Automatically Geotag Photos

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If you have not heard of geotagging, it is the addition of geographical data, largely latitude and longitude to a photo. The location at which the photo was taken can then be conveniently displayed through several websites. Flickr, Google Earth and Picaso all feature the possibility to geotag and display photos. A good review of some of the advantages and disadvantages of some of the sites can be found in an article posted on c/net news.

I have been geotagging photos for some time, the problem is that it is very labour intensive. I have heard that there are some cameras that will automatically geotag photos but they are expensive. The websites geotag photos by allowing you to manually select the photo and then select a location from a map. Because the maps of the backcountry on these sites are either not very accurate or detailed it is difficult to accurately geotag a photo with this method. Generally, I have to record the location of a photo from my handheld GPS and enter the data manually. Creating Google Maps with this method is both accurate and relatively easy but time consuming. The result, I only geotag a small portion of my photos.

Sony created the Sony GPS-CS1 which was designed to automatically geotag photos. The product was announced in August 2006 but is no longer available from Sony. Not exactly sure why but some sites seem to suggest that it was not very accurate in relation to location. Sony then launched the Sony GPS CS1KA.

Sony GPS CS1KA Automatically Geotag Photos

This device, also approximately $100 is now promoted as being compatible with most digital, as opposed to just Sony, digital cameras. The device works by recording time and date information along with actual position wherever GPS satellite coverage is available. The GPS Image Tracker software matches this position data with time and date information corresponding with each JPEG camera image. The images can then be uploaded to the websites. It appears that Sony planned to have the Sony CS1KA in stores in December 2007. I could not find it at Sony.ca and it does not appear to be widely available. If you have a US address you can purchase it through Amazon.

Another option is the GISTEQ DPL700 PhotoTrackr. There is a good review of this product at Richard's Tech Reviews but as you will see, the software associated with this device sounds complex or at least complex enough that I would not experiment with it unless I could buy and return it locally.

The new product that led to this post is not yet available in North America. The ATP Photo FInder was released only recently and is depicted below.

ATP Photo finder geotag photos

I sent an email to the company but have not yet heard from them. Like the Sony CS1KA, the ATP Photo Finder calculates and records GPS position data and allows you to precisely track the exact location at which and time that your pictures were taken. According to the ATP website, the photo finder works as follows:

Actvate the Photo Finder. After you finish taking pictures, simply insert your SD, Memory Stick or MMC memory card into the Photo Finder's built-in card slot and the GPS data will be synchronized and added to all pictures on the card. Even more convenient is the fact that this is all performed “on the go” without a PC. All you need to carry with you is your digital camera to take the pictures and the ATP Photo Finder to log your location.

Photos GPS tagged by the ATP Photo Finger can be used with any GPS compatible photo software. For example, when used with the Google supplied software “Picasa2”, “Google Earth”, or “Google Maps”, your photos will be shown on an online map, giving you a whole new way to organize, enjoy and share your pictures. Share your pictures and trip route with your friends and family. More importantly, never forget where you took a picture again. You can also use your GPS tagged photos in a compatible GPS navigation system, allowing for features such as choosing your destination and landmarks visually.

There is a short video on Youtube which seems to emphasize that this device is very user friendly. I would like to get my hands on one and test it out. Because the data required to geotag the photos is added to your memory card, it would seem that you could hike across Europe, fill media cards and geotag photos without a computer. That possibility is appealing.


I bought the PhotoFinder

I bought the PhotoFinder from Costco for 1 month.
It works with my SONY T9 and Canon 810. I compared it with SONY GPS-CS1, although the appearance is bigger than SONY’s, but I felt the function desgin is much better than SONY’s.
(1) Card reader: it’s easy to use it, I never need PC and software to tag the GPS into my photos. And when we have a trip with friends, we only need ONE PhotoFinder can most people can use it.
(2) LCD screen: Although it’s too small to read the contents, but I just need to watch the UTC time and adjust my camera. It’s not big as my Garmin Navigator but easy to carry. Always I put it on my pack. If you didn’t have correct time when you took pictures, it can’t be tagged any GPS information. So SONY can’t provide the LCD to show the time and let me refer to adjust.
(3) All the digital camera foramt, ATP already provided a PC side revised software, you can download it from photofinder.atpinc.com/manual.html

For my Nikon D40, it also can work but not support directly. I ask ATP why not ? They replied me the new version can support and it can upgrade the firmware.

That’s my experience, I think PhotoFinder is a magic box.

Nikon D200

Hey great site!

I know it's an expensive option but we have a Nikon D200 which allows you to connect a GPS directly to the camera. It will write straight into the EXIF data.

:edit:
Here's an interesting article on the setup I forgot to add:
http://www.linux.com/articles/55823

Cheers
Scott

Great review...two more products

This is a great review...Thank you very much.

i would like to add one more product featured in PhotoLife Buyers Guide 2008:

http://www.jobo.com/jobo_digital/photogps/gb/index.html

http://www.dawntech.hk/di-GPS/index.htm

I just went to the website and did a quick scan. This product fits right on to the camera's flash slot. Not sure if all compact cameras have that or not but all DSLR's do. I like the compactness of this product as it fits right on the camera. I asked for more info and will share when I get it.

As for the ATP Photofinder: I don't think I would purchase that. I had memory cards fail because of improper handling , moisture etc. I also shoot in harsh conditions, when it rains, cold etc. and having to handle the memory card while on a hike seems somewhat dangerous.

ATP Photofinder

I am with Dirk, no matter how hard I try whenever I start removing memory cards in the field eventually I drop one. I also do not like removing the cards even at home. Every time you take out a card there is a chance of damaging it and the camera.