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11-20-2011, 03:05 PM   #1
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Evaluating the GPS device for the K-5

Well, I just got my Pentax 0-GPS1 GPS device for the K-5, which has been on back order for months. Here are some observations.

Negative:

According to the manual, it's necessary to re-calibrate the device whenever the GPS unit is removed from the camera and re-attached. Look, I don't want to use it for every shot, and it makes the camera too bulky to fit in a carry case well. Re-calibration is a PITA, involving twisting the camera over 180 degrees in three different axis orientations, after finding the GPS section in the camera menu and then waiting for confirmation. It took me three tries and over 3 minutes to calibrate the last time I had to. This procedure requires that you take the camera's neck strap off of your neck; the manual says "don't drop the camera." No s***, Sherlock. Gimme a procedure where there is no risk of this, OK?

The manual says the device has a green or yellow light to confirm satellite acquisition. Mine has neither - a red light for battery depletion, and blue light. The blue light blinks when acquiring the satellites, and is steady when it is locked on. You'd think whoever wrote the manual would know the difference between yellow, green and blue. This kind of stuff is usually learned pre-kindergarten.

The GPS coordinates are given in degrees and minutes. Most modern GPS references give coordinates in decimally-described degrees. So then, to convert to the most-used protocol, you have to divide the given figure for minutes by 60. The camera might say, for example, a latitude of 33 degrees and 33.5522 minutes. To convert to decimal degrees, you have to divide 33.5523 minutes by 60, giving you a decimal equivalent of 33.5592033 degrees. Then you can plot the location on Google Earth or some similar program. You'd think that you could program the device to give a readout in decimal degrees rather than degrees and minutes. I strongly suggest this for the next software upgrade - Pentax, are you listening???? It's not ichi-ban!!!

In summary here, inasmuch as I will take the device on and off again for carry convenience, and so as not to have GPS data show up in the metadata when I want to post pictures on the internet, I dislike having to laboriously re-calibrate each time I re-attach it, and having to have to have a calculator handy to convert to decimal degrees. Would it be too much to ask for automatic calibration whenever it's turned on, and to give the option of a readout in decimal degrees? And to update the damn instruction manual, which by the way is first written in Japanese (another annoyance for us Westerners)?

Positive:

At least it works.

I know I'm a certified curmudgeon, but I paid $250 for this item, and it's way below acceptable in usage and documentation . It needs to be better thought out; I hope a software upgrade and a re-write of the manual will correct these things.

Any other comments from those of you who use it? What's it going to take to get Pentax to pick up its dropped ball here?

John


Last edited by PALADIN85020; 11-20-2011 at 03:25 PM.
11-20-2011, 03:34 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by PALADIN85020 Quote

The manual says the device has a green or yellow light to confirm satellite acquisition. Mine has neither - a red light for battery depletion, and blue light. The blue light blinks when acquiring the satellites, and is steady when it is locked on. You'd think whoever wrote the manual would know the difference between yellow, green and blue. This kind of stuff is usually learned pre-kindergarten.

John
When looking at the menu on the camera the light in the shape of a sat will indeed change to those colors.
11-20-2011, 03:45 PM   #3
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And you don't have to recalibrate each time, only if the battery in the GPS has been removed or depleted, in my experience.

And to plot on google earth, use a tool that plots on google earth directly from exif. Like irfanview for instance, no need to manually calculate anything, just hit "e" for exif info and press "show in google earth".
11-20-2011, 03:57 PM   #4
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My experience has been that you only need to calibrate the device if you are using the compass function. For simple GPS use, the calibration exercise can be ignored.

11-20-2011, 04:32 PM   #5
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People seem to have some kind of problem with the calibration. I have never seen this as for me I can leave the strap on my neck and it is so fast for me that I sometimes wonder if it is doing anything. I can have it calibrated before it can find the satellites. I have used many different GPS units and what format of DMS they give is not standard and from what I have seen most online sites will take just about anything if the can recognize it as Lat Lon. The biggest thing I have have seen with online sites is were you put the EWNS or the minus symbol.


