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What is a Geotagging Camera?

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  • Written By: Tara Barnett
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 09 December 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A geotagging camera is a device that takes pictures and marks the geographic location where those pictures were taken, sometimes even including the direction in which the camera was pointed. This device typically adds latitude and longitude coordinates automatically to images taken with the camera so they can be placed accurately on a map. Photos taken with these devices are often used in social media platforms, similar to blogging or scrapbooking online, but they are also used by professionals with the need to connect accurate geographical information to images.

Most geotagging cameras work by using a built-in or externally-connected Global Positioning System (GPS). The GPS can be used by the camera almost anywhere, as information is received from satellites. Often, otherwise standard cameras can be connected to external GPS devices that may be bought separately. Some geotagging camera designs work using a Wi-Fi Positioning System (WPS); these are often less expensive, but they tend to have less coverage in rural areas where there are not always Wi-Fi networks within the camera's range.

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The information included as metadata on images taken with the camera almost always identifies both the latitude and longitude at which the picture was taken. Other information might include altitude, place names, or bearing. The kind of information that can be included on an image taken with a geotagging camera often depends on the camera's intended use. For instance, a simple geotagging camera intended for non-professional users does not usually need detailed information about altitude, whereas a professional cartographer might.

In some geotagging camera designs, dual methods of collecting geographic information are used in order to improve accuracy. This is usually not necessary unless highly-detailed and accurate information is needed. A geotagging camera for these purposes might use both GPS and WPS as well as Bluetooth connectivity to make sure the data is accurate.

Like other cameras, a geotagging camera may come in a range of qualities, in terms of function as well as photo quality. Many of these cameras can be used with a variety of lenses for different situations, just like normal cameras. Geotagging cameras that record video also are available.

For as long as there have been photographs, people have enjoyed knowing when photos were taken and, with improvements in mobility, where. Technology has greatly improved the ability to classify and automatically identify such information in photos. Geotagging has many practical uses, but its most common use is for pleasure. People use the technology to organize their photographs for digital storage as well as to share them with friends and family.

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