UPDATE 2006-09-15: I have reviewed this device. ENDUPDATE
Sony has released a GPS device to be used in conjunction with a digital camera.
Using a GPS means different things to different people. A lot of the systems and software are for helping you navigate in a car. Since I don't even own a car, that's not a particular interest to me.
Others are for helping you to find out where you are in a city, which I guess is good, although I have always found a good pocket map served me pretty well. A similar use is for geocaching.
A third, and the one I am most interested in, is more about data logging - I just want to be able to generate Google Earth/Maps tracks of where I have been, and then to be able to match photos with logged locations.
My solution for this was to get a Bluetooth GPS receiver, I got the tiny and inexpensive Holux GPSlim236. It's a great receiver, but I'm finding it a pain to get the data logged properly - I'm using a Dell Axim to log the data (transmitted over Bluetooth), and the Axim keeps powering down during recordings (presumably it thinks it is idle, since nothing is happening other than it getting incoming Bluetooth data). If anyone has a good solution/software for this, please let me know.
(You can get a GPSlim236 in Canada from NCIX.com, it's currently showing a price of C$130.)
Sony's approach is a combination receiver and datalogger. Imaging Resource reports
The device doesn't connect to a camera, but instead is left running throughout your day, recording the current location at 15 second intervals. The built-in 31MB of memory will store up to 15 days of locations, and the device draws power from a single AA battery which will give up to 10 hours of continuous use.
Sony PR reports
To arrange your pictures geographically, import the logged data from the GPS device, using the supplied USB cable, and then download the digital images to a computer. The supplied GPS Image Tracker software synchronizes the images on your digital camera with the latitude, longitude and time readings from the GPS-CS1 device.
Once synchronized, your photos can become virtual push pins on an online map by activating the Picture Motion Browser software bundled with the latest Sony cameras and camcorders released after July. You can easily add new photos and coordinates to the mapping web site, courtesy of Google Maps, and showcase years of globe-trotting.
The reported price is US$150.
It will be available September 15, 2006 from Amazon.com
(NOTE: Amazon.com only sells electronics to customers within the US.)
UPDATE 2006-08-29: In Canada, SonyStyle.ca has it on for Can$130, with availability September 1, 2006. If you're outside the US and Canada, you might want to see if there's an online Sony store for your region.
Also, according to Digital World Tokyo, "It should work on any digital camera that outputs JPEG images with EXIF 2.1 standard metadata." (The DWT report includes a video review showing the unit and accompanying software in action, and reports success using it with two non-Sony cameras.)
There are a number of questions I have:
- Do you have to buy the GPS-CS1 to get "GPS Image Tracker"?
- Is GPS Image Tracker new software, or just a Sony rebranding of some existing package?
- Is the GPS-CS1 outputting standard GPS data in standard formats - e.g. could you connect it as a USB device to any computer and get the data out, or will it only talk to the Sony software?
- If I don't have a Sony camera, could I still use the GPS-CS1 (and any bundled software) to geocode photos from e.g. my Canon PowerShot S70?
- Conversely, could you use other GPS logs as the data source for photo geocoding in GPS Image Tracker?
- How does the GPS-CS1 / GPS Image Tracker bundle compare with other existing photo geocoding options?
One of course can speculate about what happens as GPS receiver-loggers continue to get smaller and smaller and able to store more and more data (the Sony unit is about 9 cm long and weighs about 57 grams).
See my personal site for more info on geocoding photos.
June 18, 2006 Picasa manual geocoding with Google Earth