A while ago, I wrote an article entitled So, where was this taken?, in which I discussed the problems of remembering where you had taken particular photos and concluded that the answer was to use a geotagger (see the article for details). There are quite a few such devices on the market and I finally plumped for the Qstarz BT-Q1000X because of its long battery life (currently up to 42 hours) and because of the good reviews I had read.
Unfortunately, the unit I received didn’t work. I lost confidence in the make and model and returned it against a refund. That wasn’t the end of the story, however, because I was still having difficulty placing some of my photos and so I decided to give Qstarz one more chance. This time, I am happy to report that the unit functions perfectly. It is quick to lock on to the satellites (even indoors) and faithfully records my position at intervals (I have set this to every 10 seconds).
When I get home, I connect the device to the computer’s USB port (which also recharges the battery) and run the supplied software, having downloaded my photos from the camera to the PC.
The software then inserts the latitude and longitude of each photo into its EXIF data. This is a very accurate position (including up to 4 decimals of a second). This is my position when I took the photo, of course, not the position of the possibly distant object that I am photographing.
The software also produces a plot of my track on a section of Google map. I walked a track this morning so as to have something suitable to show you. Here is the track as produced by the software. (Click to see a larger version.)
While the track itself is accurately shown, the position of the photos (indicated by the camera icon) is less so. Several photos are shown to have been taken in the same place when in fact there was a distance of several meters between them. However, these positions are good enough just for locating the area where your photo was taken and if you feed the EXIF coordinates into Google maps, you get a more accurate position for each photo. (Remember that if your longitude is west of the meridian, you have to add a minus sign to the longitude!)
You can also project your track onto Google earth as shown here.
The same remarks about the positions of photos as made above apply here also.
On both maps, you can click on the camera icon to display the photo(s) taken at that point.
There is another annoying inaccuracy. As long as I am moving, the unit tracks my position correctly enough but if I remain still in one place for a while, a phenomenon called “drift” appears. This causes spurious loops on the track as if I had been walking backwards and forwards time and again crossing my stationary point. These fictitious movements can be discounted, of course but it does spoil the look of the track should you wish to record this for later viewing.
The 10-second interval is perfectly adequate when you are exploring on foot. I don’t know how well this would work if you were taking photos from a train or other fast-moving vehicle. You can only change the interval via the supplied software so you cannot change it in the field.
I don’t usually want to know the location of my photos to within a few meters. Knowing the town or, at a pinch the street or square, is usually good enough. So far, the Qstarz looks perfectly capable of delivering this level of accuracy and more.
My difficulty usually comes from moving from Place A to Place B during an outing. I may then have a struggle to know which is the last photo at A and which the first photo at B. By typing the latitude and longitude of the photos into Google maps, I can completely resolve the uncertainty.
I can switch on the device, check that it has found the satellites (the orange light flashes on and off), drop it in my pocket and forget about it until I return home and geotag my photos.
If I discover anything further of importance, I will let you know.