TagSony

Readers Ask: Choosing a GPS-enabled camera

Readers Ask. Once or twice a month, a blog reader asks me a question about GIS, software, or schools. I’ll be relaying my responses and answers in this new column. This is the first entry.

Question

On Oct 29, 2010, J wrote:

I see from your blog that you use the Sony  DSC-HX5V camera to record the locations/photos, and that you also use ESRI software.  I am just about to buy that same camera for my work, and have been looking for information about if it is easy (or not) to upload the info in Arcinfo/ESRI software.  Would you mind letting me know?

Thanks,

J

I used an external GPS logger to create the map of my bicycle trip around New York City.

Response

Hi J,

I have no experience with using the GPS in the camera. I believed that reception would be poor, especially in urban areas, like where I live – Chicago. I use an external GPS logger (in the same list as the camera) and external antenna. When I get back from a trip, I use software to link the GPS tracks with the photos. The software embeds the coordinates into the JPEG metadata.

I also have no experience using GPS with ArcInfo. I know that ArcExplorer Desktop allows you to import GPX (GPS XML files) but I don’t know what you can do with them in the program. I tried, but failed. I use Windows inside Parallels for Mac, so not everything works 100% of the time.

I did load a GPX file from my external GPS logger into QGIS using the GpsTools plugin. I can export a shapefile from it to work in ArcGIS just fine.

I looked at your organization’s website and it seems you work in the open country. I think you’ll have better GPS tracking results out there with the camera than I do in Chicago. Even with the external antenna, the results in Chicago can be weird – it seems the signals bounce off skyscrapers and trick the GPS receiver into thinking it’s in Lake Michigan.

Lastly, I do recommend the camera for its low-light capabilities, iSweep panorama mode, and 1080i60 HD movie mode.

Steve – contact me

Seattle trip and new camera

My recent 6 night, 7 day trip to the Pacific Northwest gave me the perfect opportunity to test out my new camera that arrived only days before my departure.

I purchased a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5V (Sony should follow a simpler product naming scheme) from RitzCamera.com (which seems to be a different operation than Ritz Camera stores).

I bought the camera for its HD video (1080i60), decent image quality, wide-angle lens, and loads of neat features. I used the camera on every day of my trip and the results please me. The most significant neat feature is a mode called “Handheld Twilight.” The camera takes up to six shots (in one second) at different exposure and ISO settings, and then blends the photos together – and without flash. Because of this feature and the other low-light enhancing features, I don’t think I used the flash more than once or twice on my trip.

This photo of the Space Needle at Seattle Center demonstrates the image quality as a result of Handheld Twilight mode.

This photo shows the lens width. I held the camera at less than arm’s length.

Another mode that helps in low-light situations is Anti-motion Blur. I’m not really sure of the difference between this mode and the Handheld Twilight mode (both take multiple shots in quick succession), but whenever I saw the flashing hand that indicates a probably shaky picture, I switched the camera to Anti-motion Blur. Great photos emerged!

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