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GPS data logger for tracking a moving camera

Hello Everyone,

I am seeking some advice regarding GPS data logging devices.

I am working on a film project where we would like to track the position and orientation of the camera during long outdoor shots. The film is being shot in a city (Le Havre, France) and most shots will take place outdoors in built-up urban settings - on sidewalks, playgrounds, carparks. The camera will be handheld, moving at a walking pace mostly, but there will also be some filming on buses or other vehicles.

Requirements:
+ Location accuracy is top priority.
+ Post-processing of data is ok.
+ Tracking orientation of camera would also be useful, but this is a lower priority.
+ Minimum 8 hours logging without recharge or offloading data.
+ Easy to use - e.g. single button start/stop functionality.
+ Device can be physically attached to camera rig.
+ Minimum 1Hz reading (if tracking orientation, then higher rate may be needed?)
+ Budget is up to 600 euro or $.
- I do not need map display, navigation or waypoints etc..

Can anyone recommend a device? I see many many devices on the market (Bad Elf, Holux, Garmin, Wintec..) But can anyone predict which would have the better accuracy in my use case?

thanks in advance for any advice!
MM

Comments

  • alanb 539 Points
    edited July 2015
    How about a smart phone app? You may have a problem with accuracy in the "urban canyons" of a large city with any consumer grade GPS device. Under best circumstances (open view of sky to horizon in all directions with optimal satellite constellation) the best you can expect from consumer GPS devices is 3 to 5 meter accuracy.
  • 2666hz 0 Points
    Hi,
    I understand the 3 to 5 metre accuracy. But surely not all GPS devices below 600 euro are equal? Some must perform better than others!
    And are you suggesting there is no difference between dedicated GPS devices and smartphones?
    MM
  • alanb 539 Points
    edited July 2015
    There may be some differences in antenna quality and reception, so some devices may hold on to a weak signal better than others. There are many users who swear by the Garmin models with the quad helix antenna system. Also, newer units with a Glonass receiver may lock onto more satellites under difficult conditions. One model that has both of these features is the Garmin GPSMAP 64.

    Boyd, one of our forum moderators has done some accuracy testing with tracking using various devices including the Garmin Glo (a bluetooth Glonass receiver that can be connected to a smartphone app). Hopefully he will be along to provide some comments.
  • Boyd 1985 Points
    edited July 2015
    I would not expect any more than +/- 5 meters consistently from any consumer device, especially in a city with tall buildings. You certainly could not acheive that in Manhattan for example by the use of GPS alone.

    Spending more money on a consumer device doesn't get you more accuracy in my experience. The chipsets are pretty much the same. The more expensive models have nicer screens, additional sensors, bundled maps… basically "bells and whistles".

    Then there is a big gap up to the lowest level professional devices, which (last time I checked) started around $1500 or $2000. But these devices didn't claim much more accuracy than a consumer unit, they just were based on a platform like Windows or Android and may include some special software.

    The really accurate units were up in the $5000 range the last time I checked. And I don't know how well they would perform around big buildings, I have no experience with these expensive devices.

    Post processing could help but no experience with that. It may depend on how good the satellite constellation was when you recorded the track. Somewhere there is a site that lets you find the optimum time to take position readings (the maximum number of satellites are visible). But that probably wouldn't work with your shooting schedule.
  • 2666hz 0 Points
    Thanks for the comments.
    I've narrowed my selection down to:
    Aaronia GPS Logger a very interesting device that tracks orientation as well as position. 250€
    Bad Elf GNSS Surveyor claims 1m accuracy with post-processing. Have no idea whether post-processing can help with multi-path errors though, which will likely be the cause of my problems. Think it might also be optimised for stationary measurements (as in surveying), which is not my use case. $599
    Bad Elf GPS Pro+ ~$300
    Holux RCV-3000 ~$75
    and the Garmin GPSMAP 64s, as suggested above.
    Will let you know how it works out.
    MM
  • Boyd 1985 Points
    edited July 2015
    You could also look at the Garmin GLO. Not sure of the pricing outside the US, it is available here new for about $100 or $80 for a factory refurb. You would need to use it with some software on a phone/tablet/computer however as it is only a receiver and doesn't have any memory for track recording. I did a review with a bunch of tests a couple years ago at gpstracklog.com/2013/04/garmin-glo-review.html

    Did not test in an urban environment however.
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