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Geotagging – What it is and how it can help you

Photos let you capture the most beautiful moments in life. Geotagging is a feature that can make reliving those moments even easier. Geotagging was also the basis of our company. It was the first feature that the Unleashed supported before it developed into more of a camera remote. But as our community grows we want to take new users along on the journey and share some insights on geotagging. What is geotagging? Why should you geotag photos? Read on to learn more about how geotagging can help you in your personal or professional photography.

What is geotagging?

While you might know geotagging from your smartphone, GPS is not a common feature in DSLRs yet. Geotagging means embedding the location data of where it was taken into the metadata of the photo. This means that apart from camera settings like aperture, exposure and focal length, longitude, latitude and altitude coordinates are saved as well.

How to geotag photos

If you don’t have a camera with built-in GPS, don’t worry – there are other ways to add location data to your photos. You can geotag your photos using an external GPS device. Just set it to tracking mode and it will record your exact location and time you were there. Later the exact location data can be added to the photo depending on the time it was taken.

Of course we can’t go without mentioning that our Unleashed offers an effortless geotagging solution, as well. The Unleashed geotags photos the moment you press the shutter: direct geotagging. Using the GPS of the phone it is connected to, it embeds the location data to the metadata directly, saving you plenty of time and effort post-shoot. The Unleashed supports Canon and Nikon cameras at the moment, but we are planning to add more camera brands to that list in the future.

For those who prefer an external GPS over a smartphone, we’ve made it possible to use the Unleashed with some GPS receivers. Read up on that in this blog post.

GPS receivers: Holux, QStarz, Transystem
GPS receivers: Holux, QStarz, Transystem

Why geotag your photos?

Adding GPS location data to your photos has a huge range of use cases. For one, it can help you organize your photo catalogue by location, other than only by time. This can be extremely helpful: imagine you are looking for a specific shot of a location, but can’t remember exactly when you were there. Many applications, like Lightroom and Flickr, now have interactive maps that show your geotagged photos on a world map. So you can easily find your vacation pictures without having to dig through countless folders or scroll through timelines. Geotagging is also used for professional purposes. It can be used for logging the location of rare wild animals, archaeological sites, location scouting for shoots and filming, and much more.

Geotagging Map Flickr

One word of caution if you post a lot of nature shots to social media: you might not want to publicly tag the exact location of every photo. This could lead to those places being overrun and natural ecosystems being damaged. Best to keep some places secret, so they can stay as beautiful as they are.

We hope this helped answer any questions you had concerning geotagging. So grab your camera and try geotagging on your next outings and see how it can help simplify your life. If you found this article helpful, feel free to share it on social media!

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Geotagging with external GPS receivers now possible (updated)

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
  • QStarz BL-818GT *new*
  • 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. 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 BL-818GT doesn’t support the triggering functionality, as it lacks logging, and thus the button is not for POI saving. 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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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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Nikon D7100 – add GPS with our Unleashed Dx000

Today, Nikon announced the new D7100. A successor to the popular D7000, now 2.5 years old.

Nikon D7100

Some also rumor it to be the merged successor of the D7000 and D300s, and the updated specs do seem to lend these rumors some credibility. One example is that the D7100’s AF module has been updated to the Multi-Cam 3500DX with 51 AF points (15 cross type), which is the same as the as the D300s. However, it even comes with updated Algorithms, and just like the D4, D800 and D600, Nikon specifies it to be able to focus in low light, down to -2EV. The center point is functional at f/8, an advantage especially for the use of teleconverters combined with telephoto lenses. Of course that’s not all thats new, some important updates are the 24Megapixel Sensor without optical low pass filter, ISO range of 100-6400 (or Lo-1:50 to Hi-2: 25600), increased speed, 1080/30p video recording, dedicated movie record button, 1.3x crop mode, ca 100% frame coverage viewfinder, and much more, which you can read about in detail on nikon.com, dpreview or engadget.

