In one sentence: If you have a Nikon D200 or better digital SLR, go spend $300 on a N2 di-GPS mini.

In the previous posts I’ve described how to geo-tag images either manually, or deriving coordinates from an external GPS unit, but obviously the best option would be to have the camera do the actual work when you press the trigger either by hooking up the camera to a GPS receiver or even better by integrating a GPS receiver directly into the camera.

Sounds easy enough and given the gadget potential - camera with built GPS receiver, what guy wouldn’t love that - I’m surprised that this feature is close to non-existent in the market. Nikon pro SLR’s can be hooked up to an external GPS receiver, Ricoh has marketed a not very impressive camera with built in GPS receiver, and that is pretty much the end of the story about camera GPS integration.

However, Nikon [pro digital SLR] users rejoice, some very nifty camera-GPS receiver solutions have recently been introduced. Everyone else, read on in envy (admittedly, I haven’t researched the Canon possibilities, but OTH I haven’t come across anything either).

The Hardware

Yep, another absolutely-must-have piece of hardware is needed. Basically they fall into two categories, those based on a Nikon MC-35 and an typical GPS receiver such as the Garmin Gecko 101, or a dedicated solution.

When Nikon first introduced support for an external GPS receiver, the only option was to hook up an RS-232 (serial) capable external GPS receiver, which for all practical purposes meant a Nikon MC-35 cable ($65) and a Garmin Gecko 101 ($100) resulting in a big cable mess at the cost of $165.

Then came the dedicated-holder-solutions, consisting of a plastic mount for a GPS receiver integrating the MC-35 and connection to GPS receiver, but still requiring an external GPS receiver. Probably the best known product is the DX-GPS from Red Hen Systems. If you don’t mind having a (big) plastic mount pointing forward from the flash shoe as a second lens, then this system is for you. I think I’d prefer the first solution, but I also think this system worked for a lot of people.

Then finally someone realized that there was an increasing interest in these products, and that a GPS receiver really doesn’t have to take up that much real estate. Remove the big LCD screen, dual AA batteries, and the tough plastic enclosure, and you won’t have much left of a Garmin Gecko 101. And so first came Geopic Geotagging Unit and then came N2 di-GPS mini.

In the final part, I’ll round up the different techniques, and cover key features I find missing in the possible workflows. I’ll also give some thought to where I think geo-tagging will be taken in the future….



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Published

17 May 2007

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