I'm pretty much buckled up and ready for my holiday in South America, although there's still something I haven't got resolved yet, and that's geotagging of my images I'll be taking during my holiday.

I have been looking at different solutions, which are standalone units and smartphone applications. But honestly I don't have experience with this and how good the different software are when tagging a few hundred of images or more.

What do people use and do you find it robust?

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    But it's winter in South America now. – Olin Lathrop Jul 16 '12 at 23:47
  • @OlinLathrop, indeed, but still hot :o) – JavaCake Jul 17 '12 at 12:48

I don't know about you but my smartphone just doesn't have the battery life to make this work. I therefore use a standalone GPS device made by Holux. It's Bluetooth-capable and transmits the GPS coordinates to a Foolography Unleashed device attached to my camera. The Holux device runs the whole day on a single charge, and with this setup all my images are GPS-tagged in-camera.

You can also use the Holux device "offline" because it also records a track which can be applied to the images when downloading them from the camera (the clock on the camera needs to be more or less correct, but that's not so hard).

EDIT: I forgot to mention that the Unleashed also works OK indoors, after a fashion; if the GPS signal is lost (becasue e.g. you went indoors) it continues to serve the saved position (but an up-to-date time) for 30 minutes. I like this feature. I assume though that if you're geotagging your images from a GPS track, you get pretty much the same functionality by doing that.

  • It looks really nice, just a shame its only for Nikon and costs 200€. Auch! – JavaCake Jul 16 '12 at 21:06
  • Worse, I lost the first one on my honeymoon when it fell off. The second one (which Foolography generously sold me at a reduced price) I tethered to the camera body with some fishing line. Much better. – James Youngman Jul 16 '12 at 21:53
  • In any case you should be able to use a stanalone GPS device like the Holux without needing to use the Bluetooth dongle. – James Youngman Jul 16 '12 at 21:57
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    Yes, the battery life is the problem. I tried with an app and theGPS used up all my battery. I was left with a working GPS or phone in the middle of nowhere after less than a day of shhoting. A stand-alone device is the way to go. – Itai Jul 19 '12 at 16:45
  • I cant really figure whether i should go for a inexpensive i-gotu GT-600, which can last for a few days, or another entirely different approach using a Garmin Forerunner "watch", or just go with the iPhone+App. Im trying to test out the batterylife when i disable the phone entirely and only use the GPS. – JavaCake Jul 19 '12 at 18:04

MapAPic is an iPhone app that lets you geotag your locations, and create a searchable list of locations, along with multiple pictures, tags, etc. I think it does exactly what you need.

Disclaimer: I am the author of the app :)

  • Whats your comment on batterytime? Im trying to find a reason not to purchase a standalone GPS unit. – JavaCake Jul 19 '12 at 18:03
  • @JavaCake: my app turns off the GPS once it gets a precise location fix. It also stops listening to GPS when it goes into background. I haven't seen a meaningful impact on the battery life in my testing. – Macondo2Seattle Jul 19 '12 at 18:13
  • i have got my hands on a standalone for almost no money, so basically i will bring it along as a backup unit, just incase the iPhone dies. But i have been testing it now for 3hours biking, which is quite tough work for the GPS, but honestly it only dropped with 5%. I had expected more. – JavaCake Jul 19 '12 at 19:53
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    This might be the first valid promotion answer that includes a disclaimer and is actually on topic! Nice job BlackRider! – dpollitt Jul 20 '12 at 19:13
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    @dpollitt: thanks! I hate it when people peddle their stuff without any consideration for others. But a well-placed advice can still be very valuable :) – Macondo2Seattle Jul 20 '12 at 19:55

You don't say what camera you have. Some cameras have a port that among other things can be connected to a GPS. For example, the Nikon D3S has such a port and Nikon makes a GPS accessory for it. Other companies do too. In fact I use a third party GPS. These GPS units have a foot so that you can mount it on the flash hot shoe if you want. That's what I do since I rarely use flash.

Once the GPS has acquired satellites, all pictures are automatically goetagged in the EXIF data. A nice side feature of the D3S at least, is that the GPS also automatically sets the camera clock.

So see what might already be available for your camera, and don't assume the camera manufacturer's GPS accessory is the only choice either.

  • Sorry i have added my model to the tag list, unfortunately im not as lucky as many Nikon users are i means of plug'n'play. – JavaCake Jul 17 '12 at 12:47
  • Some of the third-party products support bluetooth and so the thing attached to the camera can be tiny (see for example the link to the Foolography Unplugged elsewhere on this page). – James Youngman Jul 20 '12 at 17:23

I assume you want a GPS that records your position all the time and let you sync with your pictures later - if that's the case I would go with a standalone unit.

