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ATP GPS Picture Tracker - Photofinder - Review

Easily GeoTag or GeoCode Your Jpeg Photos For Picasa and Google Earth, On-The-Go, With This Great Little Device - No PC Required!

ATP GPS Photofinder I was very excited when this little gadget arrived via Fedex from the kind people at ATP, it's their latest product, the Photofinder, a GPS Picture Tracker that allows you to easily embed GPS lat / long positions in your.jpg photographs for use with Picasa, Google Earth, Sat Nav's, or any other application where knowing where your pictures were taken would be useful.

The Photo finder is very easy to set-up and use. Stick a couple of AAA batteries in the back and set it down by a window for a few seconds so that it can get a GPS position and time fix. Then adjust the time on your digital camera so it's the same as on the Photo Finder, and you're ready to take Geotagged images. Easy!

I set out with my trusty Kodak Digital camera and the Photofinder hanging from my belt, and drove down to our local slipway to take some pictures of old ships that the Navy are going to scrap or sell. After taking a few shots I headed home.

To tag the images, I just took the memory card out of my camera and popped it into the SD card slot on the bottom of the unit. It then added the Geotags, and I could then copy them off my cameras memory card and upload them via Picasa to the web, where you can see if you click on the image below. (although I will be adding plenty of images as time goes on..):

If you click on the "view map" tag on the Picasa page you can see exactly where I took the images, and if you've got Google Earth installed you can see them on that too.

Test of ATP GPS Picture Tracker

As you can guess, this little beauty "does exactly what it says on the tin", allowing you to simply geotag your images in a fuss-free, no PC required way. If you get the 128mb version like I've been testing, the Photofinder can record over 550 hours of GPS position data, more than enough for most photographers, professional or amateur alike.

Aside from Picasa and Google Earth, you can use Geotagged images in enabled Satellite Navigation devices, and I'd imagine it would be incredibly useful for surveyors, architects, geocachers, or anyone else who needed to know exactly where they took their images at a later date.

How accurate is the Picture Tracker? ATP publish a margin of error of 10 metres, or about thirty feet, but what does that mean in terms of usability?

To test this I used my Garmin Nuvi 200 GPS Sat Nav, the Picture Tracker, and a location I could pinpoint from Google maps with picasa online. I took a picture of the tracker next to my Garmin GPS in my back garden, which I knew I could see on Google Maps Satellite View. The Garmin gives a read-out of lat / long as a comparison with the Photofinder. The problem is that I don't know which data source is correct. Is a point picked out on Google maps accurate? How accurate is my Garmin GPS? How accurate is the Photo Finder?

As it turns out the Google maps position and my Garmin agreed almost exactly, so it would be fairly safe to use them as our benchmark:

Photofinder Coords
Garmin Coords
Google Map Coords
50.813944 N
1.148278 W
50.8141 N
1.14825 W
50.814108 N
1.148293 W


ATP Picture Tracker Test

So what I've done next is to load up an image tagged by the Picture Tracker and let Picassa place it on the map. Then I've uploaded another image and manually placed it on the map where I actually took the photo. Then I uploaded another image, and placed it where the GPS Sat Nav thought it should be.

Click on the picture to enlarge and get a better look. (Will open in a new Window).

As you can see the Picture Finder tagged image is about 30 feet out, just like ATP say it might be. This was taken in pretty perfect conditions, the Picture Tracker had a good view of the sky for two minutes before and after I took the image, and the camera's clock was synched perfectly.

What does this mean for the usability of the Picture Tracker? Well, if you're going to be using it in Google Earth or Picassa Online in Satellite View at Full Zoom, your pics will need manually moving on the map to their correct locations if you want them inch perfect (doing this won't edit the exif data though). If you're looking at the images from a higher level then it really doesn't matter. It is also important to give the Picture Tracker a fighting chance to tag your pictures correctly, so I advise synching the camera clock before every session, and when you get somewhere to take a picture wait about 30 seconds, take your shots, wait another 30 seconds, then move on.

Now for the technical stuff. The ATP GPS Picture Tracker uses SIRF Star III GPS chipset for high accuracy and positioning, has 128mb of Flash memory, will run for 8 hours on a decent pair of AAA batteries, and has a mini USB socket for connecting to your PC, and an SD card slot built in for SD/MMC/MS memory cards.

To check if your camera is directly compatible, download the user manual, and go to page 15. I get the feeling that this is the cameras that ATP have tested the Photo Finder on, lots of more cameras are directly compatible (that is you can use the built-in card reader) but they haven't got round to testing them yet. If you do find your camera isn't compatible after buying the Picture Tracker, ATP recommend you use a card reader (see below).

