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Hardware that supports iPhoto '09's geotagging

I spent yesterday afternoon like many of you: Hunched over my keyboard in a posture-defying mound, my eyes locked on 1440 x 900 pixels of real-time information and fingers tapping keys like so many coked-up woodpeckers. A Mountain Dew and Cinnabun stood at the ready, should I need refueling. I was a gold-encrusted invitation to hypertension if you ever saw one.

As Phil Schiller gave his demonstration of iPhoto '09, with its face recognition, fancy travel books, themes and "Places" feature, I was most impressed by the geotagging. If shot with the right hardware, iPhoto recognizes where a given photo was taken, and places it on a Google map. If the photos in an event span several locations, it notices that, also. The built-in maps are very attractive and handy, as you can search your entire library by geographic location. As I watched all of this, one thought was echoing in my mind.

I don't have single piece of hardware that can do this.

It's what I call a Mario Batali Moment. I'm a real Mario fan, but every time I watch his show, I get a little depressed. As Mario sits down to a small family table in Umbria, olive trees and screeching cicadas in the background, I think, "There's another incredible Italian salami I'll never get to try."

A brief Google search turned up good news. I didn't have to spend several hundred dollars on a GPS-aware camera. Here are several devices that will get the job done without breaking the bank.

  1. The Wolverine GEO connects to several Nikon and Fuji DSLR's and embeds GPS coordinates in an image's metadata (EXIF) during exposure. Just click and you're done. The Wolverine GEO costs $149.99US.
  2. The GiSTEQ PhotoTrackr is a small GPS device that you carry around as you shoot photos. As you take pictures, you camera records the time. The PhotoTrackr also records the time and the GPS location. The included software merges the two. Small, tidy and $129US (the "lite" version is $99US).
  3. Similarly, the Amod AGL3080 GPS Data Logger connects to your Mac via USB port, allowing you to grab the recorded log in standard NMEA format. Mac-compatible software is included. The AGL3080 will run you about $70US.
So there are three relatively inexpensive options. Yes, I realize that the 3G iPhone will tag photos with GPS information, but it isn't the greatest camera in the world. You can also add this information by hand, but who wants to do that? Instead, there's good news:

iPhoto geotagging needn't be your forbidden salami.

Update: Our readers continue to offer additional suggestions. Keep them coming, folks! Here are a few from the comments.
  • David notes that "...the GISTEQ product does NOT support geotagging of RAW images," so keep that in mind. His solution: "I ended up using the iTU4l.pl perl scripts from http://www.schimmelnetz.de/projekte/iTU4l/ and HoudahGeo ($30US)."
  • jadam points out another solution: "If you have a standalone GPS that supports track logging, turn tracking on and bring it along with you on your next photo shoot. Then once you are finished, use the free GPSPhotoLinker (Free) to geotag your photos."
  • Tim suggests the SD GPS Data Logger ($125).
  • John Fischetti and a couple of others suggested the Eye-Fi Explore Wireless card ($99US).
  • John suggested the Jobo photoGPS (couldn't find a price for some unknown, frustrating reason), which mounts on your camera's hotshoe.
Others have recommended iPhone/iPod touch Geo Tracking software, like OnLocation ($2.99US) [App Store link] and Trails ($1.99US). Thanks, everyone! Keep the great suggestions coming.

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