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I would like to track GPS points while I am photographing with my Canon EOS (5D) camera.

What option do I have track them and what do you recommend?

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15 Answers 15

up vote 9 down vote accepted

I've found that the best solution is to buy an inexpensive stand alone GPS device, make sure your camera clock is synced with the GPS time, carry the GPS in your camera bag while on and saving the track log and use RoboGeo to tag your photos after the fact.

Robo Geo does a nice job and has lots of features, plus it will work with any camera out there.

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Looks neat, wonder if there's any free software that does the same thing? (RoboGeo is $80) –  davr Jul 24 '10 at 0:57
A great free option for the Mac is GPSPhotoLinker: earlyinnovations.com/gpsphotolinker –  Adam Franco Jul 24 '10 at 13:19
@davr See some of the other answers for free options –  Rowland Shaw Jul 24 '10 at 18:21
This isn't relevant to the question since the question is Canon-specific. But if you use a Nikon DSLR you can use a Foolography Unleashed (foolography.com/products) product (there are several models) to connect your external GPS device with the camera body via bluetooth. The on-camera device is tiny and unobtrusive (unlike Nikon's own GPS product). –  James Youngman Mar 7 '12 at 10:54

Here's a free software that will take a GPS track log recorded from your standalone GPS device (or perhaps from your phone, if it has a GPS), and applies the geocoding to your images:


Along with it, I found a site to convert various types of GPS log format into GPX (what is needed by the above software)


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I tried GPicSync with a log from an app in my phone, and it works fine once you figure out the right time offset to use. –  Guffa Jul 24 '10 at 19:25

When released, Lightroom 4 will have the ability to accept a track log to encode photos. (Detailed in the Mapping your Photos preview video.)

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I use an external Garmin GPS and Jeffry Friedl's excellent GPS Supportplugin to lightrom which takes the tracks and geo-encodes the files in my library for me from the track data. Oh yeah, and I make sure the clocks are synchronised!

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There are a number of options for external GPS trackers (Sony makes one, for example) that when you combine with software will use the EXIF data of the image combined with the GPS log to tag your photos.

Now, in my experience, many of these are iffy in their reliability. There are good ones, however, and the key is to make sure that they communicate with many satellites to ensure that you do, in fact, track.

To get you started, this one looks promising: PhotoTrackr Mini

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I second the approach of a standalone GPS Tracker and then using some software to sync it into your metadata. I actively used a device called i-gotU. It is cheap and reasonable accurate, but in my experience needs a long time to pick up on the available satellites, which can be annoying.

If you are on a Mac available syncing software is for example GPSPhotoLinker.

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How configurable is the device? I.e. can you configure the refresh rate? How hard is it to export a GPX/NMEA track from it? Is there any integration with Lightroom? –  Rowland Shaw Oct 19 '10 at 20:23
You can choose the refresh rate from some predefined settings (walking (ca. every 5 min) to rocket (every second)). GPX is exportable in the included software Windows or with a program called 'igotu2gpx' on the mac. There is no integration in Lightroom. –  jfd Jan 13 '11 at 17:43

I use a PhotoTrackr. It's a standalone GPS tracker, and comes with Windows & Mac software to automatically geotag your photos.

Good points: cheap, small, robust, straightforward, enough memory to store at least two weeks' worth of data, runs for ~2 days on a single charge, Gisteq customer support are actually helpful if you ever need them, software is reasonably pleasant to use.

Bad points: no display, can take a while to get a position if you haven't used it recently, takes several hours to fully charge battery.

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How configurable is the device? I.e. can you configure the refresh rate? How hard is it to export a GPX/NMEA track from it? Is there any integration with Lightroom> –  Rowland Shaw Oct 8 '10 at 19:34
Not very configurable, but enough for me; see gisteq.com/resources/WinHelp/Hardware%20Setting.html#hardware for details. Export to GPX/NMEA is possible: gisteq.com/resources/WinHelp/software%20function-8.html . There's no Lightroom integration that I can find. –  Matt Bishop Oct 11 '10 at 22:22
Linux support for this device at schimmelnetz.de/projekte/iTU4l –  mattdm Mar 25 '11 at 12:03

I had the same question, so I decided to write a Mac program (sorry I use Apple at home) to merge geotag information from Google Latitude. (I did not want to pay for the 'gps' Eye-Fi... does not work well)

For this to work, all you need is an Android/iPhone with Google Latitude installed and running while you take photos.

Then the software will retrospectively geotag using time correlation.

Pretty simple and for most people they do not need to buy anything additionally.

