Implementation
  - Geotag
  - Geosync
  - Geotime
Examples
Options
Orientation
Troubleshooting
Tips
Inverse Geotagging
  - Creating GPX log
  - Creating KML file

Geotagging with ExifTool

The ExifTool geotagging feature adds GPS tags to images based on data from a GPS track log file. The GPS track log file is loaded, and linear interpolation is used to determine the GPS position at the time of the image, then the following tags are written to the image (if the corresponding information is available):

GPSLatitude      GPSLongitude      GPSAltitude          GPSDateStamp
GPSLatitudeRef   GPSLongitudeRef   GPSAltitudeRef       GPSTimeStamp
GPSTrack         GPSSpeed          GPSImgDirection      GPSPitch        
GPSTrackRef      GPSSpeedRef       GPSImgDirectionRef   GPSRoll
Note: GPSPitch and GPSRoll are not standard tags, and must be user-defined.

Currently supported GPS track log file formats:

Implementation

Geotagging is accomplished in ExifTool through the use of three special Extra tags: Geotag, Geosync and Geotime.

Note: When writing these tags, order is important. If Geotime is written, it must be done after both Geotag and Geosync.

Geotag

The Geotag tag is used to define the GPS track log data. The geotagging feature is activated by assigning the name of a track log file to this tag. As an example, the following command line adds GPS tags to all images in the "/Users/Phil/Pictures" directory based on GPS positions stored in the track log file "track.log" in the current directory:

exiftool -geotag=track.log /Users/Phil/Pictures

As a convienience the exiftool application also provides a -geotag option, so the following command is equivalent to the one above:

exiftool -geotag track.log /Users/Phil/Pictures

Multiple GPS log files may be loaded simultaneously by using more than one -geotag option or -geotag= assignment in the same command. This allows batch processing of images spanning different tracks with a single command. Wildcards may be used in the argument of the -geotag option, but note that the argument may then need to be quoted on some systems to prevent shell globbing, and that wildcards are not supported with the -geotag= syntax. See the examples below.

Deleting the Geotag tag (with -geotag=) causes the GPS tags written by the -geotag feature to be deleted.

Programmers: You may write either a GPS log file name or the GPS log data as the value for Geotag. If the value contains a newline or a null byte it is assumed to be data, otherwise it is taken as a file name.

Geosync

The Geosync tag is needed only when the image timestamps are not properly synchronized with GPS time, and must be set before Geotime to be effective. The value written to the Geosync tag may take a number of different forms, but the basic format is that of a simple time difference which is added to Geotime before interpolating the GPS position in the track log. This time difference may be of the form "SS", "MM:SS", "HH:MM:SS" or "DD HH:MM:SS" (where SS=seconds, MM=minutes, HH=hours and DD=days), and a leading "+" or "-" may be added for positive or negative differences (negative if the camera clock was ahead of GPS time). Fractional seconds are allowed (eg. "SS.ss").

For example, "-geosync=-1:20" specifies that synchronization with GPS time is achieved by subtracting 1 minute and 20 seconds from the Geotime value. See the Time Synchronization Tip below for more details.

Note that a single decimal value is interpreted as seconds when written to Geosync. This is different from of other date/time shift values where a single value is normally taken as hours.

The Geosync value may also be specified using 3 different formats which provide a GPS time and a corresponding camera clock time. While these formats may be used for a simple (constant) time synchronization offset, they are necessary when performing a clock drift correction (with multiple synchronization points), and are described below.

Camera clock drift correction:

A more advanced Geosync feature allows the GPS time and the image time to be specified together, facilitating a time drift correction if more than one synchronization point is provided. For this, the value written to Geosync takes one of the following forms:

FormatNotes
FILE Both GPS and image timestamps are extracted from the specified file. eg) -geosync=image.jpg
GPSTIME@FILEGPS time is taken from the Geosync value and the image timestamp is extracted from the specified file. eg) -geosync="12:58:05@image.jpg"
GPSTIME@IMGTIMEBoth GPS and image timestamps are taken from the Geosync value. eg) -geosync="12:58:05@2010:01:02 12:25:26"

The values of GPSTIME and IMGTIME specified on the command line may contain a date, but it is not necessary.

