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Help with geotagging photos - Bad Elf GPS and iPhone, iMac

Vito_f

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Hi,

New to the forum. I am looking to geotag my photos and am looking for help in doing so. I use a Panasonic FZ200 camera, iPhone and iMac.

I am interested in purchasing a Bad Elf GPS Pro unit. Is anyone using this unit with Mac os and IOS devices? If yes what apps are you using and what is your workflow? How has this worked for you?

If you are using another method can you share your workflow and what you think of the process/results?

Thank you.

Vito
 
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Welcome to the forum. I am not familiar with your GPS unit, but I see that it is a standalone device. As such you will need to use it as a Datalogger to create a track log file. This track log file can be uploaded to your Mac and then loaded into the LR Map module. Any imported images with a capture time matching the time with in the track log range can be "Auto Tagged with the GPS coordinates corresponding to the time position on the track. For accuracy, you need to have the camera time adjusted to match the time registered by the GPS unit. The iPhone will have GPS coordinates embedded in the Image file header automatically. The accuracy of the coordinates on the iPhone might be improved with the Bad Elf GPS Pro or depending upon you iPhone built in GPS and available cell phone towers, may be sufficient with out the Bad Elf GPS Pro unit.
 

rob211

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The easiest way to geotag, if you already have an iOS device that is GPS-capable, is with gps4cam app. Either use its desktop application to then synch up the geotags recorded on the iPhone, or use HoudahGeo. I prefer HoudahGeo cuz it has a lot more features. The beauty of gps4cam is that it makes coordinating with your camera's clock really really easy.

I have dedicated GPS units but I rarely use them for geotagging because it's just easier with the iPhone. But any GPS unit can output NMEA tracks, and with those and either Lr or HoudahGeo you can easily geotag the photos. I assume the Bad Elf can output such files somehow.
 
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I would strongly second Rob's advice to use your Smartphone instead.

There is a lot of misinformation out there about Smartphones and GPS capability.
Smartphones have a built-in GPS unit (perhaps one can still find old Smartphones that don't but late model iPhones do) - what this means is that they work without needing a microwave tower.
There are three important consequences here:
1. There are no data costs;
2. You can do GPS logging in areas where your phone will not work as a phone ie no connection.
3. The in-built GPS itself is very accurate. Trying to use an additional mode where the Smartphone triangulates its position from microwave towers (and uses costly data) is very inaccurate.

The misinformation is that one needs the data connection and additional modes for the GPS functionality - that is plain wrong.

There are multiple apps that one can download to actually do the logging.
GPS4cam is one but there are others.

My suggestion is that even if you need that GPS unit mentioned to actually find your way around I would still use the Smartphone to do the GPS logging.
In this regard on my last trip to Southern Africa I actually used my Smartphone as a GPS navigator. Although I actually own a very good standalone GPS unit I did not take it on this trip.
One can use Google maps to do your navigation - but this does need a connection and so uses data.
I used an app called Here. The actual app is free but the maps are not. However the maps are not expensive, particularly when compared to the full cost of a standalone GPS unit. Additionally Here offers maps that cover most (all?) of the planet - land areas anyway - and so, if one needs to travel internationally just download the maps for that location and you are good to go.
Most of the time we were traveling in very remote areas - no microwave towers for hundreds or thousands of kilometres of kilometres. The Smartphone worked flawlessly as a navigator and flawlessly as a GPS logger for reverse geotagging.

The summary recommendation from me is that your Smartphone can fully substitute for a standalone GPS unit and the additional cost of a couple of apps is only a few dollars/pounds etc.

Tony Jay
 
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Hi I also use my iPhone to create GPS track logs. You should be aware, however, that this requires significant power and will drain your iPhone battery in something like 8 hours. I solved this problem by using a Mophie battery case for my iPhone. It makes my phone a little bit heaver and thicker but more than doubles the power.

I use Galileo Offline Maps app that combines GPS tracking with free downloadable maps based on the open source OpenStreetMap project.

-louie
 

bob chadwick

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Agree with using your phone's GPS to create track logs. I use GPS Tracks with my iPhone and merge the track log with the photos using Jeffrey Friedl's Lightroom plugin.
 

rob211

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BTW, a nice thing about gps4cam is that you can set the interval for tracking points; it uses less battery that way. It can also work in a more manual mode: every time you stop to take a photo you give it a vigorous shake and it will record a waypoint.

