View Full Version : GPS: Phottix Geo One.

24-06-2010, 10:27am
ViewNX and Phottix Geo One GPS review;

Hey folks, I'm going to share my thoughts about both ViewNX(as a Geo Tagging solution) for your images, and the Phottix Geo One GPS device.

View NX as a basic NEF file editor converter is definitely worth the money :p(ie. it's free! :rolleyes:) and it also has the ability to add geo data to your images as well.

It does a couple of things with images uses a very simple and effective workflow:
If the images are already geo tagged, you select that image, click the GeoTag tool and a window pops up that allows you to see the image on a variety of Google Maps.. whether satellite or the map view...etc.

a quick screen capture of what the Geo Tag tool in ViewNX looks like.
This is not what It'll look like on your screen, as I've rearranged the windows for clarity.
Once you do this the arrangement is set the same next time you open the program too.
The map window opens over ViewNX when you activate the GeoTag icon.

There is a pin located on the map by the program, which appears to be slightly inaccurate compared to where it really should be. It's only 2-5meters, so nothing to really worry about in everyday usage, but definitely not for surveying purposes. The red star indicates where the image was actually taken from. The image is also uploaded at the end of the review.

My last attempt to use Google Maps for mapping purposes were not quite accurate nor effective, as the Mapping Datum for Google Satellite images was proprietary, and unknown and I couldn't get my mapping program(OziExplorer) to line up accurately with the Google (map)Images.
Being 101% sure that there was no issue with OziExplorer and it's mapping ability(best map program by far too! :th3:) I could only assume that Google Maps/Satellite was the trouble... and accuracy to within or less than 5meters is not something I generally require from my mapping programs anyhow.
But for the sake of clarity I had to describe that experience.
If my map is calibrated properly, OziExplorer is as dead accurate with my GPS data as I can possibly expect, whereas I've seen many instances where Google Satellite images are not.

So when you open a Geo Tagged image in the GeoTag tool in ViewNX, it should automatically open the file with a pin to indicate the location of that file on a Google Map. If you switch to Satellite View then you see a Google Satellite map image instead of the 'mickey mouse' map image.
It's simple and effective and works very well, and it also allows you to edit the geo data, but not directly with an editor, just the ability to drag the pin to any other location on the map. It's easy, but not entirely effective, as some people may want to edit the elevation data. For those types of folks, they need to look elsewhere I guess(GeoSetter or ExifTools.. same thing really are good).
ViewNX is really best at adding/editing/viewing geo tagging info in NEF images, so really more pertinent for Nikon uses, than anyone else.. but it does work on jpg files as well.

Pretty basic stuff and very easy to use.
But if you don't have a GPS and hence geo data added into your images as they're shot, then you can add the info yourself using ViewNX.
You can add geo data on an individual basis for each image, where you simply open the image in the GeoTag program, click on the image on the RHS thumbnail pane, and then click the globe icon with the pin sticking out, up in the upper LH corner of the program. Once you've located the spot on your map image, you point the crosshair onto the map and add the pin to the map. Easy Peasy!
If you've taken many images at the same location then you select(highlight) those thumbnail images and do the same(a batch job made easy! :th3:)

multiple images open at once in the Geo Tag window.
Note the globe icon that allows you to add/edit GPS data to the highlighted file. Just drag the pin to do so.

One thing to note tho if you have any images already containing geotagged info.
If you have a series of images open in the GeoTag program, you can't have images with geo data active(highlighted) at the same time as other images with no geotagged data. Well you can, but you can't edit the geo tagging data in any of them.

If you have images with geodata in them already, they will display on the map with a pin. When you want to edit the lat/lon data you click the globe icon in the GeoTag program, and it allows you to drag the pin to any location of your choice(but it doesn't edit elevation data!).

