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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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The new Unleashed: Pre-order now on Indiegogo

Pre-Order the new Unleashed on Indiegogo

After the new Unleashed was successfully funded on Kickstarter with more than 300% of its funding goal, we are constantly asked whether there is any chance to still pre-order the Unleashed. After thinking about it we now decided to give people the option to pre-order the new Unleashed for a special price and to be part of one of the early production rounds in order to be one of the first to receive it.

Starting today, you can pre-order the new Unleashed through the InDemand program on Indiegogo. Check the compatibility list at the bottom of our Indiegogo page, choose a perk (that’s how Indiegogo calls the rewards or product bundles) and select your shipping country. As with our Kickstarter backers, we’ll send out a survey of which camera model you want the new Unleashed for some time in spring, and you can make the final choice shortly before shipping.

SEE THE UNLEASHED ON INDIEGOGO

Receiving all these mails and requests, we hope and believe this option will make many people happy who just missed the Kickstarter campaign, want their photographer friends to have the Unleashed as well or just want to support us. So have a look at out Indiegogo page and send the link to all your friends who are jealous that you got your Unleashed on Kickstarter and forgot to tell them about it. ;-)

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foolography partners with Triggertrap



We are proud to announce a cooperation between foolography and Triggertrap. That’s right, we’re making our Unleashed compatible with the Triggertrap app, and the Triggertrap app compatible with the Unleashed! So every one of you backers can use both our app as well as all the cool triggering features of the Triggertrap app that you might already be used to, but now wirelessly with your Unleashed!

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Canon 5D Mark III announced, with GP-E2 GPS receiver!

It’s official – the long awaited Canon EOS 5D Mark III was released a few hours ago. Read the press release, or check out previews and hands-on details at the usual sites – I won’t re-iterate those here.

I must however mention the big news, that Canon seems to finally be embracing geotagging, and announced the GP-E2 GPS receiver along with the 5D Mark III.

Canon GP-E2 GPS Receiver
Image by Canon

It has 3 modes of operation:

  1. Direct communication with the camera via the hot-shoe (only 5D Mark III and 1D x)
  2. Direct communication with the camera via USB (7D – with limations)
  3. Logging a GPS track (any camera)
Unfortunately, no other camera is supported yet, but I suppose that the hot-shoe communication will be available with all future Canon DSLRs. This is great news, as we might well be able to produce a single Unleashed for all Canon cameras, which will allow wireless direct geotagging, and who knows what other great features we will think of for you.

Canon’s GP-E2 will offer the following key features:

  • High-sensitivity GPS chip
  • Digital compass
  • UTC time setting (to set camera clock)
  • Logging function
  • Universal fitting
  • Powered by 1x AA battery
You can find all the details on Canon’s GP-E2 product page.

Here’s the relevant paragraph from the 5D Mark III press release about this new accessory:

“The EOS 5D Mark III also has an optional Canon GPS Receiver GP-E2, which can be connected to the camera via the accessory shoe or a USB cable. With a GPS logging function built-in, the GP-E2 will log latitude, longitude, elevation, and the Universal Time Code – and allow viewing of camera movement on a PC after shooting. With its built-in compass, the GP-E2 receiver will also record camera direction when shooting, even when shooting vertically. The Canon GPS Receiver GP-E2 is compatible with the EOS-1D X and EOS 7Di as well as the EOS 5D Mark III.ii”

i) When the EOS 7D is used with the GP-E2, the following restrictions will apply: a) geotagging function will not work for movies while recording; b) geotagging features will not work for movies when using the Map Utility; c) electronic compass information and automatic time setting is not available; d) transmission via the hot shoe is not possible.

ii) In certain countries and regions, the use of GPS may be restricted. Therefore, be sure to use GPS in accordance with the laws and regulations of your country or region. Be particularly careful when traveling outside your home country. As a signal is received from GPS satellites, take sufficient measures when using in locations where the use of electronics is regulated.

The EOS 5D Mark III requires a firmware upgrade to be compatible with the GPS Receiver GP-E2, which will be available soon.

One more image:

Canon GP-E2 GPS Receiver
Image by Canon