Nikon vs Photix

Phottix Geo One GPS Review

The fine folks at Phottix sent me their latest creation, the Geo One GPS module. This is an almost exact replica of the Nikon GP-1 GPS module I reviewed previously with a couple of minor differences.

Phottix Geo One GPS module

The most notable difference is price. One of my main (if not only) issue with Nikon’s unit was it’s price. Listed at £95 on the Phottix UK site, it’s a fair bit cheaper than the Nikon version which comes in at slightly more than double that price. (I couldn’t find any North American pricing or availability – I’ll update the post once it is).

Phottix Geo One GPS module

Like the GP-1, the Geo One comes with cables to connect it to a number of Nikon DSLR models including the D90 and D300 among others. It also has similar ports to the GP-1 except that the package also includes a wired remote shutter release which connects to the GPS module using a mini jack connection. A nice bonus that makes the price even more compelling since you have to purchase the Nikon cable separately.

Phottix Geo One GPS module
As you can see in the photo above, the Geo One is slightly larger than the GP-1. This is barely noticible on the camera.

Phottix Geo One GPS module

So how does it perform? Pretty much exactly like the Nikon version. Very fast satellite acquisition time, similar build quality and seamless interaction with the camera. EXIF data was captured exactly like the GP-1 and I had no trouble uploading photos to Flickr with the geotags being picked up and mapped correctly:

Phottix GPS Map

It also comes with a similar plastic strap clip to allow you to move the module from the hot shoe if you need to use it with a flash. As the module has the same USB port as the GP-1, you can use it with your computer and even came with a mini cd with some navigation software but I haven’t tried since it won’t fit in my MacBook Pro’s dvd drive.

Overall, an impressive module, if not a near exact copy of the GP-1. Assuming North American pricing is consistant with the UK, it should prove to be a nice inexpensive alternative to the Nikon module and I’m sure they’ll sell a ton of them. A lot of people seem interested in my GP-1…until I tell them what it’s worth. Phottix just may have hit the sweet spot with it’s extras and lower cost.

28 Comments

  1. Tyler says:

    I’ve never really thought about geo-tagging my photos. I have my iPhone set up to include the geo-info and upload via Flickr when I’m out and about, but never really thought about it with my Canon.

    How often do you geo-tag your stuff John?

  2. John says:

    Whenever I use my camera(s) I geotag…unless I’m taking product shots or photos in my house or someother place I don’t necessarily want geotagged.

    Even my point and shoot (Nikon P6000) has GPS built in.

  3. I too was astounded at Nikon’s price for their GPS unit — it costs quite a bit more than the battery grip for D90, for instance. Given how inexpensive GPS receiver chips and antennas must be for them to be inside so many mobile phones, it seems like a gouge.

    I’m glad there’s an alternative unit out there, and hope it (and perhaps others) will be available in North America soon. I do wonder when the SLR manufacturers are going to get with it and start including GPS in the bodies of their cameras. That, and Wi-Fi. As long as we can turn them off to save battery power, and they default to a safe setting that isn’t going to compromise new users’ privacy, those features make a lot more sense than some of the other stuff that cameras do include.

    Personally, I think I’d find GPS more useful than live view in most circumstances. Then again, I grew up an old-school film photographer and still prefer point-and-shoot cameras with optical viewfinders too. That makes me an anachronism now.

    • John says:

      Derek: I think it’s safe to say we’ll see the next iteration of DSLRs come with GPS and wifi addons…especially now since they are getting dropped into things like smartphones. My understanding is that gps/wifi/bluetooth can all be done on one single chip now so it’s just a matter of time. I was somewhat annoyed with Nikon’s choice to include GPS on their flagship point and shoot (the P6000 which I bought) and wifi on a much lessor model. The P6000 is the top of the line and comes with a limited (!) ethernet port on the bottom! I’d much rather it had wifi (probably a lot less room than the port takes up) that allowed me to upload directly to Flickr (or wherever) rather than their proprietary (and limited) PictureTown service.

      I suspect we’ll continue to see these features as separation points along the product lines. The D400 will have feature X and the D500 will have feature Y but you can’t have both without expensive external addons.

  4. That’s probably how it will go, which is a shame. If a camera company had those same open-standard features across its entire product line, think of the interesting things photographers could rely on doing with ANY Nikon camera.

