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  #1  
Old August 3rd, 2006, 06:26 AM
John_Nevill John_Nevill is offline
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Default GPS devices and Photography

With Sony's recent announcement of their GPS tracker device for photographers, I thought it worth raising the subject for broader discussion.

GPS devices have been around for a few years and now range from $100 handhelds to >$1500 in-car SATNAV fixed devices.

So are Sony offering something new or repackaging existing technology to a new market segment, namely the more affluent photographer.

In essence the Sony GPS unit is a tracking device which once sync'ed with your dSLR's date and time enables photographers to recall geo-locations of where their images were taken.

It does it by capturing tracks (interval timestamped geo-cooridnates) of your route and then overlaying them on a map on your pc via Sony's website (post event).

This enables you to correlate your image time with the geo-cordinate and wite the data into the image's exif header, hence you then know where the image was taken and so do others....Well, within >10m of it.

Ironically your humble <$100 handheld GPS can do much of this and more.

For instance take a look at the Garmin, Navman or Tom Tom series, they provides tracks, waypoints and even allow you to navigate.

If you're prepared to spend a little bit extra, say $300, you can get a GPS with your own maps (offline correllation) and POI (point of interest) functions.

Such functions allow you to store and recall your image locations (on the device) and ultimately provide you with a means to navigate your way back to the them.

Who would use such a device?. It may prove useful to wildlife and landscape photographers who wish to recall exact locations of their subject matter. e.g. that rare bird or butterfly snapped when out walking the hills. Or better still, keeping a POI log of drunk celebrities when roaming our cities :o)

So is the Sony GPS really offering something different?, maybe in the sense of EXIF revision, which translates into organising your images by location, but at a cost of $150 with limited functionality, I'd stick with my Garmin Quest II and use a DAM application for such custom fields.

What do others think?

Last edited by John_Nevill; August 3rd, 2006 at 06:51 AM.
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  #2  
Old August 3rd, 2006, 08:14 AM
Ray West Ray West is offline
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Hi John,

I purchased, a few days b4 I went on hols a Packard Bell gps unit from pc world at 127.00 iirc. It was recomended by a user on the land rover forum. It can be modified to run wince, and can thus use the oziexplorer software which in UK works with scanned in OS maps. Total cost about 160.00 I reckon.

I've not had chance to do that. It is a more sensitive receiver than I have used before. If the Sony unit does the job, at the price quoted, then I think it would be reasonable value, since it is more or less a turn-key solution. However, any gps will, within 5 metres or so, tell you where it is, but it may be tricky telling what you're looking at. e.g. you can get direction, if you move, but not if you are stationary, but it will not indicate distance to 'the hills' (unless you go there!!).

If you are interested in a home brew version, then pm me, if you wish.

Best wishes,

Ray
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  #3  
Old August 3rd, 2006, 05:54 PM
Stan Jirman Stan Jirman is offline
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I have been using a GPS device, and custom software, to mate coordinates to pictures. Such an example can be seen here:
http://rescomp.stanford.edu/~stanj/T...1-25/0011.html
I have GPS track logs from all my trips from the past 3 or so years saved, and I have been recently experimenting with plotting these paths on say Google Earth. I don't think it's that hard, the main problem is the "speed" of such a solution; my track logs from Antarctica are several thousand points in length, and creating such a track takes just about forever on the Google servers.*
My custom solution has a hardcoded map of Yellowstone (since I am there all the time) and there, plotting a path from a 4-day trip, with some images superimposed, isn't at all slow. So I think that the key is for someone to provide a fast path generator. If you wanted to do such a thing on your desktop, you would need a lot of storage (if you look at all the data that you can download from USGS you end up with about 20GB) and some processing power. But then you would not need to rely on an external provider to always generate the page for you whenever someone clicks on it - nor would you have to "hand out" your gpx / kml track log, which you do when you use an internet server to build the map for you.

Thus, I say: collect all the GPS data you can, someone will figure it out sooner or later, and then you can go bonkers! :)
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  #4  
Old August 3rd, 2006, 05:58 PM
John_Nevill John_Nevill is offline
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Ray,

I use a Garmin Quest II, I downloaded a copy of oziexplorer tonight and gave it a spin. As I work a for a utility, I might well see if I can get some detailed OS maps to play with.

The Quest II came with city navigtor v8, which covers the whole of europe from a town, road and POI perspective. Personally, I'd prefer the Ordanance Survey topo map for UK, but at &#163;140 it will have to wait.

