The Best GPS Enabled Point and Shoots

Where you are when you get the perfect shot is sometimes just as important as the shot itself.  Carrying around a GPS device and a notepad to record longitude and latitude coordinates for every image would be cumbersome and taxing.  Allow your camera to do the work for you.  GPS enabled cameras record all your EXIF information along with your coordinates to create a more geographic picture.  This kind of technology works great for road trips, backpacking, whirl-wind European vacations, safaris in the African plains or just tooling around town.  

Geocaching has become a huge movement worldwide sending travelers far across the globe to record their experiences searching for the Geocach treasure.  GPS enabled cameras allow for huge bragging rights proving you were there by matching up your camera's coordinates with the treasure's coordinates.  Whether you are staying close to home or seeking treasure in far off lands, GPS enabled cameras will be there for you in more ways than one.         

Canon SX230 HS

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This is the first GPS enabled camera for Canon's compact line up.  The GPS logger technology records where and when you took every shot.  Upon upload, the GPS logger maps out all your locations and pairs it with Google Maps giving you a bird's eye view of photographic journey.  Bold and beautiful, the Canon SX230 HS rocks more than a pretty body but we'll start there.  A 3.0 inch LCD screen with 461k dots starts it off right.  Anything less than 3 inches just isn't as impressive.  The rear of the camera is jam packed with buttons and dials galore.  The SX230 HS touts a dedicated movie record and playback button; a functional dial that allows you to manually use your camera adjusting ISO, aperture, shutter speed and focus; the mode dial allows you to quickly switch between Manual, Portrait, Video Record and so forth; the usual suspects, Power, Display and Menu, grace the back as well.  

The pop-up flash covers up to 3.5m which is pretty average for this new class of camera.  The lens does heavy duty zoom work with 14x optical zoom, 28mm wide-angle, 392mm telephoto equivalent lens.  And yes, this bad boy comes with ever reliable image stabilization.  Now let's take a look inside: a max resolution of 4000 x 3000 is justified with 12.1 megapixels.  It has a decent shutter speed range of 1/3200sec to 15 second long exposures.  The movie record and playback button would be useless if it weren't for the 1920 x 1080 full HD video recording capabilities. At the end of the day, this camera will be able to keep up no matter where you take it.  You can preorder the Canon SX230 HS now for $349.99.

Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS

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When you are travelling the far reaches this great country's rivers, mountains, lakes and oceans have to offer, you need a camera that can go everywhere and do everything with you.  The Pentax Option WG-1 GPS is everything you have come to expect from the Lifeproof camera manufacturer plus a little extra.  The little satellite icon on the front of the camera tells you that it is GPS enabled, constantly recording coordinate information with every shot you take.  If you aren't interested in the GPS included with this model, its twin Optio WG-1 comes without that feature.  This Pentax puts up a hard fight: waterproof up to 33 feet, crush proof up to 220 pounds, shockproof from a 5ft. fall and freeze proof even in 14'F weather.  You can even throw it in the dirt and it won't be phased.  Something new from the last Pentax Lifeproof models is the addition of 2 additional LED lights around the 6.7x digital zoom lens helping you during macro photography adventures.  

Fear not, it also has a built-in flash.  It also got an upgrade in resolution, jumping from 12 megapixels in the Optio W90 to 14 megapixels in this 2011 model Optio WG-1 GPS.  A well thought out feature is the buttons on the back of the frame.  Instead of dials which can be cumbersome when wearing gloves during river-rafting trips, snowboarding or hiking in the cold, the WG-1 features 6 push buttons: zoom, playback, menu, face detection, modes and a delete button.  Extremely lightweight and durable, the Optio WG-1 GPS is a valuable tool for the photographer that can't sit still.  It is available for preorder for $399.95 which includes all the usual in-box goodies and a strap, carabineer and macro stand.

Sony Cybershot DSC-HX100V

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This camera is awesome for more than its GPS capabilities, but that alone helps it stand out.  GPS is fairly new technology for cameras and a lot of companies are testing the waters with their reliable point-and-shoot sellers.  Sony took a leap of faith and paired it with their DSC-HX100V, a Goliath capable of taking some of the best photographs this side of professional photography.  Solid and stable, the DSC-HX100V is a step up from its simultaneously released cousin DSC-HX9V.  The HX100V shows off with a 30x optical zoom Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar lens with a 35mm equivalent range of 27 - 810mm.  That kind of telephoto capability is Reason Number One to jump on this guy's band wagon.  This model also impresses with a tilting 3.0 inch 921k dot LCD screen.  

Continuing to drop jaws, the HX100V competes nicely with 16.2 megapixel resolution, a massive shutter speed range 1/4000sec - 30 second exposure time, a hearty pop-up flash covering 4m and Full HD video recording.  Similar to many other Sony cameras, the HX100V includes High Resolution Intelligent Panorama Sweep making it easier than ever to capture the entire shot all in one click of the button.  One upping itself, it can also record 3D Panoramic sweeps that can later be viewed in 3D on your Sony 3D TV.  Sony really thought of everything and put it into this commanding device.  Set to be released in April 2011 around $400, the HX100V will be a great addition to your camera family.

Fujifilm FinePix XP30

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Upon its release in January 2011, the Fujifilm FinePix XP30 was the world's first water, shock, freeze and dust proof camera with a built-in GPS feature.  Catering towards outdoor-loving, extreme sport enthused photographers, the FinePix XP30 is the closest thing to indestructible a camera can get.  Waterproof up to 16.5 feet, dust proof, shock proof from falls of 5 feet and freeze proof in 14'F weather, you'd have to be quite adventurous to truly test all those limitations at once.  If you do find a place that showcases the ruggedness of this camera, you can find it again and again with the help of the GPS technology built into the unbreakable frame.  When you aren't using it alongside a flint rock to start a fire, it actually takes quality pictures too.  

With 14.2 megapixels, 6.8x digital zoom, 5x wide zoom with optical image stabilization and a 28mm-140mm equivalent Fujinon lens, it can compete respectably with other cameras that don't carry the Lifeproof label.  The XP30 is also the smallest of the set measuring in at 3.9 x 2.7 x 0.9 inches.  A 2.7 inch 230k dot LCD screen round this camera out to be a feisty device in the new GPS market.  Set to release in February 2011 at $239.95, now is the time to start planning your rock climbing, river traversing, ice berg climbing trips.


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Maggie OBriant
Maggie O'Briant  Personal Blog Flickr

Maggie O'Briant recently graduated from Florida State University with an English Literature degree.  She is currently a freelance writer and photographer.    She currently lives in Hawaii with her husband and giant baby. 

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