Bad Elf GPS Pro: The HighTech GPS Logger in the Field Test

Read the GPS-Logger on the way with the iPhone? With extremely accurate GPS and long battery life? I take a look at the Bad Elf GPS Pro Geologger.

Do you think GPS loggers are old hat? All the same, no innovations?

Then you should take a look at the GPS Pro from Bad Elf . A GPS receiver with “MFI” certification, which puts all the GPS loggers I have tested so far in the shade.

[Update January 2017]
Bad Elf has another model, the GPS Pro + . I tested this development in detail at the GPS Radler .

Bad Elf GPS Pro (BE-GPS-2200)

Bad Elf GPS Pro (BE-GPS-2200)

Transparency Note:
The Bad Elf GPS Pro was provided to me by GPS-CAMERA.EU.

Equipment and operation

The case nestles nicely in the hand and feels high-quality.
The front is dominated by the large display. There, current information is displayed and it facilitates the operation. This is done via three buttons on the left side.

Much more important, however, are the core competencies of a GPS logger: accuracy , memory size and battery life .

Charge with the included USB cable

Charge with the included USB cable

For the power supply, a Li-Ion battery with a capacity of 1,600 mAh is permanently installed. Charging is via a mini-USB cable.
The battery life is extremely impressive.
With one battery charge, I was able to record as much as 42.5 hours with Bluetooth disabled and a recording interval of 1 second. Was active Bluetooth (hardly iPhone communication), the logger still ran 41 hours with a single charge.

Geologist in action

Geologist in action

Bad Elf also relies on high-tech for the GPS receiver . Extremely precise and up to 10 position determinations per second (10 Hz) ensure an exact track. How accurate can you see below on the map?

With the built-in memory, Bad Elf relies on 64 MB of flash memory. In it, I was able to record over 325,000 waypoints . At a waypoint per second (1 Hz), about 90 hours of track recording are possible. For geotagging when traveling I choose a 5 second recording frequency as the best compromise between accuracy and space. With this setting, 450 hours of recording are possible. Logging for 12 hours a day is enough for a holiday of more than 5 weeks.

Bad Elf has certified the GPS Pro MFI for communication with Apple devices. The Made for iPhone / iPad / iPod quality seal guarantees full compatibility with Apple mobile products.

Record track

GPS logger active

GPS logger active

The best way to activate the automatic track start in the settings. Then everything is done by switching it on. The track starts as soon as there is contact with the satellites. And that works really fast.

Connection to the iPhone

Bad Elf and iPhone are connected

Bad Elf and iPhone are connected

Make settings, read tracks, everything is done on the iPhone.

The matching app is called “Bad Elf” and is available for free download in the App Store.

Bad Elf GPS Bad Elf GPS Download QR code Bad Elf GPS Developer: Bad Elf, LLC. Price: Free

The docking process is started via the iPhone Bluetooth settings and is done quickly and easily.

Bring GPS track to the computer

iPhone app with the tracks

iPhone app with the tracks

The reading of the memory is (currently) only possible with an iOS device. Unfortunately, both an Android app and a way to access the tracks via USB directly from the computer is missing.

Switch to the “Trips” tab in the iOS Bad Elf app. All tracks are sorted by time. It is also clear where the track currently lies. On the bathroom Elf, in the app or on both devices.

Use the detail view to transfer the track to the iPhone. From there, the record can be displayed on a map or exported.

Track export options

Track export options

From the iPhone, the track can take different paths. Export to iTunes or as a GPX file to another app.

Shipping by e-mail
It is very flexible by e-mail. Send the tracks to your own computer or share them with friends.

Upload to the Dropbox
My favorite way. Directly after the download the GPX export into the Dropbox start and the track is immediately available on all my computers.

Export via iTunes
It also works without internet. Export to iTunes and the next time the iPhone is plugged in, the track is ready on the computer.

Access the tracks via iTunes

Access the tracks via iTunes

GPS-Logger test drive

Finally, the obligatory Unterschleißheim round. Dangers by bicycle. The Bad Elf was in the handlebar bag.

Personal conclusion

Assuming you have an iPhone or an iPad and are willing to pay the price, then you get the Bad Elf GPS Pro (BE-GPS-2200) the currently best in my eyes GPS logger.

Extremely accurate GPS data, large track memory and gigantic battery life. In addition an ease of use that was previously unknown in GPS loggers.

The GPS Pro is only surpassed by the GPS Pro + .

I like that:
  • GPS accuracy
  • Battery life
  • service
I do not really like it that much:
  • price
  • Can only be used in conjunction with iPhone / iPad
  • Scratch-sensitive display
  • Clock with seconds is missing for time sync

Canon GPS Geologger GP-E2 Introduced

Internal geotagging for Canon and route the photo tour record. Both make the new Geotagger Canon possible. In the first part presentation and short test.

 

Canon Geotagger GP-E2 (Photo: Canon)

Canon Geotagger GP-E2 (Photo: Canon)

Canon enters the market for accessory geotaggers with the GP-E2.

