When camera makers first started building GPS chips into their cameras, they weren't quite sure what to do with them. The on-board firmware was minimal and could be challenging to use. But now manufacturers have figured out this niche, offering cameras that are ruggedized and waterproof, or that mount on a bike or ski helmet, or that provide full-featured GPS functions, in addition to still and video image capture. Check out the review for the latest and greatest in camera GPS. Click on photos to enlarge view.
The Nikon COOLPIX AW100 is one of a new generation of GPS-enabled digital cameras that is waterproof, and shock and freeze-resistant. You can take this camera as deep as 33 feet in water, and it will continue to shoot at temperatures as low as 14 degrees F. Nikon promotes the camera for use outdoor sports ranging from skiing to kayaking to mountain biking. I do appreciate having a waterproof camera on board on a river trip. Other features:
- Built-in map display and electronic compass.
- 1080p HD movie mode.
- Glove-friendly controls.
- Motion-detecting focus tracking.
- 5x optical zoom, NIKKOR ED glass lens.
- HDMI output.
- In-camera image editing.
Like the Nikon AW100, the Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS represents the latest generation of GPS-enabled "adventure" cameras that are ruggedized and waterproof. Make sure you are getting the "GPS" version if you are shopping for this camera because there are similar non-GPS models. The Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS has ergonomic, glove-friendly controls. Other features:
- Waterproof to 33 feet.
- Functions down to 14 degrees F.
- 14-megapixel sensor.
- 5X internal optical zoom.
- 720p HD video.
- HDMI output.
- Low-light autofocus assist lamp.
The ContourGPS video camera from Contour gets into the thick of the action. This ruggedized and water-resistant camera is designed to mount on a helmet or via any of a nice range of mounts (handlebar, etc.) offered by Contour. The ContourGPS shoots in HD 1080p and has a large, 135-degree wide-angle lens. It also has a built-in mic. The ContourGPS records on an internal microSD card, expandable up to 32GB. Other features:
- Includes free custom software (Mac or PC) for upload and editing.
- Auto-maps speed, location, and elevation up to 4X per second.
- Replay route on Google Maps.
Panasonic's Lumix GPS displays latitude and longitude, but it also includes regional and landmark information for more than 1 million locations in 82 countries. The Lumix DMC-ZS10 is also known for its large (3-inch diagonal) high-resolution LCD rear display, which provides terrific image previews. Addittional features:
- 14.1 megapixel.
- 16x optical zoom with wide angle.
- Full 1080 HD video recording.
- 3D image mode.
The HDR-CX700V is a high-performance video camera with a built-in GPS chip that geotags video and still images (the geotag feature may also be switched off). The camera also comes with built-in NAVTEQ maps and will display your current location. Geotagged images and videos may be reviewed and played back using the camera's map index function. The GPS signal also automatically sets the camera to the time zone in which it is located. Other features:
- SteadyShot image stabilization.
- Golf Shot: High-frame rate, slow-motion video capture.
- Built-in flash.
- 14X extended zoom.
- Built-in 96GB flash memory (up to 40 hours of video).
- 12MP still images.
The Fuji FinePix F550EXR with GPS displays latitude and longitude, and location name as you shoot. This information is stored with each still or video image. GPS may also be used for in-camera image search, and to create separate photo-book folders. You may also view images by location, or create an image track travelogue map using Fuji's included FinePix Studio computer software. Other features:
- 15X optical zoom.
- 3-inch, hi-res LCD monitor.
- Image stabilization.
- HD movie mode.
- Intelligent flash.
- Face detection.
The Garmin Montana 650t is actually a GPS with a camera, rather than a camera with GPS. It's a full-on, ruggedized and waterproof GPS navigator that can provide turn-by-turn directions on the highway, and then provide you with high-end backcountry navigation features and detailed topo maps. I used the Montana 650t on a western trip and posted my review here. With a 5-megapixel camera, small lens, and modest camera features, the Montana 650t does not compete with this group on image quality, but it is a strong option for those who want to integrate multiple devices in a tough and reliable GPS navigator. The Montana has dual-battery capability: Rechargeable li-ion, plus AAs.