Today’s Question: After reading some of your posts about using a camera with a built-in GPS receiver, I’m giving thought to an upgrade to such a camera. But I’m wondering if there is a clear indication that the camera actually has a GPS signal, so you have some confidence that you really are recording the location information. Do these cameras have such an indication?
Tim’s Quick Answer: Many cameras that include a built-in GPS receiver do indeed provide some form of indication about whether the camera has acquired a good GPS signal.
More Detail: As you can probably imagine, different cameras have different ways of indicating the status of the GPS feature, and some cameras don’t provide any clear indication of the current status.
With digital SLR cameras that include a built-in GPS feature (or the accessory devices available for cameras without a built-in GPS antenna), there is generally an indication on one of the camera’s displays to let you know if the camera has acquired a good GPS signal.
For example, on my primary camera, there is a “GPS” indicator on the top LED display. When the GPS antenna has been activated in the camera’s settings, that indicator flashes. Once a good GPS signal has been acquired, the indicator becomes solid. Other cameras use different indications, but in most cases you will have some indication that you have a reliable GPS signal, and therefore will have accurate location information embedded in the metadata of your photos.
In most cases when the camera does not have a good GPS signal, no location metadata will be added to the images. However, it is worth noting that in some circumstances photos may have outdated (and inaccurate) location information embedded. For example, I’ve had situations where the first few photos I capture at a new location have location metadata from the previous day’s location.
Of course, checking the status of the GPS signal first can help ensure the most accurate location metadata. So, when looking for a camera that includes a built-in GPS receiver, it is a good idea to also take a look at how the GPS signal status is displayed, so you can help ensure the location information in metadata is accurate for all of your photos.