A word of caution to those with D-SLR's. I have read and recieved a few notes from users who have high end cameras, D-SLR's that even when using a card reader the Picture Finder can't write the GPS data to their pics. What they have to do is copy the images to a SD card, then the unit can tag them. Could be an issue with the PictureFinder's ability to write to high capacity CF Compact Flash Card Media.

It ships with the unit, USB cable, instructions and a handy lanyard and carabina to clip to your belt, so all you need to buy is a couple of AAA alkaline batteries.

Using the ATP Photofinder has rekindled my interest in Amateur photography, it has been great taking loads of images and sharing them with friends and relatives via Picasa and showing them exactly where I took them - you really feel like you're contributing to the knowledge of the World when people can look at Google Maps or Google Earth, then click on one of your photos to get a real persons view of that area too.

Highly recommended, great fun and easy to use. Get one now!

Update: Now I've been using this photo tagger for a few days, I've got a few hints and tips. Firstly always use a fairly new SD card, I tried to use one that was about 5 years old and the Photofinder couldn't write to it. I copied the photos to another card and it worked fine. Next up always use really good batteries. I put some cheapo jobs in and they went flat after about two days, halfway through a photo session, and the GPS log on the device was lost. Luckily it was only a dozen or so images, so not the end of the world. Finally the PhotoFinder works best if you go out for a day, take loads of pics, then geotag them all at once at the end rather than as you're going along, it seemed to go quicker that way, and I had no problems with geotagging at all.

GPS tracker with cf card

Update: Several people have been disapointed that you can't plug Compact Flash cards straight into the ATP GPS Picture Tracker in order to Geotag your images.

This can be done however without a pc , you just need to use the lead that came with the tracker, a card reader and an extra USB-mini usb lead (which probably came with the reader.)

GPS tracker atached to reader

Just plug the reader into the mini usb jack on the back of the GPS tracker, then put the CF card into the reader.

The tracker will recognise the images and tag them with lat / long appropriately.

No PC required!


Picture Tracker with S5700

Update: I'm pleased to announce that the ATP Picture Tracker is compatible with my new Fujifilm Finepix S5700, I just popped the SD card in and all my pics were tagged.

At last I can now have a go at taking some half decent pics (but I've got lots to learn!).


The Earth
Send us your Geotagged photographs! Once you've got some tagged images, check out our Geotagged Image Library and send us your pics! Who can take the most imaginative pics in the most interesting places?

Comments / Questions:

This thing is a piece of crap. It sucks the life out of brand new duracell batteries in a couple of hours. The display is nearly impossible to read. The process of tagging photos is NOT intuitive. I have the card reader and still can't get my photos on a CF card to get tagged. I've tried it through my computer, and I can't get it to find the photos that I've downloaded even though I have highlighted the folder. I absolutely hate this product and wish I hadn't wasted $100 on everything. Greg.

Take it back and get a refund, sounds like you've got a duff one.

You make great play in the fact that the system does not require a PC. However, would it be possible to upload the images and associated location tags to a PC for mapping on a GIS system for example?

Also what datum does the unit use? Kevan.

Its not obvious which datum it uses, I've checked the documentation too, I would guess WGS84, but I could be wrong, contact ATP. The unit acts like a usb mass storage device, so you can pull the log files off to use with third party software on your pc, in fact if you go to ATP's site, they now provide a desktop application for those that have trouble geotagging "on the go".

I recently received the latest version of this product from ATP.   It seems to work better that the previous version I was testing.   I still have to copy photos from my CF card to an SD card to get it to work though.   It even has a feature to export KML files now. Tim.

Great! I'll try and get a review model.

It sounded such a useful device, I jumped at the chance to get one of these in the UK. We bought ours from www.easydevices.co.uk for about £80, together with a card reader which you need if you want to tag images on Compact Flash cards. The USB socket on the ATP reader is mini-USB2, so you need to use the included dongle in order to connect most USB card readers.

The ATP does the job, but there are shortcomings:

1. the battery life can be pretty dire. I managed to record about an hour's track with a pair of new alkaline AAAs from Superdrug, but there wasn't enough juice when I got back to geotag the files. I thoroughly recommend the use of top-brand batteries, like Duracell, or get yourself some high capacity NiMHs from the likes of play.com

2. the display is extremely difficult to see. In order to save power, the backlight goes off about about five seconds. If you've taken a lot of photos, the geotagging process can take a long time and without the display on, you have no idea that its still working.

3. time for GPS acquisition from cold is very long - you have to wait a good five minutes before the device will start logging your position.

