GPS Geologger GT-730 in the field test

A compact GPS logger in a practical USB stick housing. How does the GPS receiver beat itself in geotagging practice?

A GPS receiver chip, memory and power. More is basically not necessary to record a GPS track. The GT-730FL-S offers this basic equipment in a handy USB stick design for a reasonable price. What about the operation and above all the quality of the recording?

Operation and displays

For the operation of the logger, a slide switch and a button are available. The switch turns the logger on and off. With the key special places can be saved as special waypoints (Waypoint).

Also, the information that the logger via LEDs of himself, are simple and understandable. If the blue LED is lit, no position is known. If the blue LED is flashing, everything is OK and the GPS recording is in progress.

If the yellow LED lights up, charging is switched off, the Geologger is ready to go.

Internal battery

Geologger in the charging station

Geologger in the charging station

In the GPS logger in the USB stick design a 450 mAh battery is built in. Charging is via the USB plug. Simply plug it into the computer or use a USB power adapter. I use one of these compact power adapters, which are used on most smartphones.

The manufacturer writes something of 18 hours of battery life. On the first tours, I came with about 17 hours recording time very close to the manufacturer.

Software and alternatives

Geologger with internal USB port

Geologger with internal USB port

Even if the USB stick design might suggest it. The GT-730 does not behave like a USB stick on the computer. Unfortunately, a mass storage device (MSD) mode has been omitted. To manage the logger and to read out the tracks drivers and software are needed. The “GPS Photo Tagger” program for Windows is included on a mini-CD.

The program is quite easy to use.

Actually only 4 points are needed in the file menu: ” Read log “, ” Configure GPS “, ” Clear log ” and ” Export route “.

After downloading the data, save the tracks to a GPX file via “Export itinerary” and continue using it in the geotagging tool of choice. Incidentally, all selected tracks are saved in a GPX file.

The supplied software can also link photos with GPS data from the GT-730. But I would not go into that and refer to the proven geotagging programs GeoSetter (Windows) and myTracks (Mac).

There are very good alternatives for the Mac.

There is no software for Apple Computer. But that’s not a problem as there are very good alternatives here. On the one hand myTracks4Mac, the track management software with top geotagging possibility offers an integrated logger import function. Simply select the GT-730 in the GPS-Logger Assistant. More about track-based geotagging with myTracks in this howto .

Import Settings HoudahGeo

On the other hand, the free GPS logger tool HoudahGPS. Here you can select “SkyTraq” and the USB modem in the settings. The geotagging software HoudahGeo also uses the same import module and can thus access the GT-730 directly. Again, there is a practice howto .

GPS recording in practice

The logger is always waiting for me fully charged on the power supply to the next use. Switch on outdoors, wait until a position is determined and into the photo bag. Up to the first position usually takes about 20 seconds to just over a minute. If there was a long distance between the last place and the current position, the first positioning took much longer.

I can not complain about the reception quality. Even in the camera bag, the route was recorded in the trunk.

In addition to GPS track recording, special locations can also be recorded as waypoints. Simply press the button and the current location will be highlighted in the recording.

Technical specifications

Manufacturer Canmore
model GT-730FL-S
GPS chipset SIRF IV
Supported auxiliary systems WAAS and EGNOS
memory size 2 MB
Storage 256,000 track points
display  
Waypointtaste  
Battery internally 450 mAh
Battery life about 18 hours
connection USB
size 76 x 29 x 18 mm
mass 34 grams

Personal conclusion

GPS Logger GT-730

GPS Logger GT-730

Those who are not bothered by drivers and Windows software will get a decent geologist at an attractive price with the GT-730. Reception quality, track memory size and battery life are good, only the time until the first fix could be shorter.

I like that:
  • Compact
  • easy handling
  • inexpensive
I do not really like it that much:
  • No USB mode to read
  • Partially First-Fix takes too long

Wintec WBT-202 GPS Data Logger in Field Test

In the practical test, the GPS logger with u-blox 5 chipset and data storage on microSD card must show what he really can.

The Wintec GPS logger in the field test

Good GPS loggers are especially important for track-based geotagging. Wintec offers with the WBT-202 a Geologger with the u-blox 5 chipset and a data storage on microSD card. The one ensures high precision, the other for long recording time.

In the review with test, the WBT-202 must show whether it really is a “super-logger” and how practical the functions for geotagging and outdoor are.

First impression

The Geologger is nice and small with 57 grams. For the bottom is a rubber for sticking itself.

Soft paint dissolves

Soft paint dissolves

The side gripping surfaces are rubberized and give the device pleasant tactile properties. The surface feels soft velvety thanks to soft paint. Unfortunately, this varnish dissolves with me after numerous stays in various pockets in places.

Of course, great is the microSD card under the battery. Up to 2 GB cards fit in. That means about 134 million waypoints. Which equates to more than four years of continuous recording with 1 waypoint per second.

