Exif data and GPS data.

Discussion in 'Digital SLR' started by Ben Brugman, Feb 4, 2007.

  1. Ben Brugman

    Ben Brugman Guest

    Hello Reader,

    I have a camera, also I have a GPS device (Garmin eTrex Vista). With the
    available software I can extract data from the GPS device, for example I can
    make the format *.gpx (GPs eXchange format). Other formats can also be

    Is there software which can get the data from the *.gpx file (or one of the
    other format's) and insert it into the Exif data (and keeping the other exif
    data intact). This should offcourse happen according the the logged times.

    (I am aware that there are dedicated 'dongles' to collect the gps data and
    with the additional software this data can be used in the exif files. But
    the function of this is not worth the extra cost of this, and you have an
    extra device, where I am allready carying a GPS device).

    Thanks for your time and attention.
    Ben Brugman.
    Ben Brugman, Feb 4, 2007
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  2. As you mention -- there are specific devices for this function.

    The one that is most interesting (to me anyway) is the Sony GPS-CS1.
    device: http://www.dpreview.com/news/0608/06080202sonygpscs1.asp .

    What it does is record position and real time every 15 seconds for up to 30
    hours and then with PC software coordinates the position recorded with the
    time pictures are taken and adds EXIF geo tagging meta date to the picture.
    It seems the Sony supplied software only works with Sony camera though(at
    least nominally -- I haven't seen any information that indicates it has
    been adapted for other cameras but it seems like it should be possible).

    I assume this is what you are thinking could happen with your Garmin
    device? Will it record and create a downloadable trail like this? How much
    data would 30 hours of points every 15 seconds be in gpx format? Can your
    device keep that amount of tracking? Maybe the Sony device already uses
    this format. There seems to be no information on its data format and I
    haven't actually seen a device or its output to know what the format is
    (but knowing Sony it is probably some proprietary format).

    I haven't seen any mention of anything (even a mashup of various devices
    and software) that does specifically provides this "automatic" geo tagging
    though (other than the Sony device which costs $125 or so and another
    $500++ device that attaches to the camera and coordinates the recording of
    position with the picture taking).

    Another mechanism for geo tagging pictures is via Picasa, Google Earth
    combo. Flickr (and other online picture services I assume) also have
    mechanisms for geo tagging but these involve remembering where the picture
    was taken after the fact.

    (Some poking around reveals this site:
    http://triptracker.net/ -- maybe it does soemthing close to what you want?

    also this software:
    http://www.robogeo.com seems to do what you want)
    Brian Sullivan, Feb 4, 2007
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  3. Ben Brugman

    Mike Fields Guest

    I found several utilities a year or two ago, but one issue at that time
    was they would modify the jpeg header to put the GPS info in it then
    recompress the image itself. I did ask one of the authors about just
    modifying the header without recompressing the image and he said
    he was looking into it. They are out there, but you might want to
    check on the re-compression issue. I have not looked recently
    so I don't know if they addressed that issue. You do have to make
    sure your camera clock is set correctly though :)

    Mike Fields, Feb 4, 2007
  4. Ben Brugman

    Mike Fields Guest

    Sigh -- must get coffee ... must get coffee ...
    Forgot - here is one that I am aware of
    One of the key words for a google search is "georeferencing"
    or "geocoding".

    Mike Fields, Feb 4, 2007
  5. Ben Brugman

    Ken Lucke Guest

    You don't say what platform you are on, and I can't tell from your
    headers, so I'll give you my (the Mac) option, which workes absolutely
    wonderfully for me to do exactly that: GPSPhotolinker.

    This is the only one I found works 100% of the time, and it does it
    from a GUI rather than a command line interface. It only increses my
    workflow by a couple of steps - instead of pulling the photos directly
    off of the card and into Aperture, I pull them all onto the HD first (I
    don't really have to do this, it's just faster than using GPSPL over a
    USB connection on the original card). I then connect my GPS unit
    (Garmin 60CSX) and it downloads the track data directly and saves it to
    your disk [you can have any number of track files, and toggle them on
    or off for access], and you can either manually or batch apply the GPS
    data to your photo(s). Manual allows you to pick the track point for
    each one, batch will do the whole folder based upon matching criteria
    you set up (time or distance from two points, nearest point, time
    weighted average of points, etc). Typically for me, it does about 100
    photos/minute. Once that's done, I import into Aperture as normal.

    Interface is clean and easy to use. Best of all, it's /freeware/ - but
    send a donation to the author anyway (I did, there's a donation button
    on the "About" screen), it's a highly useful utility. For a sample of
    GPS linked photo data, see <http://www.nwconcessions.com/sunset>

    Sorry, I'm not familiar with any Win versions of similar software.

