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Geotagging with external GPS receivers now possible

GPS receivers: Holux, QStarz, Transystem

A few weeks ago, we released app and firmware updates that enable a handful of external GPS receivers to be paired directly with the Unleashed, to provide GPS location data for geotagging without the need of a smartphone.

This is great news for those customers that were unhappy with their smartphone’s location precision, or simply prefer a more independent geotagging solution. This might be to extend battery life of the smartphone, or to enjoy longer battery life of external GPS receivers, especially on long trips off the grid.

The compatible GPS Receivers are:

  • Holux M-241 Plus
  • QStarz BL-1000ST
  • QStarz BL-1000GT
  • Transystem GL-770

After pairing one of these GPS receivers with your Unleashed through the app (Menu->Your Unleasheds->Edit Unleashed->Accessories), you will see new GPS Modes in the first picker of the GPS settings. In addition to “OFF” and “Smartphone”, you will now also have the options “External GPS only” as well as “External GPS with smartphone fallback” (We hope the new icons make it clear which is which). The first new option will exclusively use GPS data from the external GPS, and not of the smartphone, whereas the second option will use the external GPS while it’s available and providing valid data, but will automatically fall back to using the smartphone location otherwise.

We’ve also added a few new LED colors/sequences to make using the Unleashed without the app a little easier:

  • Lightblue: when an Accessory (such as a GPS receiver) is connected, but the app is not connected, the led will slowly pulse lightblue instead of turqoise.
  • Red blink: alternating with the normal sequences, the Unleashed will blink red to show that there is an error, until now mostly GPS related errors. You can then start the app to see details about the error, or simply check that the the external GPS receiver has a Fix and is connected. Some of these errors are:
    • External GPS receiver not connected (even if it then uses Smartphone fallback)
    • GPS data not valid (even if using last known position)
    • GPS accuracy too low

Comparing the receivers

The Holux has the Unique feature that it uses a single AA battery, for which you can buy replacements anywhere in the world, but at the same time battery life is not as good as with the rechargeable Li-Ion batteries of the other options. The QStarz devices provide a little more data than the other two receivers [update: Transystem caught up], and we’ve implemented a neat little feature where you can use the POI button on the Receiver to trigger the camera. But they are also the most expensive. We recommend the BL-1000ST rather than the BL-1000GT, since the Unleashed will not make use of the 10Hz update rate, so it is not worth the extra cost. The Transystem device is more affordable than Qstarz, while providing just as precise position data, but has a quirk that it uses a non-standard USB-A to USB-A charging/data cable. So don’t lose that!

Right from the start, we had planned to make the Unleashed directly compatible with external GPS receivers, but technical challenges forced us to decide against pursuing backwards compatibility to GPS receivers using Bluetooth Classic. Unfortunately, at the time of Launch that basically left us with no options, since virtually all GPS receivers used Bluetooth Classic. However, in the past few years, the above devices were released, so we put a lot of effort into making the Unleashed compatible with external accessories in general, and added support for each of the GPS receivers one after the other.

While we had to reverse engineer Holux’s Bluetooth Protocol (and we got the Date portion wrong for a while), QStarz was kind enough to provide documentation that allowed us to implement support for their devices much more quickly. Transystem went one step further: They used a standard protocol defined by the Bluetooth SIG, and when we found a small issue with their implementation and had additional wishes, they swiftly made changes and added support for those in a firmware update. So a big thank you to both QStarz and Transystem for your support!

So, finally, the Unleashed now enables direct geotagging with external GPS receivers for Nikon as well as Canon DSLRs!

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Website finally available in German

Brandenburger Gate Berlin Germany

We have finally taken the time and put in the effort to translate our entire website to our native language: German.

There is a Language switcher in the top right corner of the website – hover over the flag and code of the current language to see the available other language. On smartphones, the alternative languages are at the end of the menu. There is another switcher in the footer, at the very bottom of the website – available for both the desktop and mobile page.