Until now, an expensive WLAN transmitter was required for internal geotagging with EOS cameras. At this a GPS receiver was connected.

Now, modern EOS SLR cameras do not require a cable to connect the camera to the GPS.

In addition to the pure coordinates for the photos, the GP-E2 also offers some additional features.

In the first part about geotagging with Canon SLR cameras I introduce you to the Geotagger GP-E2 in more detail.

When first unpacking, the first thing you notice is the size (5.4 x 7.3 x 4.4 cm). Ready for operation with an eneloop AA battery , the Geotagger weighs 110 grams. Is thus not a lightweight but on a neat SLR camera with lens still OK.

delivery

 Delivery Canon GP-E2

  • Geotagger GP-E2
  • Nylon bag
  • Fabric transport bag
  • Two different length cables for connecting GPS with camera
  • Manual and short instructions
  • CD with Map Utility Software

USB port for reading the logger

USB port for reading the logger

A cable to connect the Geotagger directly to the computer is unfortunately not included. For this, the cable from the scope of supply of the camera must be used. Alternatively, every standard mini-USB cable works.

Which cameras fits the GP-E2?

Canon EOS 7D and GP-E2
The “oldest” EOS camera which supports the Geotagger with restrictions. As of firmware version 2, the EOS 7D works together with the GPS module. At least partially. With the compass data, the camera can do nothing and ignores the viewing direction. Mechanically, the Geotagger can be mounted on the hot shoe. Nevertheless, the USB connection cable is always needed. Time sync and geotagging videos also does not work.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III with GP-E2

Canon EOS 5D Mark III with GP-E2

Canon EOS 5D Mark III and GP-E2
Here, the Geotagger plays its full power for the first time. All geotagging functions are supported as of firmware version 1.1.2. Communication takes place directly via the hot shoe. A USB cable is only necessary if the logger is to be mounted offside, such as during lightning.

Canon EOS 1DX and GP-E2
Canon’s top model supports all geotagger features. I am not aware of firmware limitations. Again, no USB cable is needed.

Canon EOS M and GP-E2
The mirrorless system camera can also be combined with the Geotagger.

Canon EOS 6D and GP-E2

GPS selection on the EOS 6D

GPS selection on the EOS 6D

Despite the fact that the EOS 6D already has a GPS chip built in, even with the small full-frame model, it is possible to connect the external GPS receiver – without a cable. In the menu can then be selected from where the geodata should come.

Canon EOS 650D and GP-E2
On the German website the GP-E2 is not listed as an accessory. The US sister model EOS Rebel T4i GPS is listed as an accessory. According to the test report by Didi on Tour works on a 650D with firmware 1.0.1 geotagging including direction information.

Functions – Or – What can I do with the GP-E2?

Enrich photos with coordinates
The GP-E2 sends the received coordinates to the camera. This integrates the position directly into the Exif data. Whether in JPG or CR2 (RAW) is photographed.

Geotagged videos
Just as with photos, the position is incorporated into the video file. And the position at the start of the recording.

Track the photo tour record
The GP-E2 has built-in memory to record the distance covered. And this works by the own battery also independent of the camera.

Camera clock with the exact sync
The GPS satellites send high-precision time information. These can be used to set the exact time in the camera.

First test: The GP-E2 as Geologger

For the first tests so insert the battery, switch to LOG and go. Even after half an hour driving in the car in the passenger seat, the GPS LED is still flashing fast. This indicates, according to manual on missing GPS reception. Later on the computer while reading the track, the route is complete except for the first few hundred meters.

In order to be able to use the GPS receiver protected even without a camera Canon delivers a fitting nylon pouch. This bag has a window for the switch and a flap in front of the USB port. The GP-E2 sits nicely taut in the bag. On the back of a loop for the belt is sewn.

Another word about the battery life. In pure logger operation, the GP-E2 with an eneloop has held at intervals of about 15 to 5 hours at recording intervals of 15 seconds or 5 seconds.

Interim conclusion Canon GP-E2

Canon GP-E2 in functional bag

Canon GP-E2 in functional bag

If the size and the price does not bother you, the Canon GP-E2 gives you an excellent geotagger for your Canon SLR camera. The workmanship and the feel is top. The fastening on the hot shoe also has an extremely high quality, with the rubber seal and the lock. Due to its own power supply via Mignon battery, the Geotagger does not load the camera battery and track recording is also possible without a camera.

I have to take a closer look at the topic with its illogically flashing LEDs.

More about using a Canon EOS 5D Mark III in the field test in the second part about geotagging with Canon EOS cameras.

BT747: Read and set GPS Logger

Use the free BT747 software to read out and configure the GPS logger. And this on both Windows and Mac computers.

In my previous GPS logger practice tests is always noticed one thing: Often there are problems with the included software. In this article I would like to introduce a reliable alternative program.

For most Geotagger who use the GPS chipset from MTK, the open-source software BT747 can be used. Written is the tool in Java and thus platform independent.

Features of the BT747 control program

The tool for GPS devices can essentially do two things, reading the memory and settings on the logger.

