It’s been a while since I’ve done a review of a GPS device for Nikon DSLR cameras. The main reason is that I haven’t seen much movement or innovation in this space. The second reason is that I had kinda moved on to using my iPhone 5 as my GPS and creating .GPX log files that can be read by Lightroom 4/5. Since I always have my iPhone with me I could always just fire up the Geotag Photos Pro App and start recording my movements to a log file. With that said, there are some definite advantages to having a physical GPS device on the camera itself. First of all a physical GPS device will be more accurate. Logging apps only update based on a predefined interval. The next advantage is that a physical GPS just needs to be turned on. In a matter of seconds it locks on to satellites and away you go. Lastly, the logging apps on your smartphone will drain your smartphone’s battery sooner. Not to mention that there is no post-processing with a physical GPS. The longitude and latitude are written to the metadata of the images as you capture them. Yet, I was still using my iPhone more than the physical GPS devices I had. I think the biggest reason for this was the design of the GPS units I’ve used to date. Nikon DSLRs have direct support for external GPS units. On the more recent models like my D600 there’s a dedicated GPS port. Almost all of the GPS units I’ve used to date attached via a cable. This short cable plugs into the Nikon DSLR and the other end attaches to the GPS itself. This is what I never really liked. You either had to attach the GPS to your hotshoe or to your camera strap. The cable was always in my way. I was either constantly knocking the GPS out of the hotshoe or putting stress on the port that the cable was plugged into.
The Eco ProSumer GPS (pro-s)
The Eco ProSumer GPS is one of the latest models from Dawn Technology. First off the thing that attracted me to this model was the fact that there is NO CABLE. It’s small and plugs right into the side of my camera. It’s not in the way! Like the previous Dawn models it allows you to use it in auto mode or always on. In auto mode it will turn on/off with the camera. So then what else is new besides the design? It’s lightweight at only 16g. It’s very power efficient at 19mA (1/3rd of the aging Nikon GP1). It’s also faster at acquiring a GPS lock. Basically it’s better in every way. There is a port on it that allows you to connect a cable release, and of course Dawn Technology sells those too.
While I definitely like this model for my D600 (also works with D7000, D7100, D5000, D5100, D5200, D3100, D3200 and Coolpix P7700), they also have a “Professional” line for the D4, D800, D3, D700, etc. Since I travel mostly with with my D600 I don’t have as much of a need for the Pro model. So what’s not to like? There are a couple of things missing (at least in the specs) from this model over others I’ve used. The first is a provision to remember your last location and keep recording when you go inside/out of the range of a GPS satellite. I tested that last night and when I went inside the light started blinking. However, the last known location info was still being shown and added to the images I took indoors. That was fine until I turned the unit off and back on without going back outside. At that point the location info was lost. The next omission was “heading”. Some of the higher end models feature a compass feature that shows the direction you were standing in when you took the photo. That feature is missing from this model. Otherwise, this model is a winner!
My Rant To Nikon!
While I love the fact that Nikon builds in support for GPS modules right into the camera with a menu and all, I think it’s way overdue not to allow these modules to be built-in. Clearly the technology is now small enough to allow for it to be inside the camera. Yes I understand that not everyone wants/needs one and in some cases aren’t allowed to use one, but that shouldn’t stop Nikon from building the “slot/compartment” for it into their DSLRs. Those who want/need it could buy the model and put it INSIDE the camera.
The Bottom Line
If you want to geotag your photos as you take them, this new Eco ProSumer GPS will get the job done nicely. It’s small, lightweight and not a nuisance to have connected to the camera while you’re shooting. The Lightroom Map module above shows where you took your geotagged photos.
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