Geotagging puts your photos on the map

You'll take plenty of photos this summer. Come September, will you remember precisely where you snapped a particular photo? Fortunately, you can embed location data in your photos.

It's called geotagging. You can use it to know exactly where you took a photo. Or, plot your photos on a map for a virtual tour. The coordinates will also help you find photos by location.

Geotagging is still green. But more manufacturers are providing solutions for geotagging photos. Expect to see more options soon. Here's how you can geotag your photos today.

Eye-Fi Explore

A company named Eye-Fi recently announced the Eye-Fi Explore. It's a 2-gigabyte card that works in any digital camera that accepts SD cards.

To determine where the photo is being taken, the card uses Wi-Fi data instead of a GPS chip. The card records nearby Wi-Fi access points when you shoot pictures.

You then upload photos to a computer or photo-sharing site wirelessly. Uploaded photos pass through Eye-Fi's servers. They're compared with a database of Wi-Fi points. Coordinates are then added to the photographs.

The Eye-Fi Explore card is priced at $130. This is pricey considering a generic 2GB SD card runs around $20. If you're snapping a lot of photos in a variety of places, it's worth the extra money.

GPS logs

Your camera may not accept SD cards, even with an adapter. Never fear. All you need is a portable GPS unit that creates a log of where you have traveled. Most GPS units do.

Using the time stamps in the GPS logs, specialized software maps your photos based upon the time they were taken. So, it is important to set your camera's time accurately. And don't forget about time zones when you travel.

Three programs that work with most GPS units are Downloader Pro ($30), PixGPS ($20) and RoboGEO ($40).

GPS units record logs in different formats. You may need to convert the log to use it with the software. GPSBabel is a free program that converts GPS logs to different formats. You'll find a link to it at www.komando.com/news.

Don't have a GPS unit? Then buy a gadget like the Sony GPS-CS1KASP ($150). It attaches to your belt or camera bag.

The GPS-CS1KASP does not have a display. It simply creates a log from the GPS chip. Included software helps you geotag photos. GiSTEQ and USGlobalSat make similar gadgets.

Camera-specific options

The best solution is one that tags photos as they're taken. However, few cameras have built-in GPS. General Electric will soon release one — the E1050. It has built-in GPS. But, photos aren't geotagged until they're uploaded to your computer.

You'll find camera accessories that help geotag photos as they're taken.

Nikon's MC-35 GPS cable ($80) connects to a GPS unit's serial port. The other end connects to your camera.

The MC-35 works with high-end Nikon SLRs with a 10-pin connector. These include the D300 and D3. Entry-level SLRs aren't compatible.

Canon also makes GPS connectors for its higher-end models. There's the WFT-E2A ($850) wireless transmitter for the EOS-1D/1Ds Mark III cameras. For the 40D, Canon offers the WFT-E3A ($800).

The transmitters connect to the bottom of the camera. A GPS unit is attached to the transmitter via USB port. You can also operate your camera and upload photos remotely.

Many GPS units are bulky. So, you may like Solmeta's DP-GPS N2 ($290). A small GPS unit attaches to an SLR's hotshoe or camera strap. An attached cable fits the 10-pin connector on Nikon and Fujifilm cameras.

Geotagging is great for sharing and organizing photos. But use common sense. Don't geotag photos of your home. Nor should you geotag photos of your children at school or friends' houses. Doing so could put your family at risk.

Kim Komando hosts the nation's largest talk radio show about computers and the Internet. To get the podcast or find the station nearest you, visit: www.komando.com/listen. To subscribe to Kim's free e-mail newsletters, sign up at: www.komando.com/newsletters. Contact her at gnstech@gns.gannett.com.

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