Technical specifications

GPS chipset u-blox Antaris 5
Memory internally 260,000 track points
memory size
microSD
Max. 2 GB
track points about 134 million
(at 2 GB microSD)
display  
Waypointtaste  
battery pack 1200 mAH
BL-5C compatible
Battery life
Logger without BT
about 28 hours
connection Mini USB
size 64 x 40 x 17 mm
Weight (complete) 57 grams

The tested logger was provided to me by Wintec Germany . Firmware Version: 17.0

Battery life

Replaceable battery

Replaceable battery

For the power supply, Wintec relies on a replaceable Li-ion battery (compatible with Nokia BL-5C ) with 1200 mAh. The achievable durations are sensational. No test charge was empty under 24 hours. I reached a record of just under 30 hours with a single charge.

service

Two buttons, three LEDs

Two buttons, three LEDs

With only two buttons, the operation of the Geotaggers is quite simple.

The logger is switched on and off by the left power button (about 3 seconds).

The left permanently lit LED indicates searching for a GPS position. If the current position is found, the left LED flashes.

The middle, blue LED indicates the readiness for the Bluetooth connection. If the logger stores data, the middle LED flashes orange.

With the right button, waypoints are set by short pressure. With a longer pressure (until the green glowing left LED goes off), a new log file is started.

Computer connection and software

Mini-USB port

Mini-USB port

The Wintec Logger has a Mass Storage Device (MSD) mode. This means that he behaves on the computer like a USB stick.

To enter the MSD mode connect the activated logger to the computer and then press the power button for 3 seconds. Now the middle LED flashes orange and shows traffic.

You can now access the memory card from Explorer or Finder. The main directory is WBT_Tool.exe. This Windows program is needed for logger settings and the conversion of the tracks.

When launching the WBT tool, the last recorded track is displayed in a browser window on Google Maps maps. The actual program must first be fetched from the taskbar.

Important NOTE:
Google has recently made changes to the Maps application, so the map view will no longer work on older WBT Tool versions. Simply download the latest Win-Tool (V 5.0) from the website and copy it to the memory card.

TimeMachineX is still available for download from Wintec in version 2.7.1. This software makes it possible to read the data from the GPS logger, to make adjustments and to provide images with geotags. Since the program in connection with the storage on SD card is not really needed, I will not go into it.

Record track and prepare for geotagging

To record the track for geotagging, there is nothing to do but turn on the logger. Once there is a GPS fix, the recording starts.

At home, hang the logger in MSD mode on the PC and start the WBT tool.

LOG data transfer

LOG data transfer

On the second tab “LOG Data Transfer” the desired logfile can be selected based on the date and best converted into the universal GPX format. A right click in the bottom field opens the “Copy to …” command to transfer to your own computer.

Another option is to simply copy all TES files directly from the logger (from the “WBT202” folder) to the computer and use them with alternative software.

Alternative software

Even if the normal Windows Explorer and the WBT tool is enough to get to the tracks, there are plenty of useful alternative software. Especially for users of Mac and Linux computers.

  • For the Mac, the recommendation goes clearly to myTracks for Mac . This program is more than just a tool to read the memory. Track management and geotagging of photos are also included.
    → My review
  • Read tracks and in standard formats also works with HoudaGPS on the Mac. → My review
  • GPSBabel can also convert the TES files to standard GPS formats. Works on Windows, Mac and Linux systems. → My review
  • GeoSetter can import the TES files directly for track-based geotagging.
    → Geotagging Howto
  • There is an app for Android – TES Convertor . Unfortunately, this did not work in my tests. After a request with the developer this wants to look at the problem and fix.

Practical tips and settings

The huge memory eliminates the need to create sophisticated rules for recording the tracks. The easiest way is to set the recording interval to one waypoint per second.

But beware! There lurks a trap. Despite the active time interval, the speed range is still active. And here is the maximum speed 100 (km / h). During a ride on the highway, it happened to me that only the piece was recorded on a cross. For the rest of the route I was faster than 100 km / h on the way. When changing the LOG settings, set a high value here (maximum 2000 km / h).

Optimize LOG mode

Optimize LOG mode

Another trap lurks at the motion sensor. If the logger is not moved for a defined time, it automatically switches to standby mode. This can prevent unsightly “waypoint heaps” and increase the battery life even further. But the sensitivity is not very high and can not be adjusted. In your pocket when hiking or mountain biking, there should be no problems. When driving on a good road, it has already happened to me that the logger has switched off. Better turn off the motion sensor in the WBT_Tool right away.

Device settings

Device settings

Personal conclusion

WBT-202 with memory card

WBT-202 with memory card

The perfect geologist, the WBT 202 comes very close. He is small and light. At the same time, the battery life is enormous. The GPS reception qualities are top. By storing the tracks on the microSD card there is almost infinite memory available, which can easily be read out via the MSD mode.

Unfortunately, it is not stored in a standard GPS format (GPX or NMEA), which requires a conversion. The price is borderline. For a few euros more, there are already outdoor navigation devices with color display and map display for a much wider range of applications.

Check the current price on Amazon

I like that:
  • Huge memory
  • Long battery life
  • Small
  • Light
I do not really like it that much:
  • Expensive
  • No standard GPS format

Nikon COOLPIX S9900, P610, AW130: Three Compacts with GPS

Lots of new compact cameras from Nikon. Three of them, with built-in GPS, I introduce here. In addition a navigation special add on for Japan.

