Geotaging

A few weeks ago both my D800 and Lightroom4 arrived.  New in LR4 is the ability to use location metadata together with Google maps.  I am planning a 10 day photo trip to Oregon the summer and the ability to geotag images from lots of locations is very appealing.

The first step is to get the GPS accessory for my D800.  Nikon makes a nice unit, but it has a couple of drawbacks: cost and lack of an internal battery.  From what I could tell, the GPS function runs the camera battery down faster than I would like, so I decided to look elsewhere.  A frequently mentioned unit was the Easytag GPS marketed direct from China: http://e-geotag.com/.  It comes in two versions, the Easytagger GPS Basic  that has no internal battery and the EasyTagger version that has a rechargeable battery, compass, and a microSd card for tracking of routes.  While the Easytracker is not cheap at $120, it is a lot less than the Nikon GP-1, at around $200.

Ordering was easy with PayPal and the unit arrived, nicely packaged, in a bit over a week.  The kit includes the GPS unit, a 2GB microSD card, one data cable of your choice, a microSD card reader, a hotshoe bracket and magic belt.  I also ordered the accessory wired remote release that plugs into the Easytagger, since the unit uses the 10 pin connector on the D800.

The battery charges from any powered USB port and is specified to last for 10 hours of continuous operation.  In a couple of trials the battery lasted for all day shoots.  If the battery does run down, the unit then draws power from the camera.

Operation could not be any simpler.  Just plug in, turn it on and wait for a lock onto the satellites. It takes a minute or so the first time and seems to hold its lock outdoors, even in heavy woods.  Lock-on is indicated by an LED on the top, easily visible even in full daylight.  If the unit is taken indoors it remembers the last satellite lock and still geotags the photos.

The first trial of the Easytag was over a couple of days in Hocking Hills Ohio.  A group of us visited six different locations in and around Logan, Ohio. ( Hocking Hills Images.) This actually was a fairly good test, since the caves and waterfalls are located in heavily wooded gorges.  Easytag appeared to lock-on easily and keep locked throughout the various hikes.  Using the new Lightroom 4 Map Module, the locations of the 450+ images on a Google map are shown in the accompanying image (click on the image for a larger view).  Detail of one of the locations is shown next.  Each image can be viewed as a thumbnail.  Double clicking the image brings up the normal LR4 view.  Hybrid satellite/road, satellite only or road only view as well as a terrain views are available.


A nice feature of the Easytag is the ability to record a track during a hike.  Waypoints are recorded to the microSD, which can be converted to standard GPS files in either LOCR GPS (downloadable from  <http://www.easytagger.ca/home/downloads/ or in GPS Visualizer from http://www.gpsvisualizer.com.
Tracks are created in Google Maps, which can be modified and saved.  An example for the hike to Natural Bridge near Logan is shown (click on image for a larger view).

Overall, the Easytagger worked as described.  The tracking option is a nice addition for hikes and long treks.  The only slight negative for me is the position of the unit in the hot shoe.  It is very close to the viewfinder without the optional bracket.  The bracket raises the Easytagger so the pop-up flash will work and in the process gives more clearance for the eyepiece.  In use, the close proximity to the eyepiece was soon forgotten, even without the bracket.  I would rate the Easytagger very highly, and it will be a part of my travel kit from now on.

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