A scottish climbling website has the contour basemaps for Garmins, derived form NASA shuttle survey data and i've loaded them. They are pretty good for general wilderness reference, trig points and voids, but lack vital foot paths and bridleway data.

I've also overlayed lots of POI data, like ancient monuments, castles, woodlands, nature reserves, bird sanctuaries and viewpoints etc. This data is quite handy when out and about in areas that i'm not familiar with. Plus I haven't got to carry around lots of paper!

I'm off to Pembrokeshire at the weekend for a week and hopefully the Quest II will guide me to some interesting photo opportununites. I'll let you know how I get on!
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  #5  
Old August 3rd, 2006, 06:38 PM
Ray West Ray West is offline
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John,

I'm not too sure of the copyright issues of ordnance survey scanned paper maps, but many years ago When I was with Sweb, I worked with os on digitising map data (went to Cardington, the airship hanger place.) Then, they actually got contour lines detail by 'flying' a ball bearing on a string around stereo aerial photos. Master maps kept on glass plates in air conditioned environment, etc. They went nuts about our dyeline prints, after the effort they put into getting accuracy. (Nearly 40 years ago, now....) Anyway, I suspect your utility has 'a sanction to reproduce' agreement which may cover you for 'work'.

I'm guessing the ozzie map does not do route planning, as mentioned I've only lightly poked at this. I have some pathfinder series maps, but probably six scans on a4 scanner to get one in, but I wonder if I will actually need that detail, how to scale it, what format, etc.

Have a great time in west wales, dunno if the weather is going to hold up.

Best wishes,

Ray

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  #6  
Old August 4th, 2006, 06:18 PM
Harvey Moore Harvey Moore is offline
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I am using a Magellan explorist gps, and Topo USA map database. I use it to navigate with my Jeep (I know Ray, it's not a Land Rover) off road and while on foot. It uses SD cards, and I load it with map of the area I will be photographing in.

Set poi at photo points, later make a map with the track log and poi's printed with it.
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  #7  
Old August 5th, 2006, 08:12 AM
Ray West Ray West is offline
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Hi Harvey,

(I know Ray, it's not a Land Rover) - don't worry, I'll love you just the same...er.... maybe you need to worry now!! (in fact the very first landrover was built on a jeep chassis, not many folk know that, even fewer care... it was designed as a small farm tractor over 50 years ago, and more or less still looks the same as then, and is still hand built, but from the recent build quality, I'm not sure if its human hands that are used.)

I guess the topo database to which you refer is in digital format already. What do you do that for? to revisit, see how things change, or just 'cos you can do it?

Best wishes,

Ray
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  #8  
Old August 5th, 2006, 09:07 AM
Harvey Moore Harvey Moore is offline
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Hello Ray,

Being mostly amateur here, because I can is #1 reason when I started with gps. I have found it useful to track my trips for return to specific spots, record and print for memories, and also to refer fellow photographers to places I have taken photographs.

re Land Rover, the first one I saw was while on duty with the US Army in 1961 in a remote spot in Korea, normally only accesable by Army vehicles. I was in the city of Kangwha on a day off taking photos with my brand new Asahi camera, a news lady from UK was photographing me from her Land Rover, she and the vehicle looked decked out for a safari. We spoke briefly and parted ways. Her LR appeared to be about halfway between military Jeep and a 3/4 ton truck in size, 2 spare tires and extra gasoline cans hanging on the outside of it.
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Old August 5th, 2006, 10:13 AM
Bart_van_der_Wolf Bart_van_der_Wolf is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John_Nevill
So is the Sony GPS really offering something different?, maybe in the sense of EXIF revision, which translates into organising your images by location, but at a cost of $150 with limited functionality, I'd stick with my Garmin Quest II and use a DAM application for such custom fields.
Here are two links to software that can be used on track logs of existing GPS devices:
http://www.oziphototool.com/
http://www.robogeo.com/home/

I haven't tried them myself yet, but the OziExplorer people do know what they're talking about, so it looks interesting. Integration with GoogleEarth might also be interesting if not too slow.

Bart
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  #10  
Old August 5th, 2006, 11:27 AM
Harvey Moore Harvey Moore is offline
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Thanks Bart

The OziExplorer looks very promising after I went thru their web site. I will download trial version a give it a run through.
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  #11  
Old August 5th, 2006, 11:55 AM
Ray West Ray West is offline
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Thanks for the reminder, also about to get oziexplorer,

Best wishes,

Ray

vini, vidi, superglue : I came, I saw, and then, when least expected, I fell apart
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