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Friday, June 11, 2010

Photo Adventures With GPS

By The Editors Published in SLRs
Photo Adventures With GPS
You’re probably familiar with the metadata that’s embedded in digital photos—information your camera automatically adds to each image file—such as the time stamp, camera model, lens and camera settings and more for every shot. What most digital cameras don’t log automatically is where you shot each image. That’s where geotagging comes in. With a handheld GPS unit and appropriate geotagging software, you can “tag” each image with its latitude and longitude information. Some systems also will record elevation and even the compass direction at which the camera was pointed for the shot.

Nikon Coolpix P6000
Nikon’s first GPS-integral digital camera, the little 13.5-megapixel P6000 has a 4x, 28-112mm equivalent zoom lens and can geotag photos as you shoot them. www.nikonusa.com

WHY GEOTAG?

One obvious reason is so you can find the precise spot again. If you want to return to a particular place at another time or season when the light will be different, you’ll know exactly where to go—especially useful when you’re in unfamiliar terri-tory. It also adds an extra dimension to your photo travelogues.

Plus, in the digital world, it’s easier to share our photography. Including location information when you post photos in galleries and contests can inspire others to visit those locations for great photos of their own.

The most practical reason, though, is organization. Apple’s Aperture 3 and iPhoto ’09 will automatically map your photos and translate your GPS coordinates into searchable place names. Google’s Picassa and sites like Panoramio.com also have geotagging features.

Sony GPS-CS3KA
Sony’s GPS-CS3KA doesn’t automatically tag images as you shoot; rather, it saves the GPS data on a Memory Stick or SD card in the unit. You then transfer your photos and the GPS data to your computer, and the provided image-tracker software links the data to the photos. www.sonystyle.com

ACQUIRING GEOTAGS

A handful of cameras have geotagging GPS units built in, which makes the process simple: Shoot your photos, and the location data is automatically added to the metadata for each image as you shoot.

Leica V-Lux 20
This new 12.1-megapixel compact model has a 12x, 25-300mm equivalent zoom, 720p HD movie capability and a built-in GPS to record location data for your photos. www.leica-camera.com

If your camera doesn’t have this capability as stock gear, there are a number of geotagging GPS accessories available that connect to your camera. These also record location data as you shoot each image—just like a built-in GPS, only you have to acquire and carry the separate unit.

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