gps4cam – Review

I went to Hartsholme on Sunday for 2 reasons, the main reason to photograph the wildlife – something I really enjoy and secondly to try out some new software that I purchased for my iPhone.

One thing that I miss from my Nikon days was not being able to geotag my photos. Nikon have a device that works with most of their SLR’s called the Nikon GP-1 GPS Module: this uses the cameras power and adds the geotag data to the EXIF information as the picture is taken, the device is quite small and uses the AUX data port on Nikon cameras, it can sit in the hot-shoe or clip to the camera strap:

I have been looking for something for Canon DSLR’s that achieved the same result. Canon seem to be in no rush to come up with something and all of the devices available require a lot of syncing and frankly messy work. I have also looked at the various apps available for my iPhone which of course has a full GPS built in. All of these require that the iPhone clock and the DSLR clock are set to the same time, this frankly seemed very clumsy to me.

Then I found gps4cam; this software does not require you to sync your camera’s and iPhone’s clocks. Instead, you take a picture of a QR code (on the iPhone’s display) at the end of the shoot. I’ll explain how to use it by discussing my picture taking and ingesting work flow.

I drive to the destination (in this case it was Hartsholme Park), just before I exit the car I switch on my iPhone (note that this was fully charged, the GPS can use a lot of battery power). I run the GPS4Cam software:

I selected the precise setting, I was only going to be an hour or so. Then clicked the “Start a New Trip” button, the iPhone now captures the GPS coordinates and the phone can be switched off and put back in your pocket:

I exited the car and set-up my tripod and went round the area of the park I like taking pictures.

Once I finished my photo-shoot, I walked back to the car, removed the iPhone from my trouser pocket amd navigated back to the still running gps4cam application. I clicked the Export button and the phone’s display shows a QR code, you take a picture of the QR code:

After this you can click the exit button (at which point the GPS switches off) . Each trip is stored on the phone and the Geocodes captured can be reviewed as follows:

I packed the gear back into the car and drove home. Once back at home I switched on the computer ready to ingest my newly captured photos. I always copy the images onto the computer, I have a dedicated folder where my Raw images are stored and within this folder I create a sub-folder for each shoot; I name the folder “YYYY-MM-DD Location or Name of Shoot”, in this case it was “2011-01-16 Hartsholme Park”:

If you click the above thumbnail you will see the pictures I took, the video files, some THM files (one per video that the 7D creates which are actually jpeg previews for the video files when on the camera) and the QR code picture. Once copied across I need to use some software to extract the GPS Data from the QR code and apply them to the RAW pictures.

The developer has a website where you can download Mac or PC versions of the companion software for free here

I downloaded the software for the PC and ran into a hurdle, by default it wants to install the software into c:program files, on a Windows 7 PC (and probably Vista ones too), the software has no rights to this location. In the end I created a folder on the root of C: called gps4cam and installed it there, this gave no errors. The other point to note is that it uses Java so make sure that is installed too.

Run the software and enter the source and destination folders:

Here I have used the same folder for both source and destination, I didn’t want a duplicate folder (all 7.8GB’s worth) on my hard drive. I had the originals on the memory card in case things went wrong. I clicked the “Go” button and got the following message:

I clicked the “Yes” button and it started to work on the photos in 3 phases:

  1. Analyzing photos
  2. Finding GPS Data
  3. Tagging Pictures

After a few minutes, the process completes and the following dialogue box appears:

As you can see it reports that it has tagged all of the RAW photos and the THM files. The unsupported files were the video files, no surprises really.

I loaded the images into Lightroom and sure enough the GPS coordinates were in each photo – mission successful.

Once I had selected and edited my best images, they were uploaded into my Blog.

Lightroom is set to backup its library on another drive in the computer when it is closed. I now run SyncToy which backs up all of my data to an External 2TB drive. The photos on the card can now be deleted.

Overall, I was pleased with the software, not bad for £1.19! The beauty is that is supports most RAW formats, JPG photos etc. and 1 one program (on the phone) can be used on multiple cameras simultaneously. Whilst this is not as seamless as the Nikon device, its cheaper and I believe it to be the best system on the market today.

Download today on the iTunes Store

This could be one of those “killer app” features and it one of the many reasons why I have an iPhone!