For anyone who has ever sifted through old photo albums trying to use “some trees in the woods” or “some buildings in a city” as a reference point to figure out where a particular photo was snapped, geotagging technology is a godsend. Geotagging records the physical location where a photo was taken alongside the actual photo data, creating a record of exactly where on the planet you were standing when you took each shot. When plugged into the right tools, it’s like pinning every photo in your collection up to an enormous map.
But unless you’re the proud new owner of an all-in-one convergence device with both a GPS receiver and a camera built in (allowing it to automatically write location data to pictures) geotagging can also be an incredibly laborious process. The simplest way of doing it manually – writing down coordinates with every shot taken – is far more effort than most people want to invest in a casual day of taking snapshots.
Image Courtesy of ATP Inc.
The ATP Photo Finder makes it possible to instantly geotag all the photos taken by an ordinary digital camera without modifying the device in any way, or even changing the way you take photographs. By using a clever scheme for automatic tagging, it takes the grunt work out of encoding every photo, but without the need for a specialized camera.
The Photo Finder works its magic using the most basic information that every camera automatically encodes with photos: a time stamp. By continuously recording GPS information alongside a camera during while taking pictures, the Photo Finder can later tack that information onto the photos using the exact time a photo was taken to determine where it was taken by referencing its GPS logs. As long as the clocks on both devices are in sync, it’s no less accurate than a camera with built-in GPS.
Operation is as simple as flicking the unit on and letting it get its bearings before taking photos. Afterwards, slipping the camera’s flash card directly into the Photo Finder allows it to automatically add GPS tags to each photo’s metadata, without the need for a computer or any work on the user’s behalf. It accepts the common SD, MMC and Memory Stick card formats.
Although it’s one more item to bring along whenever you go taking photos, the Photo Finder’s physical presence doesn’t add up to much more than a lump in the pocket. It measures 3.2 inches in its longest dimension, and weighs just 60 grams without the two AAA batteries it needs to run, putting it roughly on par in size and heft with a cell phone.
After geotagged photos make it to a computer, they can be uploaded to sites such as Google Maps, Flickr, and Panoramio, all of which support geotagged images and offer mapping tools to navigate and sort them. You could, for instance, upload photos from your most recent hiking trip and see them plotted as dots on a map, with each photo a click away.
Since it’s essentially a GPS logger with extra features, the ATP Photo Finder commands a price a hair higher than other GPS loggers, but lower than most fully featured GPS devices with screens and options for navigation: $90. For anyone who wants to add geotag photos without investing a whole new camera that does it automatically, the ATP Photo Finder creates an easy way to upgrade. More information can be found at ATP’s web site.