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Saturday Shout: Is Geo-Tagging the Next Must-Have Camera Feature?

Saturday ShoutFace Detection is undoubtedly the must-have digital camera feature for 2007, with every new model offering some kind of system. Could GPS (Global Positioning System) based geo-tagging be the next killer application? Sony are already offering a GPS kit that’s compatible with most recent cameras, and Jobo are about to release a GPS unit that fits in the hotshoe of a DSLR. Companies at the recent PMA show in Las Vegas were demonstrating inexpensive GPS chips that could be fitted inside a digital camera, leading many experts to believe that this will be the killer feature for 2008/9. So we may all be able to plot our photographic routes on Google Earth or a similar service sooner than you think, and there will be no more wondering about where a particular photograph was taken. Will GPS-based geo-tagging be big, is it an exciting feature for you and something that you’d use a lot, or is it just another flashy way for camera companies to differentiate themselves from their competitors? Shout out now...

Published: Saturday, April 07, 2007

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Reader Comments

  1. I would find GPS tagging very useful, especially while travelling. I use Qimage for image formatting and printing, and regularly use its ability to format and print selected EXIF and IPTC fields along with the image. Having consistent and detailed location information as well as the local date and time applied to each image would be ideal.

    Joe at 04:30pm on Saturday, April 07, 2007

  2. As usual, this depends on the software available to accompany the GPS hardware. What would be wonderful, for example, would be auto-processing a batch of geo-coded photos to insert city, state/region and country in the appropriate metadata fields (and perhaps optionally as keywords).

    This would be a huge timesaver for editing travel-based photography, esp. for those of us who depend on memory (rather than note-taking) more than we should . . .

    Also would be great to go in the opposite direction -- a Google-type map that reveals available photos at different points. Possible now, but painfully -- extracting the geo-code from metadata of a photo collection would automate the process.

    Give us the data and we will make it usable in inexpected ways.

    Alan Tobey at 07:51pm on Saturday, April 07, 2007

  3. I think it would be a great standard feature to have. As it is now, I keyword all my photos by city and state so I can locate them easier.

    Wouldn't it be nice to have a little map software similar to Flickr that showed little balloons in the locations you've taken photos.

    Brian Auer at 10:09pm on Saturday, April 07, 2007

  4. I think it would be an amazing feature. I can just imagine playing with Google Earth & seeing where I took pictures while on my travels or seeing other people's pictures of places I want to go.

    In terms of organising your pictures it would be great too. Tagging seems to be the buzz word of web2 & with smart searching & GPS tags on your photos we could have smart folders for where pictures were taken as well as when, & a whole hosts of other options.

    I can't wait!!


    Kieren Geaney at 11:32pm on Saturday, April 07, 2007

  5. I like to think that I would know where I was when I photographed something.

    I am getting an H9 from Sony and it has a GPS option. I don't travel much.

    Interesting. The whole concept reminds me of the novel '1984'.

    Nicholas at 02:19am on Sunday, April 08, 2007

  6. Absolutely a great future. If software support is done properly of course (meaning: non-proprietary implementation so that it works with all digital photos / cameras; easy exchange of data with other applications like Google Earth).

    Most people immediately think about travel photography. But even more interesting is press photography: discussions about where the picture was taken (or where a boat was at a given moment in time...) would be non existing. On condition that the gps data can't be altered in the metadata of course. That could be the weak point in this technology: altering the gps-data in the metadata of the picture.

    If it is reasonably priced, doesn't eat batteries like hell (e.g. the Sony which is always on: I can't afford to take dozens of batteries in my backpack when I'm hiking in the mountains, recharging batteries is not always possible during hikes), or is really ugly and big, it's certainly on my shopping list!


    Eddy Hagen at 09:40am on Sunday, April 08, 2007

  7. I have to agree - if done right, it will be indispensable. And to be done right, it shouldn't be overdone; I would say ideally it should repeat the process that some people are performing manually now - save the GPS track data, optionally put geotagging into EXIF on-camera, and allow seamless tagging/GPS track export to be done when offloading pictures from the camera. What it should NOT do is to force the photographer to perform additional tasks, nor limit his ability to manipulate his own data.

    Michael Bravo at 02:41pm on Monday, April 09, 2007

  8. I have been asking for this feature for a while. It is not just the various companys that are offering GPS as a gee-wiz new feature. This is something that is going to be needed. Have you ever driven down the highway and taken a picture of something but had no idea exactly where your were; on a boat holding up the largest Tarpon or Grouper you ever caught; or on a cruise in the Bahamas where you were so intoxicated you forgot which island you were on. These are just some of the many reasons why you need GPS info and not just date-time stamp info on your pictures. I also agree that someone needs to produce software that will automatically read this information and sort or import to Google Earth or do whatever you command it to do. What I have been doing now is taking a picture of my Garmin showing the coordinates then taking the next series of pictures in that area. Then when I change areas I take another picture of my Garmin and repeat the process. Why do we have to stoop to this level when we spend thousands of dollars on this equipment? While I am at it, why isn't there a built in tv, cell phone, WI-FI and MP3 player?

    Ray Moore at 12:53am on Wednesday, April 11, 2007

  9. Ray has a Garmin GPS so if it has NMEA
    output (fairly likely except with the
    newest models, which Garmin has restricted
    to its proprietary format), a camera which
    records the time in an EXIF header, and
    a Windows 9x-on-up computer, he has all
    he needs to do it all automatically and
    for free. Turn on the Garmin (use power
    saving mode and rechargeables if ordinary
    batteries are not an attractive option),
    set it to record a tracklog, and stomp
    around the islands taking his pix. Every
    now and then, download his tracklog into
    his computer. A whole bunch of free
    programs will do it - the graphical one
    at is highly OK as it will
    also do nice mapping stuff for him, in
    real time as with a car navigator, even,
    if he wants. When he gets back to wherever
    he forgets where he shot stuff he can use
    on of several programs that automatically
    match up the times in the photos and the
    time in the tracklogs and do what he wants
    with the result, like write it back into
    the GPS fields of the EXIF header or feed
    it into his photo processing program or....
    One at is very good and free,
    and there are also several others around if
    he Googles good enough. A whole bunch of
    people have been geotagging their photos
    like this for several years. Nobody needs
    to wait for some second hand implementation
    to come out of some Johnny-come-lately
    camera marketing department pretending it
    is some kind of innovator if they don't
    want to. Some people have possibly even
    got a sdimilar setup working on a Mac.
    The only useful developments are chips that
    put the GPS IN the camera (I'd sooner have
    one in a dedicated GPS unit and leave the
    the camera company to spend the money on
    a better image) and the Philips system which
    can make a battery go a l-o-n-g way but has
    an unavoidable reliance on contacting a
    Philips website to translate the output into
    a GPS fix (sounds like an excuse for a way
    to extract a subscription to me, and also
    a way to find that doing so a decade later
    is probably not an option....).

    Notmyn Me at 12:16am on Saturday, April 14, 2007

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