In addition to the special camera D810A ( I have reported ), Nikon also introduced this week several compact COOLPIX cameras. Including three models with built-in GPS receiver. Reason enough to take a look at these cameras.

Nikon COOLPIX S9900

The Nikon COOLPIX S9900 could best be described as a compact, stylish travel zoom camera. 30x optical zoom with a focal length range of 25 to 750 millimeters. And that with a compact size and less than 300 grams in weight. The light intensity is just okay with f / 3.7 to f / 6.4 for this focal length range.

For compact cameras of this class, a swiveling and rotating display is still rare. The S9900 has such a display with 7.5 centimeters diagonal and a resolution of 921,000 pixels.

Nikon COOLPIX S9900 with movable display

Nikon COOLPIX S9900 with movable display

Immediate sharing of pictures is provided by the built-in Wi-Fi feature and NFC support, which connects to the camera simply by touching a smart device.

GPS in the Coolpix S9900 

Built-in GPS, GLONASS and QZSS

While elsewhere the trend is to outsource geotagging from the camera using a WiFi-connected smartphone, Nikon takes a different approach and installs three satellite positioning systems: the American GPS, the Russian GLONASS and the Japanese QZSS. The latter only supports existing systems, is limited to Japan and is still under construction. More about QZSS in Wikipedia .

This allows the S9900 to geotag photos independently of the smartphone.

What Nikon means, however, with this phrase in the press release, I do not quite understand “so can be held up to 30 sites on an integrated world map.”

Price and availability

Nikon S9900

Nikon S9900

The COOLPIX S9900 is expected to be available from the end of February 2015 in black and silver for a suggested retail price of 349 EUR.

Nikon COOLPIX P610

Nikon COOLPIX P610

Nikon COOLPIX P610

In addition to the travel zoom cameras, there were also new bridge cameras. The Nikon Coolpix P610 is among the high-end model.

It has a 16-megapixel CMOS sensor in 1 / 2.3-inch format with a sensitivity of ISO 100 to ISO 6400. The 60x zoom lens covers a 35mm equivalent focal length from 24 to 1440 millimeters at a light intensity from f / 3.3 to f / 6.5.

Nikon COOLPIX P610 with swiveling and rotating display

Nikon COOLPIX P610 with swiveling and rotating display

The P610 also has a swiveling and rotating display. Wi-Fi and NFC for controlling and transferring images are also included.

GPS in the Coolpix P610

Actually logical that also Nikon’s best bridge camera with built-in GPS receiver comes on the market.

Geotagging is again responsible for the well-known from the S9900 3-way Navi chip with GPS, GLONASS and QZSS support.

Price and availability

The super zoom camera Nikon COOLPIX P610 will be available in red and black from the end of February 2015 for 430 euros in the trade.

Nikon COOLPIX AW130

The AW130 falls into the class of compact outdoor cameras. The most important update is the depth. While the predecessor (AW120) could only be used up to 18 meters, it is now a proud 30 meters.

Can withstand water pressure at a depth of 30 meters for one hour. This is top class in the compact camera segment. Normally additional underwater housings are needed for such depths.

Nikon AW 130 with GPS, Wi-Fi and NFC

Nikon AW 130 with GPS, Wi-Fi and NFC

The 5x zoom optics with 24 to 120 millimeters at aperture f / 2.8 to f / 4.9 as well as the sensor with 16 megapixel resolution and a photosensitivity from ISO 125 to ISO 1600 have remained the same as most of the other features.

The camera is also suitable for sharing outdoor adventures with friends. With NFC support and built-in Wi-Fi, images can be transferred to the camera by simply touching an NFC-enabled smart device or using the dedicated Wi-Fi button.

GPS in the Coolpix AW130

Geotagging is integrated as usual with outdoor cameras. Also supported here are the satellite navigation systems GPS, GLONASS and QZSS. In addition to the locations with latitude and longitude as well as altitude or depth information, itineraries can also be logged.

Again, the comic sentence in the press release: “A maximum of 30 locations can be stored on an integrated world map.” Huh? What is meant by the 30 locations?

Price and availability

Nikon AW 130 in eye-catching livery

Nikon AW 130 in eye-catching livery

The AW130 is expected to be available from the end of February in the five colors black, blue, orange, yellow and camouflage.

The price is Nikon with 350 euros.

With material from Nikon

di-GPS ECO Pro-F Geotagger in practice test

The latest GPS receiver from Dawntech comes with some promising features. How well the Geotagger beats in practice, clarifies the test.

di-GPS Pro-F

di-GPS Pro-F

With the new GPS receiver of the ECO series Dawntech fulfills two frequently mentioned wishes of the users:

Even with active Geotagger remains on the one hand the hot shoe free and on the other hand, accessories can still be connected via the standard socket. The expectations are so great. The practical test has to show if they are fulfilled.

