Geotagging solutions and the DIY alternative

Geotagging, when you travel and explore remote places (and are a gadget geek), is a must have. Get accurate positions of places you’ve visited, build maps of your last trip, possibilities are endless.

There are more and more cameras with built in GPS to add location data to your pictures, like the Panasonic DMC-ZS7/TZ10, Samsung HZ35W or the Sony DSC-HX5V but what are your options if you already have a camera?

Here we will be looking into the different solutions on the market as well as a free geo tagging solution for smartphones users.

Eye-Fi Geo card

The Eye-Fi Pro X2 card adds wifi capabilities to any compatible camera so you can transfer your picture instantly to your pc. But it can also use wireless network to guess your position and add that data to your pictures. The main downside is that you need a wifi networks around, which on a trip at the other end of the world is not a given.

GPS receiver addon

Another option is to use an external GPS Receiver plugged into the hotshoe slot of your camera. That’s probably the best option if you are serious about geotagging. It’s done automatically, you just switch it on and start shooting. The downside is the price of course and the lump that gets added to the camera. Plus it only works with high end cameras equipped with a hotshoe slot (DSLR or high end P&S).

GPS logger

GPS Loggers are quite cheap and usually small. They are basically a gps receiver that logs positions every set amount of time. You then use a software to sync pictures and positions according to their timestamp. Some allow you to plug in you SD card for automatic tagging.

What else?

That’s where your GPS equipped mobile phone can come in handy. What if you could turn the phone into a GPS logger?

Turns out there is an app for that (see what I did there?): it’s called GPS Logger for Android (if you are on iPhone/Blackberry/Nokia there are plenty of options available as well, have a look in your App sotre).

It works as explained above for the standalone units and logs all the data into a GPX file you can then export to your computer. You can usually set the log rate, the export format, minimum distance interval for a new log, etc.

So that’s you phone turned into a GPS logger. But that doesn’t make you pictures more location aware than before. What you need now is a software to link the data from the GPS and the pictures together.

Here comes Geotag. This simple java application takes a GPX file and a folder full of pictures and automatically updates exif data of the picture with location data. It works by finding the closest location at the time the picture was shot.

You see, when you take a picture, your camera stores data in the file. One of those is the time at which it was taken. And your GPS logger does the same with locations. It stores the location and adds timestamp, speed, altitude, and more to them.

So if you have a picture taken at 18h30 and a location point recorded around 18h30, the software can link those two together and safely assume the shot was taken at the same place the GPS logger was. Voila!

Next page: step by step on how to use those together.