In addition, converting tracks to other data formats, updating GPS assist data (A-GPS) and geotagging data.

Prerequisite is a MTK chipset in Geologger. More specifically, it knows the detailed list of compatible loggers . Even I have successfully used BT747 with the GPS loggers i-Blue 747A + and Holux M-241 .

Installation of BT747

BT747 installation

BT747 installation

BT747 is available for free download . In addition to a desktop variants, BT747 is also available for mobile devices. Among other things, for (the old) Windows Mobile and J2ME phones.

The easiest way to install is with Windows. Just download and run the desktop version for easy installation. That’s it.

On the Mac, it gets a little bit more complicated because the installer lacks rights to create a directory. The mean thing is that no error message comes. Before the installation is started so first start the terminal and enter the following two commands one after the other. The administrator password is required.

sudo mkdir / var / lock sudo chmod 777 / var / lock

The first command creates the folder, the second makes it readable and writable. Then load and start the installer as with Windows.

Connect logger

If the logger is to be connected via Bluetooth, the Blutooth connection must first be established in the operating system. Then look for the used COM port. For Windows, this is done via ” Control Panel – Change Bluetooth Settings – COM Ports “. For Mac simply select “Bluetooth (Mac)” in the Connect dialog.

For a USB connection, the drivers must first be installed.

The ” Connect ” button at the bottom connects the BT747 to the GPS-Logger.

Download the GPS tracks

On the “Log Actions” screen, information about the connected logger is displayed on the right. Interesting here is the current memory usage.

BT747 control program

BT747 control program

The download of tracks runs from top to bottom.

In the files box, the file paths for the raw data and the converted tracks are created first.

Continue to download the raw file with the “Download” button.

Finally, convert the track on the computer into the desired geodata format.

For example, to convert to GPX universal format just press the “GPX” button. Then you have the data in the most universal format such as geotagging with GeoSetter or Lightroom on the computer.

Delete old tracks

Delete GPS logger

Delete GPS logger

After the tracks are on the computer and checked if everything fits, the logger can be prepared for the next tour. To do this, switch to the tab “Device settings” and release the memory from the logger with “Delete only”.

Configure GPS Logger

For device settings, two digits are particularly important.

BT747 control program device settings

One is the ” Position” area on the left.
Here you can set which data will be saved. Most important effect: Number of records to be saved. Very nice with the BT747 application is that immediately the estimated number of records is displayed. Longitude and latitude are mandatory here. Possibly. still activate altitude. Thus, the available data storage is optimally utilized for geotagging.

On the other hand ” Log of …” bottom right.
There, the log distance is adapted to personal needs. Fix should stay at 1 second (1000 ms). For geotagging, a time interval of 5 seconds has proven to be a good compromise between accuracy and memory requirements.

Update A-GPS

BT747 control program AGPS

BT747 control program AGPS

The AGPS Screen is very clear. Using AGPS data to save the logger, the file is first downloaded from the Internet and then transferred to the logger. The data is then valid for one week.

With current AGPS data, the time until the GPS fix is ​​significantly reduced.

Conclusion

Big advantages are the platform independence and the huge range of functions. Beginners may find it difficult to do so with the full and un-intuitive interface. Due to the many professional setting options, there is also the risk of making unfavorable settings on the logger. Under Windows, BT747 is my favorite tool to read and set GPS-Logger.

myTracks for iPhone: GPS Logger App for Mac Software

myTracks for iPhone is the perfect complement to geotagging software on the Mac. Record GPS tracks and watch tracks on the move.

myTracks for iPhone

myTracks for iPhone

The digital camera does not have a GPS receiver installed, the desktop has a Mac and an iPhone is also available? Best conditions for track-based geotagging with myTracks.

MyTracks – The GPS Logger for iPhone is the perfect complement to the recently introduced Mac software myTracks4Mac . Click here for the myTracks4Mac software presentation .

The iOS app records tours and wirelessly passes them home to the Mac.

Record track with the iPhone

On the start page with ” GPS track recording start ” the tracking abut. Then the view changes to the map. There, the recording accuracy can be adjusted. A click on the REC button leads to ” Change accuracy “. From my experience, I can recommend the combination of ” good ” and ” 5s ” as a decent compromise between track accuracy and battery life.

Here is a comparison of two settings.

Comparison of recording accuracy  iPhone photos on the map

The internal camera can also be started from the map page. These recordings are then displayed directly on the track.

On maps are various OpenStreetMap flavors and NASA BlueMarble ready.

Practical for recordings without an Internet connection is the possibility to preload map areas in advance on the iPhone. So you do not have to do without the track representation on the map, even in the wilderness.

When track recording ends, myTracks creates a file at the time of recording in the track list.

Those who are afraid of forgetting to stop recording can start a short-term recording. At the end of the set time, the recording ends automatically. An empty rechargeable battery due to continuous recording is thereby prevented.

In the background, the recording continues smoothly. The user is constantly informed about the current number of waypoints on the app icon.