First impression and assembly

Scope of delivery ECO Pro-F

Scope of delivery ECO Pro-F

The GPS receiver for Nikon SLR cameras is one of the numerous alternatives to the Nikon GP-1 Geotagger. In addition to the standard geotagging data longitude, latitude and altitude, the ECO Pro-F has a coordinate buffer.

A compass for the viewing direction and a logger for recording the photo tour are not installed.

Splash protection thanks to rubber seal

Splash protection thanks to rubber seal

The Geotagger is delivered with the safety line in a neoprene bag. The case looks very stable and high quality. Towards the camera, the plug is protected against moisture with a rubber ring. So the splashing water resistance of Nikon professional cameras is retained even with GPS.

Threaded bushing

Threaded bushing

At the front is the carried out accessory socket, protected by a rubber cap. This allows existing accessories to continue to be used.

The installation of the ECO Pro-F is very simple: attach the safety line to the eyelet of the strap, insert the Geotagger into the 10-pin accessory socket, and you’re done.

Mechanical properties of the ECO Pro-F

Far protruding housing

Far protruding housing

Immediately after plugging in, the Geotagger sticks out quite far. Although has the advantage that all buttons, especially those for the flash, remain easily accessible. But the problem is the long lever when stowing in the camera bag or when laying aside. Damage to the camera or Geotagger is possible.

Due to the lack of screw mounting the Pro-F is not very stable in the accessory socket. The enclosed safety rope should be attached in any case.

Pro-F with remote control

Pro-F with remote control

Accessories to connect to the performed socket works. I tested this with a radio remote control. In that case, the lever arm gets even longer and the construction even more unstable than it already is. The Nikon 17-55 2.8 lens obstructs the addition of the zoom ring.

Reception characteristics ECO Pro-F

After switching on, the green flashing LED on the Geotagger signals the search for satellites. In my tests I had a position fix after 5 to 40 seconds.

If reception is available, there is absolutely nothing to complain about the accuracy. On the contrary, the coordinates are very good. On the map you can find a photo with location.

Photo with shooting position in map

Photo with shooting position in map

ECO Pro-F in practice

ECO Pro-F in action

ECO Pro-F in action

On a long city tour through downtown Munich, I tested the GPS receiver for suitability in “urban canyons” and for travel photographers.

Due to the poor attachment to the camera, the Geotagger has slipped out five times within a few hours and hung on the suspension line. Now it’s clear why Dawntech even includes a replacement fuse. This is absolutely vital.

Since the Geotagger is switched off each time the camera’s exposure meter goes into sleep mode, a new position must be taken before the next photo. This took too much time in the city (about 20-30 seconds), in nature with optimal reception conditions the re-fix worked within 3-10 seconds.

One solution is to keep the exposure metering on permanently via the GPS setting in the camera menu. But then the battery is very fast empty. Here Dawntech should improve and keep the Geotagger always active. The power consumption is as advertised low enough so as not to burden the camera battery too much.

To which cameras does the ECO Pro-F fit?

Basically, the di-GPS ECO Pro-F Geotagger fits all Nikon cameras of the professional line with the 10-pin accessory socket.

  • D2XS, D2X, D2HS
  • D3, D3S, D3X
  • D4
  • D200
  • D300, D300s
  • D700
  • D800, D800E
  • Fujifilm S5 Pro

Technical data di-GPS ECO Pro-F

GPS chipset MTK MT3339
coordinate buffer  
GPS logger  
compass  
power consumption 17 mA to 19 mA
size 40mm x 25mm x 22mm
mass 14 grams

Before the conclusion, an important note:
Despite the fact that it comes from the same ECO series, the Pro-F is hardly comparable to the Pro-S. Because the prosumer device is significantly better at crucial points than the variant for Nikon professional cameras.

Close fitting housing and switch on the ECO Pro-S

Close fitting housing and switch on the ECO Pro-S

So the case of the Pro-S is much closer to the camera, as this picture shows. In addition, the Pro-S has a built-in switch that keeps the Geotagger active even when the camera’s light meter goes off. Due to the very low power consumption, this also poses no problem for the camera battery. According to test of the company gps-camera.eu had the battery after 48 hours of continuous GPS operation still about 50% residual charge.

Personal conclusion

Enthusiasm about a compact geotagging module with an installed accessory socket disappeared during the test. Both the constant refix in photo breaks as well as slipping out of the socket are annoying.

Dawntech must necessarily improve the case mounting. In addition, a switch is missing to run the Geotagger permanently.

The GPS reception power, the compact design and the performed accessory socket are great.

Unfortunately, the unstable attachment and the constant reboots with the associated waiting times prevent a recommendation. Let’s hope that Dawntech will make a quick fix and release a version 2.

I like that:
  • Accessories socket available
  • Good GPS reception
  • Hot shoe remains free
I do not really like it that much:
  • Is too far off
  • Attachment to the camera
  • No “permanent ON” position

 

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.

Geologger i-Blue 747 and 747A + in the field test

I used the opportunity to borrow the two iBlue Loggers 747 and 747A + from a friend for testing. Since both are very similar apart from a few details, a joint test offers itself.

