Location Status

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Today’s Question: You’ve discussed on several occasions the benefits of having a GPS receiver in the camera, so photos can be marked with location information that can be viewed on a map. Sometimes though, you must not have a usable GPS signal. Is there a way to tell on the camera whether you have accurate location information for the photos you capture?

Tim’s Quick Answer: With most cameras there are two options for confirming you have a reliable GPS signal. An indicator on one of the camera’s displays will generally show GPS status, and you can also generally check more detailed information via a menu command on the camera.

More Detail: Many cameras include a built-in GPS receiver that can enable all of your photos to be tagged with precise location information. That information can then be viewed in the image metadata, and in some cases (such as with the Photoshop Elements Organizer or Lightroom) you can even view your photos plotted on a map.

Many cameras that have a built-in GPS receiver also have some form of indication to help you confirm that the camera is currently recording accurate location information for your photos. The specifics of how this information can be found depends on the type of camera you’re using.

For example, some cameras or accessories include a GPS indicator in the form of a colored light that illuminates or a “GPS” indication on one of the displays. Often you’ll find that this indication will change, such as by flashing when there is not a reliable GPS signal, and becoming solid when a good signal has been achieved.

It is also possible with some cameras to access a menu command to either see overall GPS signal status, or to see your current GPS coordinates. Generally, if coordinates are shown, it is an indication that the location information is accurate based on a good signal from the GPS satellites.

Most smartphones don’t have a direct indication of GPS signal information, but you can browse a map or an app that enables you to record GPS track logs in order to confirm the current location information is accurate.

Obviously you’ll need to check your specific camera to determine what type of indication it provides. Once you know how this information is presented, you’ll be able to know when you have accurate location information being added automatically for your photos, and when that information may be missing or inaccurate.