4. the KML track files that the device creates are not correctly date-stamped. Given the device has such a large storage capacity, you can end up with a lot of track files in the device (which you can then copy to your SD card), but they are all datestamped 1st Jan 2007.

I think the GPS accuracy issue is common to all small, portable GPS devices - they've never going to work that well in built-up environments since the receivers all require a clear view of the sky to operate properly.

Great comments, I'll pass them on.

Will the unit work with a camera that has the photos written to a sub folder? Example my Pentax DSLR has a Route folder called DCM and the sub folder called 100PENTX with the photos? Thanks. Joel.

When using pics from my Fujifilm, which are stored in a sub-folder, the tagger works fine. However, before you decide on the ATP, check out the Qstarz Tagger.

I bought one of these from Easydevices in the UK shortly after they became availalbe. Big problems getting it to work and also problems getting it to transfer data to my CF cards. I sorted out the transfer problems through Easydevices service department, but the unit itself still seems to take forever to get a position, if it ever does. I went to Australia recently and had to give up using the unit as even in Alice Springs it would not get a signal at all.
For a device that is supposed to log your position it is( or mine is at least) useless for situations where, for instance, you are driving along, see something you want to take a photo of, get out of the car, quick photo, back in the car and drive on. The unit will work in the car so you have to wait what seems a long time for it to get a signal after you get out, if it ever does, before taking the picture. Therefore the whole reason for the unit, to tell you where the picture was taken, has failed.
Also Easydevices seem to have lost interest in these problems. Chris.

I've received a number of emails about this product not working properly, I've forwarded them all to ATP, all I can say is the one I have works fine, but I know that doesn't help you at all. I hope this doesn't put you off geotagging your images, I'm currently trying out this unit, and it seems much more reliable than the ATP.

I have tried, I have really tried, but I can not get my unit to give me the correct location. The first time it tagged my pictures with a location in Australia (im in Colorado)next few times it targeted a location in Eastern Kansas (im still in Colorado) I have read and synchronized the clocks and tried over and over again....no luck. Wayne.

Not sure why you're having problems (unless you have a faulty unit.) This is what I do if I'm going to use the Photo Finder to tag some pics.

Before I set off I turn the ATP on and leave it outside for 5 minutes.
Take my camera outside and synchronise the time on the camera to that on the ATP.
Pop the ATP in my jacket chest pocket, and head out to take some pics.
When I get home I take the SD card out of my camera, pop it into the ATP and get it to tag the pics while I make a cup of coffee.
Upload the pics to Picassa online, then look at them in Google Earth if I want to.

Good luck, send it back if it still doesn't work!

Very useful review, plese test it with various cameras and then write your review again. Thanks now for good info. I have also ordered. Thakur.

Thanks for the comments! Sorry, I've only got two cameras, so that's all I can test it with!

I just receivied your ATP Photo Finder thru a order I sent to Costco. I Did not receive the Carabiner with the order. Andre.

Sorry, I don't sell the picture tracker, I just reviewed it, and they may have changed the specification. You should contact Costco or ATP.
Hope you enjoy using it.

Hi, this seems to be a fantastic product and i am so very tempted to order one right now from easydevices.co.uk for my photos!
I am wondering though, whether the GPS data can be used to plot car journeys, I have always wanted to see where my random travels have taken me, also useful for any mini runs that i go on. I seem to just follow the leader on these but i would love to find out where exactly i have been! Of course, i doubt there would be a plugin for google earth that would allow me to do this simply, but i would be interested to know whether the GPS data is accessible and easy enough to read/enter into a database and from there plot a course, so to speak...

If you go to gpsvisualizer.com you can upload gps log files directly from the picture tracker and it can output a number of different map styles, including google earth .kml tracks.
Click on the images below for larger examples. (Will open a new window.)

Google Maps Track Google Earth Track

Right, I've done a video that shows the technique a little better:

A fairly good alternative to the Red Hen Blue2can which is great but costly. Would I be correct in assuming that:
a) this is reasonably waterproof - at least as far as rain and snow goes
b) it will not lose a track log when you change the batteries
Can it only read files from flash cards or could one feasibly download photographs to a portable hard drive and sync the GPS log data on that? Nick.

a) I would say that the unit is shower-proof only. The mini-usb / SD card slot is only covered by a rubber cover that could let in water if immersed.
b) All track logs are stored to flash memory, so are not lost between battery changes. You could lose a log if you allowed the batteries to flatten while it was recording a log. (There is a low battery power warning light).
The phototracker works best with SD cards, but it can handle CF through an attatched card reader, though there have been some compatibility issues. The unit would not sync images on the portable hard drive, but you could copy them on to an SD card and then they would be tagged.