My logger tests continue today with a double test. More specifically, with two GPS loggers with Bluetooth function from the company TranSystem from Taiwan. On the one hand the iBlue 747 (only needed) and on the other hand its successor, the current model i-Blue747A + . Both devices have MTK GPS chipsets.

 iBlue 747A + (left) and iBlue 747 (right)

Differences iBlue 747 and 747A +

The old model uses version 1 of the MTK chip, while the 747A + uses the MTK 3329 chip (version II).

With the current 747A + A-GPS has been added for a particularly fast GPS fix.

In the following I restrict myself to the functions of the iBlue747A +.

Features iBlue 747A +

The logger is charged with power via the USB socket. The delivery is usually only a car charger included. Some dealers also offer packages with a 230V charger. Otherwise, charging is possible via any standard USB port with a mini-USB cable.

Operation is via a slide switch on the side and a button. The switch has the positions OFF – NAV – LOG.

After switching on, Bluetooth and recording are active in both the NAV and LOG positions. In the NAV position, the track recording goes into idle mode when the Bluetooth interface is inactive. For logging tours such as geotagging so the LOG position is better suited.

Waypoint button on the i-Blue 747A + Data Logger

The button on the top is for setting waypoints. Useful for positions to be marked in the track or to perform time alignment in geotagging waypoint based. (Described in Geotagging book on page 21)

New on the 747A + models is Assisted GPS. A-GPS makes it possible to determine your own position very quickly after switching on. For this purpose, orbital data (almanac) of the GPS satellites are downloaded from the Internet to the logger. The data is then valid for one week. The fix with current data then happens really fast.

To control the logger, there are three LEDs on the top.

The blue LED on the left indicates the status of the Bluetooth receiver. If it is lit, the device is in the process of establishing a connection. If the connection is established, it flashes every second.

The middle LED indicates the GPS status. The LED will be solid yellow as long as the device has no position and will flash as soon as a position is available.

The right LED is for charge status information. It glows green during charging, flashing green when the battery is charged and red when the battery is low.

Technical specifications:

  i-Blue 747 i-Blue 747A +
GPS chipset MTK I MTK II (MTK 3329)
A-GPS    
battery pack BL-5C compatible BL-5C compatible
mass 65 grams 65 grams
size 46.5 x 72.2 x 20 mm 46.5 x 72.2 x 20 mm
display    
Waypunkttaste    
memory size 2 MB 4 MB
Number of track points Depending on settings Depending on settings

Identical loggers are also available from QStarz and Blumax:

  • Blumax GPS-4044
  • QSTarz BT-Q1000X

Battery and alternatives

The battery is changeable and sufficient for a recording time of 30 to 40 hours. The power source is a Nokia BL-5C compliant model. This battery is used, for example, in the Nokia 6230. Thus, replacement or additional batteries and external chargers are cheap to get.

i-Blue 747A + as a GPS mouse

To be able to use the GPS data in other devices, both 747 loggers also offer a Bluetooth mode. For example in connection with the Bluetooth Geotagger unleashed by foolography. This connection went well in the test. Advantage of this combination: Geotags directly in the pictures and track for presentation on the logger.

Software:

Here we come to the noralgic point of these two loggers.

A connection can be established via USB as well as via Bluetooth. Where USB should be preferred because of the higher data transfer rate. But beware. It is not a USB mass storage device. Here’s an old-fashioned USB-to-UART virtual COM port driver is used.

With my main computer (WinXP) it was not possible to get the logger to read the data. Apparently here drivers have disabled each other.
On a Win7 netbook, the connection via USB or Bluetooth did not always work either. Sometimes no device was found.

Included are the two tools GpsView and GpsPhotoTagger.
With GpsView statuses can be viewed, settings changed and the AGPS data updated.

In the section AGPS the auxiliary data can be downloaded from the Internet and copied to the logger on the Setup Screen (Update)

I can not say anything about GpsPhotoTagger. Either no connection was possible or I got the message that too little system resources are available.

Alternative software

Luckily, there are some alternatives to the bad original software.

For Windows, Mac and Linux:
BT747 Control Program is an open source project that handles a cross-manufacturer tool. The tool can do both, setting the logger and reading the memory. BT747 is available free of charge as well as various desktop variants for mobile devices. Among others for Windows Mobile and J2ME phones.

More in a separate BT747 article .

For Mac:
The GPS all-rounder MyTracks for Mac can directly read both iBlue 747 Geologger.

More in a separate MyTracks for Mac article .

Also HoudahGPS can read the 747 on the Mac.

To the HoudahGPS article .

For Android:
The 747 GPS logger can also be read out via Bluetooth with the AndroidMTK app on the go.

More on this in the AndroidMTK app presentation .

Meaningful logger settings

The fix should stay at 1s. For geotagging, a time gap of 5s has proven to be a good compromise between accuracy and memory requirements.

From both setting groups there are about 140,000 records. That’s enough for about 194h, which corresponds to about 24 days photo tour (8h per day).

Test Round:

Both loggers were side by side, lying flat in the handlebar bag of the bicycle. Due to the current A-GPS data of the iBlue 747 A +, the first fix was made before leaving home. The deviations of both loggers were minimal under the given circumstances. So here’s just the record of the 747A + logger. The time alignment was done with the waypoint-based method.

