Solmeta Outs a New N3 GPS for Nikon DSLRs

 

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. 

Learn more or order here.



  • Drew Barnard

    I’ve been wanting to get one for my D7000, but I’m a little concerned with the GPS door. I’m thinking that while shooting freehanded (w/o tripod) it would make it ackward to hold. Do you have any experience with D7000 and gps?

    • http://terrywhite.com Terry White

      Yes, you do have to be careful of the door.

      • Drew Barnard

        It’s too bad that all the l-brackets block the door. Would like to use one and put some gaffers tape over it to secure the door and give it a little more weather proofing :(

    • http://www.gps-camera.eu seb

      Google for “Klappen-Hack für Nikon D3100, D5000, D5100 und D7000 für Geotagger”.
      The article is in German, but you will get it by the pictures and there is a translate button on the right top of the page.

  • Steve Stracke

    Does the remote supplied with the N3 have a 10-Pin connector, or is it a Solmeta proprietary piece of equipment?

    • http://terrywhite.com Terry White

      It’s NOT a 10-Pin Connector! It plugs into a special port on the GPS unit itself.

    • http://www.gps-camera.eu seb

      It is a simple 2,5mm remote jack port. I think it is the same used on some Canons.

  • Ely

    I’ve purchased Solmeta N2 for my Nikon D700. When it worked – it worked perfectly. Unfortunately it worked for only 7 months. Now the green LED blinks for hours, but the device doesn’t fix sat signals.
    It has broken down in the moment I really needed it: in the beginning of my 2-week tour in the mountains.

  • Mark

    In the last 8 months I’ve had 3 Solmeta units. 1 N2 broke whilst I was in New Zealand. The power Cable stopped working so the unit wasn’t able to send the necessary data to the camera. This was replaced (at a discount) with an N3, which came to the same fate a few months later and replaced with another N3 (free of charge) which has fallen fowl of the same problem.

    When these work, they work well. Just seems they’re not meant to be long lasting. Which, at the price is a dissapointment. I now need to find another solution – seems once you’ve experienced the usefulness of having this information, you can’t go back. Any suggestions?

    Finally, I would like to add that the Customer Service at Solmeta is second to none. If only their QC was as good.

    • http://www.gps-camera.eu Seb

      Hello Mark,

      I guess you have N3-A (connector cable for D200-D4)?

      The problem is very seldom and happens mostly repeated. It is not general at all. All cases I know, happened to people with camera bags, where the cam is laying sideways “on the plug” or similar stress.

      This tends to happen with all GPS-Geotaggers with the plug showing sideways at D200 to D4. (All brands but Dawntech)

      We from http://www.gps-camera.eu managed to convince Solmeta to make new plugs showing upwards. Solmeta followed our arguments. We expect to get the new improved version on next order.

      With D90 or D3100-D7000 this problem never appeared to Dawntech or Solmeta because the use L-connectors. All other brands we know use straight plugs for these cams. The result can be a broken circuit board. Sie Pic and youtube Video on
      http://www.gps-camera.eu/news/46-wissen/319-broken-socket-by-nikon-gp-1-geotagger

      Hope that helps.

      • Mark

        Hi Seb,

        Yes, I have a D300. The first N2 I had I left on the camera whilst in the bag for some time. I guess this wasn’t the greatest idea I’ve ever had which is why I held my hands up and paid for the new N3.

        With this issue, I know it was the GPS end of the cable which was an issue. I was able to bodge it with an elastic band so it remained in the GPS a little better (still no consolation).

        As for the two N3 units, these were never, ever, stored on the camera. Always in the little bag provided. I always ensured I screwed the cable into the body of the camera so ensure it couldn’t move and it wouldn’t be able to fall out.

        Both of the N3 units which have broken have been tested on another D300 and both were not working. I have also tested another N3 on my body to ensure it’s not my camera.

        I agree that the current connector for the N3 is far from ideal. Seemed a little better for the N2. I will contact Solmeta again to investigate the new connector you mentioned. I would be happy to stay with them as a company, I haven’t seen a GPS which is better than the N3. Their customer service is excellent which I feel should be rewarded with my continued custom if possible.

        Thanks for your assistance.

      • Super Panda

        not sure about the ‘we from http://www.gps-camera…. managed to convince Solmeta’! sounds like an aweful plug on your end. In 2007 I have already been testing the Solmeta products and have been pushing them to improve the cable routing ever since.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sebastian-Gps-Camera/100002241703990 Sebastian Gps-Camera

          I just know that we said we would not wish to get the sideways plug anymore. Solmeta stocked us with upwards cables since then. The problem is solved. Other Geotaggers – Nikon GP-1 – still have the sideways plug.

  • Jay

    Has anybody looked at the Solmeta Geotagger Pro?

  • http://www.gps-camera.eu Seb

    Lightroom: Add image direction in Map module

    Please help and vote for compass direction feature in LR4 at http://feedback.photoshop.com/photoshop_family/topics/add_image_direction_in_map_module