MSI has long pushed the boundaries of invention with its ever-evolving range of laptops but it has now pulled off a world first with the new MSI Creative 17.
ATP Photo Finder mini
Geotagging made simple.
- Simple to use, simple design
- Awkward card slot, slightly finicky in some respects
The ATP Photo Finder mini is great for people who want to geo-tag their photos, but there are some drawbacks to its simplicity.
Price$ 225.27 (AUD)
GPS technology has been available in cameras for a while now, allowing users to determine where and when photos were taken. The ATP Photo Finder mini isn’t the device first to bring automatic geo-tagging to the masses, but its simplicity and a nice design make it a worthwhile device for people unwilling to fork out money for a GPS-equipped camera.
The Photo Finder mini is a little chunky and may not fit in a standard camera bag, but it is small enough that it shouldn’t be cumbersome during use. It’s also fairly attractive, with a two-tone silver and black colour scheme that complements most modern camera designs. The accompanying carabiner sticks out like a sore thumb and won’t attach to smaller cameras. It will easily fit on camera lanyards, however, allowing users to carry the Photo Finder mini everywhere they go.
ATP has made some awkward design choices with the Photo Find mini. Though it has removable memory, this is in the form of an MMCmicro card: an unusual format and one that isn’t nearly as popular as microSD. Thankfully, the Photo Finder Mini is bundled with a 128MB card, relieving users of the burdern of finding the appropriate media. Should you ever have to remove the card from the device though, there is also the chance you could lose it. The spring in the slot is strong enough that ejecting the card can result in sending it halfway across a room if proper care isn’t taken.
More thought has been put into the Photo Finder mini’s accompanying dock. With the same two-tone silver and black design, the hub offers users the ability to sync metadata between the Photo Finder mini and the camera’s memory card without the need for a PC. The dock can also charge the GPS unit between uses, and acts as an external memory card reader for a PC, with support for SD, MMC, CompactFlash and MemoryStick media cards.
The Photo Finder mini takes a simple but effective approach to logging and syncing GPS metadata. It relies on timestamps, with the unit matching the satellite time with the internal clock on the camera itself. During use, the device doesn’t have to be connected to the camera in any way: as long as the device and camera are in the same place, the device can use the time to determine when and where shots were taken. Once both the card and device are plugged into the dock, the device will simply link the shot times with the appropriate metadata. As long as you remember to take the Photo Finder mini with you, there’s no need to worry about losing your valuable GPS data.
There are some drawbacks to this system. If you’re on an international trip or moving between time zones, remembering to change the internal clock on your camera is vital to ensuring the GPS metadata is accurate. It is an easy thing to forget on a holiday and one that could lead to mismatched information. Still, we prefer this simple system to anything that might require more user input.
Though the Photo Finder mini isn’t bundled with any software, all the software you need to take advantage of geo-tagged photos is free. ATP recommends the use of Google’s Picasa software in tandem with Google Earth, and this seems the easiest method. Picasa automatically recognises which photos are geotagged and allows users to move quickly into Google Earth, where they can view their geo-tagged library superimposed on the 3-D map.
Making use of the powerful and near-ubiquitous SIRF Star III GPS receiver, the Photo Finder mini is quick at locating and acquiring a satellite GPS signal. The documentation suggests that this should take between 30 seconds and one minute. In real world testing it took us 1-1.5 minutes. These times can be an excruciatingly slow when you’re looking to take the perfect shot, but a warm acquisition time of 10 seconds does ease this pain. In any case, with a battery life of up to 16 hours, the Photo Finder mini can survive long bouts of photography.
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