Or just use your phone's camera: when you stop to take photos take one with the phone. When you upload it to Lr you can copy the location info. Or use HoudahGeo to do that automatically by time proximity.

And a +1 on Friedl's geotagging plugin; it's very useful for putting geolocation info in, and taking it out too.
 
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BTW, a nice thing about gps4cam is that you can set the interval for tracking points; it uses less battery that way. It can also work in a more manual mode: every time you stop to take a photo you give it a vigorous shake and it will record a waypoint.

Or just use your phone's camera: when you stop to take photos take one with the phone. When you upload it to Lr you can copy the location info. Or use HoudahGeo to do that automatically by time proximity.

And a +1 on Friedl's geotagging plugin; it's very useful for putting geolocation info in, and taking it out too.
Setting time intervals for tracking points is a common feature - I would suggest most apps (perhaps not all) include this functionality.
I would agree that it would make no sense to use an app that does not provide this feature.

Tony Jay
 

Matt Drown

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To answer your original question How I did it 8 years ago - Technical Tips – Photo Preprocessing Workflow with Geotagging - I used a command line tool to merge tracks from a tiny gps logger that stored info in GPX files.

In the past couple of years, I've swittched to using GeoSetter. I use the beta, which you can't find on the english pages, only the german page - Download - The application itself still is in english, so no worries there. This is a GUI tool to take gps files, I still use the unit documented in the above webpage, and applies them to JPG/DNG files.

You can track with your phone if you want, but as others have mentioned battery drain is normally higher, but may not be an impact if you are already carrying extra phone batteries, etc. I found the dedicated loggers grabbed signal faster than my phone, but last time I checked was 8 years ago.... :)

I find that logging every 10 seconds is more than accurate enough. My logger battery lasts over 16 hours, and has memory for 2 weeks of log files, so I can sync/download at the end of a week without a problem.
 
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Even battery drain can be dealt with.
There are plenty of batteries with USB connections one can use to charge the battery on a smartphone while out shooting.
The combined weight of battery and phone is still only a couple of hundred grams.
If one already has the phone the cost of all the apps and the battery (if one really needs it) is still a lot less than a dedicated GPS unit.
 

Hoggy

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Even battery drain can be dealt with.
There are plenty of batteries with USB connections one can use to charge the battery on a smartphone while out shooting.

And for any other vapers, this is even less of a concern - as any serious vapers with powerful mods will have PLENTY of 18650's on hand at all times, to feed those usb chargers. :D
 

Jack Henry

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18650 is a size standard for a particular rechargeable battery.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

rob211

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18650 is a size standard for a particular rechargeable battery.

18mm x 65mm, kinda like a beefy AAA. There are now lots of flashlights and other devices that use them (Teslas, eg). So instead of using a sealed battery pack with USB out power, you get one with removable 18650s, since that's more versatile. Odds are that's what's inside anyway. They come in unprotected (from short circuit failure) and protected, and can have different caps than your AAA (no protruding bump on +). Each is a cell (meaning the smallest unit possible; a battery is a collection of cells actually, like the ones in your car battery). Voltage is 4.2. They require a different charger. They also can discharge and recharge faster than say your average AA. And they can have as much as 3600mah capacity.

I wish I had a grip for my camera that could use these. There are bunches of DIY hacks to do so, but they tend to be kinda bulky.
 

PhilBurton

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Hoggy

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Another disgusting habit that replaced tobacco.

Yep, otherwise called 'e-cigs'. And they're really more of an alternative to tobacco - or not - as I've heard of many people who either start vaping 0-nic or go to 0-nic. They vape for the thousands of different flavor combinations possible, and they can also aid in weight loss for those that want to quench their sweet tooth without the calories. I started at ~24mg/ml nic, but am now down to ~1mg/ml nic, with some 0-nic. I could probably just make my mixes all at 0-nic, but at this rate, I have decades worth of 'high-test' nicotine mixture in VG (vegetable glycerin) stockpiled up. :)

Unlike tobacco, they're not really that disgusting though IMO - as no smoke, or carcinogens, are ever involved. Sure, there are still disrespectful vapers - but then there there are also people that go around spitting all the time (which I find far more disgusting). There's also no stench or dirty ashtrays or cigarette butts, you still have your sense of smell and taste, there's no hacking up your lungs, and everything that would have at one time gained a yellow stain/film has that yellow film no-more.