Hello! Just one question: When you will release the second version with CF and CR2 file format support?
I wish, it will be very useful device for Canon photographers. Romario.

Not sure about that one, but keep an eye on the ATP Website for news,

You can buy from The UK distributor, www.easydevices.co.uk, heres the link: ATP Photofinder.



It´s crazy, that ATP forgot the CF card reader. Is the ATP GPS photo finder able to copy the data into a RAW file like CR2 from Canon? Axel.

I've added some pics of how to use a card reader to tag CF cards above.
As for the RAW / CR2 formats, I think the Picture tracker only works with jpeg files.

Thank you for the fast information. I think, it is not okay, when ATP publish a "Camera Compatibility List", if it works only with the global jpg format, which is independent from the cameras. :) Axel.

If the basic Picture Tracker is a sucess maybe ATP will a release a "pro" version with built in CF reader and support for RAW and other file formats, but I guess the majority of Digital Camera users still rely on jpg, like myself.

Hi, The ATP looks cool, am I correct that you can plug a camera into the USB port to transfer data to other card media. I have a Nikon D70s. I have read most of the reviews but none of the sites are clear about this. I use a Mac, so if this is possible it would be a godsend. All the best. Huw.

I don't think you can use the Photofinder like that, the usb is for connecting to your computer to back-up your gps data.
Now what is true is that when connected to a PC the photofinder appears as a mass storage device, and if there's a storage card in it, that appears as an external drive. If your camera has a built-in file viewer that can access external devices, then you might be able to copy between the camera and an SD card inserted into the Photofinder, but it’s a bit of a long shot, and not mentioned in the manual.
I wouldn't buy a Photofinder on the basis of what you want to do.

Thanks for that, I'll have to keep looking for a unit that will work with my Mac without having to install the dreaded windows :-)

Why do you need windows?

I assumed I'd need windows for the data loggers to work. This is why I thought ATP was ideal apart from not taking CF cards. Can you advise me of which units will work with my Mac.

The idea of the ATP photofinder is that you don't need a pc or mac to geotag images. I've added a new section to the review showing you how to tag photos stored on a CF card, still without a pc.
Hope that clears things up!

That looks the ticket, Sorry to be a pain but......... what lead are you using on the ATP, I thought they were Male ended. Did you use a gender adapter? or does it come with it?
Thanks again for all your help, all I need to do is find a supplier. I emailed ATP and they gave me two email addresses, neither replied.
I'll just have to wait. I'm so glad you were able to answer my questions.

The white short lead in the pictures comes with the Picture Tracker, it's male mini-usb to female USB. The long black lead is male usb to male mini-usb, which came with my card reader.
Original plans for distribution said that large quantities were to hit the shops early 2008, so I guess we should be seeing them soon!

Thanks again for your advice, I have been lucky in obtaining one from Borge.com.au for £84 ($191asd) inc shipping.
Here's to tagging my life and Photos, how sad am I :-). I'll give you an update when I've got it.

Great News!

Your product ATP GPS photo finder seems interesting from where and how much can I buy in usa or uk? Thakur.

Unfortunately no one is selling The ATP photofinder yet - the unit I got was a review model. Should be available soon.

Fantastic concept, but suggestions for v2:
1. CF card reader also, so that it will be useful to users of higher-end cameras such as Canon DSLR's.
2. Instead of requiring AAA's, utilize an interchangable rechargable lithium ion battery which can be charged via USB port with a 12V/car or AC USB power adapter (and include both adapters in the package). Scotty.

Great ideas., I'll pass them on to ATP.

I've been trying to get the ATP GPS Photofinder and I've emailed to the ATP customer service, Mr Steven – and Borge's Imaging Australia.There were no reply from them. Emailed them in late October.
Good to know that you were able to get it. Where can I get one? Imran.

I think ATP are still sorting out distributors in Europe, North America and the rest of the world, I guess we'll see them at Amazon, Expansys, etc as soon as these channels come on line. The unit I got was a review one - it really is a great product, easy to use, etc, and would have been a great stocking-filler for Christmas. I tried to get in touch with my contacts at ATP but the emails bounced back - maybe problems with their mail server.

Reply: Thanks for the information about the current situation with the ATP GPS photo finder.
I've been using the Sony GPS-CS1 and would like to upgrade to the ATP GPS as the Sony GPS is not using the SiRFstar III chipset. Imran.

Update from ATP: Hi! We don't have many distributors for now. But you can get it directly from us by emailing our sales at cynthiatsai@tw.atpinc.com


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