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

Conclusion i-Blue 747A +

Great hardware faces miserable software. The iBlue747A + is an excellent logger. The welcome features are beyond reproach. The storage space is neatly large.

With the free alternatives is sufficient alternative software ready. For both beginners and casual users, both Mac programs are ideal. With BT747 even professionals get their money.

GPS and geotagging with the Nikon D5300 in detail

The GPS receiver is integrated with the Nikon D5300. How good is the reception performance? Is the A-GPS good and how does the track logger work? Review with all information about geotagging.

 

Nikon D5300

Nikon D5300

In the review of the Nikon D5300, I have already briefly on one of the unique features of the latest Nikon camera, the built-in GPS receiver, received.

This article is about the details of the Geotagging function with the built-in GPS receiver.

GPS position in the photo

System menu - Position data

System menu – Position data

The obligatory program for geotagging is the addition of latitude and longitude as well as height information. For both JPG and RAW files, the Nikon D5300 does.

Best GPS reception

Best GPS reception

Activate the recording of the positions in the system menu under Position data. On the info screen or during the live view view, a small satellite icon informs you about GPS reception.

Let’s get to the freestyle: direction information and coordinate buffer.

Without a built-in compass, the D5300 must fit the direction information. I do not think so bad, but would have been nice.

Much worse is the missing coordinate buffer. If GPS reception is interrupted in a photo, for example in a building, the position values ​​remain empty. Here would actually apply: “Better a bad coordinate than no position”.

Summary: The built-in geotagging system of the Nikon D5300 offers up to here no more than with the external Nikon GP-1 is possible.

Position data in the video

When GPS is active, video files are also provided with position data. In the Exif data is written the place where the recording was started. If the camera is moved during recording, the distance covered can not be deduced from the video data.

Display of GPS data

This is how the geodata is displayed This is how the geodata is displayed

In order to be able to control the coordinates on the display, the item ” Recording data” must be activated in the playback menu under ” Options for playback view “.

Faster position thanks to A-GPS

A-GPS data is updated

A-GPS data is updated

Thanks to the Assisted GPS feature, the camera finds a position much faster. We remember: Camera without A-GPS can search for 15 minutes.

Predicted orbit data is stored as a satellite timetable and the receiver knows where to find satellites.

With current data, the Nikon D5300 usually finds a valid outdoor position in about 8 to 15 seconds, according to my previous experience and measurements.

The A-GPS data can be downloaded from the Nikon website . A record contains the information for 28 days. With an update process, the data can be transferred to the camera for 14 days. A four-week holiday is thus possible without a download on the way. However, at half-time, the record must be imported again.

Check the validity of the A-GPS data

Check the validity of the A-GPS data

The validity is displayed in the menu under ” GPS options ” – ” Update A-GPS data “.

Stick with the logger record

GPS logger settings

GPS logger settings

Not only know where individual pictures were taken, but also the whole route can look at a map again. The recording of the route is suitable for this. With the integrated logger, the Nikon D5300 offers this feature.

Recorded either in 15, 30 or 60 seconds interval. To prevent the log function from being forgotten and the battery to be completely depleted, the recording duration is limited to 6, 12 or 24 hours when activated. The recording continues even when the camera is turned off.

The tracks are stored on the SD card in the folder ” NIKON / GNSS ” in NMEA format. The file extension is LOG, with which most GPS programs but can not do anything. Just rename the extension to NMEA and it works. If the tool does not understand NMEA, the way is still to use GPSBabel to create a GPX file. How that works, I showed in a how-to .

In practice, the logs make a good impression. After initial outliers, the track then runs with sufficient accuracy. Whether the camera hangs on the strap, is stowed in the camera bag or in the passenger footwell of the car.

Nikon D5300 with compass

The housing has only one GPS receiver installed. If the viewing direction is also to be written into the picture during recording, an external GPS device with compass is required. A report with the Solmeta Geotagger Pro 2 on the Nikon D5300 is available here .

Personal conclusion

GPS in the camera body GPS in the camera body

The step to GPS in the camera body is good and right. The advantages over the previous Nikon GP-1 solution are: no additional device with cable, A-GPS support and the track memory.

The log function is well implemented and by limiting the total runtime you will be saved from a battery that is normally drained of leaks.

Unfortunately it hapert in the GPS implementation. Start time without A-GPS too slow, awkward A-GPS update and the missing compass. However, most of all, I miss the coordinate buffer, so too many images are left out of position.

BlackBerry 8310 with GPSLogger as geologger in the test

GPS tracks for track-based geotagging do not always have to be recorded with loggers. Even a smartphone with an integrated GPS chip allows for tracking with the right software. This is about recording with the business smartphone par excellence. With a BlackBerry.

The test device was the BlackBerry Curve 8310 with the free GPSLogger tracking software .

BlackBerry 8310 smartphone

The BlackBerry 8310 is already one of the older smartphones from Research In Motion (RIM). Equipped with a 2.0 megapixel camera and an internal GPS module, it is already suitable for geotagging. The operating system is version 4.5.0 of the RIM own OS.

