Last updated on December 10th, 2018
After staring at the GPS “Log” switch, I started wondering how to geotag images with the TG-5 GPS Log. In particular, how to use it and can you geotag images from other cameras? I didn’t expect the last part could be done – Olympus certainly doesn’t show you how in the manual. Thankfully it is possible, and here’s how. If you’re interested in geotagging photos, keep reading.
Looking for a carry bag for the Olympus Tough?
Given how it’s a bit larger than most compact cameras, it’s a bit hard to find a well-fitting case for this camera. I tried a few options until I found the model that fit best. If you’re in the same situation, take a look at this Olympus Tough TG Camera Bag Shoot-Out.
Olympus TG-5 Image Geotagging Options
With respect to geotagging, the GPS log unit in the Olympus TG-5 can work in a few different ways. It can either try to geotag all images (provided the GPS signal is good), or it can save the TG-5 GPS log (“Track”) of the whole trip. If you like saving location metadata along with your Lightroom keywords, it can be a godsend. Also, if you have the Olympus Tracker, the process illustrated here should be identical.
Option 1 – Geotag all images
One option is to leave the ‘Log’ switch off, and set ‘Record GPS location’ to ‘On’ in the camera menu. In this case, the GPS sensor is active while the camera is turned on, but only saves your position to the photo metadata when you take a picture. However, there are a few problems with that.
First, it isn’t infallible. If you lose the GPS signal during the shoot, you’ll invariably find a few images without GPS coordinates (even though the ones before and after do). This is pretty typical.
The next issue is that you can’t really use that info to geotag images taken with other cameras. This is because it only saves the data when a picture is taken, so you won’t have GPS information for any other time. That might be a problem if you’re using the TG-5 as a backup waterproof camera with respect to your DSLR.
Option 2 – Save the TG-5 GPS Log
Another, possibly more versatile method, is to use the camera with the switch in “LOG” mode. In this mode, the camera will continuously save a file with your GPS coordinates over time. It will even work while the camera is off. The downside is that it will have a huge effect on battery life, which thankfully can be taken care of with cheap replacement TG-5 batteries. I definitely have a few spares already, as should any camera owner. Take note that while it saves the TG-5 GPS log file, it will also be gps-tagging all other images as possible.
If you use the TG-5 GPS log method, the main advantage is that you can use the ‘log’ to geotag images from other cameras. Plus, even for the TG-5’s own images, you can use the log to determine the location of images without location metadata by interpolation (even if you didn’t take other pictures nearby).
Furthermore, if you’re travelling, you can save the file as a witness of where and when you were during your trip. That might prove helpful years later when you don’t exactly recall what cities or monuments you visited.
Though these days phone apps can definitely do the same thing, offloading that function to your camera will definitely help a smartphone’s already anemic battery life. Plus, it is much easier to simply swap the battery in the camera than in your phone – if you even can.
Here we’ll be focusing on extracting the file and how to geotag images with the TG-5 GPS Log. That includes converting it from Olympus’s .LOG format into the industry standard .GPX, as well as using it to geotag other images in Lightroom.
How to Use Olympus TG5 Log Function – Step by Step
Step 1 – Start by saving a GPS Log
To start saving a geolocation log file on the camera with your GPS location , simply move the switch to the LOG position. Keep in mind that it will log your position continuously (regardless of the camera being on or off), which will drain the battery. Keeping replacement batteries around is a must. Be aware that while logging, the battery is unlikely to last more than a day. Even if the camera is off. GPS tracking is a battery-hog, regrettably.
Once you are done tracking your GPS location, move the LOG switch back to off. The camera will take a few seconds to finish saving the file to the camera’s memory.
Note – While the switch is on ‘LOG’ and the camera off, you can press ‘INFO’ to see sensor data. Pretty nifty.
Step 2 – Take pictures with any camera
The next step is to take your images as normal. It doesn’t matter which camera you use. Even your smart phone camera is a valid option. They can all be geotagged later.
If you are simply using the TG5 GPS LOG function to log your location during travel, then easier still. Simply go about your business and enjoy the trip.
Step 3 – Connect the camera to your PC
The next step is to connect your camera to a computer. Via the micro-usb port on the side is fine. If you want, you can also simply remove the SD card and plug that in.
You will find three folders :
- DCIM – Here is where you will find the pictures you’ve taken.
- GPSLOG – This is where we’ll find theTG5 .LOG file we are interested in.
- SNSLOG – This folder is pretty useless, regrettably. Though the TG-5 is capable of logging other sensor data like temperature, pressure, altitude, etc; it is saved here in a proprietary format. In other words we have no use for it so feel free to disregard it.
Open the GPSLOG folder and move the .LOG file you’ll find inside it to your PC. The file should be named something like YYMMDDXX.LOG, where YY is the year, MM the month and DD the day. XX is simply the number assigned to the log in particular.
