Geotagging is the procedure of adding geographical coordinates to a photograph. Geotags provide of import information that allow the location of an image to exist pinpointed on the globe. Landscape and travel photographers discover this to be particularly useful information to navigate back to a location or to provide details about where a photo was captured.
In that location are a few methods that photographers tin apply to geotag images, the least of which includes using an in-camera feature. Fortunately, even though manufacturers have generally seemed to fail including a geotagging characteristic in their camera bodies, there are other methods photographers can use to assemble this information.
This article will have an in-depth expect at how geotagging works, which camera bodies currently on the marketplace include in-camera or external geotagging features, and alternative methods for attaching location information to images if your camera doesn’t have these features.
How Geotagging Works
Mayhap a more advisable title should be “How Geotagging
Work”, since it is such an under-utilized (or ignored) feature. There are at to the lowest degree 24 global positioning organisation (GPS) satellites orbiting the earth, each transmitting a unique signal. GPS receivers, such as those constitute in select camera bodies, utilise the data from several of the satellites to summate a user’s location. Some cameras without an internal GPS chip take the option of connecting an external module for receiving the GPS coordinate information. The information obtained is typically latitude and longitude, which provides fairly accurate (unremarkably at least within ten meters) location information.
GPS data captured past a camera is stored in the exchangeable image file format (EXIF) information for an prototype. That’s the aforementioned place where you find the shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and tons of other information. Afterwards importing an epitome to a computer, the GPS information can exist used to pinpoint the paradigm location on a map. That can be very useful for keeping track of where y’all have been and navigating back to a location in the future.
Cameras with Congenital-in GPS
With all the technological advancements today, i would call back that all mod cameras would have a built-in GPS feature. Sadly, that is far from reality. Although the phones that most of united states conduct effectually in our pockets on a daily ground take the power to pinpoint where on Earth we are, about cameras notwithstanding do not have this feature. That seems strange. If a relatively small-scale phone can have congenital-in GPS capabilities, surely the feature could easily be fit into the electronic picture-making boxes that we sling effectually our neck or over our shoulder.
Some grade of GPS-enabled cameras have been around since the early- to mid-2000s. Ricoh released a GPS-enabled camera in early 2005. The high-resolution Pro G3 had a iii.34-megapixel image sensor and retailed for $ane,149 with the GPS addition. Camera every bit well as GPS engineering has greatly improved since then; nonetheless, the spousal relationship of the 2 has been limited in its application.
The splendid Digital Photography Review website was utilized to research which cameras have GPS functionality. From the chief page, nether the ‘Cameras’ tab, the third selection listed is ‘Camera feature search’. Using this tool, you can filter by camera type and feature to make up one’s mind which cameras have the selected feature. This commodity will focus primarily on interchangeable lens cameras (DSLRs and mirrorless). Of the 366 cameras listed in these categories, just fifteen have a built-in GPS feature. That’due south a paltry four.ane%. The cameras, as well equally their MSRP, are listed in the table below.
|Camera Model||MSRP (body simply)|
|Canon EOS 5D Marker IV||$3,499|
|Canon EOS 6D||$1,699|
|Canon EOS 7D Mark Two||$one,799|
|Canon EOS 1DX Marker Two||$5,999|
|Nikon 1 AW1||$799.95|
|Pentax K-3 2||$1,099|
|Samsung Galaxy NX||$one,599.99|
|Sony Alpha a99||$2,800|
|*includes 18-55mm kit lens|
Just considering a camera doesn’t have GPS built in to the body doesn’t mean GPS isn’t an option. Some camera manufacturers produce GPS-enabled cameras, which crave an external module to tape the location information for images. These devices are typically either wireless and plug directly into a port on the side of the camera body, or consist of a module that attaches to the hotshoe and connects to the camera using a short cablevision. The Canon GP-E2 and Nikon GP-1A receivers are two pop options that work with most modernistic Canon and Nikon DSLRs. Both of these receivers connect to the camera’s hotshoe. The Canon version operates using a single AA bombardment while the Nikon version connects to the photographic camera using a cable. These are both in the $250 range.
Widening the GPS feature search to include cameras that accept manufacturer external GPS options increases the number to 95 out of the 366 cameras. That’s still only about 26% of interchangeable lens cameras that take some type of GPS functionality available. The earliest camera on that listing is the Nikon D200, announced in late 2005. Only 23 of the cameras listed were introduced in 2015 or afterwards. The table below lists all interchangeable lens cameras introduced in 2015 or subsequently with external GPS capabilities.
|Camera Model (2015 or newer)||MSRP|
|Leica M Monochrom||$7,450|
|Fujifilm 10-T1 IR||$one,699|
|Catechism EOS Rebel T7i||$749|
|Canon EOS 77D||$899|
|*includes kit lens|
Further breaking down the listing of cameras by manufacturer shows that Canon and Pentax each have 15 models with either built-in or external GPS options. Nikon is the big winner with 33 cameras (pretty much all of their DSLRs) with GPS functionality. Whereas Nikon and Pentax each only have ii camera models with built-in GPS, Canon has four. Notably missing from the list altogether are any of the Sony mirrorless camera bodies.