Software GPSLogger

GPSLogger is a simple, free GPS application that works without online features. Thus, it is always and everywhere applicable without data traffic is necessary. From the surface it is kept simple. For the data display 7 views are available. These are usually plot graphics for altitude or speed over time. A plot of the distance covered can also be displayed without a map background.

Settings can be made numerous. Important for logging in the General Settings area are the recording interval (set here to 5 seconds) and the Export Settings area.

To export the tracks, the directory must be defined. I opted for the microSD card, as it is easily accessible from the PC as a removable disk. The formats include KML, GPX and CSV. GPX (Mapsource compatible) is to be preferred, as it is stored as a track point. Thus, the distance traveled is available for visualization. GPX (1.0) stores only waypoints. In GeoSetter, this is not interpreted as a route, which means that no route is displayed. For the pure tagging of photos, it does not matter. My recommendation for use with GeoSetter therefore clearly goes to the GPX (Mapsource compatible) format.

In both GPX file formats, the following values ​​are stored in addition to the time and coordinate information:

  • magvar: Local magnetic aberration
  • sat: number of satellites used
  • hdop: (Horizontal Dilution Of Precision) Horizontal Accuracy (2-D)
  • vdop: (Vertical Dilution Of Precision) Vertical accuracy; height

These serve as additional information for assessing track quality. Although they are not necessary for geotagging, they represent a certain added value for the advanced user.

Record GPS track and save

Logging is easy as shown in the screenshots below.

After completion of the recording, the track can be stored in the defined directory in the set formats. The GPX file was then copied to the PC via USB connection.

Record track and save track

data controlThe distance traveledExport success message

test drive

The 13 km long lap was completed without any special occurrences. The reception quality of the stowed in the handlebar bag BlackBerry is consistently described as good. A recording took place in the 5 sec distance if reception was available. Without satellite contact also no recording takes place. This avoids nonsensical or distant track points. The gap during the stay in the underground garage was 2 min 39 sec.

The method 1 from the Geotagging Book (page 20) was used as the time comparison method.

For track-based geotagging with GeoSetter the GPX file was used.

A problem occurred with altitude information. In the track height values ​​of well -500m were stored. In fact, the test round is at just under 500m (above sea level).

Conclusion Blackberry GPS Logger

For users of a BlackBerry, the combination of smartphone and GPSLogger software is a very neat option for photo geotagging. The quality of the track is very good. The software can run in the background in addition to normal business applications. The battery life is still long with recording. Black-on-the-window tests yielded recordings of nearly 24 hours.

If you only want to record a track from time to time, for example to a special photo tour, this combination is the perfect solution.

I like that:
  • For a smartphone very long battery life
  • Unless BlackBerry has any additional costs
  • Simple and logical operation of the software
I do not really like it that much:
  • If the battery becomes empty during recording, there is no track. This is first saved with Stop Logging
  • Problem with altitude

gps4cam: Complete package for smartphones in the field test

In the practical test, the app must show what it can hold.

 

gps4cam start screen

gps4cam start screen

With gps4cam is a very easy to use complete package for geotagging with smartphone support available.

The GPS positions are recorded with the smartphone app. On a PC or Mac then brings a small program GPS data and photos together.

It shows gps4cam very flexible. Smartphone apps are available for Android and iOS (iPhone and iPad). The desktop tool runs on PC and Mac. There should be something for everyone.

For the test version 6.1.8 was installed on a HTC One Android smartphone.

Record track with your smartphone

After starting the app, first select the recording interval and then start the “Photo report”. The interval is 30 seconds, 5 minutes or 30 minutes to choose from. The more frequently the storage, the more accurate the track. But this also means a higher power consumption and the shorter the battery life of the mobile phone. In the Pro version (for iPhone only), the interval can be further shortened.

Even more energy-saving is the setting “Manual”. The location is triggered by shaking the phone. Such power saving requires discipline. If you forget to shake the smartphone, the location information is missing.

During the tour, the interval can also be changed or the entire recording paused. The previously traveled route can be followed on a map.

Stop and export active recording

At the end of the photo tour the recording is stopped with the ” Export ” button. Why not a stop button? I do not think so logical. No matter – at least one QR code is shown in the display (for longer tours also several) – this code contains the time information and all GPS coordinates as a track.

Take a picture of the QR code

Take a picture of the QR code

The code simply with the camera photographed. The QR code does not even have to be full-format. It is important that he is sharp and complete. A screenshot from the display brings nothing, because so the time information of the camera is missing. Because that is important to compensate later for the difference between GPS time and camera clock. This saves syncing your smartphone and camera clocks and makes geotagging even easier. By the way, you can take your time photographing. Even several hours are no problem as long as the clock in the camera has not been adjusted in the meantime.

The recorded GPS data can also be exported directly as a GPX file and sent by e-mail or uploaded to the Dropbox. If you take a closer look at such a track, you notice that even if the interval is set to 30 seconds, the track points are usually much farther apart. 50 to 100 seconds are the rule rather than the exception.

