me. I had three fully charged EN-EL15 and I also tried not to change batteries for the two full days I was there. In two days I captured over 1500 images on the D7000 with a lot of chimping (but no GPS), and the one battery I used still had about 20% of power left. Indian Wells is in the desert so that it was hot, which helped.
    In any case, given the capacity of the EN-EL15 (for the D7000, V1, and D800) and EN-EL18 for the D4, battery consumption should not be an issie. A GPS will not be effective indoors in an urgan area; that is a given. And that capability can always be switched off if desired.
  8. Shun, battery consumption of the GP-1 seems a lot better than the Garmin Oregon. Do you have any idea how that is reached? Perhaps by limiting the number of readings? The Oregon saves approximately 3 readings per minute but the actual amount of readings is larger. These are processed and stored as one reading. There must be a reason Garmin (or Tomtom/Mio) use more power than a GP-1.
  9. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    As you can tell from the map above, I used the GP-1 extensively during my two weeks at the Galapagos Islands last year, but that is right on the equator so that the hot weather helped the battery power. I mainly used that on the D7000 but also D300 and D700 during that trip. Battery consumption was never a concern to me, but I have no concrete data about how much power the GP-1 consumed.
    Having the GP-1 hanging off the camera was a bit of a pain. That is why I would like to see a built-in unit. As I said, Nikon has that inside the sub-$300 AW 100. I can't imagine adding one would add more than $10 to $20 to the cost.
    Simply perfect.
    Always good light, Dirk
  11. Gup

    Gup Gup

    I use an early handheld Garmin device that uses 2AA batteries. I activate it when I set up at a location that I might want to return to sometime and record the coordinates, then turn it off. This way the batteries last much longer and if worse comes to worse, I can use the info to find my way out again.
  12. I don't get the point of geotagging​
    Well, the bottom line of course is the ability to associate a map location with a photo. The point of these geotagging discussions is how to do this easily and efficiently. Yes, you may know where you are when you take a picture. But how much time and energy do you want to invest in plotting photos in Google Earth or Google Maps or some other mapping application? What if you wanted to do a travelogue of your hike on the Appalachian Trail - are you going to seriously take the time and energy to plot every photo along your route? And really, how good at reading maps are you so that you can distinguish whether you're at where the trail crosses stream A, or, maybe, you're at stream B. GPS/Geotagging solutions (with their own limitations and foibles) make it so you don't have to keep track of things that way.

    The other issue is that, quite frankly, human memory tends to be pretty faulty about these things. I do this stuff professionally, and i know from long experience that unless someone sits down and puts down on paper (or the digital equivalent) immediately after being in the field they tend to forget where they were when they made some sort of observation.

    Geotagging can be done in one of 3 different ways. First is the notional/anectdotal method of "oh, i was here when i took picture X". The second, approach involves having a GPS device that directly inputs coordinate date into the EXIF header of an image. This is usually achieved by some sort of in-built or 3rd party GPS attachment. And the third option is to carry a standalone GPS device (phone, recreational grade GPS like a Garmin, etc.) that you either collect a way point at each photo location, or it collects GPS positions continuously (every few seconds typically). These GPS data can be associated via a time/date stamp with a photo (provided the GPS device and camera are synchronized) that also has a time/date stamp. There are a number of applications available that can do this for you, or if you're very enterprising, you could roll your own code to harvest and match these coordinate data.

