Friday, May 11, 2012

Geotag your D800 files with your iPhone, elegantly and easily

Have you thought about getting a Nikon GP-1 for your Nikon DSLR?  (Or analogous unit for your Canon 5D Mark II or III).  I looked at it too.  Now that Lightroom 4 supports geotagged photos, I wanted GPS data for my big files just like what I'm used to getting on my iPhone.  But reading the reviews for the GP-1 and all the various third-party GPS units just didn't do it for me.  I predicted that it would be cool for a while, but I would quickly tire of:

  • having to carrying around yet another thing,
  • making sure it's attached to the already big camera,
  • getting in the way of using Pocket Wizards,
  • not being able to acquire the GPS signal quickly enough,
  • having to remember to keep my camera on to not lose the signal,
  • it draining my camera battery faster than I want, etc.

Then I thought maybe someone has created a wireless GPS that connects via bluetooth.  (Such a thing exists, but it still didn't compel me.)

Then I thought, heck my iPhone has a GPS, and it's better than a standalone GPS unit because it has A-GPS and is able to estimate position while indoors, more quickly, etc.  I wonder if someone makes a wireless bluetooth dongle that will attach to the camera, but get the GPS data from the iPhone.

Well, I didn't find anything quite like that, but I did find a very elegant solution in GPS4CAM.  I'm very excited about this app.  Here's how it works:

  1. Start the app and tell it to record GPS data.
  2. Shoot away with whatever camera(s) you have, a pocket camera, a DSLR, whatever (the app supports a wide variety of formats).  You can shoot with multiple cameras if you like.
  3. Once you're done shooting, stop the app.  At this point it will display a QR code on the screen.
  4. Take a photo of the QR code with any and all cameras that you've been shooting with.
  5. Plug your memory card into your computer.
  6. On your computer, run the GPS4CAM software (free download from their website).
  7. Point the software at two folders, one is your memory card and the other is an output folder (usually on your computer).
  8. That's it.  Once the software finishes, you will be left with geotagged image files inside the output folder.
At this point, I have Lightroom ingest the files through my normal workflow and I have geotagged images!

You can tweak the settings on the app to set the rate of GPS track acquisition, etc.  OK, so it's not "true" geotagging, but if you set the refresh rate high enough, it is a damn good approximation and certainly better than no geotag data.

I'm very pleased with how well it works.  Check it out here, it's available for iPhone and Android.

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