GPS4cam & Pebble Smartwatch Sitting On A Wrist

gps4cam-pebble-integrationGPS4cam is software for your Android or iPhone which allows photographers to easily log GPS locations for their photographs. Using Adobe Lightroom or gps4cam’s desktop software, photographs can easily be geotagged thanks to the data captured via gps4cam.

Now photographers do not need a GPS device as long as they have a smartphone. Photographers do not need to find that new camera with GPS built-in because your gps4cam can handle the task for you.

To get started with gps4cam, open the app on your phone, choose a mode and start a new trip before you start shooting using your camera.

When you are done, simply end the trip and generate a QR code that you need to take a picture of with your camera in either RAW or JPG. The advantage of the QR code is that you don’t have to manually sync your phone’s time with your camera’s time

When you get to your computer, simply run your photos plus the QR code through the gps4cam desktop software. This latter will geotag all your photos with the appropriate GPS locations.

As you can see here, the photos have been geotagged. When you add these photos to a photo management software such as iPhoto, Aperture or Lightroom you can see them on a map.

For Lightroom users, you can use a different workflow if you want to. Instead of generating a QR code, you can use a GPX file to geotag your photos added to Lightroom. You can email the GPX file to yourself or simply store it in your dropbox.

gps4cam pro has a new integration with the pebble smartwatch allowing the users to capture GPS locations or switch modes directly from the watch and lots of other features.

GPS4Cam & Pebble

Previously I have reviewed gps4cam and shared how simple and awesome it is to Geotag photographs from any camera.

At the time I was using it with the Leica M9, which I no longer have. My Nikon D800 has the Eco Pro-F but whenever I use a camera without a GPS, gps4cam is my solution.

When the team at gps4cam reached out to me about their new Pebble integration I was intrigued as I’m sure you are since you are reading this.

For those who do not know what a Pebble is – basically it’s a smartwatch which was originally born through a very successful Kickstarter campaign. The watch uses its own operating system and is compatible with both iPhones and Androids. The operating system is light weight and designed for anyone to create watch faces and apps for it.  Please note that the pro version doesn’t exist yet on android at the time of this review.

When I received my Pebble I quickly installed gps4cam on it and started playing even though I wasn’t shooting anywhere. I wanted to get a feel for what the watch interface could do which would benefit me while out shooting.

Turns out that it’s quite useful in helping to stop looking at the phone to set markers and also to share coordinates with others if needed.

When you first launch the app on the watch it tells you to start the app on the phone. So my first thought was that I wish the app on the watch could start the tracking. Turns out that it’s against policies for developers to do that. Here is an explanation from gps4cam.

“It’s a requirement from Pebble in order to have a fair sharing between apps using Bluetooth to connect to the Pebble smartwatch. If an app uses constantly the Bluetooth connection between the iPhone and Pebble, other potential apps won’t be able to interact with the Pebble”

So that makes sense – although I still wish it was an option. Even if it wasn’t the default option.

While the GPS is going, the watch shows the time which is convenient since the Pebble in the end is still a watch.

If you name the trip (on your phone) then the name of the trip will also show on the watch. Otherwise will show the default unnamed trip titled.

One of my favorite things about the interface on the watch is that I can change the accuracy of the GPS. So instead of reaching for my phone while shooting, I can quickly click a couple buttons on my wrist and go from precision to energy saver if I notice my battery getting too low. Or vice versa if I need precision.

Going along with that – the watch app also shows the accuracy of the GPS so I know how close the coordinents actually are.

pebble-gps4cam

 

The watch shows elapsed time within 2 seconds of what the phone says after starting the tracking. That is actually the time from the last marker point or “geotag” done on the watch.

By default the “search” or “where I am” part of the watch interface will show the UTM, x and y zones and it defaults to kilometers with no way to adjust for miles. Now, I personally do not use UTM nor do I understand it fully. However, that search screen can be changed to longitude and latitude. After talking with gps4cam about this part of my review, they decided to change the default search screen to longitude and latitude which is far more common for photographers when geotagging photographs.

It’s also worth noting that the search screen also shows altitude with can be useful for hiking.

The Pebble’s middle button is used as a shot marker, or a way to set a geotag point manually. It’s a useful feature to help the gps4cam desktop software sync up the photographs. I use it whenever my location changes enough to warrant a marker. For example, if I am photographing the east side of New York City and my next photograph is on the west side of New York City, I will set a new marker. Using the watch instead of the phone will save the battery life of your phone.

As mentioned my only gripe with the interface is not being able to start or pause tracking from the watch. It’s not gps4cam’s fault for this, though, as they are following the rules set by Pebble. But man that feature would be useful!

Since my initial review of gps4cam, Adobe Lightroom has come out with a feature to import GPS data directly to your images. gps4cam is also now compatible with that, so sync up your Dropbox and import the GPX file(s) to Lightroom and watch the magic happen.

gps4cam instructions

I highly recommend that if you are a gps4cam user to pick up a Pebble watch. In fact, inside of gps4cam Pro is the ability to get a discount on the Pebble watch.  Why? Because your typical camera GPS isn’t also a watch.  Wearable technology can be a beautiful thing.

Thanks for reading and happy shooting,
Scott

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