On my iPhone turning on the GPS drains the battery pretty fast (I think the GPS will completely drain a full battery in less than 5 hours).

When driving this is solvable with a car charger but if you plan to go on an hike - or otherwise be unable to charge you phone for over a few hours - than using your phone is just not practical.

Also, if your standalone GPS's battery runs out you just lose automatic geo-tagging, if your phone battery runs out you lose access to all your apps - and obviously you also can't call anyone.

  • which iPhone do you have and how old is the battery? Furthermore my intention was to use the iPhone for GPS only, and disable everything else. – JavaCake Jul 18 '12 at 22:19
  • @JavaCake - my iPhone is a 2 years old 3GS, the battery lasts almost as long as it did when it when it was new (under my normal usage, it's hard to measure because both my usage patterns changed and the OS was upgraded multiple times since it was new) -- and you can call me old fashioned but my number 1 priority for a smartphone when traveling is being able to make voice calls (since this has a huge impact on both convenience and safety) - e-mail, apps, games and GPS are all nice and I love that I have it all with me but voice calls are still #1 – Nir Jul 19 '12 at 9:17
  • agreed, we are 2 travelling, so basically my idea was to use one of the iPhones for GPS-only and then we have a backup for voice calls. I was hoping a little that Garmin had made one of those forerunner "watches" with geotag support, that would make it convenient for other useages, such as when i run and bike. – JavaCake Jul 19 '12 at 11:08

I use an app called Geotag Photos on my iPhone, and an Android version is available. One of the things that I really like about it is that it gives me an easy way to help manage battery life: I can set the interval of location recording. That is, I can let it record my location continuously (and drain my battery), or I can choose from many intervals all the way up to once an hour. I find that when walking, in most scenarios setting it to every 10 minutes provides plenty of datapoints for me, and the battery still has a bit of a charge at the end of the day after some phone and other app use.


I use my smartphone (android) and the app GPSLogger. It is fairly easy to use and you can save the tracks as gpx-files.

I create them on a daily basis and use Lightroom’s Map module to add the coordinates to my photos.

I uses “satellite time” in GPSLogger, but for my next trip, I’ll change this to “System Time” to avoid recalculations of UTC to whatever …

  • What about battery life? – JavaCake Jul 19 '12 at 18:03
  • No problem. The battery lasts two to two and a half day. Using the GPS functions it held the whole day (10am to 18am) and I simply recharged it at night. – Johannes Jul 20 '12 at 21:25
  • How often do you update the waypoints? – JavaCake Jul 24 '12 at 8:26
  • I set the update to ‘every 5 meters’. That’s roughly one waypoint per second, hiking at normal walking speed. – Johannes Jul 26 '12 at 8:36

I carry an Android Nexus S, but use an AMOD GPS logger. Its small fairly inexpensive, and easy to use. Google for "Amod AGL3080 GPS Data Logger" and you'll find lots of stores that carry it.

Aperture 3.x would load up the file and apply them to the photos with zero effort. I'll find out how well Lightroom 4 does it in a week or so.

  • That is a catchy device, it has got some quite nice reviews and the specs are awesome. – JavaCake Jul 22 '12 at 10:53
  • It works well. Only downside that I've found is that it uses 3 AAA batteries and they only last about 10 hours on a charge (using rechargeable batteries. – Pat Farrell Jul 24 '12 at 1:29
  • Interesting. I am running a "pressure" test on a i-gotU GT-120 i got quite cheap, it has run for 16hours now with 12s update interval. – JavaCake Jul 24 '12 at 8:26

If you are a Google user and have a smartphone, all you need to do is enable Latitude detailed logging on your phone, and then use a 3rd party application to modify all your photos and insert the geotag information at any time afterwards.

There is such a free app that I developed and put on the Apple Appstore (for Mac Computer Apps), but it might expire soon. I'll publish it in the future if there is any interest. (For free again)

It's called Longitude

  • I will try it when i get home. Until now i have used i-gotu GPS unit. Thanks alot! – JavaCake Aug 16 '12 at 23:49

It depends on how easy you can load your smartphone, because using GPS is taxing on the battery (although a cleverly written app can make a huge difference). See my other comment: https://photo.stackexchange.com/a/26333/10367

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