When to Enable GPS


Today’s Question: Do you only use GPS tracking when you travel or is it on always?

Tim’s Quick Answer: I always keep the GPS antenna enabled on my camera, even though doing so depletes the battery, in large part because I don’t want to risk forgetting to turn the GPS back on if I turn it off.

More Detail: I personally find it helpful (and interesting) to know where I was when I captured a photo. Sometimes I want to be able to determine a location so I can return there to photograph again, sometimes I need a reminder of the location or subject matter for a photo, and sometimes I just find it interesting to review where certain photos were captured or simply to review the map in Lightroom Classic to see the various locations I’ve photographed.

Because I like to be able to see where a given photo was captured, I keep the GPS antenna enabled at all times on my camera. It is important to keep in mind that in order to record GPS coordinates for a photo, the camera must have established an adequate signal from multiple GPS satellites in orbit. Photos captured indoors, for example, will typically not include GPS location information in metadata. An exception to this would be a smartphone used to capture a photo, since the cellular signal can be used to aid in location tracking.

The primary disadvantage of keeping the GPS receiver enabled is battery drain. My experience has been that having the GPS receiver enabled causes my batteries to last about half as long as they otherwise would. In addition, with some cameras (including mine) the battery will drain even if the camera is turned off. For this reason, when I’m not using my camera for an extended period of time, I eject the battery.

Obviously, if you’re confident you’ll remember to turn the GPS antenna back on for your camera when you want to record location data for your photos, then you could certainly disable GPS at times when you don’t feel the need to have location information added to metadata, or when photographing in a situation where you’re not able to obtain a GPS signal in any event, such as with photography indoors.