They also can be quite a fulfilling hobby if one chooses them to be, as you get to play 'mad scientist' - mixing up all your own flavors, complete with glass syringes (with blunt dispensing tips) or scales -- and/or making your own coils (the part that heats up the liquid mixture). My latest trend is using a drill to twist up different types of wires together in various ways to make the wire for my coils. Then inserting my own wicks, usually Rayon (basically a 'purified' cotton), into the coil. So by doing this all myself, it's not only far cheaper - it's also fun to do.
Just like photography to me, I wouldn't say I'm the most skillful artisan with it - but darn if it isn't fun trying. :wacky: :joyful:

Rob got the description down as to the 18650 (as well as other lithium-ion sizes -- the '0' at the end indicates it's a cylindrical cell), with the slight clarification of the protruding + bump.. Some have a slight bump (called button-top), and some don't - and one needs to order the version that the device needs, unless it accepts both.


OH - and **ALWAYS** respect and treat your lithium-ion batteries with great care - whether they're in your phone, laptop (also usually a series of 18650's), or personal vaporizing device. Otherwise, Bad Things® have been known to happen. (Dell recall, anybody?)

Anyway, this has been your Public Service Announcement. We now return you to your regularly scheduled program, already in progress.
 
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PhilBurton

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IF you have a Nikon or Canon DSLR, you can get a GPS accessory that plugs right into your camera from vendors like this one: Solmeta Technology Ltd.|Nikon GPS,Photo GPS,camera GPS,Geotagging,Geotagger

The GPS data is "stamped" right into each image, RAW or otherwise. No need to fuss with a importing datalogger tracks, etc. I have a Solmeta N3 for my Nikon D3. Recommended.

Phil Burton
 
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IF you have a Nikon or Canon DSLR, you can get a GPS accessory that plugs right into your camera from vendors like this one: Solmeta Technology Ltd.|Nikon GPS,Photo GPS,camera GPS,Geotagging,Geotagger

The GPS data is "stamped" right into each image, RAW or otherwise. No need to fuss with a importing datalogger tracks, etc. I have a Solmeta N3 for my Nikon D3. Recommended.

Phil Burton
These options work well enough, so that is not the issue.

Several points to consider:
1. They mount to the hotshoe of the camera body - a dealbreaker for those who need both flash and GPS simultaneously. I also use lightning triggers that also require the hotshoe. (I do, and I own Canon OEM GPS units that I don't use because I need the flash on my camera for bird photography (in particular) and also wildlife on occasions.)
2. Why spend another $ xxx.00 on another gizmo that does exactly what a Smartphone does. My Smartphone does multiple duty as a GPS tracker, photographic reference for DOF and other things as well as almanac for moon phases, sunrise and sunset direction etc when out shooting. The fact that I can actually use it as a phone (if I happen to be in range of a microwave tower) is the least of its utility.
3. Reverse geotagging using .gpx tracklogs is a minor issue as far as time is concerned in the overall workflow required in Lightroom. I tend to download the tracklogs while Lightroom is ingesting images from that shoot.

Tony Jay
 

Matt Drown

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Reasoning behind my decisions to use an external unit. Originally, when I started doing this in 2008, the options for oncamera units were expensive or didn't exist. Phone programs worked, but put a huge drain on the battery. Now almost 10 years later the first reason is still a problem for me, I shoot with Canon and Olympus gear right now, no option for the olympus gear at present. And I find that battery loss is far less on the phones than it used to be, but i would still be required to carry a battery pack for the phone to make it all day. I travel and shoot, so I'm out all day, not just in four hour stints. I usually am in a city without a car, so can't charge up there. And these external gps units are the the size of a canon battery, they run on old nokia mobile phone batteries. These are my reasons for sticking with an external unit.

