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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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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!

[foologic-shop-product id=’0′]
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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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D750 announced – Unleashed Dx000 adds GPS [updated]

Just ahead of photokina, Nikon released yet another FX DSLR. Placed somewhere between the D610 and the D810, the new D750 adds a few extras: built-in wifi, a tilting screen, and a slimmer than usual body.

D750 with 20mm/1.8

What they didn’t add is built-in GPS! Thankfully we have a solution for that, and our Unleashed Dx000 is compatible. I will personally go and test it at photokina when I find the time.

D750 terminals with rough Unleashed Dx000 outline

Read more about the D750 at nikon.com or engadget.com

One last thing: just like with the D600/D610/Df, the rubber flap covering must be completely removed for the Unleashed Dx000 to fit. There’s an almost almost completely reversible method described here.

[Update 2014-09-25] I got a chance to visit the Nikon Booth at photokina, and test the Unleashed Dx000 on the D750. It works very well, as expected, and easily fits under the eyelet for the camera Strap.

Unleashed Dx000 on D750 Side View Unleashed Dx000 on D750 GPS icon

However, this eyelet will block the remote release socket on the top of the Unleashed Dx000. This is needed for pairing (only once), so you’ll need to run the pairing routine on another camera, or purchase a pre-paired bundle.

Unleashed Dx000 on D750 Remote won t fit

It is possible to use the Unleashed without removing the rubber flap, but I would recommend removing it. The flap pushes against the Unleashed quite strongly, and could eventually push it out.

Unleashed Dx000 on D750 rubber flap

[/Update]

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Nikon D810 – Unleashed D200+ compatible (with D800 modification)

Just a few days ago, Nikon released the D810, a successor to the D800/D800E. The changes include tweaks to make full use of the high resolution, expanding ISO range (both ways) and adding a few video features. As usual, I advise you read the details on Nikon.com or dpreview.com

D810

Externally, little has changed, which means that The Unleashed D200+ with the D800 modification will fit the D810 as well, and will work just the same as on the other Nikon DSLRs. The only change I know of concerning GPS functionality is that the top LCD (and likely the Info screen on the main LCD) now features an image of a Satellite instead of the typical [GPS] icon:

D810 Top LCD new GPS icon
D810 Top LCD new GPS icon
D800 Top LCD old GPS icon
D800 Top LCD old GPS icon

We’ve already seen this change on a few other new Nikon DSLRs, for example the D5300 and Df.

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D4s – Unleashed D200+ looks like it will be compatible [Update: it is!]

I just saw the Nikon D4s at CES, and it looks pretty much identical to the D4, just looking at the body. While I’m sure they’ve greatly improved it on the inside, the good news is that the 10-pin port is still there, and I assume it will work just as it did with the D4, meaning that our Unleashed D200+ will fit and work on the D4s.

D4s at CES

[Update 2014-04-06: Unleashed D200+ is indeed compatible]

I was able to test it today, and can confirm it works just as well as on all other Nikon DSLRs. One thing I might note: Although the Unleashed D200+ does fit, and works well – the D800 modification makes it fit even better.

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D3300 – Unleashed Dx000 not compatible

Nikon announced the D3300 a few days ago – a great entry level DSLR, I’m sure! As usual, I won’t bore you with the specs and features – you can read these on nikon.com or dpreview.com.

Being at the CES 2014, I was able to have a look at the camera, and to test the Unleashed Dx000 on the D3300. Unlike the D5300 – the D3300 does NOT have GPS built-in. It’s still compatible with the Nikon GP-1 and other third party GPS devices. Unfortunately, the Unleashed Dx000 will not physically fit the D3300, because the socket is recessed a little too deeply for the Unleashed Dx000 to plug in completely.

D3300 recessed port D3300 with Dx000 - doesn't quite fit

We’re working on a solution, and will let you know when it’s ready.