The program also allows you to locate and add geo tagging info to your images via a tracklog(but it doesn't describe anywhere what file type tracklog to use!! :confused:
If you want to go with that method of taging files ona mass scale the program looks to be quite useful. The GPS tracklog file types you need to have are .nmea .nma .log and .gpx.
Those of you that have a particular file type GPS tracklogs know what they each mean, and I think I recognise the .log and .gpx types as (late model)Magellan and Garmin track log types. My early model Magellan(.trk) is not supported directly, but that's not an issue as GPS track log files are easily converted into a myriad of other file types that are compatible. If you need a GPS track converter program I highly recommend GPSBabel as it's the best, and converts just about any tracklog from any GPS to one that is usable.
Accuracy is only as good as the data you supply, and it allows you to synchronise the time difference between your GPS and camera clocks at the time the track was being recorded too.
Haven't used that feature, so other than the fact that it's available, you're going to have to find out how accurate this feature is.
Many moons ago, I remember the first time I tagged images(off a DVCam no less, so before I had a DSLR :o) and this particular program (a script for OziExplorer) worked quite well. Have never needed to do that ever since(circa 2004/5 or so). I have added geotagging to a few images not so many moons ago, and back then they all had to be the jpg(or tiff) images.. so it's great to be able to do it to raw(NEF) files too now.
(this is because I place no value of jpg images, only the raw files. in the future I believe that jpg may become a redundant image format and get lost in the ether of old tech.. raw files are more important to me).

So, about the Phottix Geo One GPS:
What a power hungry, battery eating monster this thing is! :D(if this thing were into politics, it'd be a savage brutal dictator of unimaginable proportions.. yet known to mankind!)
But of course we already knew that was going to happen, because I set my camera so that it wouldn't automatically turn the meter off after a few seconds after each activity. Each activity doesn't necessarily mean after every shot. I'm pedantic about my metering and framing(when I can get them to work for me), so I'm always half pressing the shutter release to either meter(from various parts of the scene, or to frame as best as I can. half pressing to highlight the grid lines through the VF. The meter switches itself off either too quickly or too slowly depending on your need at the time, so I set the camera to stay on all the time now(when the GPS is mounted). It works normally when the GPS is not mounted.
When the GPS is mounted, I just have to remember to switch the camera off manually. That way I'm in command of when the meter is active and the GPS loses lock. That's the only problem with the requirement of a compact GPS with no self powering ability. It relies on the cameras battery.
I don't see that as an issue, as battery power is easy to fix.. get more batteries, or if you're really that worried about it, turn the auto meter off to enabled, which will power the GPS down after whatever timeout you set for your camera. Saves battery power but you can(and do) lose a GPS lock, which can take time to re-acquire again.(that's why I leave it to stay on all the time).
Accuracy of the GPS looks to be as good as any other I've ever had, and the sensitivity of the receiver is v.good to excellent.
Due to the small antenna, I really wasn't expecting that, so it's a pleasant surprise.
For all the Nikon peeps that have the ability to connect to the Nikon GP-1, this Phottix thing to looks to be almost exactly the same device. Physical form factor look exactly the same, input/output layout look exactly the same, but I suspect that the plug connector types are going to be different tho(see the photo of the remote release plug).
They both seem to have the ability to connect to the PC via USB, and I haven't downloaded the driver for it, but I suspect that the driver is one written by a company called Ublox. The driver for the PC is available from the Nikon website. If it turns out that it is a Ublox-5 GPS chip, then it's highly recommended too!
The advantage is in this chip. Makes the GPS configurable to many degrees, as UBlox have very good driver and program support on their site.
The program I downloaded called u-center(6.01) allows many configurations(of the GPS unit) to be uploaded to the GPS unit, as well as firmware updates and so forth.
With this GPS connected to your PC, you can also navigate using your PC, and there should be many free programs available to do that. But I use OziCE on my PDA, and the WM2K3 driver for this Ublox GPS chip was very much appreciated :th3: I've been using this Phottix GPS on my PDA for a few days, as well as my Magellan GPS mounted on my car dash. I've had this set up on my car for about 6 years now, where my Magellan GPS is connected by cable to my Toshiba PDA. because the PDA has no GPS, I use the Magellan only for that purpose, but the Magellan does have some of the best mapping available in Aus!
For around town and most normal driving around the state(Vic) I use my own (image)maps on my PDA, and if you can get them, you can also use Google Satellite images(but they're hard to calibrate correctly). Anyhow I like my maps for the info they display(what I need).
The little Phottix is definitely more sensitive than the big 'ol Magellan(Meridian Color.. so it's very old now!).
Sometimes it's too sensitive, and it drifts a lot. That is, sitting stationary, I displays a lot of moving about, by a few meters this way and that way, where the Magellan basically stays put. So even though the Phottix is showing a few more satellite locks and with stronger signal strength, the Magellan is the one that doesn't drift about as much, which it will once location is diluted by a fair degree.
This is mainly deep CBD city observation too mind you! Have yet to see how it performs in heavily forested environments. Wet tree canopies seem to affect my Magellan)and every other GPS I've ever used) more than anything else that I've noticed. Add a canyon environment and heavy tree cover and it;s very easy to get lost :p Oh! I also have an external antenna that I use for the Magellan on those forested canyon trips.. but I don't use all in my everyday driving. This antenna give the magellan a great boost in sensitivity too because the antenna has a better line of sight.
On the camera, unless you're indoors you should never have issues with position lock. Once the GPS has locked on and located itself, it should be able to reacquire a position fix on subsequent bootup(warm boot) in only a few seconds. And this little Phottix does just that! Very quick.
Quicker than the Magellan(to be expected) but what I didn't expect was the ability to first locate itself (cold boot). Every morning the magellan is first to acquire it's fix, even though now I'm made the habit of starting the Phottix first.
it's not bad, but I expected 45seconds as the blurb says.. but it's more like 1'30" or so. Not bad.. but bad for camera battery power!!
That is, if you ned to cold boot the GPS using the camera this is going to keep the camera active for about 1-2mins, and that destroys batteries in no time. My plan is to always use the Phottix attached to the PDA as I drive around and therefore minimise cold booting.
* NOTE: If you get a position fix on the GPS, and then switch it off and move your position by about 300klms, it's the same thing as cold booting. The GPS has an ephemeris, which tells it the position of the satellite network(GPS's use satellite tracking!.. yeah? :D) so if the GPS loses that ephemeris data, it has to cold boot. Moving a long way whilst the unit is off, is going to confuse the GPS, it's looking for satellites that just aren't in the sky it thought should be there. So in effect the ephemeris is bunk, or lost as far as the GPS is concerned. All GPS's do that, so it is something to be weary of.