Step 4 – Convert the .LOG file to .GPX
The format the Olympus TG-5 saves the GPS log to is .LOG. Thankfully, the .LOG file is a standard “NMEA 0183 sentences” type file. Don’t worry if you don’t know what that means – neither did I. NMEA stands for National Marine Electronics Association. All you should care about is that it is a standard GPS coordinates file and it’s easy to convert.
The next step is to go to GPSVisualizer.com. Choose the .LOG file from the previous step, select .GPX and hit Convert. That’s it. Click the link that will appear to download the .GPX file. Currently, .GPX is pretty much the industry standard and it’s the only format that Lightroom accepts.
Step 5 – Open your geotagging software – Lightroom
There are plenty of ways to geotag images once you have a set of images and a .GPX file. Since it is the most ubiquitous image library program out there, and it’s also what I use, I’ll be using Lightroom to geotag the images. However, Lightroom is a paid program so if you simply want free software to quickly geotag your images, you might want to try GeoSetter.
The first step would be to open Lightroom and import your images. Then select the Map mode. Once there, hit the squiggly line on top of the image strip. There you can load the Track Log. The only format accepted is .GPX (like the one we converted earlier).
That will load a line like the orange one in the screen above (though without the numbered icons). Sorry it isn’t more interesting, but I simply created a .GPX file as I did some work around the home.
Select all the pictures that were taken while the TG-5 was logging. Then hit the ‘Track Log’ button again and select ‘Auto-Tag Selected Photos’. You should end up with something equivalent to the screenshot above.
Step 6 – Inspect the Result
Take a moment to inspect the pictures. Look at the icon legend and double-check the condition and location of your images. Some may be tagged incorrectly or not tagged at all. Thankfully, you can easily revise any picture as needed. Sometimes it works better than others (partly due to the GPS signal), so don’t be too frustrated if you have to spend a minute or two moving a few. The important part is to get a general idea of location. This is never going to be 100% precise anyway.
Tip – In Lightroom you can toggle whether to export the GPS location data of your images or not. Personally, I’d recommend disabling it by default. Especially if you upload images online, due to privacy concerns.
That’s all! Hopefully this has been helpful. If you were wondering what the LOG switch was, or how to geotag images with the TG-5 GPS Log, now you know.
If you have any more questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below. And if you still don’t have a case for your camera, checkout the comparison and review here.
Addendum – Extra Info & Tips
How precise is the Olympus TG-5 GPS Log?
To answer that, the most important part is what you intend to use it for. For getting a relatively precise idea of your location, it’s perfectly fine. I wish I would have had this when assigning the keywords in Lightroom to the images I took on a Mediterranean cruise trip over a decade ago!
However, if you want an extremely precise log of your location I’d recommend going with a standalone GPS tracker. When I want to accurately track a motorcycle ride, including location and speed, I use a Canmore G-PORTER GP-102+. Not only does it have a longer battery life (never mind avoiding draining the camera battery), but it also is a lot more versatile. And since you can change the interval with which a GPS point is created in the log, it is capable of much more precision.
When testing the Olympus TG-5 GPS log against the one created by the GP-102+, the standalone unit was visibly more precise. The TG-5 would sometimes skip a beat and trace a diagonal between points whereas the GP-102+ would pretty accurately trace the road. But given that in practice we rarely review the GPS tracks that closely, its unlikely to make any real world difference.
All in all, if you already have a TG-5, use it. If you consistently location tag your images and find it useful, then it is definitely worth buying a standalone unit. Especially considering that it will be much smaller, more precise and have a lot more functions.
What about the Olympus’s OI. Track App?
I tried it. Though in theory it can be used to geotag images, it worked horribly for me and eventually I gave up. While it does have its uses, I’d really try to avoid it for geotagging purposes. In-app, at least. I believe you can use it to export the .LOG file to your phone. But since I presume you’ll be connecting it to your PC anyway to copy the SD card’s images, there is little benefit to that. I’d rather just do it as shown above.
However, one potential useful feature is to use it on the go to update the A-GPS file on the camera. That helps the camera acquire a GPS signal much quicker. Since the file expires and needs updates (optionally) every two weeks, the app is definitely useful for that.
Heads-Up – Olympus, in their infinite wisdom, inserts the text “OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA” in the caption metadata of any image taken with a Olympus digital camera. The Olympus TG-5 is no exception. I’d definitely remove it if you post your images online.
Regrettably, the camera does it automatically and you can’t disable it. Honestly, it surprises me that they still get away with this in the social media age. They’ve been doing it for years! If you use Lightroom (and you should if you’re an avid photographer) you can set it up to strip it on import. However, what I prefer doing is simply setting up a Smart Collection with the settings shown above. Then I’ll quickly bulk delete the caption manually. Personally, I find it to be less likely to mess things up then a rule applied automatically to all images.