Are you looking for a simple solution to encoding the GPS location to your non-gps DSLR photos and are willing to spend $2.99 or so on a solution (and have an iPhone), then gps4cam is a handy iPhone application you should have. Until the DSLR makers decide to include GPS for encoding location information to your photos automatically and without adding lots of $ to the camera cost – and if you don't want to buy an expensive add on unit, then this might be the easiest option on the market. There are some more expensive options that do work (depending on camera model and functionality) and they encode directly into the images as they are shot. This method takes a tiny bit more work, but it has the advantage of not attaching something else to your camera and it is very inexpensive.
First, the quick overview of the process:
➊ Launch gps4cam and press the ‘Start a new trip’ button.
➋ At the end of your trip, press the ‘Export’ button, which will generate a 2D bar code. Take a picture with your camera of this screen.
➌ To upload the pictures on your mac or pc, you can use gps4cam desktop (free download on our website). This software will geotag automatically your pictures.
✔ No need to synchronize manually the time and date of your iPhone and your camera
✔ Share one bar code with several cameras
✔ Visualize the trip and different capture points on a map
✔ Share the geotagged pictures on websites like Flickr, Picasa or Panoramio
✔ Organize the geotagged pictures with software like iPhoto, Aperture or Picasa (mac or pc)
✔ Works with all camera brands including Canon, Nikon, Sony and Panasonic
✔ Geotag all the usual image formats (jpg, raw, tiff…)
✔ Contextual help and instructions
✔ GPX export (optional)
my podcast on gps4cam
I have seen other solutions that required additional gear and therefore never bought into geotagging my photos… so when I saw this app I jumped at the chance to test it (note – they did give me a copy for free – but since it is only $2.99, and the review sure took a lot of my time to write, then I hardly think that was any influence on the review).
Of course I tried the app out on a couple of local trips before setting out with the family on a fun 10 day vacation out to the southwest USA. On the small local trips, it worked just as I expected, but what would happen on a long trip? I asked Martijn Verpaalen (of gps4cam) whether I should do several small “trips” in the application and his advice was to just let it go for the whole time. I wasn't really concerned about my iPhone battery since I'd have my car charger with me and would have access to power when ever I needed it (which I didn't really need).
For a 10 day trip, I’m incredibly impressed with the processing considering I was in several timezones during the trip and I never changed a single setting. I did find one or two that weren’t in the proper location, but the main reason was due to me setting the time to every 10 minutes instead of every 5. And we were doing a LOT of driving – so 10 minutes in a car can mean a lot of distance.
For the vast majority of our trip, we were in the Mountain time zone. Tho for a day, we were in Arizona which doesn’t observe ‘daylight savings time’ – and I was really worried about these images being tagged right once I thought about the camera settings, but I’ll be darned – gps4cam figured it all out!
We did have a small issue with the application going into “pause” a couple of times on my iPhone – tho it was easily caught. I was in the habit of checking it before beginning a photo session. My daughter tried gps4cam on her iPhone (which is an iPhone 3g – and I have the iPhone 4). Hers was constantly going on pause on the first day, so she gave up and will use my codes to do the tagging. I wasn’t able to come up with any good ideas about the reason my phone would go on pause, but it did maybe 5 times on the trip. It did cause me to think about it more tho – and I started checking it regularly before we were in photo situations to make sure it was running.
Pros and Cons!
- very inexpensive
- works like a charm
- assuming you have an iPhone, no extra camera gear required
- great in-app help and FAQ
- iPhone only
- requires post processing – doesn't encode in camera
- does require a bit of learning and understanding
- did go into “pause” a few times – developer looking into problem
My experience with gps4cam has been excellent and if you're looking for something to geotag your photos, this should fill the bill. I do urge you to read the FAQ in the application so you have a complete understanding of all the functionality and try it out on a few local trips to figure out what your preferred settings will be before any long trips.
If you're curious about the buffalo drive I mentioned in the video – it is available on amazon
blogger's disclaimer: we did get 2 free copies of this $2.99 app (one for me and one for my daughter). I don't think that influenced me in any way.
(cover photo credit: snap from aperture of my vacation)