Sunday, March 22, 2009

My workflow for Non-destructive RAW Photo Geotagging

Recently I've purchased a Canon 5D II, this is a wonderful camera, however it misses one really important feature for me - GPS. GPS feature is important for implementing Geotagging which is the capability of embedding Geographical information into your photos, so people know where you took the photo. See wikipedia for more tails (link).

After spending tens of hour, and I decided to spend some more cash for my own experiments, here is my workflow which hopefully will be useful for you.


1. Geotagging my RAW in non-destructive way.

2. Provide a streamline workflow to update photos on my flickr share.

So, what do you need?


  • A GPS that can provide tracking logging. (.gpx format is the best adapted one)
  • Camera


  • Geosetter
  • Photo editing tool that can understand xmp file. (I would suggest lightroom)
To give you better understanding, here are what I am using for my workflow:

My RC version Workflow:

  1. Sync GPS logger clock and your Camera. REALLY REALLY important. if you are lucky, your camera supports timezone, make you your camera timezone same as your GPS.
  2. Enable my GPS logger and go out to take pictures. Remember, you should prepare enough battery for your GPS logger, in my case one pair of AA battery can last for 20 hours.
  3. Go Back home, download the GPX file from the GPS logger.
  4. Use lightroom import images from your card as usual, obviously they are RAW.
  5. Open GeoSetter import the GPX file and update your RAWs. GeoSetter will generate a XMP file alone with each of your file. For details of GeoSetter, please google GeoSetter and see the tutorial in official site.
  6. In your lightroom select all photos and left click, select Metadata->Read metadata from file. To verify, go to Library, scroll down to the property panel, you should see the GPS information! Click the arrow, lightroom will show your photo location on google map.
  7. Then export the lightroom images.. use flickr plugin to upload the image to flickr.
  8. Here you go.. you can show you friends where you took the pictures. You can see my example from here, click in for more details in EXIF.IMG_7181

Problems and notes:

  1. You must sync the GPS and your camera clock well.. most GPS supports timezone.. but my 5D 2 doesn’t.
  2. GeoSetter is FREE but sometime it freezes on large set of machines…
  3. I LOVE Garmin 60CSx nice handheld GPS device, it is best reliable handheld GPS I know of.
  4. I also save my GPX file which stores the track of my trip.. I believe one day, this file will be very very useful…


Anonymous said...

Have a look at You will find a direct connect GPS for your camera. No idea how it works. I have direct connect on Nikon and it is sooooo comfy!!!

Anton Chernenko said...

great instruction!
I will try it out at some point

Rob Nisters said...

I also have a Canon 5D MKII, and also a smartphone with an internal GPS and 3 Mp camera.
I often wander the continents hunting for great pics.
After and before a shoot with my Canon 5D MK II, I take a picture with my smartphone after it's found a satellite fix.
Later I can determine which picture was taken where by comparing the date and time of the pics taken with my smartphone and 5D MKII and reading the GPS data from my smartphone.
Eventually I will get a Canon WFT E4 II with a bluetooth GPS dongle, but for now, it will (have to) suffice