There are a bunch GPS loggers out there, but a good portion need software to download the data onto a computer. Some of the software is Windows-only, but others are Mac-compatible (what I need). However I'd rather not deal with such software in the first place.

I ran across what I think are called "driverless" loggers: when you plug them into the computer they simply show up as a (FAT) drive where you can then simply read the text file (usually in NMEA format).

I've run across the following:

  • AMOD AGL3080
  • Columbus V-900/990 (uses removable SD cards)
  • Sony GPS-CS1/3 (discontinued, AFAICT)

Has anyone used these types of devices? How well do they work (especially with Mac OS 10.7+)? Any advice on particular devices (either to buy or avoid)?

I'm not really interesting in full-blown GPS units (Garmin, TomTom) as I don't need the mapping functionality (and extra bulk). I also don't want to have a phone app, because (a) I don't have a smartphone, and (b) even if I did, I wouldn't want to run down its battery. A small logger that saves the position every 1-10s that's light enough to carry is what I'm looking for. The Garmin GPS watches also need special software.

I'm also not necessarily looking to tag the actual JPEG/raw files (especially the latter), but using Lightroom (which uses GPX, I know) to correlate photo and location, and then add the tag to the EXIF files on export if desired (or just keep the information in the database for future reference).

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    gis.se or outdoors.se might be better placed to answer this since the lightroom part is irrelevant to how the logging/retrieval happens. If you wanted to do it in camera then it would be different. The members there will have a wealth of knowledge of the kind of GPS receiver kit to suit you. May 12 '13 at 15:38
  • Completely driverless has it's downsides: You usually can't tweak how it operates. Some may have a web interface. The right one would likely allow you to say, "Don't take a position fix until I've been standing still for 10 seconds." Since the GPS receiver is the big power drain, anything that cuts your on GPS on time extends battery life. There are loggers out there that will run for weeks on a pair of AAs I'm not currently up on this, so I can't recommend models. Apr 13 '18 at 14:07
  • Be sure that your camera and the GPS agree on what time it is. GPS time is right, and cell phone time is within microseconds of that. But a several minute error will result in pix being tagged with the wrong coordinates. Apr 13 '18 at 14:08

I have a AMOD AGL3080, and I like it. Its basic, it logs GPS locations when its on. You can press its one button and mark a waypoint or point of interest. Lightroom will read the log file and use the internal date/time stamp on the photos to put them in the right place.

You can also use things like exiftool to merge in location data.

It uses 3 AAA batteries, and they don't last all that long. I'll guess they last 20 hours or so. Which is a couple of full days of shooting for me.

I've loaded the log files in a number of web based mapping tools. The only issue is that it takes a lot of log readings, so the files can get big -- too big for some tools if you have hours of log entries.

You simply plug in a USB cable into the device and copy the files using the standard Mac, Linux or Windows tools, drag and drop, etc. There is nothing special about it, the device records the location logs as simple text files in an industry standard format.

  • The questions asks how to get the log files to your Mac or Linux computer. How do you do that?
    – Unapiedra
    May 17 '13 at 14:46
  • You use Finder or Windows Explorer or whatever your OS uses to copy files. Or you can just drag and drop them. Standard operating system stuff that any Mac, Windows or Linux user uses all the time. The AMOD device is simply seen as a disk with files on it. May 18 '13 at 21:21
  • Ah, great! Not all GPS devices behave as a USB flash drive, when plugged in. I have a iGotU, which works quite differently.
    – Unapiedra
    May 19 '13 at 13:36
  • @Unapiedra - that wouldn't be driverless then. :) Oct 15 '13 at 13:26

I know you said you don't need a full blown GPS, but I have to tell you how simple it is with a Garmin eTrex Vista. No drivers needed, but I do use a free program called GPSPhotolinker, as it does a killer, and automatic job of syncing the GPS track to the time stamp on each image.

Now, Garmin has moved on to more fancy models, but you can still buy the older models online. eTrex Vista, Legend, and Venture models can be had for $50 or less on ebay. Be sure to get one that is USB. Then you can literally turn it on, and toss it in the bag, forgetting about it. These will outperform most cheap GPS loggers, as they have higher end GPS chips, and so work in heavy woods and even in some indoor locations. It will run all day long on AA batteries, and then you just plug it into your computer. Lightroom will read the gpx files, or you can use GPSPhotolinker (free) to embed the GPS data into the RAW files, then import into Lightroom.


I don't know if this fits your question but I thought I would share. I started using my iPhone when going on photowalks. I use an app called GeoTagr which create a GPX file that I can send by email or upload to Dropbox. You press the button, it start recording. You press it again, it stops. It doesn't eat to much battery and give you an estimated remaining time (of battery) when it's in use. It's a pretty simple solution for people who don't want to buy a new device.

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    The question stated they "don't want to have a phone app". Oct 15 '13 at 13:27

I just use Google's My Tracks Android app to log. It can export to various formats, including GPX that most DAMs use. Usually at the end of a trek I save the log data, export to GPX into Dropbox in one action. When I get home to import my photos into my DAM, the GPX I need is already on the computer because of Dropbox!

  • The question stated they "don't want to have a phone app". Oct 15 '13 at 13:24

I've bought a Blumax GPS 4044, recently. I'm runnig Linux on my Laptop and run into same problem like you.

The Blumax is recognised as USB device, so it's possible to read the data using "mtkbabel".

So, if mtkbabel or a similar tool is available for your Mac (I don't know), it should work out-of-the-box without driver install. GPSBabel might be an option, too. There's a Java tool available, which name I can't remember now...

HTH, Michal


I'm using a WBT-201 together with HoudahGPS, whcih is not exactly driverless, but entirely painless for me. The GPS dongle connects to my Mac (10.8.2) over Bluetooh with the use of HoudahGPS and I get a .gpx file, which I use to geotag my images, either directly with Aperture or GPSPhotoLinker.

There are lots of fairly cheaper loggers that work like a charm with HoudahGPS, for example many i-Blue 747-based systems. The OpenStreetMap Wiki has a very thorough list.

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