Passing to the Mac

 Transferring recordings to the Mac

At home, the recordings are synchronized directly with myTracks on the Apple computer. To do this, iPhone and Mac must be in the same (Wi-Fi) network. A transfer via cable and iTunes is not possible.

It is important that on the iPhone the synchronization service is active and a password is entered.

Via the menu item File – Synchronize with iOS Device the Sync-Dialog starts. Select the appropriate iPhone in the list, load tracks from the iOS device as an action, enter a password and start syncing .

Track management on the Mac

Track management on the Mac

Then the tracks recorded with the iPhone are included in the track database of myTracks and can be used for track-based geotagging.

Export the tracks

Export the GPX track

Export the GPX track

If you want to use the recorded tracks with tools other than myTracks on the Mac, you can also trigger an export of the GPX files. Open the context menu from the track list. At the bottom you can have the track sent by e-mail .

Upload to the Dropbox

Upload to the Dropbox

Via ” Open track in … “, the transfer to a navigation app or my preferred export to the Dropbox works. It should be noted that the track name for the Dropbox is changed. The myTracks standard contains invalid characters. What I did not find is the ability to export multiple tracks at the same time.

Personal conclusion

The program worked reliably in the test and without crashes. The interface can be operated intuitively with the following two exceptions. Bookmarks are too present for me and the track and map settings are hidden away. The recording quality of the tracks is good.

Everyone who works on the Mac with the geotagging software myTracks and want to record the tracks with the iPhone or iPad instead of using a GPS logger will find “myTracks for iPhone” an excellent GPS logger app.

With the export option, myTracks for iPhone is the recommendation for GPS recording on the iOS device.

myTracks - The GPS Logger myTracks - The GPS Logger

Download QR code myTracks – The GPS Logger Developer: Dirk Stichling Price: Free + Download QR code myTracks Developer: Dirk Stichling Price: 19,99 €

Nikon Geotagger di-GPS compared to ECO Pro-F and AK-G1s

The GPS receiver is supposed to plug directly into the Nikon camera? Which model fits better? A direct comparison of the Dawntech ECO Pro-F with the AK-G1s from Aokatec.

For photographers who want to attach the GPS receiver directly to the Nikon DSLR camera, there are currently two models. By comparison, the AK-G1s from Aokatec, the two ECO Pro-Fs from Dawntech. All are designed for the professional line of Nikon SLR cameras.

Revised di-gps ECO ProF-M

[Update October 2013] The improved Dawntech ECO has been added to the comparison.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the Geotagger and which is the better choice?

Comparison of the data

  Aokatec AK-G1s di-GPS ECO Pro-F ECO ProF-M
Manufacturer AOKATEC Dawntech Dawntech
model AK-G1s ECO Pro-F ECO ProF-M
Technical specifications
GPS chipset ? MTK MT3339 MTK MT3339
power consumption 60mA 17 mA to 19 mA 17 mA to 19 mA
attachment Screwlock painter Screwlock
and suspension lines
size 24mm x 33mm x 13mm 40mm x 25mm x 22mm 40mm x 25mm x 22mm
mass 13 grams 14 grams 18 grams
featured
Coordinate + height      
compass      
Track logger      
Remote-control terminal      
GPS cache   * Incompletely implemented  
price about 60 euros about 160 euros about 170 euros
Review field test field test field test

Strengths and weaknesses of GPS receivers

The Aokatec clearly has the better case. It is more compact and is closer to the camera. In addition, it is secured against falling out with a metal screw. The Dawntech of the first generation turns out too easy and stands out, which can lead to damage. In the second version the knurled screw was added. The Dawntech V1 is missing a switch to permanently power the GPS receiver. So frequent, long-lasting restarts of the GPS receiver are necessary. After the update, the software was improved so that a switch is no longer missing.

A remote release fits all geotaggers. Advantage of the Dawntech models: The well-known 10-pin accessory socket can still be used. The AK-G1s requires a remote release with a 2.5 mm jack plug.

The GPS reception quality of the Dawntech is clearly ahead. A GPS fix is ​​made quickly and the positional accuracy is top.

The best way to look at the details of both geo-excavators is in the extensive field tests: Aoka AK-G1s , di-GPS ECO Pro-F and the new ECO ProF-M .

In terms of price, the Aokatec is in the lead. For more than twice as expensive Dawntech offers a German dealer with warranty and good support.

Which Geotagger to buy?

Aokatec or Dawntech - everyone has their advantages

Aokatec or Dawntech – everyone has their advantages

Each of the loggers has its advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, I do in this case with a clear recommendation very difficult.

The best would be a combination of both. Housing from Aokatec and electronics from Dawntech.

[Update October 2013]

After the Dawntech update my recommendation goes to the new ECO ProF-M . Only the further protruding housing remains as a small point of criticism.

Foolography Unleashed Bluetooth GPS for Nikon DSLR in test

Geotagging without cable. Only a small Bluetooth receiver on the camera and a GPS receiver in the backpack. Geotagging in its most carefree form.

