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I am aware of tracking mechanisms for laptops with a combination of hardware/software solution that help the owner to track lost machines. I was wondering if there is a similar solution for tracking DSLRs? Do any of the GPS modules available for some DSLR models allow you to do this?

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3  
Of interest: petapixel.com/2013/03/26/… –  Vian Esterhuizen Jun 6 '13 at 14:02
    
@VianEsterhuizen One determined guy! Thanks for sharing. –  Regmi Jun 6 '13 at 17:22
    
So it is. Sorry. –  DJClayworth Jun 7 '13 at 16:40

4 Answers 4

up vote 13 down vote accepted

A DSLR doesn't have a cellular or network connection, so there would be no way to have it report it's position. Some DSLRs include the serial number of the camera body in the EXIF meta data on an image, so if someone posted an image online with that meta data intact, there is a chance it might get indexed by something, but that's a long shot at best. It's also information that can be easily stripped from images or even permanently altered in the camera.

So no, in short there is no way to track a DSLR camera that is lost or stolen. At least not a reliable one that can't be easily worked around.

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I have to ask why the downvotes. My answer is the same as D3C4FF's, just without actually knowing the sites that do it. It's still something that is easily stripped from an image and if someone knows the camera is stolen or knows what they are doing when they steal it they can strip the information or alter the camera to make the serial number not match up. –  AJ Henderson Jun 6 '13 at 2:36
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This is really the more realistic, honest answer. I have to concurr, the chances of actually tracking down a lost/stolen DSLR is very remote. –  jrista Jun 6 '13 at 2:46
    
The only way you might find it is if it was lost rather than stolen and someone found it and decided to use it to not let it go to waste. Then your chances are pretty good I suppose. –  AJ Henderson Jun 6 '13 at 2:48
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@Regmi - the problem is that you can only really do it with a connected device. A camera is by nature not a connected device and doesn't run custom software. You could put a device in a camera just for that purpose I suppose, but that would be extra weight, battery drain and space that simply aren't worth it. –  AJ Henderson Jun 6 '13 at 3:33
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@Regmi, yeah, but GPS is useless by itself since it only receives. To track something, you need a transmitter. That means an antenna and it means power and it likely means increased noise in the system which could decrease image quality without careful isolation which would be further complexity and weight. It may still be possible in the future, but I'm not sure there is enough market to be worth the cost, at least in the professional end of the market. –  AJ Henderson Jun 6 '13 at 4:00

Actually, there are some ways you can go about this.

There are actually services that pull exif data from sites like flickr and 500px which collect the serial number data embedded in an image you've previously taken.

Stolen Camera Finder needs you to upload an original image to the site in order to do the search. Camera Trace can let you enter the serial number of upload a photo and will search for you as well

If you find any photos from your camera online, its worth while then checking the exif data to see if there's any GPS data stored in it. As it stands however, there's no dedicated GPS/radio tracking available for cameras specifically at this time.

Hope that helps!

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6  
This is a hopeful answer, however it doesn't really make the facts clear...it is highly unlikely anyone is going to find a lost or stolen DSLR, and even if images are found, actually tracking down the uploader and getting stolen equipment back is a remotely plausible event. You'ed probably have better luck checking lost and found boxes at all the places within a certain number of miles of where the device was lost. –  jrista Jun 6 '13 at 2:41
    
@jrista agreed, also, if your camera has been stolen, i reccomend stalking ebay/gumtree/craigslist etc and keeping a watchful eye... :) –  NULLZ Jun 6 '13 at 3:03

Nikon got a patent this year, to be able to lock cameras just like mobile phones. It should take a while to make it real though.

Nikon's password protection patent

Also Stolen Camera Finder Searches web for serial number. I'm not sure if it's better than Google though.

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Having patent is one thing, coming out with actual products is another! –  Vivek Jun 6 '13 at 17:44
    
@Vivek - true, but it still shows some early interest in the concept. They are probably trying to follow after Samsung's Galaxy Camera with a cellular connected camera. It's a natural evolution in a world of increasingly connected consumer devices. –  AJ Henderson Jun 6 '13 at 18:19

There are external hardware gadgets such as the Zoombak that will let you track an object. The hitch is that once the battery runs out or it's away from an area where mobile service and either satellite or assisted GPS are available, you won't be able to find it. They're also bulky and obvious enough that the first thing a thief will do is remove it. A vindictive thief could leave it someplace that would send you on a wild goose chase.

For the price of something like that plus the service, you could just as easily insure it and get it replaced if it disappears.

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+1 for introducing an existing hardware solution. –  Regmi Jun 6 '13 at 17:24

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