    You need only reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a
    reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating
    the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the struggle for
    -- Charles A. Beard
    Ken Lucke, Feb 4, 2007
  6. IIRC, you have a D80 and not a D200, correct? So you can't simply connect
    your GPS to the camera?
    Ed Ruf (REPLY to E-MAIL IN SIG!), Feb 4, 2007
  7. Ben Brugman

    ben brugman Guest

    Thanks all for your time and attention.

    Mike Fields and Brian Sullivan came with a site, a program exactly providing
    what I requested.

    Some questions where raised :
    The Garmin Vista can record 10000 logpoints. But I have to check how
    much time is between the logpoints. The Vista can be turned off so does not
    record any points then. So effectively I estimate that the vista can be used
    up to several longs days before the log track becomes filles.
    (Saving a log track as a sepparate track is also possible, but then some
    is discarded, and I think that the timestamps are lost during the saving.)
    The Sony can record 30 hours one log for every 15 seconds. This is 7200
    logpoints. My guestimate is that the Vista will last longer than the Sony.
    (Can the Sony be switched off, does is stop recording when staying in one
    place ?).

    ---- modifying the header without recompressing
    From the site I do know understand that this has been implemented.

    ---- You do have to make sure your camera clock is set correctly though :)
    As always this is a good idee, but takes some disipline. For GPS data this
    is very essential. But having two (or more) camera's synchronised exactly,
    makes it
    easier to compare pictures an certainly to order pictures of dynamic events.

    Ken Lucke thanks for the addition of including a Mac anwser, allthough I
    use Windows, I know it is always difficult to get similar software for the
    So thanks for your addition.

    ----IIRC, you have a D80 and not a D200, correct? So you can't simply
    your GPS to the camera?

    No my 'main' camera is a D70, but I shoot with a pocket as wel. Even if the
    camera has a connection. The vista only has an RS232 connection and it's
    unlikely that it will iterface with other products. (For the Mac an
    has been announced, but I haven's seen it, for other producs I do not think
    the Vista will interface.) More modern GPS from Garmin I think use more
    open and modern interfaces. (Bleu Tooth would be nice, but that's the next
    generation I assume).

    Everybody thanks for your time and attention.
    For the future I am going to sync the clock of the camera more often, and
    I get the software will keep a *.gpx file of the tracklog with the pictures.
    So even
    if I am not now adding the gps data to the exif file, I'll keep this
    possible in the
    future. Thanks for all your advises.

    Question, does anybody know how the Sony (camera) GPS devise performs in the
    field. (The Vista for example can loose the 'signal' or become less
    accurate, depending
    how you hold the device or the surrounding. The Vista on a neckstrap against
    body is not the best configuration, urban area's can be a problem and
    foilage can be
    a problem. How does the Sony cope under these circumstances ?)

    ben brugman, Feb 6, 2007
  8. Ben Brugman

    Ken Lucke Guest

    Usually, it's not simply time, it's distance and/or time, with the time
    interval getting larger as you slow down.
    My program noted in its documentation that this _sometimes_ happens
    with _some_ models from _some_ manufacturers... so I'd test yours to
    make sure - yours may not actually do this. I've always just d/l'd the
    data directly using the program, so I have't followed my own advice
    here for my unit.
    My Garmin 60CSX only records points while moving - of course, sometimes
    all GPS units "think" that they are moving even when standing still,
    due to a little drift in their accuracy/satellite lock, but I can leave
    mine on for days and still only have one track (not full). But usually
    track data becomes much more "sparse" when units are not moving.

    See the points below about buying the Sony with built-in GPS.
    I don't remember what camera you said you were using, but Canon's
    utility that comes with their DSLRs allows you to sync it to your
    computer's clock, which of course you should have set up for syncing
    with NIST via the internet or modem. Look for something in your
    software (Nikon?) similar. The GPS, of course, syncs up when it
    acquires satellites.
    It was to help other Mac users as well, but gives you an idea of what's
    capable of being done.
    Ah, there's your model - check with any utility software that came with
    it to see if you can sync it with your computer.
    This is actually typical - even dense trees can sometimes cause a GPS
    unit to lose lock on the satellites, as they are low-power,
    line-of-sight signals.
    If it's /that/ difficult to keep it locked on the satellites, you might
    want to look for a new unit. Technology has improved them tremendously
    within the last few ears. My 60CSX can usually stay locked on 6 or 8
    satellites (out of 12 channels) even downstairs in my basement
    (concrete) and sitting next to my computer (and despite the resulting
    interference that comes from it and the surrounding electronic
    equipment). I have no trouble at all in "urban" areas (with the unit
    mounted next to the left windshield frame on the dashboard).
    Can't answer that, but I can reccommend that you stick to seperate
    units if you are looking to move up later - not only are you going to
    be very limited (in models available) if you look for a combined unit,
    and their combined capabilities will be probably be more limited en
    toto as well than two seprate units, but also you have to think of
    repair issues (if a combined unit goes down for either of the functions
    [camera or GPS], the whole unit has to be sent in for repair* so you
    are out both items). If you have seperate units and one fails, you can
    get it fixed independently (possibly renting or borrowing a replacement
    in the meantime, which would be more difficult to do if you had to find
    a combination or both units). Also the same goes for upgrades, you'll
    get locked into finding only units with both features if you get an
    all-in-one, whereas you can upgrade each independently if you dont.