Already at the photokina in 2008 I was able to examine the prototype of the Unleashed geotagger. In comparison to the then still current adapter cable a great solution for internal Geotagging. The signals from a Bluetooth GPS receiver reach the suitable Nikon and Fuji cameras wirelessly and are integrated directly in the camera into the Exif data. Now I have a test device and the opportunity to put the system through its paces and send it to the standard round of geotagging systems.

The full name of the Geotaggers manufactured by the German company foolography is Unleashed D200 + . This model is compatible with Nikon cameras with the 10-pin accessory connector.

Attention, with the Nikon D800, D800E and D810, the model presented here no longer fits. One corner of the housing is to be modified . There is also a ready to buy “Unleashed D800” model.

First impression and functionality

Unleashed packaging

Unleashed packaging

The first thing that came to mind when I opened the package was “Will you be my geotagger?” Finally, the small module will be delivered in a noble black jewelery box.

The replica of the Unleashed from Far East (AK-4N) I had already tested . Therefore here again and again one or the other indications of the differences between the two devices.

The smaller size of the Unleashed, unlike the AK-4N, is superb. What make up a few millimeters here. You can easily get to all buttons and switches. In normal operation, you do not realize at all that an additional module is plugged in.

The original Unleashed also has an indoor lock function. This means that the last determined position max. 30 minutes is saved. Thus, even images in buildings can at least reasonably be provided with geodata from the entrance. Helps very well with short GPS interruptions in street canyons or in dense forests.

With replica and original the remote release socket is the same. Matching all Canon compatible shutter release with 2.5 mm jack. Existing 10-pin connector systems will not work with geotagging at the same time.

An LED installed in the Unleashed informs about the current status. And there are some of them. More detailed inform here the neatly made manual which is offered in German and English.

The power consumption is extremely low. I did not notice any change in battery life during the tests. Everything moved in the context that I’m used to from the D300.

A camera-side problem also occurs here, as soon as you trigger the camera directly from hibernation for a snapshot. Then the camera has not made any connection and the image remains without geodata although GPS reception exists. This delay is within the perceived range of less than one second. That’s because of the camera. All GPS receivers are struggling with this problem.

Technical specifications:

  • Size: 18.5mm x 13mm x 11mm
  • Weight: 5g
  • Range:> 10 meters
  • Bluetooth® 2.0 Core Specification
  • Operating temperature: -40 ° C to 85 ° C

Bluetooth GPS receiver

Fortuna Clip-On and Unleashed

Fortuna Clip-On and Unleashed

This geo-tagger is not done with the purchase of the camera-side receiver. You also need a GPS receiver that sends the received satellite data via Bluetooth. I used a Fortuna Clip-on GPS Bluetooth mouse.

A disadvantage of two independent systems are two separate power sources. As a user, you now have to monitor both the battery of the camera and the battery of the GPS receiver. The camera is no problem, as usual. But with the logger, which is usually stored in a bag, that can be problematic.

Foolography and gps-camera.eu offer besides the single receiver also sets consisting of Unleashed module and Bluetooth GPS. These sets are already paired and can be used immediately.

Connecting Nikon D300, Unleashed and Fortuna Clip-On:

foolography unleashed on Nikon D300

foolography unleashed on Nikon D300

Insert the Unleashed into the 10-pin socket of the camera. That’s it with mechanical coupling. Not quite. If you want, you can attach an additional safety line to the Bluetooth module and connect it to the camera strap. So it is optimally secured against losing. Although it sits much firmer than the cheap replica (which I slipped out) but sure-is-safe.

The coupling of the Bluetooth devices is a bit more involved than with replicas, but this is the Bluetooth specification. And it has another advantage: If later several Bluetooth GPS receiver are in range of reception, the Unleashed always selects “his” GPS.

GPS settings on the D300

The menu item GPS is available in the system menu.

 Nikon D300 GPS hibernation

About idle state can be decided whether the light meter is to go as usual after the set time in the idle state (ON) to save power or GPS reception if this idle state should remain disabled (OFF). Meaning makes hibernation in my opinion only if it is a directly connected GPS device which interrupts the GPS reception as soon as the hibernation occurs. The Bluetooth GPS mouse still receives satellite data in this combination even with the camera off. In this case, after a restart (regardless of whether it is from idle state or switched off), only the BT radio connection must be rebuilt. The lengthy GPS fix is ​​eliminated.
Recommended setting: Sleep ON

Another menu item is Position. This is only active when the GPS receiver is connected. Latitude, longitude, altitude, compass bearing and UTC (world time) are displayed here.

On a compass also foolography gave out. Therefore the bearing field remains empty. An improvement for the next version?

test round

On the test round again the Fortuna Clip-on GPS Bluetooth receiver served as a partner. Again, no track could be recorded. Therefore no Garmin reference track. The quality of the positions should not be used for the quality assessment of the Unleashed. The position accuracy depends only on the GPS receiver.

The mode of operation of the indoor function is best recognized by the picture from the underground car park. The position is indicated near the entrance. The next picture shows again the exit. Here again the current value was used.