    Wouldn’t be a bad tagline, actually: “Wireless networking and GPS. Built into every Nikon camera.”

    Won’t happen right away, though.

  5. User47 says:

    Hi John: I found the Photix unit on Ebay, they actually link to your review. I’m a bit leery of buying off brand hong kong knock offs and yours is the only review for the photix unit. The added cable release is a very nice bonus, that I will concede since I had planned on buying the GP-1 AND the MC-DC2.

    Curious, does the photix cable release require the GPS unit or can it be plugged directly into the camera?

    Now that you’ve had both units for a while, any parting thoughts? While I’m cautious with the photix I am tempted…

    • John says:

      The cable release only works when plugged into the GPS module…not really a big deal since I always have it attached to the camera or strap anyways (not necessarily plugged into the camera). My initial review still holds true…I’ve used it in a number of settings and it performs exactly the same as the Nikon unit….the bonus release and much cheaper price make it an easy choice…unless you want to be all Nikon which some people do.

  6. Seb says:

    The Solmeta N2 is quite appealing, it has its own battery and also records direction of the shot (integrated compass). I have a cheap Phottix wireless remote for my D300 and I’m quite happy with it. Phottix seems to be a good brand, but for geotaggers, Solmeta (with a higher price, ~200$) is going to be my way to go :)

    • John says:

      Seb: I haven’t tried the Solmeta so I can’t comment. I personally don’t like the idea of another battery to worry about which is why either the Nikon or Phottix units are great. I already have a grip with 2 batteries on my D90 so I can go a long time without even thinking about batteries.

      Louis: There is no switch, you simply unplug the Phottix to turn it off. I can’t really speak to VR battery life as I tend to use primes 99% of the time and only use live view for shooting video (which isn’t geotagged). I don’t have any experience with the Phottix batteries, sorry.

  7. WOW;
    Thanks for a great review, I’ve just upgraded to the Phottix GPS waiting for it to arrive, when I found your great review, now I feel better about my choice. I have tried several GPS’s and was all ways annoyed at Nikon for the price of the MC-35 cable. I had been using a AyAy Sir GPS with my D300/D200 which I liked because external battery pack ( iup1800) which can be used as a universal power source.
    Question:
    Is there a switch to turn the Phottix off?
    What’s battery life like with a VR len and using live view?
    I might have to use my grip and the bigger battery Nikon EN-EL4a. or maybe use the Phottix equivent it’s cheaper way to go? You thoughts on the Phottix EN-EL4a battery plugin.
    Thanks
    Lou

  8. Giovas says:

    Hi.
    Does anybody know if I can use both the Phottix Geo One and the Phottix Plato remote together? I have a D300 and I’m looking for a way to have GPS capability as well as an remote shutter, at the same time. I’, confused about the ports, and I don’t understand if the Plato can be connected through the Geo One.
    If this is not possible, is there a hardware combination able to do this?
    Thanks.

  9. Raffaele says:

    Hi,
    when the GPS module is installed on the flash shoe can the integrated flash still pop out?
    Thanks
    Raffaele

    • John says:

      Raffaele: It can pop up almost the whole way but not completely….you can simply move the GPS to the strap – it comes with a clip for the strap.

  10. Geofreak says:

    I used the Dawntech Pro (not Pro L Logger) and it’s predecessor di-GPS N2 (Not Solmeta Geotagger N2 Kompass). E.g. I am using Geotaggers on Nikon for almost 3 years before Nikon GP-1 was on the market .

    I had a look at the phottix. Not interessting to me. Why? It has no Indoor-Funktion. Same crap as the GP-1.

    THis means: If you loose the GPS signal in a deep gorges, between two buildings, in Buildings, … you will have no geotag in the pics.

    I am very happy with Solmeta and Dawntech. At the moment I am more on the Dawntech side :o)

  11. David says:

    Geofreak: Both the GP-1 and guess the Phottix both geotag the last known position if they are unable to get a fix so next time you go bad mouthing a review maybe you should learn the features of what you are talking about!

  12. Gary says:

    I would love to find a way to get a DeLorme Earthmate LT-40 to work with the D90 for geotagging. Has anyone experimented with this and had sucess?

    Since LT-40’s are pretty dirt cheap ($40 /- all over Ebay) and have a USB out, they’d seem to be a perfect solution. …if they worked together.