    One application that I've used successfully in a pretty demanding environment is Geosetter (its free, and i think someone earlier provided a link to it), though there are others that you can find if you do a search on the internet. Part of the issue here is how industriously are you going to be geotagging? If you have 20 or 30 images to find locations for, that is a rather different issue if you have hundreds or thousands. Careful though. This sort of thing can be a bit addictive, because quite simply, being able to see a map of where you've been, can really enliven or add a dimension to your photography that is too often lacking.
  13. The app I use on the iPhone is GPX Master, comes in the usual free and paid versions I think. Creates a GPX file I can throw into Lightroom or exiftool and get a geotagged set of images out. Works great!
  14. I've used the GeoTag Photo Pro (paid version) app on both Android and iPhone over the course of the last 2 years. Most of the time has primarily been with an Android device (current is Motorola Razr) but I did have several months with an iPhone 3g. Needless to say, it suits my needs and has worked very well for me. I can address a couple items I've seen mentioned in some detail. Let me note that I'm not associated with nor an employee of the app's developer.
    First, it is an app that you'll need to download and install on your phone. You do need to synchronize your phone clock with your camera clock. You can adjust the app settings for an alert to notify you when you've changed time zones so you can adjust your camera time. Geoencoding to specific photos is done entirely through matching the time of the location recording by the app and time of an image being taken on your camera(s). As noted there is a free and a paid version. And, as usual, the free version comes with some limitations.
    Secondly, this is a standalone app and you do not need to take a picture with your phone to get location recording. In the app, you choose the intervals at which it will record your location...the range is from every (in seconds) 5, 10, 15, 30 to every 1, 2 5, 10 or 30 minutes. The longest setting is 1x per hour. You also have the ability to record your location instantly. In addition, you are also able to specify a minimum distance change to be registered before it will record a new location. As well, you can choose to have it use GPS only or GPS + wireless as your location provider. If wireless is available this helps immensely with battery life (very rare when shooting in the field, in my experience). However, when the app is turned on, GPS is not constantly on. It is only activated to record a location as per the interval you've chosen. To this extent, it helps greatly with battery life or your phone heating up.
    Without question, it does impact the battery level of your phone. If you set it to record at maximum amount you might get several hours use depending on your phone and battery. In my use, I've learned that if I'm going to be shooting in, generally, the same area I'll set to record every 5 minutes with a 25 yard distance change required with generally little impact on the phone's batter. If I'm going to be moving around quite a bit (eg; driving through Yellowstone) I'll probably increase the recording interval to every minute or two as you never know where or when you'll run across something. At the same time, you're generally in a car and I connect the charger immediately to replenish the battery. A couple of times I've left it running at pretty rapid recording levels and found that it drains a fully charged batter to about 40% after a couple hours....ymmv. An additional battery for your phone would be optimal, but not an option on the Razr or any iPhone.
    You also have the ability to create several different trips....say Day 1, Day 2, etc., The phone stores your locations and when you choose, you upload them to the GeoTag server through your phone. Once that is done, you have a couple different ways to go. I've chosen to do it on my machine so it requires a simple and quick program download from the app provider (it's also the only way I've used it so I can't speak to the alternative method). Once installed I run the program and I point it to the folder where I've uploaded my images. It will then match up the time from each image's EXIF to the time(s) recorded in the logs you uploaded from your phone. The time does not need to be precise but within an acceptable range (the program also gives you the ability to adjust the time value on your images, say for example, you change time zones but forget to change the camera time). Once this is done, it encodes the location data into the image EXIF. For 600 images expect about 3-5 minutes. That's it.
    There's also options to export your trips to GPX files.
    In my experience, it has been quite accurate in longitude and latitude. It has shown some issues with altitude but not extensive. Overall, I am quite happy with this app and it provides a decent solution at this time.
    All that said, I would prefer simplicity and have it done at the time of the image being recorded and not have to take an extra step. However, I do have concerns over battery drain (though I agree with Shun on the excellent battery life of the EN-EL15) and am not crazy about having something extra connected to my camera, whether it's on the hotshoe or on a strap. I'd also tend to think it limits your ability to use other a wired/wireless remote (I understand the GPS-1 does have a mini USB pass through but not sure that would suffice for bodies with 10-pin connection?). The final factor for me is price. While I'm not turned off entirely by the price on something like the GPS-1, I simply can't compare it to the $3.99 price of the app. Yes, it requires me to take a couple extra steps but, at nearly a $200 savings, I'm ok with that.
  15. Well there's a wide variety of options. I'd mention there's a bunch of mapping, navigation and sports tracking apps that save the gpx track. For example the Trekbuddy mapping application that lets you navigate using bitmap maps without using live data connection, works on relatively dumb phones with external BT GPS modules too. External BT modules tend to have better GPS signal reception and have their own battery, while those in smartphones may be faster to get initial position lock if they can use the network connection assistance. For smartphones you can carry spare batteries (or pocket battery-powered chargers for the iPhone, hehe).
    On the PC there is also an increasing proportion of software that can geotag the images using gpx files, including the free ViewNX (I've had problems with it but some others were successful). But mind Nikon has certain silly manners regarding files that have been tagged (starred, named, tagged, geotagged, whatever) by 3rd party programs that alter the standard EXIF data. So NX programs will refuse to display much data for such tagged images. Any standard EXIF viewing software except NX will still display standard EXIF data, but some proprietary data displayed by NX only gets lost. This is why storing of untouched original files for backup is recommended. But you do backup anyway don't you ;)
  16. Do you really need an app? With my smartphone GPS enabled I can simply add a landmark to the map at any point and then transfer that to the EXIF if needed, or type into the comment field of the file properties.