Conclusion foolography Unleashed

The original Bluetooth geotagging module “Made in Germany” beats the cheap replica by far. It’s smaller, not much, but crucial. It sits much tighter and can be additionally secured. The Bluetooth pairing is a bit more involved but safer in later use.

200 euros plus GPS mouse are first a proud price. Whether you want to use a system for direct geotagging, everyone has to know for themselves. If you have decided against retroactive geotagging and an internal Bluetooth solution, the Unleashed is certainly an excellent choice.

I like that:
  • No rework on the computer
  • No danger to the image data. The entry is made 100% according to the specifications of Nikon
  • Deviations between GPS time and camera time are irrelevant
  • no noticeable additional consumption of electricity
  • Last known position is saved (indoor function)
I do not really like it that much:
  • In addition, a Bluetooth GPS receiver is needed. Surcharge about 40-75 €
  • In addition to monitoring battery of the GPS receiver
  • No track for additional presentation options
  • Existing cable releases can not be used

Geotagger Dawntech Di-GPS M3-DC with Compass Under Test

The Dawntech Geologger for Nikon SLRs combines two geotagging features. Determine position data and shooting direction and save directly in the photo. In addition the practice test.

With the di-GPS M3-DC Dawntech offers a Geotagger for Nikon DSLR cameras. DC stands for Digital Compass and already says that besides the location information from the GPS signal, the viewing direction is also determined by means of a digital compass. Both information is written by the camera directly into the Exif data of the photos.

In addition, there is a coordinate buffer if at the time of recording no GPS signal is available. In buildings, the last known position is then taken out of the store before entering. In practice this is perfectly sufficient to determine the place clearly.

I received the Geotagger from the company MBK ( gps-camera.eu ) for the test.

M3-DC versions

The connection cable between GPS module and camera is permanently installed in the Geotagger. Therefore, pay attention to the right plug when buying. The following plug variants are available:

  • Dawntech M3-DC- S3 ( Geotagging Database )
    for 10-pin connection (Nikon D200 *, D300, D300s, D700, D800, D2X / s, D2H / s, D3, D3x, D3s, D4, Fujifilm S5 Pro)
  • Dawntech M3-DC- S9 ( Geotagging Database )
    for USB connection variant A (Nikon D90)
  • Dawntech M3-DC- S5 ( Geotagging Database )
    for USB connection variant B (Nikon D3100, D3200, D5000, D5100, D7000)

Otherwise, the three models are identical.

The scope of delivery consists of:

  • Dawntech Geotagger
  • Neoprene carrying bag
  • Clip for the camera strap

Mounting M3-DC to the camera

Dawntech M3-DC Geotagger

Dawntech M3-DC Geotagger

The 10-pin connector fits perfectly in the accessory socket of my D300. Nothing stands – that’s how it should be. The cable has a good length. With a small loop over the left wheel misplaced the operation as good as not. If the compass is to be used, the logger must be placed on the hot shoe. Only then is the correct orientation given. Electrically there is no connection. This is a pure attachment, and alignment matter. If the hot shoe is required or if the internal flash should be unfolded, the logger can also be attached to the camera strap with the attached clip. Of course, the compass will no longer deliver meaningful values.

Operation of the Dawntech Geotagger

Dawntech M3-DC Geotagger on the Nikon D300

Dawntech M3-DC Geotagger on the Nikon D300

The M3-DC has a slide switch and a button. The switch toggles between Off, Auto and On. The button is used to start the compass calibration.

I prefer the position one. Although this needs more power but it is always the best possible GPS position available. With the switch position AUTO, the operating state is coupled to the light meter of the camera.

The calibration of the compass is slightly different than the previously presented Solmeta models . Horizontal wobble in landscape and portrait position is announced. Overall, that works properly. And you do not have to do it too often.

All operations are listed in a well-written German manual.
Results with the M3-DC Geotagger from practice

At the position information, there is never anything to complain about in the loggers. Also with the M3-DC the accuracy is great. Incidentally, a SiRF III GPS chipset is installed.

There are more differences in the compass function. Again, the Dawntech convinced me. The viewing direction matched over 90% of the images during the test. I would particularly like to highlight the best performance so far in portrait format. The rate of the correct direction was indeed below the landscape, but much better than previously tested GPS modules.

Photo in portrait orientation

Photo in portrait orientation

Conclusion Dawntech M3-DC Geotagger

Perfect fitting with the Dawntech M3-DC

Perfect fitting with the Dawntech M3-DC

For currently 169 euros you get an excellent geotagger of information about the location with coordinate buffer and viewing direction delivers. Operation and processing are very good. I particularly liked the precision of the compass.

Bluetooth GPS Receiver AK-4N for Nikon DSLR In Review

With the compact Bluetooth receiver from Aokatec, camera-internal geotagging can be done without cables. Together with a Bluetooth GPS receiver, the module connected to the Nikon D300 for testing.

AK-4N on the Nikon D300

The 10-pin connector connects to the Nikon D200, D300 (s), D700, D2x, D2xs, D2Hs, D3 and D3x cameras as well as the Fuji S5Pro GPS receiver. This makes internal geocoding possible with “right” cameras. Not just like previous tests on camera phones.

