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09-13-2016, 11:23 AM   #1
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Compass Heading

So I just order a K3 II and the DA*16-50. I went with this camera because of the GPS and Compass built in. I have a very specific need for those settings on a NPS project. Can anyone give some information on how well this works and with what accuracy? Any tips and suggestions? Thanks

09-13-2016, 02:26 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by landscaped1 Quote
So I just order a K3 II and the DA*16-50. I went with this camera because of the GPS and Compass built in. I have a very specific need for those settings on a NPS project. Can anyone give some information on how well this works and with what accuracy? Any tips and suggestions? Thanks
I have frequently controlled GPS and compass heading accuracy using the Geosetter software, (GeoSetter). I have found that GPS data is usually very accurate - within, say, 10 meters. Electronic Compass heading is a different story: It is based upon a magnetic reading and your geographical position, using some kind of tabular correction/interpolation for the magnetic declination. Expect some + 5% uncertainty at the best. Strong, very localized magnetic disturbances can make the uncertainties much larger.


I would believe that the O-GPS1 external and the K-3II internal units have more or less the same specs. See O-GPS1 specs here: Specifications | GPS UNIT O-GPS1 | RICOH IMAGING


My own experiences with the O-GPS1: http://gyes.eu/photo/reviews_tutorials/pentax_o-gps1.htm
09-13-2016, 03:30 PM   #3
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Thanks Stone. I've been using a data logger via smartphone app(Geo Tracker). It's accuracy is pretty good but lacked the compass/heading functionality, since you had to marry the data log with the photos once back at the computer, which causes a workflow issue. I use gpicsync as I didn't have good luck with geosetter software (I will relook into it tho after seeing your review). I am easily able to merge the two files and get good accuracy with this method it just doesn't allow for direction, which is a requirement.

I plan on still using the data logger as a back up just in case. Most of the shots should be easy to determine heading but on a 60+ acre site with areas of limited to no landmarks is where my concern lies. I'm hoping the headings will be relatively accurate, but I will know sooner then later as this project starts in a few weeks!

Thanks for the link to your review, it helps to see others have used it with success. Camera will be here end of week so I should have some time to test before use.
09-13-2016, 11:11 PM   #4
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I'v had the O-GPS1 unit for several years now, primarily for astro on both my K5 and K5IIs. I do have to thank you and stone for pointing out GeoSetter. I knew that there must be something out there like this utility, but I never went searching for it. To your question. I should have used GPS more than what I have, but I went back into my archives and went looking for some data to add to what I had already observed. Here are what I have come across...
  • Compass Bearing Accuracy - Two items come to mind.
  1. I have a set of 5 Bracketed images that were taken on a tripod that I stacked (for HDR) and they aligned perfectly, so I know that the camera did not move. However, using GeoSetter - I can move from image to image and watch the compass bearing change. 1 degree, 5 degrees, etc. much more that what you would expect. I can provide the images, but when your body arrives, I would suggest this as a good test. Now, I was right next to the base of a 100 foot cliff and a stream. Variations with the GPS signal could be multipathing, but compass bearing should not be affected by this.
  2. When using the GPS in astrotrace mode, the camera body simulates a barn door tracker, essentially mathematically aligning its calculations to the north pole. This makes the accuracy of the compass of primary importance. Images under a minute come out pretty good. Over a minute the stars along the edges and corners start to trail. I am chalking this up to compass error that accumulates over time (1 to 5 minutes). Also, see the K1 compass thread below...
  • GPS Location Accuracy - This is based on the LightRoom Map utility. The main item that comes to mind for location accuracy, I was up on a small mountain ridge, shooting for a hour or so, in one location - not moving. When I loaded everything into LightRoom, I took a look at the map and it had my location somewhat bouncing around +/- 5 to 10 meters, which is not too bad, considering I was about 150 meters from some FAA landing instruments for a nearby airport. RF interference could easily account for this.
Here is a thread about the compass in the new K1. It is interesting reading. I am going to somewhat defend Pentax to a degree on this. The camera bodies are consumer electronics, and the primary purpose is not navigation or acting as a compass. The size, weight, power, cost along with its implementation and packaging really produce a lot of limitations. Now, having typed that - I wish it were a lot more accurate. I would also guess, that the electronic compass is probably the same through out the various Pentax implementations - O-GPS1, K3II and K1.Now what I have not done is to use the camera/gps as a "transit". There is a mountain near by that I sort of use as a lab. Coupled with Google Earth, along a road, I can locate myself at a known position within a foot. With the camera up on a tripod, I can shoot various landmarks. In this way, I can use google earth as somewhat of a ground truth and pull the bearings off of it to compare with the images GPS location and compass bearing.