At device on the left is the Geo One with the Nikon N8 cable(D200+ cable) attached. There is also a D90 cable in the box too. The device at the centre is the Plato wireless receiver unit that daisy chains itself via the 3.5mm jack end to end cable. But I have that cable attached to the wireless transmitter, just to show how you can set the devices up if need be. One slightly annoying aspect of the remote setup in this manner is that the Plato wireless transmitter has to be switched on for it to operate as a wired remote. The only reason I can see for using it this way is because the batteries(2x AAA's each) on the wireless devices have drained. The older wireless transmitter had a release button on the receiver(this one doesn't). No problem, because the supplied cable release is small and kept in the bag at all times. But it could have been done smarter to minimise what you need to carry.. and I always carry spare batteries with me anyhow.. so this is never going to be a real issue.

Connectivity of the Phottix is great. As far as I understand it tho, it doens' appear to be able to connect to other brands of cameras. ie It looks to be Nikon only for some reason? That's as far as I can tell going by the website at least.
I can't see why, if a camera has the ability to accept NMEA data, then this thing should work .. just as any other GPS would. You can also set it to output almost any type of commonly used GPS/Navigation data.
Oh! and for those that indulge in this kind of stuff, there Ublox developers software allows you to set it to output whatever you want it too(I want coffee, but I'm a terrible programmer :p) Up to 4 <your.whatever> data output types is available in the software configuration.

