Review: gps4cam in action

Upon request (!) I am giving you a tech post today. Nah, no need to worry, despite being a self-confessed nerdette, I lack the abyssmally deep insight that would be needed for super-nerd-omity. I am, however, pretty good at faking it *heehee*. So let’s get down to it – my critique of geotagging app gps4cam.
How it works: At the start of your walk you launch the app and decide which tracking mode you want to use (more about that later). Then you activate gps4cam by hitting the “start a new trip” button. Back into the pocket with your smartphone and off you go on your shoot. At the end of your trip you open the app again and press the “Export” button. The app now generates a QR code which you need to take a picture of with your SLR. And that’s all for the moment. – Back at home you import your images whichever way you usually do. (I used Lightroom 3.) Then you launch the software which you have to download for free from the gps4cam website and “upload” your folder with the images. The images will now be geotagged automatically and receive the corresponding information in their EXIF data. And that’s it.
The whole thing is as easy as it reads. The user interface on the app is very intuitive and free of unnecessary crap – or in other words: There’s not many settings to fiddle with, which makes it perfect for impatient technophobes like yours truly. Essentially you only need to decide which tracking mode you want and then to hit start.
The tracking modes, however, should be explained a bit, because this is where the cookie crumbles. There are four different modes: Standard, precise, energy saving and manual. The standard mode will take a GPS reading every 1, 5 or 10 minutes. This, of course, requires a continuous running of the app i.e. connection with the satellite – which can take its toll on the battery, not to mention the app eating your mobile phone data allowance as it will be linked up via mobile internet. That would be even more so with the “precise” setting, which will capture your geographical position every 20 seconds. You can save energy (and costs) if you set the app to the “energy saving” modus. In that case the app will record your coordinates via GSM. That means it localizes you via the mobile phone antennas on the ground that are all over the place. Every time you change locality and your mobile switches to a different antenna, this will be recorded in the app – and your coordinates will be captured. Lastly, you can also manually record your position by simply giving your smartphone a cheerful little shake – every time you take a picture, for instance.
Now, to tell you the truth, so far I have only tried out the standard tracking mode because I was in Ireland and not worried about data usage. If I were abroad, I would probably switch to the energy saving mode – cost saving mode, more like, as mobile connections abroad are notoriously  expensive. I suppose, the manual tracking modus is an option, too – that is if you remember to move it and shake it, baby…
The first bit of using the app was so easy that I expected the sh*t to hit the fan with the second part:  “synchronising” the images with the app-recorded geotags. For that purpose I imported my images through Lightroom in a folder on my XHD. Then I opened up the gps4cam software. Again, no unnecessary fuss: All you see is a window with an address line for the input folder and another for the output folder. All that was left to do was to hit “go” – the software then matched the images with the GPS data from the app and added the localisation details to the EXIF data.
Suspicious as I am, I checked if the geotag was in the EXIF. And lo and behold – it is visible in the picture properties. However, when I uploaded a test image into Flickr, it showed neither as automatically tagged, nor did it have the coordinates in the EXIF data in the network. But when I sent it to be tagged on the little map in Flickr, it was magically placed on the map where it was taken. Actually, not quite – it was not 100% accurate, but well, could’ve been me.
Liffey View
So, this is the verdict of the German jury: 9 out of 10 for gps4cam. Supereasy handling, no-fuss interface, cheapo alternative to pricy extra gadgets from camera manufacturers, intuitive interfaces of app and software, very fast tagging process.
There is only 1 point I am deducting: usefulness. Do you *really* need to geotag photos? Probably not. But if you are a nerd like me, it’s not the practical result that counts, but the fact that you have the app.
Snap on, geeks!

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