Last edited by interested_observer; 09-13-2016 at 11:20 PM.
09-15-2016, 03:14 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by interested_observer Quote
Here is a thread about the compass in the new K1. It is interesting reading. I am going to somewhat defend Pentax to a degree on this. The camera bodies are consumer electronics, and the primary purpose is not navigation or acting as a compass. The size, weight, power, cost along with its implementation and packaging really produce a lot of limitations. Now, having typed that - I wish it were a lot more accurate. I would also guess, that the electronic compass is probably the same through out the various Pentax implementations - O-GPS1, K3II and K1.
So I just got the camera today. I'm not new to pentax. It is a brand I am very familiar with as one of the first DSLR cameras I owned was a K20D. So I totally understand the amount of tech vs price argument.

However, thus far I have been pleasantly surprised with my first (very brief) walk around test. I can easily live with +/- 5* or even 10 for that matter. I have not had the time to put it on a tripod to test out how much jitter exist in the GPS or Compass, but will definitely try that. I used Geosetter to review the images to see location and heading and most were well within my tolerance threshold. Next steps will be seeing how I can integrate this EXIF data seamlessly into ESRI's GIS mapping...But that will be a whole other project.

Next question: Do you know if the data log has to be on for the compass heading to work? I had it running for my first walk, but don't know how necessary it is, however the track is very accurate so far as I can tell which is very promising.

So far only thing is I wish I would have bought the battery grip too. Hate how my fingers fall off the bottom and really miss the extra shutter release. Lens seems adequate but not as good as I had hoped. Seems a little soft wide open at 2.8 even in full light and 100iso and the focus ring is really tight in places and not very smooth. But those are just first impressions and I will see how it goes.
09-15-2016, 04:46 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by landscaped1 Quote
So I just got the camera today. I'm not new to pentax. It is a brand I am very familiar with as one of the first DSLR cameras I owned was a K20D. So I totally understand the amount of tech vs price argument.

However, thus far I have been pleasantly surprised with my first (very brief) walk around test. I can easily live with +/- 5* or even 10 for that matter. I have not had the time to put it on a tripod to test out how much jitter exist in the GPS or Compass, but will definitely try that. I used Geosetter to review the images to see location and heading and most were well within my tolerance threshold. Next steps will be seeing how I can integrate this EXIF data seamlessly into ESRI's GIS mapping...But that will be a whole other project.

Next question: Do you know if the data log has to be on for the compass heading to work? I had it running for my first walk, but don't know how necessary it is, however the track is very accurate so far as I can tell which is very promising.

So far only thing is I wish I would have bought the battery grip too. Hate how my fingers fall off the bottom and really miss the extra shutter release. Lens seems adequate but not as good as I had hoped. Seems a little soft wide open at 2.8 even in full light and 100iso and the focus ring is really tight in places and not very smooth. But those are just first impressions and I will see how it goes.
I'm pleased that your happy with the new equipment - I am somewhat envious. From what you previously posted, I really did not have a clue as to what amount of precision and accuracy your use could tolerate. I was pretty impressed with the GeoSetter application for what it is.

ESRI GIS takes me back at least 10 - 15 years. I really like the company and their products. At the time, we were developing the most aggressive real time fully integrated embedded mapping / imagery system that they had encountered. My error requirements were well under sub meter and within parts of a degree. I knew a lot of their software development staff and most of their technical leads. You should be able to pretty easily put together an app to do just about anything you would want.I would not expect the data logging to be on for the gps to tag the images with both location and compass bearing data - just the gps to be on and at least 4 satellites to be acquired and locked. I just have a K5IIs with the O-GPS1 and having the units attached (hot shoe) and on, is more than sufficient.


Last edited by interested_observer; 09-15-2016 at 05:04 PM.
09-16-2016, 06:39 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by interested_observer Quote
I would not expect the data logging to be on for the gps to tag the images with both location and compass bearing data - just the gps to be on and at least 4 satellites to be acquired and locked. I just have a K5IIs with the O-GPS1 and having the units attached (hot shoe) and on, is more than sufficient.

I agree. All information is written to the images' EXIF data and can be read from Geosetter (View -> Image Info(ExifTool):




Or one can download the executable version of ExifTool by Phil Harvey and get the data from there:





Either way you will get a lot of more or less useful information including tilt of camera ('roll angle'), altitude of optical axis ('pitch angle'), camera temperature, number of GPS satellites connected to, atomic clock GPS-time, true north compass heading and geographical co-ordinates.
09-16-2016, 07:01 AM   #8
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Thanks for the links! The first on is great. The second one is similar to what I was having to do with my other cameras. GPS log then time sync the camera then marry log to photos. It's nice that Pentax squeezed all that into the camera. Makes processing the photos much easier not having to marry GPS log with photo.

Do ya'll find the high iso is still lacking in the K3II? I was hoping that it would be better. (Don't really need it but was a little disappointed in the grainy nature of indoor shots last night). However I throw my Metz flash on there and it was quite good. So there's that option.

---------- Post added 09-16-2016 at 09:04 AM ----------

Stone thanks for pointing out the EXIF readout in GeoSetter. I was using PhotoMe to look at the EXIF. It's nice having it all right there in Geosetter. I'll be using the compass heading when referencing the photographs in the report.

Thanks Guys this has been very helpful information! Now to do some testing this weekend.

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