Selecting a GPS

This page describes what to look for when purchasing a GPS for GeoTagging Photos.

The most important feature of any GPS for geotagging photos is a long track log memory. Some GPSes can hold 2000 track points while others can hold 10000 track points. The higher the number the better and larger numbers are required if you will be away from a computer for a long time (even just a few days). Unfortunately, this can be difficult information to find since it is usually not a major selling point. I can’t even find that information on Garmin’s web page.

I purchased the Garmin Etrex Legend because it can hold 10000 track points and was a good price point. Plus it is well supported by the World Wide Media Exchange tools. Garmin makes a whole line of Etrex models, each with different features. The Legend was a nice compromise because it also has memory for maps and has most of the features that interest me in a GPS. There are more expensive versions with colour screens, more memory, or barometric altimeters and such. They all have my vote.

As much as I purchased the GPS for GeoTagging, having the maps was a great feature when we went to New Zealand shorly after I purchsed it. I found this site that had free detailed maps of New Zealand for the Garmin GPS. That alone is worth getting a Garmin because this data would cost hundreds of dollars if purchsed for any GPS unit. It was very cool being able to make our way through back streets and finding points of interest just by looking at the GPS. Not exactly important for GeoTagging, but still fun.

Word of Caution
I don’t know about other GPS units, but with the Etrex Legend, and I assume other Etrex models as well, if you save the track log to one of the 10 or so storage locations that data will become useless for GeoTagging. The saved track logs lose the time stamps that are so important for GeoTagging. I did this right after purchasing the GPS when on a trip to New Zealand and Australia. We were away for so long that I wanted to save as much track information as I could before I got home. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized the saved logs had no time stamps.

What I eventually did was load the track logs into the WWMX Location Stamper and drag and drop the photos to about where they were taken. Unfortunately, the WWMX Location Stamper will not load track logs without time information. Fortunately, the GPX file is a text file and easy to edit. I was able to manually insert timestamps into the track log (the actual times are not important, but they have to be increasing). It was a pain, and I will never using the track log save slots again, but now you know and won’t make that mistake.