What’s in the box
- 1x GP-E2 GPS receiver unit
- 1x Carrying case
- 1x soft storage case
- 1x instruction manual
- 1x cd with Canon Map Utility software
- 1x short connection cable (about 25cm)
- 1x long connection cable (about 1.5m)
- warranty papers
The GP-E2 unit
The unit has
- one dial that has 3 positions:
- On: The GPS receiver connects to the GPS satellite and if successful, adds the location coordinates in each image file upon being captured.
- Log: The GPS acts like the On mode and logs every change of location.
- 2 lights:
- Batt: Indicates the battery level. Slow blinking means good, fast blinking mean little power left.
- GPS: Indicates the GPS signal status: Slow blinking means signal is acquired, fast blinking means not connected.
- 1 connection port: enables to connect the GPS unit the either a camera or a computer.
- 1 battery compartment: accepts 1x AA battery.
The On mode
This mode is the most basic of the two. Once activated, the GPS establishes a connection with the satellite and each time you press the shutter the GPS coordinates, elevation (with a good signal) and orientation (when enabled) are added to the image metadata, whether it is a JPG or a RAW.
The Log mode
This mode is the most powerful one as it provides everything the basic On mode does and also generates a trace of one moves. Not only this can be used to see the moves on a map afterwards but will enable one to geotag photos taken with cameras that were either not connected to the GP-E2 unit or simply not compatible.
The GP-E2 creates 1 log file per day and uses the UTC time to define what a day is.
The GPS Device settings
The GPS settings can be reached in the wrench section of the camera menu. From there one can set the following:
- Time set automatically from the satellite
- The frequency of the Ping to the satellite
- Enabling/disabling the Digital Compass which uses the magnetic north (not the true north)
- GPS information
- Digital compass calibration
Battery life in Log mode*1. Capacity when logging eight hours per day *2. Battery life when using an AA/LR6 alkaline battery and operating at room temperatures.Battery life will be shorter if used in areas with poor GPS signal reception.
Adobe LightroomOnce imported inside Lightroom the geotagged photographs can be identified by the little icon in the right bottom corner of the image preview and the GPS field in the metadata panel:
These images can be seen on a world map in the Map module which also has a metadata panel with additional information:
MapUtility enables us to set the GP-E2 like one can when connected to the camera. But the main purpose of this software is to view the already geotagged photographs (RAW or JPEG), the log trace and even geotag any other images that were captured with a different camera.
The view is very similar to the Lightroom Map module since they both rely on GoogleMap but the Canon software has a graphical indicator of the direction the camera was pointed to (whereas in Lightroom it is only mentioned in the metadata panel):
Geotag photographs from within MapUtility
This requires having a log from the GP-E2 matching the time the photographs were taken.
Here a photograph taken with the Canon 60D which is not compatible with the GP-E2:
Below is the view once the log file has been imported in MapUtility. The log files are copied to the following folder on the mac (similar path on windows): /Users/~/Documents/Canon Utilities/GPS Log Files.
Here is the same photograph but after the log file has been imported:
All is needed is to click on the Auto+ button:
And MapUtility finds the location the photograph was taken from based on its timestamp and the location recorded in the log file at that same time:
Once saved, the GPS coordinates are written into the photograph whether it is a RAW or a JPEG file:
One can notice that while the orientation information is not added as we would expect given it is something that comes from the magnetic compass inside the PG-E2 and not the GPS satellite itself, there is no elevation information. I personally do not understand why since this is known from the GPS.
Geotag photographs from a GPX file
In case one does not have the Canon GP-E2 unit and still wishes to geotag the photographs this is still feasible. All one really needs is a GPX file. This can be obtained with a mobile app as shown in the video or from a GPS handheld device.
The required steps could not be any simpler:
In the Lightroom, select the folder containing the photographs to be tagged. Go to the Map module and click on the little wave icon located under the map:
Select load Tracklog (GPX file only) and the trace will appear on the map.
Select the photographs to be tagged, hit the wave icon again and click on “Auto tag the selected photos”. That is it!
Lightroom and GP-E2 log file
In order to geotag photos, Lightroom requires a GPX file as mentioned above. The log file generated by the GP-E2 is a “.log” and is not accepted by Lightroom. What can be done is, from MapUtility, export the log for GoogleEarth and it will generate a KMZ file which is essentially a zip containing a Google Earth (Keyhole) Markup Language “KML” file. That file can then be converted to a GPS XML “GPX” file using a free tool called GPSBabel.
I have tested it it works just fine but it is a heavy process when compared to using MapUtility to geotag the RAW or JPEG files.
What to do with the Log traces?
If one does not need to geotag photographs taken with another camera (like in my case here with the 60D), is there much point keeping the trace? Well, it all depends on what one needs. As far as I am concerned, I like keeping the trace of my hikes or road trip. Since the Log files are copied over onto my computer and barely take 30Mb, I do not mind keeping them there. I also use GoogleEarth a lot, so the traces are saved in my places (a section in GoogleEarth).
As mentioned at the beginning of the video, this is a pricey piece of equipment, worth around £220. Once we accept it, there is not much negative point to find in this tool. It really does what it says on the tin. Living in Scotland means my gear needs to be quite robust and not too sensitive to the rain. I have spent hours in pouring rain and the unit never let me down. It truly follows the weather sealing quality of the 5DIII. I like the fact it uses a simple AA battery instead of using the camera power like in the previous version of the product. This not only enables to save on the camera’s own battery but also enables the login mechanism I am very fond of.
This little tool is going to really help me with my photography. Whether when shooting my own art or preparing for my photography workshop. Having the ability to provide my clients with the GPS coordinate of all the places i brought them and from where they have made great photography is really an added value to my service. So while i could have been using my phone GPS as shown in the video, mobile phone have a tendency to suck battery relatively fast and so many times have i found myself in the middle of the Scottish lands with a dead flat iPhone.
I truly recommend this GPS receiver to anyone that can afford it. The fact one cannot really find any on the second-hand market should mean something.
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