Am I happy with it, yeah for sure :th3: I;'d even go as far as to rate it a 10/10. If you want a compact lightweight GPS without having a mass of wires tangling up around you(as you would with a handheld GPS) then this device is uber cool and practical. it mount to either the hotshoe(best for me as I don't use a flash) of via a supplied attachment, to the camera strap(which I also don't use). The cable looks to be sturdy(this time) as I have a Phottix remote on which I killed the cable connector. I'm not going to kill this one tho.. even though it's a lot more sturdy looking.
The remote input into the GPS is a 3.5mm stereo jack connector type. So it would be easy to replace the connector end should it ever cause any trouble. That means tho, that if you have a particular type/brand of cabled remote, it may not fit into the remote input jack of this GPS(ie. Nikon remotes not good!) But the Geo One comes with a cabled remote of it's own.
You can also attach and use any of Phottix's wireless remote devices, and I also purchased the Plato wireless release at the same time, and it works like a charm.
The remote actuator/transmitter also has a wired/cable output too that you can connect directly to the camera if you feel the need too, and also acts as a wired remote for the Geo One too. The Geo One comes with all the necessary cables for D200 and up and the D90/5000 too.

If you're looking for lightweight GPS solution for your camera the Phottix Geo One is highly recommended :th3:

Looking for them on ebay can be difficult though and you may need to do a worldwide search OR alternatively Search for GPS on HKSUPPLIES ebay store. HKSUPPLIES is a highly recommended ebayer too. Even though I've only ever purchased accessory devices from them, they're service is v.good to excellent. Fast and reliable.

One day if I ever get the chance to try to connect it to any other brand of camera(that is GPS capable) I'll try to(with a willing volunteer) to see if this Geo One is only for Nikon cameras as their site seems to imply.

Here's a geo tagged image I took last night.


If you download the image you can open it either directly in Google Earth/Maps or whatever works, or alternatively in a program that opens the jpg in Google Maps or Google Earth.

We need to talk to Kym about the difficulty in having that feature directly on AP ;)

bye. :)

OH! and another by the way!! If you use Google Earth and have ever wanted to upload images using their Panoramio doodad thingy.. makes sure you've read the fine print carefully!

Quoting directly from the Panoramio upload T&C's:

The photographic imagery made available for display through Panoramio is provided under a nonexclusive, non-transferable license for use only by you. You may not use the photographic imagery in any commercial or business environment or for any commercial or business purpose for yourself or any third parties.

You may not copy, reverse engineer, decompile, disassemble, translate, modify or make derivative works of the photographic imagery, in whole or in part. You also may not rent, disclose, publish, sell, assign, lease, sublicense, market, or transfer the photographic imagery or any part thereof or use it in any manner not expressly authorized by this agreement.

By using Panoramio, you do not receive any, and Google and/or its licensors (if any) retain all ownership rights in the photographic imagery. The photographic imagery is copyrighted and may not be copied, even if modified or merged with other data or software

I underlined and highlighted the important bits!
I'll be stuffed if I'm going to upload images of mine for them to own! :lol:

06-07-2010, 1:22am
I found this info extremely useful, and was able to geotag my photos by downloading the latest version of ViewNx, thank you very much. Regards Marlisk

06-07-2010, 4:03am
This does look good. I am going to copy your article down to enlarge the text size and read it all.

But my immediate question, I have Sygix maps loaded onto my iPhone, would that be able to connect with the GPS thingy? And does i mount on the hot shoe? And is it only for Nikon?

06-07-2010, 11:42am
Sorry Odille, its a Nikon only attachment as the camera has a GPS function built in for the reciever.

06-07-2010, 12:25pm
Interesting - I'll have to have a look at the latest ViewNX. (The phottix is useless to me until I upgrade my camera :()

BTW AK, have you tried the Virtual Earth mapping for OziExplorer (here (http://www.oziexplorer3.com/eng/osm.html)) - It's like google earth but with the OziExplorer interface. I loaded this about 4 months ago and it is great for all sorts of things.