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Troubleshooting GPS Units

Fix Problems With Your Camera's Add-on GPS Accessory


Troubleshooting GPS Units

The Sony Cyber-shot A55V DSLR camera has a built-in GPS unit.


GPS units are growing in popularity as add-on units for digital cameras, providing information on the location and time of the photo. This can be a nice feature to have for your camera, as the unit’s software will add the information about the location to the data that’s stored with the photo. This can save you quite a bit of time versus adding the data yourself at a later date.

Even though some cameras have a built-in GPS unit, most photographers who are serious about making use of the GPS data for geotagging will find a way to add a GPS device to the camera. These add-on GPS units are almost always going to be more powerful than a built-in device.

Geotagging can be a great hobby ... as long as the GPS works correctly, of course. Whether your GPS unit is built into the camera or is an accessory that you must add to the unit, it certainly can suffer from some problems from time to time. Use these tips to troubleshoot any problems with your add-on GPS unit.

  • Although having an external GPS unit can be a significant advantage over having a built-in GPS unit, it can be a little difficult to connect these add-on GPS units to point and shoot cameras, because they don’t have hot shoe brackets, which is the most common method for connecting external GPS units. So before you purchase an external GPS unit for your camera, make certain you are able to connect the device to your camera.

  • If applicable, be sure you have the correct cables to fit your camera. Although most GPS units connect through a hot shoe, some GPS units connect to an accessory terminal. If this is the case, the GPS unit might not ship with the correct cable, unless you’ve selected a GPS unit that’s specifically recommended for use with your camera model.

  • If you’re having problems keeping the cable from the GPS unit attached to the camera as you move around, check to see whether the cable contains a connector nut that will secure the cable to the camera.

  • Even if you are experiencing problems with the GPS unit, do not take the unit apart. You’ll probably do more damage to the unit, and possibly introduce unwanted particles. In addition, there is the possibility of a shock.

  • Try to avoid leaving the GPS unit in direct sunlight or in a hot car. The GPS unit could be damaged, similar to how a camera can be damaged by direct sunlight or excessive heat.

  • If you’re having problems with power for the GPS unit, be sure you know how the GPS unit operates. Some units draw power from the camera battery, while others have their own battery. If your GPS unit runs from the camera battery, make sure the battery is fully charged before beginning, as the camera battery will drain faster when you’re powering a GPS unit, too.

  • Always turn the camera off before attaching a GPS unit. If you don't follow this tip, the GPS unit may appear to be malfunctioning, when it actually just was unable to make the proper connection with the camera.

  • As you’re shooting photos, the GPS unit may be able to tell you whether it’s recording data properly. Look for an LED light on the GPS unit. Green usually means data is recording correctly; red usually indicates an error. However, check with your GPS unit user guide for specific information.

  • If you’re having trouble recording GPS data, keep in mind that the GPS unit must be able to link with three satellites. Objects such as trees, strong electromagnetic fields, and large buildings can hinder the satellite signal. Some GPS units don’t work well indoors or underground, either. Again, an add-on GPS unit probably will have fewer of these types of problems versus a built-in GPS unit.

  • Finally, GPS units are subject to environmental issues similar to digital cameras. Keep the GPS unit dry and avoid extreme temperature changes, for example. Basically, if it’s an environment that you think might damage your camera, don’t bring the GPS unit into the environment, either.
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