But if you are new to geotagging, I would try out a phone app first and see if the workflow is something you are going to do. If not, then an on camera unit of some sort that tags without you having to do anything would potentially solve that problem. If you find your phone battery lacking for your habits than pick up an external unit, $100-$200 USD depending on what you pick up. And if you find it all annoying and pointless, save your money and buy a new camera bag.... :)

FYI, my one other hint/tip for geotagging + travel + multiple cameras. Sync all your cameras clocks to UTC. Then when syncing GPX files to the pictures, there is less issue when trying to remember which timezone you were in, and if you remembered to adjust the local clock on the camera to that timezone. You just sync, and are done.
 
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Sync all your cameras clocks to UTC.

This is the way I work and have done for years. I know this may not suit if in a Time Zone close to UTC, but I have used it in the Far East, Australia, New Zealand and California. It has allowed me to standardise my workflow and can use any convenient source of GPS tracking info, either from my phone, dedicated GPS device or camera add-on/feature.

For people only using smart phones as cameras this may be academic.
 

PhilBurton

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These options work well enough, so that is not the issue.

Several points to consider:
1. They mount to the hotshoe of the camera body - a dealbreaker for those who need both flash and GPS simultaneously. I also use lightning triggers that also require the hotshoe. (I do, and I own Canon OEM GPS units that I don't use because I need the flash on my camera for bird photography (in particular) and also wildlife on occasions.)
2. Why spend another $ xxx.00 on another gizmo that does exactly what a Smartphone does. My Smartphone does multiple duty as a GPS tracker, photographic reference for DOF and other things as well as almanac for moon phases, sunrise and sunset direction etc when out shooting. The fact that I can actually use it as a phone (if I happen to be in range of a microwave tower) is the least of its utility.
3. Reverse geotagging using .gpx tracklogs is a minor issue as far as time is concerned in the overall workflow required in Lightroom. I tend to download the tracklogs while Lightroom is ingesting images from that shoot.

Tony Jay
My Solmeta unit comes with a "hotshoe type mount" that can thread onto the camera strap. The camera hotshoe is still available for flash. (I rarely ever use flash in my type of photography.)

When I am outside my home country (USA) I tend to buy for my smartphone a local SIM with minimal data features, because I use the local SIM mainly for phone calls. My camera-mounted GPS takes away this issue.

Sometimes I do photography in the US in rural areas where cellphone service is spotty or non-existent. No such issue with my GPS.

The right tools for the job, but everyone has different needs.

Phil
 

rob211

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The OP has an FZ200, so no options for add-on GPS. Dunno if it has wifi; some wifi apps will geocode the images while they're in the phone. My Olympus, for example: record a track with the Oly iOS app, then sync with camera, and all images are geotagged right on the SD card. It saves the tracks too in case you need them for logging hikes, etc.

And Gnits, do you keep UTC as the capture time? I like to refer to a picture and see that it was taken at 5:45 in the evening without having to do some mental calculation for time offset, which also requires I figure out WHERE the shot was taken, and in what time zone (and that's not as easy as one might think on land, especially in some places I go (the area near Hells Canyon is nuts, and in northern NV the boundary is actually north south). Since it's difficult to sort tz from GPS data, I have just found it easier to go back to local time for every shot. That's also influenced by the fact that my GPS enabled camera auto sets the camera clock to local time (although I have to tell it the zone). And as I noted, my Oly also sets local time from the GPS data via the iOS app I use to write the data in the camera.
 
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My Solmeta unit comes with a "hotshoe type mount" that can thread onto the camera strap. The camera hotshoe is still available for flash. (I rarely ever use flash in my type of photography.)

When I am outside my home country (USA) I tend to buy for my smartphone a local SIM with minimal data features, because I use the local SIM mainly for phone calls. My camera-mounted GPS takes away this issue.

Sometimes I do photography in the US in rural areas where cellphone service is spotty or non-existent. No such issue with my GPS.

The right tools for the job, but everyone has different needs.

Phil
I am sorry but this is nothing more an enduring myth.
A smartphone's GPS capability has nothing, nada, zilch, to do with connectivity.

I have successfully used a smartphone as a GPS, both for reverse geotagging and navigation, hundreds or thousands of kilometres from the nearest microwave tower in both Australia and Africa.

Tony Jay
 
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