As for posting on line the Lat Lon I just record any and all photos with the geo data as it is so easy to strip off if I don't want it out. Some online post sites have tools for your location data protection like flickr. On flickr it comes with the option to display the location data off so even if you post there no one will automatic see it. You can then go to the map and if you want to show it turn it on (or even move it) for just that one photo. If you turn on the auto show location you can put a fence around places you don't want the location data seen then flickr will not show data for those places.


Now I do agree the manual could be better. The part on the simple navigation is real bad. It took me a while to figure that part out. Of the GPS logging systems I have looked at it is the simplest and the only one that you can have the data in the camera in RAW with the direction the photo was taken.


I do wish it had a symbol on the camera for when it had down loaded the augmentation data.


DAZ
11-20-2011, 05:24 PM   #6
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I use Aperture, which allows me to just locate a couple pictures on a google map after I load my GPS track file, and it accurately fills in the exif information and puts pins at the right location on the map to show you where the picture was taken.



As I click through the picture in my project, the arrow follows along on the map, showing me where each one was taken. I guess if you don't have a GPS that isn't an option, but if you on a MAC and are using APerture, any USB GPS will get you up and running. Once you've uploaded your hike or whatever, and loaded your start and end points, every picture in the project will have had it's exif information updated to include GPS location.

I've seen other software that functions pretty much the same way.

Last edited by normhead; 11-20-2011 at 05:30 PM.
11-21-2011, 01:37 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
My experience has been that you only need to calibrate the device if you are using the compass function. For simple GPS use, the calibration exercise can be ignored.
Same here.
Calibration only needed for compass, and Astrotracer functions.
11-23-2011, 02:46 PM   #8
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I use a Garmin Dakota 20.
It is a very handy GPS, with many more functions than just geotagging.
For our trip through Botswana, Namibia and Cape Town I used it for street navigation, off road navigation, predefined way points, compass and finding the nearest gas station (a problem in Africa) or the lodge we were staying.

Besides the very good Garmin maps, you can also load custom maps.
Like the extremely detailed and very up-to-date Tracks4Africa maps, the topo maps for countries, maps for bicylce riders, hores riders etc.

With small laptop on the road I geotag JPG, DNG and PEF files (I stopped using PEF by the way).
The program I use is the free copy of Geosetter.
It is very versatile and user friendly.

A screen copy:

Name:  Knipsel.JPG
Views: 680
Size:  130.1 KB

The Dakota 20 is very small and I just turn it on and put it in my photo bag....
It runs on 2 standard AA NiMh batteries for a day or 2.
Just make sure to carry an extra set of batteries.
The interface is touch screen and it can do other fun things like geocaching etc.



Here the Dakota 20 is a little cheaper than a O-GPS 1.
The difference is € 195 for the Dakota versus € 199 for the O-GPS1

Still I prefer the Garmin.... I guess DSLR makers should half the price to make it competitive. And No, I do not use my camera to make long exposure star photo's.


Bert

11-26-2011, 02:19 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by LeFanch Quote
Same here.
Calibration only needed for compass, and Astrotracer functions.
I'm sure the calibration needs of Pentax are not unlike Garmin's hand held GPSs. For the greatest accuracy you would calibrate more frequently but especially when new batteries are put in or you fly off to a distant destination. Even when turning it off and then back on again the GPS will benefit from calibration however that is only if you want and need the most accurate positioning that it is capable of providing. Most of the time I don't even bother when I change my batteries on my Garmin 62s and it is still very accurate. I use it for everything; especially geocaching. I'm sure that the Pentax GPS is a similar device with similar positives and negatives as any GPS. Normally you don't need the absolute highest accuracy so re-calibration need only be done when you fly or drive far enough away that the new location would cause false readings. Otherwise you just turn it on and enjoy.

Having said that, I'm not sure that I want something that large on my K-5. I hope that Pentax and Garmin will get together and produce an attachment that is no bigger than a large watch. Once that happens, you can put me down for one.
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