Now I know where I was

By Martin Joergensen | July 17, 2008 10:51 PM | Permalink | Comments ( 6)

solmeta-dp-gpsn2.jpgGeotagging is a huge thing right now. The world is flooding with navigators and GPS-gadgets that can plot anything on a map down to a few feet of accuracy. A good friend of mine - and fellow Nikonian by the way - has a wristwatch that tracks his whereabouts. Every time he enters his home after having jogged or ridden his high tech bike, it downloads his route over a wireless connection and is able to plot it immediately on a map.

Tagging images has been an option in Nikon cameras for a while, and The Nikonians PhotoProShop is now able to deliver a GPS that talks to Nikon cameras. My kind mail-lady delivered such a gizmo this morning (and fed the dog biscuits as she always does), and it's currently charging in a USB-port on my laptop - the GPS, that is, not the dog...  x-yachts.jpgSolmeta DPGPS-N2 is the catchy and sexy name of this little gadget. The size of a small matchbox, it fits snugly in the hot shoe on top of the camera and connects to the 10-pin remote plug on the front of the camera. It has its own source of power or can draw on the camera battery, and will - once it's connected to enough GPS-satellites - provide a geotag that can be embedded in all images on Nikon's top-end cameras, counting from the D2 and on - D2XS, D2X, D2HS, D200, D300, D3 and probably on the D700 too. This little darling also has a compass built in, so it can tell you what way you faced when shooting the camera - but unfortunately not on my D200.
The Solmeta GPS is priced at about 280 Euros or 330 US$ in the PhotoProShop. This might seem expensive, but most other solutions require you to buy a separate GPS along with some kind of adapter for the camera - mostly clumsier and much more expensive. Like in MUCH more.

Most of the nice features of the Solmeta provides that you simply plug it in to the camera and turn it on. The compass requires that you mount it in the hot shoe so that it faces the same way as the camera. With all this in place, you are ready to plot your images on a map like Google's. There is software on the accompanying cd with geomapping capability. Simply browse to a folder with your tagged images and they are plotted on a Google Map.

I took the Solmeta for a ride today. Danish sailboat builder X-Yachts is holding a regatta in the harbor of Copenhagen, and sure enough, there were plenty large sailboats at the docks. After having shot all the beautiful boats, I could see on my computer exactly where each individual shot was taken.
I will soon embark on a small holiday in Berlin, and it will be great to have the camera and the Solmeta in sweet harmony recording where I shot all the images that I intend to shoot on this trip.




Any thoughts on how this solution is compared to having a separate GPS (not connected to the camera) recording a track while shooting and then later in the computer synch the track and the images. I think that works pretty good and it's always nice to also have a "normal" GPS if you are too far out in the wilderness :-) A drawback with this hot-shoe GPS is that you can't use a flash while the GPS is connected. Of course it's easier to have the GPS-data recorded right when you take the picture but there are also some drawbacks with that solution that I don't like.


I certainly think that a separate GPS is nice too, and I have seen - although not used - solutions that synchronize images using time stamps in the pictures and GPS-positions continously recorded by the GPS. This does require that your GPS can record such tracks. Not all of them can do that as far as I know.
The advantages of the Solmeta-unit is of course size and ease of use, while it cannot help you find your way or place you on a map while you are "in the field". I think the convenience of the position being stamped in the image when it's taken is a benefit.

And the gizmo does not have to sit in the hot shoe. You connect it to the 10-pin plug in front of the camera, and it can be stuck on the strap or even taped to the camera. The hotshoe is just a convenient place to put it. If you want to use the built-in compass, you need it to point the same way as the camera, though.

I will field test it next week while visiting Berlin, and report back in more detail.


I have ordered the Solmeta after thinking about the issues Roger raised in his comment. My thought was that where a separate gps unit would be particular valuable is out in remote locations. But if you are going remote you probably want to do some preplanning that will likely involve a paper map anyway. And for safety reasons you probably want to carry the paper map with you.

Although the cameras the Solmeta works on makes them expensive gps units, you can use the recorded data in the exif to help locate yourself on the paper map if you are having to reorient yourself.

On the other hand, maybe I am engaging in "gadget freak" rationalization.


I can certainly relate to the "gadget freak" aspect, but on the practical level, I have been travelling with everything from small handheld GPS's with no map facilities to fullblown car-type GPS's with all facilities, voice, maps, sights, everything. None of them have had the capability of tracking my whereabouts for later coordination with my images.
I think a combination of the two - one camera GPS and one navigator - is a good idea, and considering the prices of each component compared to a GPS that does both, I think a combo will give flexibility and fairly good value for the money.


I am considering of buying Nikon GPS, but compared with Solmeta one and reading your blog, I decide not waiting for Nikon GPS, but could you tell me which software can I use to show direction in a map?



The software that accompanies the GPS unit supports all the features in the unit, but essentially all GPS-supporting image software should be able to utilize the information, which is stored in the EXIF-part of the image file.

I have only seen few programs or systems that shows the compass direction (if that's what you refer to by direction), but lots that can show location and place the image on maps. Recording compass direction also requires newer cameras as well as a calibration of the unit.