Easiest way to add GPS lat/long to photos in field?
I'd like to have my photos automatically tagged with their correct GPS lat/long from the placeI take them. My cameras don't have that function (some modern expensive ones do), and I am too lazy to haul a handheld gps unit around just for that purposes. For a while you could buy a tiny film-cannister-sized thing that would record GPS continuously and time stamp it. You carried that in your pocket while photographing and then sync it with your camera's time stamp on photos to get the GPS added to the image file. In theory it is elegant, but the unit I tried about 5 years ago did not work well in practice. Are there better things that work these days?1
It's been fun to watch geotagging photos gain in popularity over the past few years. My original solution was to use my Garmin 60 CSx and manually transfer the files and waypoints, which as you pointed out is a pain in the butt. I used GPS Babel (http://www.gpsbabel.org/) to convert all the tracks to a useable format, and then used an older piece of freeware called GPS Photo Linker (http://www.earlyinnovations.com/gpsphotolinker/) that I believe was developed at Oregon State. The benefit of using a higher end GPS is the accuracy of the data, which I know is a problem with some of the cheaper, lighter weight units like the one you mentioned. This has all since been rendered antique and newer software has since gotten a lot better. Most recently with Lightroom's newest update (v. 4) which has a map module built in which is more robust than any other I've seen (it also makes it easy to amend geotagging data if you know cross streets/addresses). I know Aperture also deals with GPS data natively, but I don't have as much experience with it.
In terms of physical GPS units, if you shoot with a prosumer Nikon dSLR (d200/d300/d700/d90/d7000/d5000/d5100) you're in luck as they make the GP1 which mates natively and plops the data directly into the Exif (which is by far the most painless method, and well worth the added expense in terms of reducing man hours and processing alone). It looks like there are cheaper (and well reviewed) third party solutions that use the same physical hardware connection (Promote Systems GPS) but I haven't heard much about them.
The kludge solution that I have been using recently when mushroom foraging is to take a geotagged photo with my gps-enabled iPhone 4, and use that as a time-dated reference for any subsequent photos I take in the area (it also means that next year I know where to forage). There are a bevy of geotagging apps specifically for the iPhone and Android like GeoTag Photos (http://www.geotagphotos.net/en/) which in particular has received significant praise but I have yet to try out because I find the iPhone camera to do a perfectly acceptable job. Again, the major limitation here is the accuracy of the iPhone 4s GPS. In the woods, especially under dense canopy, it can take a frustratingly long time to get an accurate position. However, the benefit is that you most likely carry your phone with you all the time, and subsequently the best geotagger will be the one you have with you.
You can get fairly close GPS tagging by using an EyeFi Card in your camera. This feature is most accurate in urban areas, less accurate in rural areas because EyeFi figures out where you are located based on public WiFi access points. http://www.eye.fi/how-it-works/features/geotagging
You can merge GPS tracking data from any GPS device with the time-stamps of your photos (make sure your camera time is correct!) by using a plugin in Lightroom: http://regex.info/blog/2008-10-29/979
Note: You need to "export" the image out of Lightroom for the GPS data to be written into the photo file.
I use "Zoner Photo 14", a completely FREE photo editing program.
I try not to be "too lazy" to at least; "remember where I take my photos", so when I download them into Zoner, I use the included map feature to easily peg the location where the photo was taken, with its correct GPS coordinates. This free program allows me to tag an individual photo or, an entire batch of them, with only one click.
I've got an i-gotU GPS logger. It costs about £40 for the basic model, though there are others with more memory/bluetooth etc. It works fine for me, as you can set it to log at different intervals, and the internal battery and memory lasts days if you set it at 10s intervals. And it's weatherproof as well. If your photos have the correct date/time, then the software will automatically geotag them. And it integrates with google maps perfectly to see the route. It's the size of a film cannister, and works well for me in practice. The only minor niggle is that it can take up to a minute to acquire the signal at first, but once acquired it's never let me down. Turn it on at the start of the day, then connect it to PC at the end and it'll sort out everything automatically.
If you are thinking of getting a new Canon DSLR (right now the only cams supported are 7D, 5Dmiii, 1Dx) the GP-E2 http://usa.canon.com/cusa/consumer/products/cameras/gps_receivers/gps_receiver_gp_e2 looks like a painless way to add GPS in the camera. It also has a digital compass and will record your heading as well which will be useful when embedding the image in google earth. It will also sync your cameras clock to GPS time which is useful if you travel the world or are using multiple cams. Looks good, just wish they built it into the camera rather than making it an accessory. It is listed on B&H for $270
There's an app for that, snaptell. If you have an iPhone with GPS you run this app and it logs time and location. There is software to match photos and locations. I am a MAC and Aperture user and there is a plug in for Aperture so it is as easy as selecting pictures and having the iPhone on the same wiFi network. The only problem I ever had was forgetting to turn it on. The data it collects is not that large but running GPS all the time takes a bit of battery. I got a case with a battery and now I just leave it on.
I've used Garmin's Venture Cx to do this. It's a handheld GPS, but not large, and Garmin provides software that makes this easy. The procedure is as follows: 1. Set the camera's clock to match the GPS. 2. Set the GPS to record tracks, and put it in your pocket. 3. Take photos as desired. 4. Connect the GPS to your computer and open Garmin's free BaseCamp software. 5. Select the GPS's "Internal Storage" and the appropriate track log 6. Click Edit->"Geotag photos using Track". 7. Follow the prompts to select a directory of photos and tag them.
My wife and I have tried a few solutions. I currently rely on taking a photo with my iPhone at the same time and using that photo's data to position my "real" camera's photo on Flickr (or, very recently, in Lightroom 4). Obviously, it's far from an ideal solution.
My wife does a lot of travelling to out-of-the-way parts of the world that have poor coverage on online maps (particularly those on Flickr), which makes positioning photos tricky. After much frustration she tried one of the GPS trackers - the film-canister size ones - mentioned by others. She found it a pain to set up on a Mac and never had much success getting useful data to match up with photos. She soon stopped using it.
Eventually she upgraded her old camera and, after much reading of reviews, bought one of the few smallish cameras with built-in GPS, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX9V: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004HYFX0C/ She used it recently and it Just Worked - she uploaded photos to Flickr and, with no manual intervention, they were all positioned on the map.
While I'm keen to buy a new camera myself, I'm now thinking I should wait until the ones I want have GPS built in. Non-GPS-enabled cameras are starting to feel broken.
Based on the recommendations here I just bought an I-gotU device which I am trying out now.
I've used a variety of Garmin's/cameras with RoboGEO. Same solution as many others have suggested.
My Android phone, though, geotags without a second thought. And more & more cameras are doing the same. Clearly, while it's not too difficult to geotag in kludge fashion, non-kludge is the way to go.
Depending on your needs (obviously), the argument for camera replacement (with built-in GPS) has gotten far easier to make.
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