The most interesting news is of course, that the D7100 is compatible with our Unleashed Dx000, as the connector and its position at the bottom right of the left side of the camera remains mostly unchanged from the D7000. Nikon has still not built in GPS into any of their DSLRs!

D7100 GPS terminal

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D800 modification of Unleashed D200+

We’ve been getting many requests about the D800 this year, as unfortunately the current Unleashed D200+ physically does not fit the D800. The new year 2013 will also bring a new version of the Unleashed with exciting new features. But it is not quite finished yet. As always, we try to make everything perfect which turns out to be a little bit more complicated than anticipated.

Unleashed D200+ Modified for D800

Electronically, the Unleashed D200+ still works perfectly on the D800, so we decided to offer a modification for all our customers with Unleashed D200+, to end the wait for using an Unleashed on their new Nikon D800.

  • For a small fee of 15 Euro, we will make this modification for you, and ship it back to you. Of course you need to send us your Unleashed first.
  • If you order a new Unleashed D200+, we will modify it for you for free. Just select the respective product in our shop.
  • If you can’t wait, and/or don’t mind a little DIY: We made a video of how you can modify it yourself safely. This modification method (melting) will not void your warranty.

watch on youtube

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Nikon D600 – Unleashed Dx000 is compatible

We’re back from photokina2012 – a great show and a great success! As promised I headed over to the Nikon Booth, and tested our Unleashed Dx000 on the D600.

At first, my heart sunk: No GPS icon on the top LCD. Luckily, when I took photos, the GPS data was embedded in the EXIF data! I figured that Nikon might have simply not included a GPS icon at all on the top LCD. Looking through the manual (page 175 7) it is evident that this is not the case. – there definitely should be a GPS icon. Maybe I simply overlooked it, or the Model on display malfunctioned in some way. Sorry for this false information. Page 175 shows the INFO display, not the top LCD. Top LCD or “Control Panel” is shown on page 7, and definitely does NOT have a GPS icon.

D600 with UnleashedDx000

The Unleashed will fit nicely on the D600, the only problem being that the rubberflap is in the way. While it is possible to use the Unleashed like that, the pressure from the flap will, over time, cause the Plug on the Unleashed to break off the PCB inside, which eventually result in malfunction. There are two nice solutions for this:

  • Cut a rectangle out of the flap, just over the port – so the flap remains closed while the Unleashed is plugged in.
  • Remove the flap entirely: A customer figured out a great, almost entirely reversible method for this:
    D7000 Flap cut
    [image from georgle’s blog]


    by cutting the rubber hinges that wrap around the metal pin right next to the flap, it is possible to remove the flap entirely. By threading the hinges back under the metal pin, the flap can be replaced and will retain its full functionality.

Update:

I misread the manual: Page 175 shows the INFO screen, not the TOP LCD. On page 7 one can see that the top LCD really does not have a GPS icon – in other words, the D600 is fully compatible with the Unleashed Dx000, no “odd behaviour”, no doubt about it.

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Nikon D600 announced

Today, Nikon announced another full-frame DSLR, the D600. Read the reviews on dpreview, engadget or elsewhere.

Nikon D600

Of course Nikon added GPS support, again it’s not integrated, but via an external Module, such as their GP-1 and of course our Unleashed. According to Nikon, the D600 fits in right below the D800 and is just as much a Pro DSLR as the latter. Rumor had it, that this was going to be the first consumer DSLR with an Fx sensor, and there was much evidence to back this. One example is that the D600 does not have the “pro” 10-pin port on the front of the camera, which would have fit our Unleashed D200+. Instead, it is equipped with the port found on all the consumer DSLRs, on the side of the camera, making our Unleashed Dx000 compatible with the D600.

Nikon D600 GPS Port

D600 Ports (photo by dpreview)

In a couple of days, we’ll be at photokina, and will try the D600 with our Unleashed, just to verify it works, and get you some pics of how it looks.