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Nikon GP-1 GPS unit finally in stock

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  • Willis

    I’ve always been curious about Geo-Tagging. I know you can do it more cheaply with an eye-fi card using skyhook, but that’s what my cell phone uses and its accuracy out in the middle of nowhere (where I would most likely want geotagging) is pretty limited.

    I look forward to some detailed reviews (and price cuts) on this guy.

    • Steven

      but then again there are much more refined units out there that even have splitters for the 10 pin plug allowing you to use both a GPS and remote release at the same time. http://www.solmeta.com is one. they are just about to release 2 new units that i think have some promise

  • Steve

    I’ve had one for a few weeks now. Just to clarify, your cell phone uses triangulation from cell towers and the GP-1 uses satellites so it will work most anywhere. To be blunt, the GP-1 is crude and expensive for what it delivers. Of the dozens of sentences the satellites transmit this unit only picks up Lat, Lon and metric elevation. At a bare minimum Nikon should also supply heading. WAAS differential is missing and the accuracy by today’s standards is poor. There is software available to Nikon that also increases sensitivity in areas of poor reception. It also speeds up cold starts. If you turn your camera off to save the battery you may find yourself taking shots before the gps has acquired a signal. From a housekeeping perspective the whole world uses usb but the GP-1 ties up my 10 pin. Lastly the cable is stiff and in the way. To remedy this, I taped the GP-1 and cable to my camera strap. Take a look at some of the competition before you decide to buy this one.

    • NicolBolas

      Steve,

      Heading via the GPS “nav” functions requires velocity because it’s actually a guessed overground heading between two static points. When shooting from a fixed point you can NOT get any accurate heading unless your receiver overrides the mathematically acquired heading with an electronic compass acquisition, like what the Solmeta N2 (and higher end) does.

      Regarding accuracy and cold-start duration, faster and more accurate receiver have a significant increase in battery drain because they need much more gain in signal reception and computation power. This may not be required for most photographers as geotagging is mainly used un archival management rather than precise geographical work (like in GIS). For GIS purpose, you will get what you need from higher end, dedicated purpose, way more expensive tools.

    • Mike C

      I’ve tried out a unit attached to a new N90 for about a few days now. Going hiking in places without a cell signal, the geotagging is kind of cool. If someone from Nikon is reading this, here are a few suggestions: The unit I have, unfortunately has a poor connector that periodically loses contact. I think the connector on the camera end can be more snug (it is on the GPS end) – why not draw power from the flash shoe and enable some connection from there?

  • Jeroenw

    There’s loads of Bluetooth gps receiver on the market that can do logging. Make sure your camera’s clock is set to gps time, stick the receiver in your pocket and when you get home you merge your gps log with your pictures. Easy as that, leaves your hotshoe free and most of these are half the price of this nikon unit.

    • Willis

      I’d really prefer not to have the extra step of merging my pictures… That’s mostly laziness, but I’m pretty entrenched into my current work flow. Of course for $240+ (vs. $89) i might make an exception. In the end though, I think it would probably be worth the extra $ just to not have to deal with it.

      I am kind of bummed that it doesn’t log the heading though. I just figured it would. That would make it a lot more useful to me. It would also be nice if it were cordless. If Nikon can figure out wireless flash, figuring out wireless GPS should be trivial. but oh well. I think I’ll probably buy one of these, but only if the price comes down. Otherwise I’ll wait for a sleeker implementation. I’m thinking eye-fi needs to come out with a memory card that can work with a satellite receiver.

      • Ernst

        GPS doesn’t give you heading. The GP-1 would require an electronic compass to provide that.

      • Martin

        GPS could get you something of a heading. But only by extrapolating from previous waypoints. If you’re standing still a GPS receiver can’t tell which direction you’re facing.

