Geocenter Sony GPS-CS3KA in practice test

A well-respected logger in the Geotagger scene is the latest Sony model for retrospective georeferencing of photos and videos. The Sony GPS-CS3KA. In the test, the logger must show if he can meet the expectations placed in him.

The Sony GPS-CS3KA comes in an elaborate carton packaging with further information in the hinged inner part. In addition to the logger, the package includes a bag, a mini USB cable, a CD with software and several operating instructions.

Sony GPS-CS3 KA Geologger:

Scope of delivery GPS-CS3 KA

Scope of delivery GPS-CS3 KA

To operate only one Mignon cell is needed. This is excellent in itself, since this type is considered as standard equipment of photographers (lightning). It is also remarkable how long the logger can last with a battery: around 14 hours!

After switching on for the first time you get directly to the time zone setting. This is important, because later no time adjustment is possible. The time zone can be changed in 15 minute steps.

The internal menu is logically structured and easy to operate via the 4 buttons. Main menu consists of three points: GPS, matching and tools.

GPS displays information about the current reception status. An overview with quality bars, an exact display of the position and the current time. The latter is important for adjusting the camera time or the adjustment according to the time method of page 20 of the Geotagging book .

In the Tools section, the time zone can be changed, settings made or the memory can be deleted.

There are two types of matching (internal geotagging) available. Normal and Quick. For Quick, there is no undo option available. Otherwise, both methods are identical.

Under the lid is a small metal hook on which, for example, a lanyard can be attached to carry the logger around his neck.

As soon as the log memory is running out, the user will be informed via a message on the display. The logger is deleted (formatted) via a function in the Tools menu.

Specifications CS3KA

  • Size: 57mm x 80mm x 23mm
  • Weight (ready for use): 94g
  • Power supply: 1x Mignon (AA) battery or rechargeable battery
  • Display: Yes; monochrome, illuminated
  • Log memory: internal (128MB)
  • Log interval: fixed every 15 s
  • Waypoint button: no
  • Card compartment: Yes; SD / SDHC; Memory Stick Duo; Other SD and MS formats via adapter
  • Operating temperature: 0 ° C to 40 ° C

Logging and internal geotagging:

To start recording, simply turn the power on by pressing the power button. Once a position is determined, the recording begins. Usually in 15 seconds rhythm. But I already had two points at intervals of 10 sec. If there is no reception, the log interval expands.

After the photo tour has been recorded, the memory card used, if it is an SD card or a Memory Stick Duo, can be inserted directly into the device. To do this, push the back cover slightly down and fold it up.

After closing the lid, start tagging the images in the Matching menu. Correction of the difference between GPS time and camera time is not possible. Therefore, it is extremely important to accurately set the camera’s time before taking pictures. If the camera does not allow seconds, this can be difficult.
When matching is to be noted that a maximum of 60 images can be edited on a swing. If more images are on the map, the process must be started so often, until all images are provided with geo-coordinates.

Whose camera does not have an SD or MS card and still wants to tag his pictures directly in the logger, can copy the entire card to an SD card and then process in the logger. I tested this with photos of an Olympus C5060W, which records on CF card.

When looking at the written Exif data with GeoSetter, it becomes apparent that ExifTool reports some small warnings:

ExifTool error message

Whether this is a problem, possibly in interaction with other software applications, everyone has to test in his workflow.
Otherwise, the pure GPS data are stored without additional information in the appropriate Exif fields.

Software GPS Image Tracker

Included is the GPS software Image Tracker on CD. With the help of this software also RAW data can be processed. At least if the pictures were taken with one of the specified Sony cameras. Geotagging is also possible for videos from Sony cameras. I could not test both, because I have neither a Sony digital camera nor a Sony video camera.

GPS Image Tracker software

GPS Image Tracker software

Otherwise, this software does not shine with a great deal of functionality. On the left a map with the recorded track, on the right the images which come into the program via drag & drop.

The most important settings are hidden behind the “corrections” button:

Correction of the place
Here the difference between the GPS time and the camera clock can be entered. However, the difference must be calculated by yourself and can then be set to the second. Maximum correction size is ± 5 minutes.

Correction of the place

Correction of the place

time adjustment
Setting the time zone used

time adjustment

time adjustment

As soon as the assignment has been started via “Add position data to files”, the software asks twice more:

Add location data

Add location data 

security warning

security warning

If both questions are answered positively, the geotagging process starts. Meanwhile, the file date is also changed to the current time. Recording time and file time are therefore no longer consistent.

Checking the written Exif data with ExifTool gave a little warning:

ExifTool warning

ExifTool warning

Geotagging with GeoSetter

The Sony CS3KA stores the tracklog as NMEA data stream. This makes it possible to use the more comfortable and feature-rich GeoSetter software. The log data can be downloaded to the PC without software installation. The logger logs on as a USB mass storage on the PC. After that, the tracks can be used in any software.

Test Round:

On the way to the starting point in Valentinspark, the logger had satellite contact very quickly. The display of the signal strength is very helpful here. While driving, the logger was in the included bag in the bicycle handlebar bag. Through the viewing window of the bag, the display is difficult to read. The HOLD function was activated to prevent accidental operation of the logger.

Show options Hide options more options Avoid highways Avoid tolls KM miles Calculate route Print route

The Sony Track is in red, the comparison track of the Garmin GPSmap 60CSx in blue.

Conclusion Sony GPS-CS3KA

Operation of the logger is good. Memory neatly sized. A highlight is the operation with only one standard Mignon battery. And that over a whole photo day. Also the display and the GPS reception are neat. Unfortunately, the device with around 140 € is very expensive for a pure data logger. Spend a little more and you get an outdoor navigation device (eg Garmin Vista HCx) with many more options. The enclosed software makes indirect geotagging rudimentary and not very comfortable. Unfortunately, RAW data can only be processed by Sony cameras. In the software disciplines, GeoSetter is much better. Recommendation only for Sony brand loyal users. All others are better served with a simple logger – and cheaper.