    I do find that if I've been on a serendipitous photo expedition that it's difficult to remember the exact location, but a combination of GPS route tracking and landmark setting is all I need to jog the memory or find the location name from the map.
    Dirk. Thanks for the link to that Geosetter software BTW.
  17. I think the problem with the integrated implementation is not cost but that the chassis of the body is already full of stuff and anything you want to add inside will require making the body slightly bigger. It's not just the weight of the components required for GPS (which is small) but the weight increase of the chassis is more substantial, and Nikon is under pressure to reduce, rather than increase the weight.
    There are other things that people want integrated in there too: I want a radio control unit for flash and the WT-5 type wireless operation integrated in the camera. Then there is the people who want better quality audio circuitry and more controls for video. Many people would like to see the option of an electronic viewfinder as an alternative to the optical viewfinder so that they can use live view in a way that is more compatible with hand-holding the camera with a long lens - with live view as it is there are some autofocus features that can be implemented which cannot be implemented in the mirror-based phase-detect focusing system (such as the way face detect works in the V1 and you can choose from a much larger array of phase-detect points in the image whereas with the current mirror-based focusing the points are limited to the center). All of these things compete for the space that just doesn't exist in the camera. That's why Nikon only puts the most important functionality inside the camera. A point and shoot is different as it doesn't have to be enclosed in a robust enclosure and the performance of the camera itself is pretty modes. If the GPS/WT/flash control were all integrated into the body then I suppose the chassis itself would have to be the antenna - this may mean reduced range, and compromised ruggedness.
  18. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    If the GPS/WT/flash control were all integrated into the body then I suppose the chassis itself would have to be the antenna - this may mean reduced range, and compromised ruggedness.​
    Ilkka, do you remember that the Nikon Coolpix AW 100 is a rugged, waterproof camera that can go down to 10 meters of depth? It is also designed to tolerate a 4-foot drop. When it was announced, both you and Bjorn Rorslett expressed interest since it can also tolerate a cold climate:
    Panasonic's Lumix DMC-TS3 is another example of a rugged, waterproof camera with built-in GPS:
    The fact that LightRoom 4 now has a dedicated map tag shows that GPS info is now well integrated into image EXIF data along with camera, lens, focal length, aperture, ISO, date/time, etc. Somehow the high-end DSLRs are still a bit behind.
    Attaching an external GPS to the camera, via a cable or bluetooth, is still a bit of a pain. That was partly why Jerry Curtis, the OP here, decided not to get a GP-1 in his earlier thread from a few days ago:
    I already have a GP-1 that I can attach to any D4 or D800; there is no more extra cost to me, but I still would much rather pay a little extra to have that built into the camera body. In such case I would use that feature a lot more often outdoors.
  19. I think it would be great to have it built into the camera as well. Regarding battery concerns: if you don't want it or aren't using it then you would turn it off. I actually ordered a blueSLR for an upcoming trip
    It connects to the camera then communicates with your iphone for the GPS data which is then placed in the EXIF. In addition to the geo-tagging it works as a remote shutter release and controls some basic camera functions.
    I had previously tried the eye-fi with GPS tagging but found the fact that only JPGs had the info placed in the EXIF and then only after being uploaded to the eye-fi servers to be too cumbersome and not useful to me.
  20. When it was announced, both you and Bjorn Rorslett expressed interest since it can also tolerate a cold climate:
    Yes, I was interested in it, but the image quality is awful (IMO). I tested it for a day and I had never seen such bad quality from a purpose-made digital camera. If the camera functionality can be compromised so badly I am sure space can be found for all sorts of additional devices. A lightweight camera can be made rugged by simply enclosing the camera and lens inside a plastic and rubber housing. A D4 on impact will have much greater momentum and needs a metal enclosure to have even a reasonable chance of withstanding impact. Since the D4 enclosure is metal it will affect radio waves and thus the whole chassis has to be designed with radio in mind much like in a cell phone. I suspect there can be a host of problems when doing that and Nikon probably doesn't have that kind of RF design expertise. As it is the chassis is probably such that it prevents all radio waves from entering or exiting the inside of the camera. Is it possible to change this? Of course, but it will make the camera a bit bigger (for the same ruggedness and other features intact), heavier and possibly have less range and inferior signal quality compared to a purpose made accessory added on the hot shoe like many gps devices are. Since the P&S has not metal enclosure its body doesn't affect the functionality of WiFi or GPS.
    Personally I would like to have all three radio functionalities built in, or at least the WT-5 possible to use on the D800, but the order of priority for me would be 1) flash control, 2) wireless control of the camera itself, 3) GPS. Another photographer doing different things than I do would have different requirements. Which user's needs do they give priority to? I think they simply have to ask selected users and base the design of the cameras on the results of those queries. They can not put everything in. If the requirement for effective radio communications implemented inside the body compromises other aspects of the camera and requires the hiring of a team of experts and only a small proportion of photographers prioritise it then they leave it out.
    I think a more reasonable approach is simply to make the accessories that provide radio communications more compact and easily attached. For example the new WT5 you just plug into the side of the camera and tighten it. It requires no cables. The GPS unit requires a cable which makes it more awkward to use (I have one though not made by Nikon and I never use it). This they could change, so that e.g. the GPS just plugs on. But again a redesign of how the different ports function may be too complicated for the gain, for now.
  21. Please correct me if I am wrong but I believe the app for the smart phones such as Androids and iPhone (gps4cam) does not work if you are out of your country of origin. I was in another country a few weeks ago and my photos were not tagged with the coordinates.
  22. Calderon, which country were you in where geotagging failed? I don't see how an app would disable its functionality outside its user's country of origin, at least not as far as available GPS satellites and the acquisition of them.
  23. @Calderon
    There may be problems if the timezones are not set properly. Some geotagging software supports timezone shift.

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