        I’d rather not deal with this Nikon GPS unit. For me the Sony GPS CS1 is much better. I suspect Nikon’s GPS unit will take a minute or two to find the current position after a cold start (like every other GPS unit), while the Sony unit (like every other external unit) is just running independently from the camera. Yes, you have to merge the data at home (it is not necessary to set the camera’s clock to GPS time, by the way), but it’s not much of a hassle, because this works by batch processing. To provide the 1500+ pictures of my last vacation with GPS data took about 10 minutes (with me klicking a button and going away to do something else).
        Even better: since an external unit is independent from the camera, you get GPS logs which you then can use for more purposes than just tagging pictures. And you can use the data with pictures from different cameras. Which gives you the freedom to leave the big SLR at home and take a point-and-shoot.
        That’s just my thoughts

        • Ernst

          Guessing at heading by stringing together past position readings works okay in a car, but is useless for a camera. It’s not as though photographers can be depended upon to walk directly toward their subjects and never recompose.

          For example, if you back up to get a wider perspective, the interpolated heading will have you pointed roughly 180 degrees in the wrong direction. If you stand still and track a moving subject, the interpolated heading won’t change even as you change the camera orientation. And so on.

          If you want to know the direction the camera’s pointed, you have to use a compass.

          • A.G

            Good explanation on the limitations of heading. The absence of heading on a unit like this should not be a problem for anyone (if they read your post) Thanks Ernst.

          • Max

            The Solmeta has electronic compass, just as you know (PNI Electronic Compass built in N2 version)

  • alex

    digitalreview.ca has a review of this unit

  • http://www.larry-bolch.com/ lnbolch

    I carried a pocket Garmin on a ten-day travel shoot last summer, and found that geotagging after the fact is simply no hassle whatever. I carried both a D300 and a D700 and the tracks it kept worked for both. I synced the clocks of both cameras to the GPS. No cables, no connection, nothing to get tangled and jerk either the unit from the camera or the camera from the hands. One unit worked for both cameras – such a deal! It also found fuel and accommodation and got us back on track when we made a wrong turn.

    I came back with 36GB of image files. Using Pro Photo Tools, free from the Microsoft web-site, I was able to load the tracks from the whole shoot into the software and geotag a whole folder at once. It only took a couple of minutes in total. It just does not get simpler than that. It even gave me street addresses in cities and roads in the country.

  • olas polare

    Why the gps can’t communicate through the hotshoe inst of a cable is just plain stupid. Nikon wake up its almost 2009

    • Martin

      I suspect, there are plenty of people who wouldn’t want their hotshoe occupied with something other than a speedlight. Sometimes even I am using flash outside of buildings.
      For me there’s a more pressing question: why didn’t Nikon make the GPS unit work independently from the camera like Sony and many others have done?

      • NicolBolas

        I’d rather get read of the hotshoe (at least its contacts) and have everything (including speedlights) to communicate with the body using wireless *radio* system (infrared is too tricky or even unusable in most of my shooting setups, I have to get back to my D300 to drive my SB900s from the built in flash, wich adds too much latency).

        I’m talking of a dedicated radio signal, nothing like bluetooth wich would be way too slow responding for speedlights.

        Bluetooth would be fine for GPS as it’s native serial line emulation is perfectly fitted for a 4800bauds NMEA stream. But it’ll be way more interesting to integrate the GPS unit rather than a bluetooth controler in nikon’s DSLR

        • Martin

          Yes, that’s an Idea, too. Why not. don’t be fooled though: Radio will have latency, too. :-) But not much, admittedly. The latency you feel with infra red transmission is introduced because of the preflashes not because of the infra red transmission itself. And you won’t get rid of the preflashes either way, since they are needed for TTL flash exposure.

        • Steven

          and all the battery power to do all that too right? you want and want and want but to you realize the cost? and i’m not just referring to $$$. its power consumption. a simple camera powered GPS can bring the average 1750 shot DSLR battery down to between 350 and 900 shots per charge depending on its operational mode. so lets just add a few more things for the battery to do

          • NicolBolas

            Seriously, what would a cellphone battery handle that an EN-EL4a couldn’t ?