The solutions offered by Nikon (MC-35 or GP-1) are cable-based and therefore not really handy in use. Especially with the MC-35 adapter cable it quickly turns into a tangle of cables.

Aokatec wants to do better here. The connection to the GPS receiver is made using Bluetooth. The AK-4N module to be connected to the camera is small. 26mm x 18mm x 12mm the manufacturer indicates.

The GPS module occupies the accessory socket. These also connect the remote control of the shutter button. Therefore, the existing remote control cable can not be used together with GPS recording. There is a small jack socket available. For this purpose, however, a new, to Canon cameras (1000D, 500D, 300D, …) compatible trigger cable is needed.

Technical specifications:

  • Range: 10 meters
  • Pair time for first: 30 seconds
  • Time to connect: 3 seconds
  • Transfer rate: 1 record per second
  • Average power consumption: 10mA
  • Price: about 100 EUR

Bluetooth GPS receiver

Fortuna Clip-On and AOKA AK-4N

With the purchase of the camera-side receiver, but it is not done. You also need a GPS receiver that sends the received satellite data via Bluetooth. Previously, these devices were often used to navigate PDAs from Palm. I still have a Fortuna Clip-on GPS Bluetooth mouse. I use this for this test. A disadvantage of two independent systems are two separate batteries. As a user, you now have to monitor both the battery of the camera and the battery of the GPS receiver. That’s not a problem with the camera. But with the logger, which is usually stored in a bag, that can be problematic.

Pairing the triad

Nikon D300 GPS display

Nikon D300 GPS display

Here I was absolutely positively surprised. GPS mouse placed on the window and turned on. Insert the BT receiver into the accessory socket. Turn on the camera. After a short wait; significantly shorter than the 30s indicated by the manufacturer, the GPS symbol flashed on the display of the D300.

Sign that there is a connection to the GPS but no valid signals are yet to be delivered. The receiver also masters the BT pairing with code (0000) of the Fortuna GPS mouse. A short time later, GPS reception was also present and the display changed to a continuous signal.

GPS settings on the D300

 Nikon D300 system menu GPS

The submenu GPS is available in the system menu.

Nikon D300 GPS hibernation

Nikon D300 GPS hibernation

Hibernate mode allows you to select whether the light meter should go to sleep after a certain period of time (ON) to save power or whether it should be disabled when the GPS receiver is connected (OFF). Meaning makes hibernation in my opinion only if it is a directly connected GPS device. The Bluetooth GPS mouse receives here even with the camera off satellite data. In this case, after a restart (regardless of whether it is from idle state or switched off), only the BT radio connection must be rebuilt. The lengthy GPS fix is ​​eliminated. The additional power consumption by the AOKA receiver is low.

Recommended setting: Sleep ON

Nikon D300 position

Nikon D300 position

Another menu item is Position. This is only active when the GPS receiver is connected. Latitude, longitude, altitude, compass bearing and UTC (world time) are displayed here.

Aokatec has dispensed with a compass despite the defined mounting position on the camera. Therefore the bearing field remains empty. An improvement for the next version?

test round

This variant had to complete the 13 km test. Even if no recorded track comes out. You can already see that the card looks a bit “naked”. Since the test candidate does not output a track, I have also decided not to include the Garmin reference track. Due to the missing track, no presentations are possible, as shown in the geotagging book starting on page 77.

The positions on the map should not decide on the quality of the AK-4N. After all, this one is not responsible for GPS quality. He passes only the data to the camera which he gets from the Bluetooth GPS receiver. The position quality depends solely on the quality of the BT mouse used.

Practical test during city sightseeing

In addition to the standard round I tested the AK-4N extensively during a city tour in Munich. In the course of this city tour photos were taken, as is usual for a traveler on vacation. Attractions from the outside, visit of churches and museums.

At the end of the tour, the disillusionment came. Only about 60% of all images had geo information in the Exif data. Many pictures from churches, but also some outdoor pictures did not contain any data.

Here is a logger clearly in the advantage. Although the track breaks in buildings. By interpolation of the downstream software, it is possible to determine missing positions at least approximately. From my experience with loggers, I know that this always works quite well for churches or museums. The image inside is assigned to a coordinate near the entrance. Not perfect but still better than no position.

As an improvement, the manufacturer should think about saving the last position. This can then be used until a current position is available again.

During the city stroll, the receiver also once slid out of the camera jack. Luckily, this happened near the camera bag. The AK-4N then fell back into the bag. From other users I’ve heard of lost modules while hiking. Why did Nikon thread the accessory jack? An improvement for the next AK-4N version should include a mounting option for this thread. Or at least one kind of safety line.

Recorded Exif data

Of course, the camera can write the supplied GPS information in JPG, TIF and RAW files. The recorded data goes beyond mere position information. Here is an excerpt from an internally georeferenced picture. Read out using GeoSetter.