It’south been established that nearly cameras today do not have a built-in GPS feature. There are still other ways to geotag images and get together location information that tin can be used later. We’ve touched on the apply of external GPS receivers, and volition cover that method in more detail below. Another option is to use either a hand-held GPS unit or an app on your smartphone to tape a tracklog and sync photos in Lightroom or other software. Finally, if none of the other options work for yous, images tin can be manually dropped onto a map on the computer. Each of these options are explored in more detail in the following sections.
External GPS Receiver
As has already been discussed, some photographic camera manufacturers offer GPS receivers that either piece of work wirelessly or connect to the photographic camera using a cable. The Canon and Nikon versions have already been mentioned, but Pentax as well has the O-GPS1 hotshoe mounted unit of measurement. Not only does the Pentax unit perform geotagging duties, but on some camera models, the “astrotracer” office uses GPS data to track celestial objects and allows for long exposures (upward to v minutes) while keeping stars precipitous. That’s crazy! Pentax always seems to be on the cut edge of technology. Hopefully, the other manufacturers are taking notes.
In improver to the brand-proper name manufacturer models, there are many third-party GPS receivers. The two brands that are virtually prevalent in my Amazon search were Marrex and Solmeta. Some other option for Nikon DSLRs is Aokatec. They are manufactured in China and are a fraction of the cost of the Nikon-branded units. A good friend reported having very expert results using the Aokatec AK-G750 on a contempo trip to London.
Many of the external GPS receivers run on AA batteries, which ways they won’t drain your camera’s bombardment. It does mean that you lot’ll need to acquit some actress AAs in the bag, only that shouldn’t exist a deal-breaker since virtually other accessories take the same size batteries. Brian Pex wrote an first-class article comparing AA batteries for wink units. The best batteries for flashes may likewise be the all-time for GPS receivers.
If you are in the market for a third-party GPS receiver, make sure to practise your research. Some of these units become adept reviews and some not so good. Check out what others are proverb before making a buy.
If you have a hand-held or article of clothing GPS unit, it can exist used to track your movements and photos taken forth the rail tin be synced in computer software. The of import matter is that you be able to save the coordinate data in a .gpx file format. The procedure for using this method is really pretty simple. The beginning thing to do is to make sure sure that the time on your camera is synced with the fourth dimension on the GPS unit. This is very important, every bit dropping the photos into the correct place on the map volition rely on the time they were taken. Once that is accomplished, brand sure signal has been caused, start the GPS tracklog, and exist on your way.
While on your hike or photowalk, just shoot as normal. The GPS unit can exist hidden abroad in a backpack or jacket pocket. Equally long every bit it has battery power and maintains a strong indicate, this method should work pretty accurately.
When you go back home to the computer, you will need to download the tracklog from the GPS device. This can exist washed at the same time as downloading the images from your retentiveness card. This is where the geotagging magic really happens. At that place are other software programs that tin be used to practise this, only this article will focus on using Adobe Lightroom. With your images imported into Lightroom, navigate to the Map Module by clicking on “Map” along the upper correct side of the interface. If you don’t see the Map choice, it can be revealed by correct-clicking anywhere on the right side of the meridian ribbon and selecting it at that place.
Within Lightroom, you tin load the .gpx file that was created by the GPS. First, click the little squiggly line icon just below the map window and above the filmstrip. When you hover over it, the hint
In the dropdown menu, click
Load Tracklog… and navigate to the saved .gpx file. Afterward selecting the file and clicking Open, you meet the rail displayed on the map.
Next, select all the images that are associated with the track. In the filmstrip below the map window, click on the outset image in the sequence, then Shift + click the concluding prototype to select them all. So click on the
icon once again, and select the
Auto Tag Photos
option. All of the images will automatically be placed on the map along the track based on the time of capture. This works actually well, but in that location may exist times that an image location may be slightly off. If that is the instance, you can click and drag the image to another location along the rails to re-position it.
Using Your Telephone
Using a smartphone is similar to using a hand-held GPS unit. There are a variety of iOS and Android applications that can exist used to generate a tracklog and .gpx file. This is a keen and inexpensive option if you don’t have a GPS device. Plus, you lot already take your phone with you all the fourth dimension anyway.
Ii apps that I accept tried so far are Motion-X GPS and Geotag Photos Pro. Motion-X GPS is an iOS only app, merely I believe Geotag Photos Pro is available for iOS and Android. With either of these apps, y’all can use your phone to track your hike and create a .gpx file. As with the hand-held GPS, it is important to sync the fourth dimension on your photographic camera with the telephone. One time that is accomplished, simple start the rail and begin taking pictures.
One of the nice features of these apps is that you don’t accept to connect the phone to a computer to download the tracklog. The Motion-10 GPS app tin can be prepare upwards to share the tracklog to yourself via electronic mail. Geotag Photos Pro can be configured to share the tracklog to your Dropbox, iCloud, or Google Bulldoze account.