            Todays GPS receivers are running under 60mW peak, 15mW typical (1Hz tracking), most are single chip BGA solutions with a size lesser than 10x10mm. Best seen TFF without A-GPS are around 25s, can be reduced to 3s when giving it a headstart (country, nearby city),1s with A-GPS (requires a cellphone network receiver).

            We’re far from the old-school-indestructible-tank that the SirfStar III was, with its 20x20x3mm package and 200mW power drain, and that is still used in many external outdoor applications for… well… no obvious reason.

            Also, a built in wireless controler drived by the camera’s main controler, rather than a secondery, useless, controller as in the WT-4, is about 2mW standby, 40mW typ., 110mW peak. The WT-4 itself is rated at 4,5W peak, and usualy drains more than 2W in syandby wireless mode (I did no measurement in ethernet mode) !!

            So, Steven, what do you prefer to waste ? Brain power AND energy, as Nikon does now, or lots of space in you backpack, when these basic features would become built-in ?

  • Steve

    The gps sentences does give you heading as well as bearing (if you were navigating to a way point.) The protocol is NMEA 0183 (for national marine electronics association.) Websites like this can give you more info: http://aprs.gids.nl/nmea/ The gps builder (Nikon) can take the raw data and make their device more user friendly like allowing you to adjust GMT to your time zone or allow for feet or meters. No effort on Nikon’s part went into making this a good unit. Save your money until they build it right.

    • Steven

      you will not have useful realtime heading info if the device is in a stationary position. if you rotated on axis to a new heading while in that stationary location the GPS would be unaware of this and can only recalc this upon any horizontal movement from that location. you can input a electronic compass info if available but then that is not the product of the GPS data stream

  • NicolBolas

    A (good) GPS and electronic compass chip costs about $15. Integration in a DSLR body could be possible at low cost. Why the hell can’t Nikon integrate it rather than adding the feature as an external disposal ? Same as for WiFi, WT-4 is way too big and its cable is a pain in the ass when shooting action or using 2 cameras.

    GPS and WiFi are built in features in $200-$400 compact cameras. WTH can’t nikon do the same on its $2k-$8k pro line ? That’s just STUPID.

    • NicolBolas

      Seriously, adding integrated WiFi (and eth on a smaller connector) and GPS as a built in function for every Nikon DSLR would be a great *spec* improvement over most competitors. It would be useless for most DSLR users, but it’d had a few line on their datasheets and help getting some headstart in online review sites (at least to those who can’t even understand how auto-exposure works and stop at reading specs)…

    • Steven

      reliability. if you want all this integration then as products progress and actually get better you will then need to replace a $5000 body in com cases rather then a $500. i prefer the component approach so i can use one paid for product on multiple generations of camera body. i just got email back from solmeta on their ne geotagger pro product that may be available in january.
      1- self powered and then will switch camera power when depleted
      2- waas enebled
      3- user replacement internal battery
      4- the seperately available 10 pin Y splitter
      5- an actual self contained display
      6- built in 2 axis compass
      7- under $400

      • Steven

        sorry. i can’t spell or type at 5 AM

      • NicolBolas

        Reliability shouldn’t be an issue on nikon’s point of view. If the integrated components went to fail, the’y'll have more opportunities for overpriced service offerings.

        BTW, using the right chips from the best manufacturers will make the integration cost jumps from $15 to $35 per body (WiFi + GPS), wich will have a really small impact on the final price of a $1,5k to $5k unit.

        Also, don’t forget this still can be an optional module, beeing integrated on demand in the camera, and therefore beeing easily serviceable.

        It would still be a far better and smarter choice than a bunch of external modules with their melting cables and extra weight.

        Connecting straight to the camera’s controler rather than using a serial or PTP usb port will reduce the overall power drain by reducing the number and complexity of the chips needed to make it work properly, and this could also enhance reliability.

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