Photography and Cameras: Is The GPS Feature Necessary Or Just Nice?

 We love to multi-task. It is common to see people tending to their children as they talk on their cell phone. In some instances, it is common to see people walking while texting! People are not the only ones who multi-task however. Today, it is common to have phones that play music, take pictures, and store information.

Cameras have changed since the turn of the century. Today, cameras are used to create art as well as to take pictures of major life events.  Currently, some camera manufacturers are placing GPS chips in their cameras. This is helpful in one way: you can tell exactly where you were when you took a certain photo. While some people think that this is the best thing since sliced bread, other people are horrified. In some circles, this neat new technology twist could be construed as a privacy breach.  The truth is that most people fall somewhere in between the two extreme viewpoints.

For the average person, retagging is a great concept. This is especially true if you tend to take a lot of photos. The reality is that you may not remember why you took a certain photo or where you were when you took that photo when you finally get a chance to look through the images on your phone.

Most people today have face book accounts. The majority of the people with such accounts post photos of themselves and their loved ones on the website. Don’t be fooled into thinking that your information is safe if you have set your privacy settings to the highest settings available. The fact is that anything on a public website is potentially public knowledge. Facebook also codes images with metadata tags which in essence are geotags. Other sites like Flickr and even Picassa do not do this. This is due mainly to copyright issues, not to protect privacy.

To be truthful, I don’t see any great value added to cameras that have these GPS chips installed.  In fact, adding another electronic component to a camera may actually decrease the life of the camera’s battery. Since the battery life of electronic cameras is already low, this is a bit of a concern.

In addition, to use the retagging option, you will need to actually get the retagging option to work. This process involves getting your camera to communicate correctly with the GPS satellite in order to properly tag the photos. If this doesn’t happen, you will get an error message. In my experience, this can happen quite regularly. The reality is that this is so very frustrating that it makes me think twice about using my camera, let alone the tagging option.
There is another option that many do not think about when purchasing a camera with the GPS chip.  If you are taking photos indoors, in a tunnel, or in a dense forest, you will probably not be able to get a signal from the satellite. This means that you won’t be able to tag your photos using the GPS chip anyway.

The bottom line is: is it worth the extra cost to purchase a camera that has the GPS chip? In my humble opinion, the answer is no. If you are one of “those people” that need the latest gadget in order to make you feel important, you may feel differently.
For the rest of us, the reality is that there is some work still needed to perfect this technology. Right now, it is more likely that you’ll be paying extra to get an option that will work correctly only for a small percentage of the time that you will be using your camera.

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