Micro Four Thirds Talk Forum
The problem often arises that we cannot recall where a photograph was taken. This becomes more urgent as we take more photos in more locations.
What’s more, many of us seldom or never revisit old photos because they’re so hard to find in a massive digital library. Being able to search by location makes it easier to find old photos and integrate them into new projects. In this way, location metadata adds value to our photo collections.
Despite this, camera manufacturers do not usually include $5 GPS receivers in their products. Olympus is no exception. Readers from the distant future will find this hard to believe.
A workaround is to track your location with a GPS receiver in another device while taking pictures with the camera. If the camera’s clock is accurately set, so that it is synchronised with the GPS receiver, the location of each photo can be found later by looking up the track location at the time of the photo.
Olympus provides a mobile app, called Olympus Image Track or OI.Track (with little consistency), that allows your mobile phone to act as the GPS tracker and automates the geotagging process. Its operation is fairly simple but poorly documented. I couldn’t get straight answers from anyone about how it worked before I bought an Olympus camera. So here’s how to use it.
- Install the free Olympus Image Track app from your phone’s app store.
- In OI.Track, tap the settings cog at the top-right, then tap “Easy Setup”.
- Turn on Wi-Fi on your Olympus camera by tapping the Wi-Fi icon at the top-left of the screen:
Tap “Next” again. A “Wi-Fi Starting” screen will appear, followed swiftly by a QR code:
Back in OI.Track, tap “Scan” and point the phone’s camera at the Olympus camera’s QR code:
It will read it automatically and propose to set up a Wi-Fi link.
- Tap “Start Setup” in OI.Track to make the connection:
With my iPhone SE I always get an “Unable to Connect to the Camera” error message:
IGNORE THIS BUG. If the camera shows a little “1” (for one connection) beside the Wi-Fi signal icon – and it always does in my case – it has successfully connected to your phone.
- It’s unintuitive to continue seeing the QR code screen on the camera after the connection has been made, but ignore it. If you back out of it, as I kept doing by instinct, you’ll turn off the camera’s Wi-Fi radio. So just leave it (the camera display may sleep anyway).
- Back in OI.Track’s settings, tap “Set Date Time”. This will synchronise the camera clock to GPS time:
I’m not sure how often this needs to be done after the first occasion. Presumably not very often unless you’re photographing from a 300 km/h aeroplane where a one-second clock-sync error would throw off the location by enough to matter.
- Tap “End Wi-Fi” on the camera to turn off the camera’s Wi-Fi, and turn off your phone’s Wi-Fi.
- Now you can use your phone to record a GPS track while you take pictures with your camera. No Wi-Fi connection is needed during this process. Tap the “Start Logging” toggle in OI.Track to start the log:
It will log your location in the background as you use your phone for other tasks or leave it in your pocket. Battery usage for GPS tracking is minimal with a modern phone. Even my old phone will run all day.
- When you’re done taking pictures, stop the track by toggling the switch, then tap “Stop and Save”:
Give it a name or accept the default name (which includes the date):
The track that was recorded shows up in the list in OI.Track:
- To geotag your photos at the end of your shoot / day / holiday, re-establish a Wi-Fi link between phone and camera. This is much easier the second and subsequent times. Simply turn on the camera’s Wi-Fi (by tapping the button on the screen), ignore the camera’s invitation to scan a QR code, turn on the phone’s Wi-Fi, and select the camera SSID from the list of Wi-Fi networks. You won’t be asked for a password.
- Still with the silly QR code on the camera, i.e. with Wi-Fi connected, open OI.Track on your phone. To send a track to the camera, swipe its title from right to left and tap “Add Geotag”:
A confirmation that photos in the camera were geotagged will appear when the operation is complete:
Then turn off Wi-Fi on camera and phone.
- Both JPEG files and Raw files are embedded with a geotag by this method. There are no sidecar files or proprietary databases to worry about. Separately, the track is saved on the memory card as a .LOG file, not that I have any use for that. It takes up negligible storage space.
- When you import your photos to your computer with your usual method, their location can now be seen in the metadata. You can view this, for example, by opening the file in Apple Preview and hitting Command-I to bring up the Inspector. Then select the “More Info” tab (the “i” icon) and the “GPS” sub-tab:
That will show both latitude and longitude coordinates and altitude. Click “Show in Maps” to see a pin on a zoomable map:
The pin’s location accuracy is good to the usual GPS standards, often better than 10 metres: enough to revisit the exact location of the photo if you want to try to improve on your first effort.
There you have it. To summarise, after the cumbersome initial setup is complete, the process is pretty smooth and goes like this:
- Sync camera clock with OI.Track if you think it’s needed or are prompted.
- Hit the toggle in OI.Track to start logging a track.
- Take pictures with your Olympus.
- Hit the toggle in OI.Track to end the track log and save it.
- Connect camera and phone by turning on camera Wi-Fi and then selecting the camera’s SSID in your phone’s Wi-Fi settings.
- Push the track log to the camera by swiping left and tapping “Add Geotag”.
- Turn off Wi-Fi on camera and phone.
- Import the freshly geotagged photos to your computer by your usual method.
Hopefully that will tempt more people to use this powerful feature … and ask Olympus to put a GPS receiver in future cameras so all of this is unnecessary.