Bring photos and track together

For the merge a small tool from the gps4cam website is needed.

Geodata successfully added

Geodata successfully added

Copy all the photos from the map to a folder on the computer and select the folder in the gps4cam tool. Specify another folder for the results and press “Go”. After a few seconds, the images are linked to geodata.

The selected output folder now contains sub-folders for the tagged photos, the photos with the QR codes and the GPX tracks. The latter can be used for presentations of the itinerary, for example in Google Earth.

In some tests, I noticed that gps4cam simply places the photos on the nearest track point. There is no interpolation between the waypoints. Placing the photo between two coordinates would give better results, especially at the long intervals.

Here’s the standard bike tour with Garmin reference track and photos geocoded once with gps4cam and once with Garmin. Very nice are the long distances between the waypoints and the sometimes significant deviations.

Personal conclusion

The idea to bring track and time information via QR code from the smartphone to the camera and on to the computer is a great experience.

What bothers me are the (far too) long recording intervals (a tribute to better battery life) and the getting used to app design.

In any case, gps4cam is one of the easiest-to-use track-based geotagging systems. In the end, everyone has to decide for themselves whether more emphasis is placed on accuracy or ease of use. If the emphasis is on the latter gps4cam is in any case a buy tip.

 gps4cam

Download QR code gps4cam Developer: SYSMIGO Price: 3,19 € gps4cam - geotag your photos gps4cam - geotag your photos

I like that:
  • Very easy to use
  • Track exchange via QR code
I do not really like it that much:
  • Only long time intervals selectable
  • No interpolation
  • Customization design

GPSLogger: Easy GPS track recording for Android in Apptest

Record the distance traveled by GPS. It’s easy with the open source app for Android. In addition still some exciting additional functions in the App test.

If you are looking for an app to record the distance covered by GPS, then you quickly come across MyTracks from Google (→ App-Test ). But there are still good other apps for track-based geotagging. Today I’d like to introduce you to the open-source alternative GPSLogger.

At the time of the test version 33 was up to date. The requested permissions are inconspicuous and fit the functionality.

Features of the GPSLogger

GPSLogger settings

GPSLogger settings

The free app for Android smartphones and tablets is clearly limited to the core functions: record routes via GPS, save and export. Destinations for export include the SD card as well as FTP and cloud storage services.

On recording formats, GPS Logger offers GPX, KML, OpenGTS and plain text. Several formats are possible at the same time. The recording interval can be set as a function of time or distance.

Unfortunately, I find some settings of the logging details a little confused named.

Track recording with GPSLogger

Start the recording Start the recording

Directly on the start page there is the button ” Start the recording “. Click on it and go.

The recording works completely offline even without data connection. Expensive data roaming abroad is not necessary. The track is always first stored in the internal memory or on the SD card. To be found in the folder ” GPSLogger “.

If the tour is over, simply stop the recording with the “Exit” button.

Low power consumption with the GPSLogger?

Logging details

Logging details

Again and again you hear that GPSLogger works very energy efficient. I can not confirm that after my tests. If the recording interval is long enough, (meaningfully) GPS is deactivated in between, which of course saves power. Google recently used this technique in MyTracks as well. With identical logging settings, I could not find any difference in power consumption. In addition, this technique even has a counterproductive effect at single-digit interval times. That’s why I switched it off in the settings.

Export the tracks

Completely offline access to the tracks via the folder “GPSLogger” on the phone memory.

If the data is to be forwarded, GPSLogger offers a wide range of export options. So the tracks can either be sent by e-mail or uploaded to Dropbox, Google Drive, OpenStreetMap, OpenGTS or FTP.

Personally, I prefer the Dropbox. It should be emphasized positively that the app does not get the permission over the entire Dropbox with the Dropbox release, but only for the Apps folder. The tracks are then in the folder Apps / GPSLogger for Android .

Special feature: Automatic transmission

I especially like the possibility to perform uploads automatically. For automatic upload at the end of recording, these settings must be made:

  1. Switch from the GPSLogger auto-send settings
  2. Define the destination for automatic sending. For example, authorize the Dropbox or enter FTP data
  3. Under “How often?” Enter when should be sent. I prefer to shoot right after the stop.
  4. Finally, check the box to allow automatic sending

If there is no Internet at the moment the recording is stopped, automatic sending will not be made later.

The manual upload

The manual upload

If you do not want to be sent automatically, you can also upload tracks individually or forward them via the Android Share function. Here I miss the opportunity to upload multiple tracks at the same time.

Personal conclusion

GPSLogger can not compete with MyTracks from Google either visually or by the mass of functions. But it does not want that either.

It is easy to use and offers the possibility to automatically send the recorded tracks or store them in online storage. In addition, it is open source software, which brings benefits including data protection. On the quality of the track recording is broadly nothing to complain about.

All in all a serious alternative to record GPS tracks.

 GPS Logger for Android

Download QR code GPS Logger for Android Developer: Mendhak Price: Free

I like that:
  • Easy handling
  • Automatic cloud upload
I do not really like it that much:
  • Confusing track settings