Translating the page to German has been on our to-do list for many, many years, but with our limited resources, we always prioritized product development instead. We thought it was enough to keep all information in english – the common denominator of our global customer base. However recent feedback has shown us that we underestimated just how important it is to our customers (and those that would like to become our customers) to be able to inform themselves about our products in their native language. And for many reasons, this is even more true for Germans than it is for the rest of the world. For this reason, combined with the fact that we have a very large customer base in Germany, we have only focussed on a German translation so far. Everything is prepared so that we can add more languages in the future.

We’re very sorry it has taken so very long, and as a small consolation/compensation for that, as well as in celebration for the launch of the German site, we’re offering free shipping for all Unleashed orders to Germany!

Buy Unleashed with free shipping to Germany

The truth is, that the translation of the content was by far the easier part – it was much more difficult technically preparing the website, with shop, faq section and many many other details for translations. Some of you might have noticed that a few parts of the website are still in English, even after switching languages. There are a few places left where we are still working out how to translate them, but we’re almost done. All current content is translated, and we might continue to translate a few of the older, but still relevant posts and pages, as time goes on.

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Nikon D500 has Bluetooth! Unleashed D200+ still needed

Nikon D500

Along with the D5, Nikon also announced the D500, their new DX Flagship camera with all pro features. While many have been hoping for this D300 successor for many many years, most had given up waiting, and settled for the very capable D7x00 lineup instead.

D500

After skipping the D400 (we still don’t know why), and all the rumors focussing on the D5, Nikon really surprised everyone with the D500, but only positively: It inherits many of the D5’s features and sports 153 point AF system, 10fps up to 200 shots, 20.9MP, ISO 51200 expandable to 1640000, Hi-Res Touchscreen and 4K UHD Video – all in a compact but pro-grade DX Body, but you’ve probably already read more about those here, here and here. However, what really sparked my interest was that Nikon finally added Bluetooth to their DSLRs, with their “Snapbridge” feature. Unfortunately, Nikon did not consult us on this, so you won’t get the features you’re used to from our Unleashed just built-in. You’ll be pleased to know that our Unleashed D200+ with the D800 modification will continue to work on the D500 as well, and can co-exist with Snapbridge – the two technologies will not interfere with each other!

SnapBridge logo

Snapbridge on the D500 is an always-on Bluetooth Low Energy connection to your smartphone, transferring low-resolution images as you shoot them, so that you can easily share those on Social Media. It’s also possible to sync the smartphone’s time and location with the Camera. The wording in the marketing info is not 100% quite clear whether this is just for updating timezone settings as you start using the camera in a new location, or whether this means that the photos will actually be geotagged with the smartphone’s location. We’ve mentioned a few times, that this is not to be compared with using a “real” GPS, as you can with our Unleashed, but is a nice feature nonetheless, if Nikon manages to get it right, that is. Unfortunately, this is not something that I have very high expectations for, judging by the current “WMU” app, I used with the D5300 and its built-in wifi, or the D7100 with the WU-1a Wifi-adapter. Nikon also called this Snapbridge, by the way! The Wifi connectivity is only a very small part of this problem, but the app itself is just a little more than unusable. Lets hope Nikon hired some great app developers for the new Snapbridge. In any case, I am looking forward to testing it, and will keep you updated when I do.

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D5 announced – add GPS with our Unleashed D200+

Nikon D5 in front of black background.

So Nikon finally put an end to all those D5 rumors, and revealed their new Flaship FX DSLR at CES 2016, delivering even more than everyone reading the rumors already anticipated! It really is a beast of a camera, and trumps the D4s in all the important specs: 20.8MP FX Sensor, EXPEED 5 Processor, Native ISO up to 102400, extendable to Hi5 (3280000 – yes, 3.28 million!), brand new 153-Point AF System, 12 fps continuous shooting incl. AF (up to 200 shots), new 180k RGB pixel metering Sensor, Hi-Res Touchscreen, and 4K Video, just to name a few! I’m sure you all know the details, or will want to read up on dpreview (hands-on), nikonrumors, engadget or from official sources: nikon.com.

