Geocoding Travel Photos


Trackstick II

After taking a vacation posting travel photos on a Google map helps with telling the story.

There seem to be several approaches to geocoding photos maturing on the market. As a RoboGeo is in version 5. Using GPS gadgets there are two ways of capturing geocoded location data. One approach collects data continuously. The other does so at preset intervals or on command. The former is probably more relevant to video or to trail plotting than to geo-tagging still photos

For matching photos to location it is necessary to enable timestamping in the camera and - very importantly for accurate placement - make sure that the GPS gadget and camera clocks are synchronized! Following a photo shoot the data collected by both gadget and camera are transferred to a computer and processed. They are written to a file readable by tools like Google Earth (Archane geekiness for extra points: EXIF, KML.)

Several online sources feature, but few critically review, Trackstick II. Here are a few reviews at

Competitors include:

Sony GPS CS-1 at

Globalsat DG-100 GPS at
GPS Slim at
Whatever the gadget, eventually the photo geocoding process leads back to data transfer and Google Earth, Google Maps, and other tools like Picassa.

Key product features to consider are:

  • Signal reception capacity/Accuracy of data
  • Battery life
  • Ruggedization
  • OS compatability (Windows, Mac)
  • Ease of use of supplied data transfer & geocoding software
  • Storage capacity

Of these data transfer & usability of supplied geocoding software seem to be the most salient product differentiators for non-urban use (i.e. this project where signals are not blocked by skyscrapers and most products on the market should have sufficient strength.) Unfortunately, no apples-to-apples comparisons of these features seem to exist online.

Given the incomplete information I am drawn to the Trackstick II or III or the Globalsat DG-100 GPS. With the latter two difficult to find, Trackstick II seems a safe purchase.

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