  13. Geofreak says:

    David: Sorry, but I have tested GP-1 myself and it has no indoor function! If I loose the GPS-fix NO data is written into the pictures until I get a new fix!
    Yes, I did not test Photix myself. So maybe I am wrong here. But there is no single word about indoor function in the description.
    BTW I do geotagging on Nikon since years. I started with the mc-35 cable and Garmin, then Dawntech and today Solmeta and Dawntech, … I think I know what I talk about with Geotaggers!

  14. Geofreak:
    It works indoors for me too… I’m confused… You didn’t test it or you did test, which is it?

  15. Scott Crawford says:

    I am in Australia and bought the Phottix from Phottix Europe on line and it is for my D90. It receives power from the Camera and finds Satellites but the Camera will not recognise it so no geotagged photos. Nikon won’t help and Phottix Europe has not responded to my requests for help. It is about to be sent back for a refund.

    The “position” menu within GPS does not highlite & I get a “This option is not available with current settings” message when I choose it.

    Can anyone help

  16. Geofreak says:

    So, I tested now both, now: Phottix and Nikon GP-1.

    THEY DO NOT HAVE AN INDOOR FUNCTION!

    They have sensitive receivers so they partly work by getting signals through the windows, … but if they loose signal they will not write any coordinates to the pictures!
    Maybe in lightweight US houses made of wood and tin they will work inside in some cases, too. In our houses with concrete ceilings they do fail!

    You can even read this from the manuals!
    page 15:
    “Notes on the GP-1
    The GP-1 does not supply the compass heading. [...] The GP-1 may be unable to receive GPS data indoors, underground, or in the vicinity of large structures, trees, or other objects that block or reflect satellite signals. The positions of GPS satellites
    are continuously changing, preventing or delaying the acquisition of GPS data at certain hours of the day. [...]

    So here what I personally disliked on Nikon and Phottix GPS:
    – No Auto-Indoor-Function
    – For D90/D5000 the plug will point out perpendicular from the body. (No L-shaped plug)
    – For Nikon 10-Pin: The cable is far too long
    – no power switch (I like to decide on my own if I want to use GPS and drain battery or not.

  17. Geofreak says:

    @ Aussie Scott

    Probably you solved your problem?! To me it sounds like there is a problem with connectivity of the signal in the plugs, sockets or most likely in the cable. The GPS sends the GPS data over different wires to the camera than the cables with which the camera supplies the GPS with electricity.

    The “Position” menu will be only active if the connection has worked.

    Before you will only see a blinking GPS-symbol on the upper display (Contact from camera to GPS-unit established. No sattelite fix). This GPS-symbol will get solid when the GPS has satellite fix.

    Then you will see the positions saved with the pics ….

  18. Aussie Scott says:

    @ Geofreak
    Thanks for the post but there was some fault and it would not work despite getting all the lights. Sent it back & was refunded promptly but lost out with the strengthing Aussie $.
    Bought Nikon unit and it worked a treat on my recently completed cycling trip to Thailand & Lao.

  19. Pete says:

    I, too, would like to use my DeLorme GPS on my Nikon. It seems, though, that it is more than just properly connecting the USP output with the 10-pin Nikon input. Is the data stream the same for the DeLorme and camera EDXIF files?

    Does anyone have indormation on connection and compatibility issues?

  20. Denis says:

    With the remote, does it do half push for auto focus as well as full push for shutter release?

    • John says:

      I’m not sure I ever tried that with the remote and the Phottix…and my D90 is in the shop at the moment so I couldn’t try it.

  21. Geofreak says:

    @Pete
    The socket on the camera body waits for serial data. Yopu can not connect USB directly with serial. So forget about your DeLorme on the cam. It is not very handy anyway :o)

    @Denis
    On Dawntech and Solmeta Geotaggers the remote does support focus on half push. So I guess Phottix will do so, too. (I never tested). Anyway, on the D90 I would prefer to take the IR remote and a Dawntech with L-plug
    (see: http://www.gps-camera.eu/components/com_virtuemart/shop_image/product/Dawntech_mini_3L_4b62c25bebd7d.jpg)

    rather than this stupid straight connector of Phottix/GP-1 (see: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3259/3209869816_e04b191140.jpg)

  22. Denis says:

    As far as I knew the IR remote won’t allow you to keep the shutter pressed for Bulb mode though. Main reason I am asking.

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