The D5, like all other current Nikon DSLRs does not have GPS built in, but we’re pleased to tell you that our Unleashed D200+ (with the D800 modification) will work on the D5, giving you the best direct geotagging solution currently available.

D5

This year is the first time since many years that we are not at CES, so unfortunately I was unable to test compatibility personally. However, I have received confirmation from a customer that the Unleashed D200+ with the D800 modification fit the D5 well physically, when he tested it. Since it was indoors, he was unable to verify the functionality. I’m very sure there will be no issues, as the D5, just like the Nikon’s Pro-DSLRs remains compatible with Nikon’s own GPS product, which our Unleashed is electronically compatible with. However, once we get our hands on a D5, we’ll be sure to test it extensively and update this post with our results.

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The Photography Show in Birmingham

We’ve arrived at our first ever trade show in the UK. For the next few days we’ll be exhibiting at The Photography Show at the NEC in Birmingham, Hall 5, Booth J111.

foolography at the Photography Show

The Booth is set up, and we’re looking forward to seeing you, and showing you our products in action!

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Nikon announces D7200 – Unleashed Dx000 adds GPS

Nikon is on a roll! Just weeks after the D5500 and D810A, Nikon just announced the D7200 – the successor to the D7100. Little seems to have been changed from the D7100 (read here and here), but this can also bring advantages: Our Unleashed Dx000 will fit, just like it did on the D7100!

Nikon D7200
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Nikon D810A for Astrophotography

A special Version of the D810 was released by Nikon at CP+ in Japan: the D810A. There is little difference to the D810, except that the sensor and the range of some exposure settings have been changed to be more suitable for Astrophotography. Read more here and here.

D810A

Our Unleashed D200+ with the D800 modification will fit the D810A, so get it to add GPS data to your awesome photos of the night sky!

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Nikon D5500 – no more integrated GPS

So, just in time for CES, Nikon announced the D5500, successor to the D5300. The D5300 was Nikon’s only DSLR that had GPS built-in. Its successor, however, no longer does. It seems the function was either not popular enough, or did not work as well as it was supposed to. My guess/experience: Both! (The worst was the battery drain). As usual, you can read the details on dpreview.com or engadget.com

At CES, I went over to the Nikon booth, to test our Unleashed on the D5500 there. Luckily, one of the guys there was curious enough himself to let me test it – even though they were just prototypes, and he wasn’t supposed to let me.

Nikon D5500
  • The good news: the Unleashed Dx000 works on the D5500 (see the GPS Satellite icon)
    Nikon D5500 screenshot GPS icon
  • The bad news: I was unable to properly test how well it fits the D5500, but can tell you it’ll be tight!
    Unleashed Dx000 on Nikon D5500Unleashed Dx000 on Nikon D5500
    It would have been necessary to remove the rubber flap to insert the Unleashed Dx000 completeley, and of course was not going to do that on Nikon’s prototype. The socket is a little more recessed than on other cameras, so I cannot yet promise that the Unleashed can be plugged in all the way, and therefore get enough contact to work properly. I will update this post when I know more – if you’ve tested it, let us know in the comments!
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New Year, new City: Berlin!

Happy new year from our new home: Germany’s capital, Berlin!

We moved here at the end of last year and have officially resumed business here on 1/1/2015. Our new contact details can be found under Contact.

Preparing the move, and settling in in Berlin has been very time-consuming and we have been out of the office a lot – please forgive us if you were unable to reach us, or if we might have taken a little longer to answer an email. We will still be difficult to reach via phone in the next few weeks, please write us an email instead if possible.

Berlin will mean expansion for foolography – we will be adding new members to our team and are looking forward to all the opportunities this city has for startups and small companies like foolography!