It's been a while since I did my Nikon GPS Smack Down. Back then I chose the Solmeta N2 as the winner for overall best GPS for Nikon DSLRs. Since that time Solemta has come out with another new model, the N3 and I got a chance to try one out. Like previous model the Solmeta N3 plugs right into your compatible Nikon DSLR and geotags (adds longitude/latitude and heading) your photos as you take them (both JPG and RAW support). However, unlike the previous model you now have to choose between the one for professional DSLRs like the D700, D3, D4, etc. and the prosumer models like the D5100, D7000, etc. The reason you have to choose is because the interface cable is now hardwired in. This has it's advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that the connection is perfectly secure. The N2 allows you to plug in a cable to match your camera, but the connection could easily get damaged if you bumped/hit it the wrong way. The new connection is very well designed. The disadvantage (at least for me) is that if you have multiple camera bodies of different types you'll now need one of each type to go with your camera as opposed to just ordering the additional cable. This will only affect a small percentage of people, but it is a slight step down in convenience for me. Another small but notable cable improvement is that the cable is now coiled instead of being too long or too short. It will be just right for however you attach your GPS (in the hotshoe or on the strap).
Faster and more accurate
This model uses a 3-axis electronic compass like their top of the line model the Geotagger Pro. The N2 uses a 2 axis compass. The first thing that impressed me was how fast it was ready to go. By the time I tuned the camera on and was ready to snap the 1st picture it had already locked on to a satellite and was providing the location info to my Nikon D700. The other big difference is that this model gets its power directly from the camera. The other models have internal batteries that you charge and then only after they run down will it get power from the camera. While having a built-in battery does provide for potentially longer shooting, the N3 is designed to use less power, sleep and take advantage of the Nikon GPS power saving features. I haven't had it long enough to compare battery life, but I did notice that it went to sleep a few seconds after I turned the camera off and was ready almost instantly when I turned the camera back on.
The GPS data shows in Lightroom 3 and allows you to click the arrow/button to take you to that spot on Google Maps.
New Indoor Fixed Mode
GPS units work best when used outside, but if you are going in and out of buildings a GPS that only works outside isn't much use to you. The N3 has an Indoor Fixed Mode that will use you last known location to continue tagging photos as you take them inside.
Built-in Remote Trigger Support
One of the usual concerns pro photographers have is that the model for the pro cameras use the 10 pin terminal port. That port is also often used for cable releases (remotes). While Solmeta does sell a Y splitter cable so that you can use your existing cable release, the also have a port on the side for use with a basic remote too.
The Bottom Line
I have mixed feelings about this model. I'm happy with the speed and accuracy, but I'm less happy about needing a specific model for your camera. Luckily the N2 and Geotagger Pro are still available as options. Solmeta has positioned the N3 right between the Pro and N2 and it's priced at $189. You can't go wrong with any of these models as they are all solid performers.