Jobo AG PhotoGPS Inverness
Jobo AG PhotoGPS
Geo-tagging images with a GPS device is not just about pinpointing the exact position of a particular snap long after the event, it can be a great way of adding data and keywords to your images. But while external devices are usually cumbersome and often require a cable to connect to the camera, either to draw power or for data transfer, cameras with built-in GPS receivers, such as the Nikon Coolpix P6000, have been unreliable in our tests. What's more, the power requirements of internal GPS systems are usually just as high, often resulting in a flat battery when the time comes to take a picture.
Measuring 68 x 20 x 43mm (excluding the adaptor) and with a built-in lithium-poly rechargeable battery, the PhotoGPS looks like addressing some of these shortcomings. Using a detachable foot adaptor, it attaches to the camera's hotshoe, and looks like a tiny flashgun. While the position should help satellite acquisition, the flash sync contact in the foot is used to activate the GPS receiver when the shutter is released. Apart from the removable foot, the PhotoGPS has a single button to manually activate data acquisition, a USB socket and two LEDs, to confirm operation and charge status.
Weighing just 80g and with a plastic outer shell, it's light enough to be used with a high-end compact camera such as the Canon PowerShot G10 without affecting the balance or handling. Hot or cold starts take just 0.2 seconds, and we didn't have a problem locating a satellite or capturing the data indoors. Our only concern was the lack of weatherproofing for the USB port, and the hotshoe mount was loose in our main test camera, a Canon PowerShot G9. Other cameras didn't fair quite as badly, but without a locking ring, the device could easily work loose.
Jobo claims that the internal rechargeable battery will last up to four weeks from a full charge, but there's no mention of the usage. We used the device extensively during our generous test period and had no issues with power. All the same, only 1000 GPS captures can be stored in the built-in memory before being downloaded to a Mac - it's during this time that the unit is charged, so you'll rarely find it flat.
As well as the expected time and date stamp, longitude and latitude, the PhotoGPS also records altitude and translates this data into the relevant address, including the name of the street, city and country, along with points of interest. However, it uses the bundled matching software to do this, and you'll need a web connection to link to the Jobo servers.
With just two panes, one for GPS captures and the other for downloaded images, the software's interface is very basic. There's also the issue of accurately matching the geo-data to the images; they rarely match precisely. You could, for instance, have taken several images without the device attached. If you know precisely where the pictures were taken, you can drag-and-drop similar GPS data from one pane to the other, or you can manually edit the data. This is, however, a time-consuming process and it's not foolproof like a dedicated device. Nikon's GP-1, for example, writes location data to the image file's Exif data during capture, but only works with Nikon DSLRs.
With Raw files, the PhotoGPS writes location-data to XMP sidecar files instead, rather than the file itself as it does with Jpegs. If separated, there's a risk of losing data. What's more if you didn't have connection to the Internet at the time of downloading, and you want to add the address and POI later, the PhotoGPS's software will overwrite Jpeg files, so you may end up losing any additional data you may have added.
It all adds up to a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand we like the compact dimensions, reliable satellite acquisition, short hot and cold starts, and decent battery life. However, the hotshoe's poor design, and the troublesome matching of image files with location data is clearly a compromise due to its wide-ranging compatibility, and that may just be enough of a showstopper for some.
The Jobo PhotoGPS seems like a neat solution for datacachers, but it's not without its faults.
Author: Kevin Carter