Exif data with GPS information

Exif data with GPS information

Conclusion AK-4N

The enthusiasm of quick and easy coupling quickly gave way to disillusionment. If there is no GPS signal when recording, you have no chance to install the position later. But the worst thing I felt was that the receiver could easily slip out. You always have a bad feeling. Is he still there? And with new devices, plugs are always tighter. How should that be later? Also I appreciate the possibilities which a track offers for the presentation of the pictures. This path is missing here.

I can only recommend this option of geo-imaging to landscape or nature photographers who have secure GPS reception and do not need tracks. All others are better served with a cheap logger and some rework on the computer.

I like that:
  • No rework on the computer
  • No danger to the image data. The entry is made 100% according to the specifications of Nikon
  • Deviations between GPS time and camera time are irrelevant
I do not really like it that much:
  • In addition, a Bluetooth GPS receiver is needed. Surcharge about 40-50 €
  • In addition to monitoring battery of the GPS receiver
  • Danger of losing as there is no possibility of security
  • Flash correction button difficult to access when the module is plugged in
  • No track for additional presentation options
  • If no GPS reception, then no position; no interpolation or storage of the last position
  • Existing cable releases can not be used.

[Update 23.04.2012]

The AK-4N version for the 10-pin Nikon accessory socket is no longer available. There is now a version for the USB socket of the Nikon D90 or D5000. New is the storage of the last position before the demolition of the GPS signal when entering buildings. The AOKA AK-N90 costs about 100 euros. Due to missing camera I can not test this Geotagger myself.

Holux GPSport 260 in the field test

The compact GPS receiver GPSport 260 offers itself as a bicycle computer, outdoor GPS and of course for geotagging. The practical test checks the suitability of the compact GPS receiver.

GPS navigation on the bike. For the Holux GPSport 260 should be particularly well suited. This and the suitability for geotagging clarifies the test.

First impression and functionality

Holux GPSport 260

Holux GPSport 260

In the case of the Holux GPSport 260 , a GPS receiver the size of a bar of soap, the first thing that stands out is the poisonous green color that underlines the outdoor character.

Underneath the square LCD screen are two buttons and a 5-way directional pad. More controls are not necessary despite the high functionality.

The hardware equipment includes a GPS receiver with MTK 3329 chipset, barometer and an electronic 3D compass. The housing is protected against water according to IPX7. To power a 1050 mAh lithium-ion battery is firmly installed.

The test device was provided to me by Holux Germany . At the time of testing, the firmware version 02.02.01 was up to date. The PC software ezTour Plus was used in version 3.2.

Technical data and delivery

In the pack next to the GPS receiver are still:

  • Bicycle mount with cable ties
  • power adapter
  • USB cable
  • tether
  • Software CD
  • Short instruction in German
GPS chipset MTK 3329
Memory internally 160,000 track points
display  
compass  
barometer  
Bluetooth  
Waypointtaste  
battery pack Fixed
Battery life 14 to 19 hours
depending on the lighting
connection Mini USB
size 82 x 54 x 22 mm
mass 72 grams

Display and operation

Bicycle mount on the handlebar

Before using the bike for the first time, the bike mount must be secured with cable ties. The GPS receiver is then simply pushed onto the holder and locked with the catch. Unfortunately, the attachment lever lacks tension. So the lever must be pulled up to secure the device. A press on this tab and the Holux is released again and can be deducted.

The display resolves to 128 x 128 pixels and can display text and graphics in four shades of gray. The backlight can be switched on permanently or at the touch of a button and ensures a good overview even at dusk.

After switching on, you end up in the main menu with eight menu items. Via the directional pad, it goes to the desired menu item and by pressing on this submenu on. While driving, this only works very limited. The pressure points for moving and confirming are too close to each other. The size of the menu is huge and so unfortunately the complexity of the service I feel not particularly intuitive.

A map view is not available on the Holux 260. The current position can be passed on to a smartphone via QR code and should be displayed there on the map. Unfortunately, the website where the position should be shown was not (anymore) available.

Geotagging with the Holux GPSport 260

The most important thing for track-based geotagging is the size of the memory. This can absorb 160,000 waypoints on the 260er. That’s enough for 22 days at a waypoint every 5 seconds for 10 hours of daily recording.

Reference image for geotagging

Reference image for geotagging

To compensate for a time difference between GPS time and camera clock, a reference picture with time is useful. The GPSsport 260 displays the current time in sports mode. With a photo of this view, the time synchronization in GeoSetter is quite easy.

In “Settings – Log” various adjustments can be made. The interval between two track points can be set automatically, time-controlled or distance-dependent. With activated autostart, the track recording starts immediately when GPS reception is available. To save memory and keep the track “clean”, a recording pause can be automatically inserted when the speed drops below a threshold.

My settings:
Interval – time – 5 seconds
Auto Start – On
Break – 1 km / h

software

Included on the CD is a software package consisting of drivers, ezTour Plus and ezTour Planner. The software is only for me to set, read and delete the logger. In the ezTour Planner routes can be planned on a Google map and sent to the GPS device.

The latest versions can be downloaded from the Holux support page . Incidentally, the product key is under the flap of the CD case – for anyone who, like me, uses the download version and searches for the key