Geotagging

Posted on 2nd August 2016 by Admin under Equipment, Software, Technique
1 Comment

I can be a bit slow sometimes, really I can.  A case in point is my Olympus E-M10, which I have owned for more than two years.  Yet it was only a few days ago that I realised it had a feature to tag images with the location where they were taken.  In my defence, I will say that the E-M10 does not have a built-in GPS receiver and relies on a mobile phone for the function.  In turn, that requires an Olympus app and therein lay the problem.

When I had chosen my first smartphone, I had opted for one which ran Windows.  I liked the interface, still do in fact, and was not too worried that there were very few apps for which I had little need.  Besides, Microsoft was promising that more apps would soon be readily available.  What could go wrong?  A few years down the line, we all know the answer to that one.  To add to the insult, cameras with Wi-Fi which required apps to control them started to come onto the market soon after I acquired the phone.  Of which the Olympus was one.  Naturally, the associated apps ran on iOS and Android only.

A while back, I had seen a friend controlling his Olympus remotely from his phone and there was an obvious delay in the transmission of the image from the camera.  It would be useful in some circumstances, but I did not think it worthwhile to install the app when I upgraded to an iPhone recently as I had no immediate need.  While investigating another camera with Wi-Fi, I discovered it supported geotagging when used in conjunction with a smartphone and realised that the E-M10 could do the same.

The app loaded, setting up the connection was straightforward.  With Wi-Fi enabled, a QR code is displayed on the camera’s LCD and is scanned by the application so that the two can be synced.  Scanning only has to be done once, but the QR code is always displayed when Wi-Fi is turned.  That was initially a source of some confusion; all the camera can do in that state is be operated remotely from the app and communicate with the device with which it is paired.  Wi-Fi has to be turned off to use geotagging, which is enabled on the app and records locations to a log via the phone’s GPS.  At the end of the session, geotagging is turned off and the camera relinked to the phone.  At which point, the app requests approval to sync its log with the images on the camera and add location data.

Viewed in Lightroom’s Map module, the shooting position displayed is accurate to within in a few feet.  I did my initial test in my garden and it appeared as though I had taken some shots while on my neighbours’ property, which probably would not please them.  Possible territorial disputes aside, the accuracy should be good enough for most purposes, although the positions can be moved if required.

It is too early to know how useful this feature will be.  I have always thought of geotagging as a non essential feature, more of a nice to have.  Built in GPS is only available on a few cameras, mostly at the higher end, and dedicated add-on units are expensive.  It is good to see some manufacturers including this capability to cheaper models by harnessing the power of the mobile phone.

One thought on “Geotagging”

  1. David Beard says:

    Mike

    One of the features of the 1DX was the ability to attach a GPS unit which I bought at the same time as the camera in late 2012/early 2013. All of my images have therefore been geotagged although I don’t make much use of this information. (When I accidentally click the MAP button in Lightroom the tags are automatically shown!) (All my images for the RPS ‘Bleeding London’ project were shot on the 1DX – it would be interesting to see those tags in Lightroom!)

    When I bought the 7D mk II late 2015 the GPS was a built-in feature and again all my images are tagged. The one problem with this camera, however, is once you’ve switched on GPS in the menu it is ALWAYS on until you switch it off in the menu. If you forget and turn the camera off after a session the GPS continues and will exhaust the battery quite quickly. Not a very good implementation in my opinion.

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