    Not saying "Don't buy thhe Sony", just sayng "think about the
    ramifications long term".


    * A note about Garmin here: Garmin's warranty service is _exceptional_
    I had my 60CSX go bad (problem with the external USB/power connector
    board causing the thing to have fits, bouncing back and forth between
    powered and batteries, and not allowing connection to the computer
    through the USB port). They took it, repaired it, and had it back very
    quickly (actually it was a brand new, in box with all accessories
    included, unit with all my track data/waypoint data transferred to it)
    - and that one went bad, too.

    Not only did they again check it out and send a whole new unit with
    absolutely no argument, again transferring the stored data, they they
    insisted on replacing both my 12v power supply cord (which I had bought
    seperately from the unit - the tech support gal said that the 60CSX was
    her absolute favorite and had never had any problems like mine
    reported, and virtually no problems at all, period) AND the computer
    USB cable, because the tech support gal was highly suspicious of the
    12v power supply cable's regulator as to the culprit for the problem
    both times (both involved external power problems). They issued a
    "fast track" RMA the second time, due to its unusual nature, and I had
    my unit back within a week and a half of shipping it to them, AND I had
    a followup call from the tech support person making sure that the
    situation had been resolved). As the problem has never cropped up
    again, I'd have to say that the assesmment that it was the 12v power
    cable was probably correct. Throughout the whole process, everyone I
    talked to at Garmin was helpful, friendly, and not the least bit put
    out (as it seems many tech support/warranty places acting as if you are
    imposing on /them/) about fixing and helping.

    You need only reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a
    reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating
    the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the struggle for
    -- Charles A. Beard
    Ken Lucke, Feb 6, 2007
  9. Ben Brugman

    Ben Brugman Guest

    logpoints are made at very variable time distances. Sometimes every second.
    So this can be memory consuming.
    (The sony 'dongle' is doing it once every 15 seconds).
    With the garmin software the log shows time stamps the saved tracks
    are condensed and do not show timestamps.

    It's a seperate 'dongle' sized GPS something the size of a large USB stick.
    It works independend from the camera.
    When in the field you have to sync the camera to the GPS.
    (And anyway GPS time should be far more accurate than NIST via the

    The time sync is not to important for me. Sync in the field with the GPS.

    I am aware that the 60CSX with the sirf chipset and an 'external' antenna
    is far more capable than the Vista. But then there is a price difference as
    wel. So for economic reasons (and size) as wel I have choosen the Vista.
    (With maps it was less than 1/3 of the price of a 60CSX).

    The Sony unit is a very seperate unit, it can be attached to the camera,
    because it is small, but it's seperate.
    I like the idea of the Sony, small, no buttons or screen, just a logger,
    but then how good is it ? (You can not check the workings of it, and
    because of the size won't perform as any Garmin in the 60 range).
    Ben Brugman, Feb 6, 2007
  10. Ben Brugman

    Ken Lucke Guest

    Yes, that's what I was saying - as far as the variable time... but the
    time varies inversely proportional to the speed (although I don't know
    the exact algorithm).
    Hmmm... I'll have to check that on my 60CSX. Like I said, I haven't
    actually checked that with my model.
    OK, I didn't realize that, I thought you were talking about a built-in
    GPS system.
    Those are both true, but I was going under the situation of a separate
    Camera/GPS that weren't communicating directly. So you are correct for
    your situation.
    Te only reason I worry about the time sync _is_ for the software to
    sync up the pix with the GPS data - otherwise, unless I was shooting
    something for court or something similar, I couldn't care less if the
    time was off by a minute or two.
    I don't have the external antenna, so that doesn't come into the
    performance difference, and I was only pointing out that if you are
    having diffictulties in normal circumstances with your unit, it might
    be time for a change. "On a neckstrap against to your body" seems like
    a normal circumstance that you'd want it to perform under to me.
    Again, my misunderstanding about the configuration you were discussing.
    This, I have no clue about, so hopefully others will dive into this
    thread with actual working experience.

    You need only reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a
    reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating
    the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the struggle for
    -- Charles A. Beard
    Ken Lucke, Feb 6, 2007
  11. Ben Brugman

    G.T. Guest

    I believe most Garmins do that. My Etrex Summit does and reading the docs
    of MacGPS Pro makes it sound like all the Garmins do.

    G.T., Feb 6, 2007
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