Next I should mention we have two kids and we travel. Not tons of travel, just more than some and less than others. Janine recently told me she takes an average of 3000 pictures a month, which amounts to about 100 pictures a day, and that means a little over one picture every 10 minutes she’s awake. Suffice it to say there are a lot of photos taken, especially of the kids.
The digital age has brought us many wonders. Computers, the internet, and of course GPS. Somewhere along the line, people wanted to know where their photos had been taken – myself included. This is likely old hat to many of you reading this but I personally know of many who have no idea what GeoTagging or Geocaching or even GPS is. And my own experience GeoTagging photos wasn’t always easy so I thought I’d try my hand at explaining and providing a list of useful devices and software.
GeoTagging involves writing geospatial coordinates to the digital picture’s EXIF data – the same data that your computer uses to see what the exposure setting, f-stop, zoom, camera model etc are. These tags are interpreted by certain programs such as iLife 09 or Picasa which can render a map displaying all the pinpoints representing the locations these photos were taken (see my earlier iLife 09 Review).
A few cameras available today have GeoTagging functions. Fortunately some of these cameras are incredibly mainstream such as the Blackberry Curve or the iPhone, though the image quality of these are nothing compared to higher end cameras.
In 2008, many manufacturers promised to release GPS enabled cameras, but with the advent of certain simpler, lower powered solutions they seem to be dragging their feet a bit. Most at this point seem to take advantage of proprietary add-ons unique to each manufacturer, and generally only for the professional models such as DSLRs.
Third party devices are popping up which can either be used separately with software or integrated directly by way of SD cards or hot-shoe attachments.
Here are some highlights.
|Eye-Fi – $99.99(http://www.eye.fi/)
4GB SD card with Wi-FI and GPS support
1 year of free Wayport Hotspot access
Can upload to various services such as flickr, facebook, picasa, youtube(for video), photobucket and more.
Uses Skyhook to establish wifi-assisted gps (at time of writing, this covers 70% of the US and Canada; 70% of populated Germany, France, and UK; While they plan to expand coverage in the west and Asia)
|AMOD AGL3080 – $99.99(http://www.semsons.com/amaggpsdalos.html)
128MB USB 2.0 – Doubles as Flash Disk
15 hours with 3 x AAA batteries
Fast SiRF III chipset – get a satellite fix in as little as 1 second
|Sony GPSCS3KA $149.99 (SonyStyle)
Acts as USB GPS interface for any computer with a USB port and GPS software
Built-in MemoryStick and SecureDigital ports for automatically matching GPS data to images
15 hours with 2 x AA batteries
There are a number of easy to use programs that offer GeoTagging, such as iLife 09, Picasa, and Aperture. But if you want to match up GPS data from a data logger device such as the AMOD AGL3080, I’ve got a few tips since that’s what I have.
Basically there are two providers: Houdah and GPSBabel, with some crossover.
|HoudahGeo – $30 (http://www.houdah.com/houdahGeo/)
OS X 10.4+
Geocodes for Google Earth or Flickr
Writes to iPhoto 09 places database
|HoudahGPS – Free (http://www.houdah.com/houdahGPS/)
Front-end GUI for GPSBabel command-line tool
Mac-Only (GPSBabel available for Windows, Mac or Linux and other GUIs are available, but nothing as streamlined and simple as HoudahGPS)
I personally use HoudahGeo paired with my AMOD AGL3080. If I could choose now, I’d probably go with the Sony device since all you have to do is turn it on, take your pictures and then just plug in your card when you’re done – the device will write all the appropriate EXIF data to the image files. The AMOD has a few extra steps to it, but it logs files with the same format as the Sony does, so when you import the data into HoudahGPS, you must specify the Sony data format.
If anyone wants a full demonstration of HoudahGeo or HoudahGPS or any cool tricks you can do with them and Google Earth, please comment and say so. I might even write one anyway.