See: Longitude in App Store

It's totally free and has no bloat. Make sure your camera time is accurate however (check your timezone!)... although the software has options to compensate.

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Can it work with an iPhone with Google Latitude on? Since it's a Mac program, after all? –  mattdm Feb 24 '12 at 14:14

Zesty systems Inc.(Japan) has released the ZGR-1 accessory to provide additional capabilities to Nikon DSLR, among other things providing long time exposure time control, shutter release, GPS information and etc.

The question was specifically for Canon, so it would seem that for the moment this solution is not applicable but (as of August 2012) from the official blog it appears that a Canon compatible version is being considered.

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I take the approach of using a standalone GPS device (which happens to be an old Windows Mobile powered phone, running the free OSM Tracker) and then combine the GPX tracks from it with my photographs using Microsoft Pro Photo Tools, which also happens to be free.

Microsoft Pro Photo Tools also allows saving metadata back to RAW files (if you've install the RAW Codec from Canon), and I'm not aware of any other tool that can do this; It can also add other metadata such as photographer contact details in the EXIF data.

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I've tried OSM Tracker, and it works fine to create the logs. MS Pro Photo Tools doesn't really agree with me, though, I can position images, but it drops the information before I can save it to the images... –  Guffa Jul 24 '10 at 21:26

Canon's official method is to use a gps unit with their Wireless File Transfer accessories. Not sure I'd actually recommend that solution unless you have lots of money and don't mind the extra weight though.

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If you have iOS or Android mobile phone, you can use much cheaper option, that to buy dedicated device. There are apps for it, that works as a GPS datalogger. For example, Geotag Photos Pro is for both Android and iOS and has also free desktop application, that geotags even photos in raw file formats.

There are more apps for both Android & iPhone, you search in AppStore / Android Market.

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I think a dedicated GPS device will be the best option but if you wanted to try it out without purchasing one and you already have an iPhone or Android smartphone then you could use something like Geotag (http://www.geotagphotos.net/) and use your phone as the GPS device. I'm sure there are plenty of other similar applications, so this one is just an example that I have used.

Applications like this will allow you to geotag the photos you take with your DSLR. You should first ensure that the clocks on the phone and camera are in-sync (you can fix discrepancies later if necessary), then you simply fire up the app and leave it running while you are out on your photo shoot - this will potentially cause your phone battery to drain a little quicker than normal.

When you return home you download the photos from your DSLR as normal and then run the desktop application or access the application's website to download your location data (as GPX data that can be used in any compatible geotagging or mapping application e.g. GPSvisualizer.com or Google Earth) as well as automatically write the GPS metadata to your photographs.

It's all very simple to do and if you have a smartphone already then you have pretty much everything you need without having to spend a bunch of cash. Just be aware that using GPS does tend to drain your battery faster than normal.

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When using a smartphone to log data, make sure that is does two things:

  1. The data must be exportable to a format your other software can read. Lightroom for example can read only GPX files. While converters exist, converting your track data in the right format adds an additional step.
  2. The software should support configurable intervals when a point is logged. Either fixed intervals or by analyzing your current speed (higher speed => shorter intervals). This will help preserve your battery and not generate too many points.

I'm using two apps on my iPhone that fit this description well: gps4cam (fixed intervals, also available for Android) and MotionX GPS. gps4cam generates a barcode for your current track that you can take a photo of and use a win/Mac software to tag the photos automatically.

If you go on longer photo tours I'd recommend a standalone GPS logger because smartphones only last for 3-6 hours when logging GPS data.

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I have not used them, but there are devices like the Eye-Fi Geo card which are souped-up SD cards that automatically geotag the photos as they are being taken.

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These only work when you are in range of a WiFi network it knows about -- it doesn't actually have a GPS receiver... –  Rowland Shaw Oct 8 '10 at 19:30
@Rowland Shaw: that's true, but in large urban areas covered by the Skyhook Wireless database, it'll actually work pretty well. See skyhookwireless.com/howitworks/coverage.php. I wasn't aware of cards that did this, and I think it's a pretty clever option, so I'm glad for the post. –  mattdm Mar 25 '11 at 12:01
— edit the post to expand and clarify the limitations and it'll get at least +1 from me. –  mattdm Mar 25 '11 at 12:02
I've taken too many pictures out of urban areas to be able to use this. I have Eye-Fi, also a GPS module for my camera, but I prefer the software I wrote for Mac to geotag using Google Latitude (shameless plug) –  Marius Feb 24 '12 at 13:41

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