I’m out in Colorado right now and have been recording nearly all of my travels with an Amod AGL3080, a portable GPS logger which you can pick up for well under $100. It uses AAA batteries (including rechargables), and uses a standard USB connection to retrieve the log files. It’s tiny enough to fit inside the same pocket as my Canon SD1000, and also has a belt hook/strap allowing it to hang out of the pocket and easily accessible for explicitly marking waypoints.
To start logging, it’s pretty easy: simply turn it on. To stop, turn it off. A separate log file is generated for each power cycle. The batteries last long enough for an all-day excursion, so it’s probably best to just leave it on for the day.
The way it syncs up with photos is pretty similar to a lot of devices. You go around and take pictures. Your camera records what time they’re taken. At the same time, the GPS logger is in your pocket, and records where you are at particular times. Then, you put it all in the computer, which looks at what time a picture was taken, and where you were at that time, and figures out where the photo was taken. You can then add this location data to the EXIF data on each photo, which is understood by many popular photo services, allowing you to view your photos on a map.
What I need your advice on is software. The great thing about the Amod device I use is its flexibility. It shows up as a USB drive on any computer, and the log files are in the standard NMEA 0183 format, so it’s not tied to any specific software. The disk that shipped with the tracker came with JetPhoto Studio, and I upgraded it to the “pro” version to get all the features that make it actually usable, like the ability to write EXIF data. It’s fine and gets the job done, and even generates KML and KMZ files for Google Earth. However, the interface is a little confusing (and whoever wrote the messages isn’t fluent in English), and I haven’t found a great process for managing my files yet, since in the end I am importing them into iPhoto and/or Picasa Web Albums. Has anyone else used a Mac to geotag photos from a GPS log? I want the process to be as quick as possible so it doesn’t stop me from keeping up with organizing my photos, and I’m willing to pay for software. If you have a suggested workflow for JetPhoto Studio, I’m open to that as well.
Even though the process is a little annoying right now, I still love the idea and have already tagged nearly 250 photos from the past few days. It’s addicting.