At the terminate of the hike, share the tracklog to your e-mail or cloud-based account and import the images taken into Lightroom. From in that location, the procedure for geotagging your images is the same every bit with the hand-held GPS.
Using Your Telephone, Part ii
As they say, “there’s more than ane style to skin a cat”. Photos that y’all capture using your camera tin can too be geotagged by taking a picture with your smartphone’s camera app. This works well if you will be in one area for an extended menses of fourth dimension. For example, while at the Improve Photography Retreat in Phoenix last calendar month, we went out to Lost Dutchman Country Park for a sunset shoot ane evening. After setting up my camera and tripod, I more often than not stayed in the aforementioned area the entire time. I didn’t have a GPS and I wasn’t running a GPS app on my phone. However, I did utilise my phone to take a few pictures while I was out there.
Now that I’1000 dorsum home and all the photos from the trip are in my Lightroom catalog, I tin can geotag the images from that evening at Lost Dutchman. All I need to do is import one of the photos from my phone into Lightroom and go to the Map module. Since the photograph was taken with my phone, there are already GPS coordinates embedded in the metadata and the image will be placed correct on the exact map location. Now all that I have to do is select all the other photos taken at that location and drag and drop them on the map in the same spot as the phone photo. Voila, all of those images are at present geotagged.
Furthermore, each time you move to a new location, just take a quick snap with your phone. Information technology doesn’t accept to be a piece of work of fine art; only a manner to certificate where y’all are. All of the “skillful” photos you take with your photographic camera from that area can then exist geotagged.
Finally, if you lot don’t have a GPS, or a phone, or forget to record your tracks on a hike, images tin be manually dropped onto the map. This may not be as authentic as using a GPS, only information technology tin go your images into the ballpark. This basically involves selecting an prototype in Lightroom, going to the map module, finding the gauge location of the image, and dropping information technology onto the map.
For instance, I know that I captured some images at Monument Rocks on my fashion downwardly to Phoenix. I was non using a GPS or my phone to record coordinate data. All the same, I tin navigate to the approximate location and driblet those photos onto the map. It’s a rudimentary method of geotagging, only it may be helpful five or x years from at present to glance at the map to see where I’ve been shooting.
Which Method is Best?
That’s a tough question to answer, and opinions will certainly vary. Some people would rather not geotag and potentially add more than complexity to their photography. Admittedly, I haven’t fully bought into it yet, but do realize it could be beneficial. Last Oct, I traveled to New York Metropolis and did a ton of walking and shooting. After covering more than 60 miles of streets and sidewalks, and photographing random subjects around the city, there’s no style I tin can think where all those images were captured.
Let’due south take a wait at some of the pros and cons of each of the geotagging methods below. So you can make it at your own conclusions.
- Relatively piece of cake to utilize; just plow on and get.
- No extra steps involved to tag photos. The GPS information is automatically included in the paradigm EXIF data.
- Indicate acquisition could be an outcome unless the GPS feature is left on for the entire shoot.
- Leaving the GPS turned on all the time will decrease the photographic camera’s bombardment life.
External GPS Receiver
- Much like the built-in GPS, the coordinates are recorded into the paradigm EXIF data.
- No extra steps involved to tag photos.
- Some operate using a divide AA battery instead of the camera battery.
- Units tin be expensive, particularly for the name make models.
- This is another slice of gear to worry about. Showtime, y’all have to remember information technology; retrieve to bank check the battery (if it uses a separate battery); and so remember to turn it on. Some of these take divide AA batteries, so plan to carry extras along but in example. If it runs off the camera battery, then that bombardment life volition be decreased.
- Split up device that doesn’t bleed the camera’s battery.
- Unremarkably pretty accurate.
- Tin can be useful for navigating out of tough situations.
- Another device that you accept to carry with you lot.
- Demand to brand certain batteries are charged and deport extras.
- Extra steps involved to import the tracklog and tag photos.
- Usually always take it with you anyway.
- Inexpensive solution.
- Split device that doesn’t employ the camera’s battery.
- GPS apps work even without cellular indicate.
- Uses phone battery, which could be an upshot if yous need to employ your phone.
- Extra steps involved to import tracklog and tag photos.
- No extra GPS device to carry.
- No extra price.
- Can have more fourth dimension to find guess locations on map.
- By and large not equally accurate as using GPS.
- More prone to errors.
In a world where technology marches forward at lightning speed, it’s hard to believe that all cameras don’t have built-in GPS. It doesn’t seem to be about cost. The tabular array above shows cameras with GPS ranging in cost from nether $600 to nearly $9,000. The smartphones that we use daily accept GPS, so surely information technology tin exist fit into a camera. Perchance there are legitimate reasons that it’s non constitute in all cameras. Regardless, I would have to believe that as GPS and camera technologies ameliorate, GPS will eventually be a standard feature. Geotagging images certainly has a lot of value, so let’s hope they figure this out sooner than later on.