Notes:

  1. If either the GPS or the image timestamp does not contain a date, the two timestamps are assumed to be on days which place them within 12 hours of each other.
  2. If neither the GPS nor the image timestamps contain a date, this synchronization point may only be used for constant time offset (ie. no time drift correction will be applied).
  3. Both the GPS and the image times are assumed to be local unless another timezone is specified.
  4. Both the GPS and the image time values may contain decimal seconds.
  5. The applied value of the time drift correction is calculated from a piecewise linear interpolation/extrapolation between the synchronization points if more than one Geosync value is defined.
  6. When extracting from file, timestamps are taken from the first available of the following tags:

Geotime

The Geotime tag specifies the point in time for which the GPS position is calculated (by interpolating between fixes in the GPS track log). Unless a group is specified, exiftool writes the generated tags to the default groups. If a value for Geotime is not given, it is taken from DateTimeOriginal for each image (as if "-Geotime<DateTimeOriginal" had been specified), but the value may be copied from any other date/time tag or set directly from a date/time string.

If the date/time tag does not include a timezone then one may be added (eg. "-Geotime<${CreateDate}-05:00"), otherwise the local system time is assumed. Decimal seconds are supported in the time value.

By default, GPS tags are created in EXIF and the corresponding XMP tags are updated only if they already exist. However, an EXIF or XMP group name may be specified to force writing only to the specified location. For example, writing XMP:Geotime or EXIF:Geotime will write the generated GPS tags only to XMP or EXIF respectively. Note that when written to XMP, the GPSLatitudeRef and GPSLongitudeRef tags are not used, and the XMP GPSDateTime tag is written instead of the separate EXIF GPSDateStamp and GPSTimeStamp tags.

See the Examples section below for sample command lines illustrating various aspects of the geotagging feature.

Programmers: Note that Geotime must always be specified when geotagging via the API -- the default value of DateTimeOriginal is implemented by the application.

Examples

Geotag all images in the "c:\images" directory from position information in a GPS track log ("c:\gps logs\track.log"). Since the Geotime time is not specified, the value of DateTimeOriginal is used. Local system time is assumed unless DateTimeOriginal contains a timezone:

exiftool -geotag "c:\gps logs\track.log" c:\images

Geotag all images in directory "dir" from the GPS positions in "track.log" (in the current directory), for a camera clock that was running 25 seconds slower than the GPS clock:

exiftool -geotag track.log -geosync=+25 dir

Geotag an image with the GPS position for a specific time. (Note that the Geotag tag must be assigned before Geotime for the GPS data to be available when Geotime is set):

exiftool -geotag t.log -geotime="2009:04:02 13:41:12-05:00" a.jpg

Geotag all images in directory "dir" with XMP tags instead of EXIF tags, based on the image CreateDate. (In this case, the order of the arguments doesn't matter because tags with values copied from other tags are always set after constant values):

exiftool -geotag log.gpx "-xmp:geotime<createdate" dir

Geotag images in "dir" using CreateDate with the specified timezone. If CreateDate already contained a timezone, then the timezone specified on the command line is ignored. (Note that in Windows, double quotes (") must be used instead of single quotes (') around the -geotime argument in the next 2 commands):

exiftool -geotag a.log '-geotime<${createdate}+01:00' dir

Geotag images for which the camera clock was set to UTC (+00:00), using the time from DateTimeOriginal:

exiftool -geotag trk.gpx '-geotime<${DateTimeOriginal}+00:00' dir

Delete GPS tags which were added by the geotag feature. (Note that this does not remove all GPS tags -- to do this instead use -gps:all=):

exiftool -geotag= a.jpg

Delete XMP GPS tags which were added by the geotag feature:

exiftool -xmp:geotag= a.jpg

Geotag an image with XMP tags, using the time from DateTimeOriginal:

exiftool -xmp:geotag=track.log a.jpg

Combine multiple track logs and geotag an entire directory tree of images:

exiftool -geotag a.log -geotag b.log -r dir

Use wildcards to load multiple track files (the quotes are necessary for most operating systems to prevent filename expansion):

exiftool -geotag "logs/*.log" dir

Geotag from a sub-second date/time value with a sub-second time synchronization (only possible if the EXIF sub-second time stamps are available):

exiftool -Geotag a.log -Geosync=+13.42 "-Geotime<SubSecDateTimeOriginal" dir

Geotag images with a piecewise linear time drift correction using the GPS time synchronization from three already-geotagged images:

exiftool -geotag a.log -geosync=1.jpg -geosync=2.jpg -geosync=3.jpg dir

Options

Geotagging may be configured via the following ExifTool options. These options have no command-line equivalents, but may be set using either the Options() function of the API or the %Image::ExifTool::UserDefined::Options hash of the config file. (See the sample config file for details about how to use the config file.)

OptionDescriptionValuesDefault
GeoMaxIntSecs Maximum interpolation time in seconds for geotagging. Geotagging is treated as an extrapolation if the Geotime value lies between two fixes in the same track which are separated by a number of seconds greater than this. Otherwise, the coordinates are calculated as a linear interpolation between the nearest fixes on either side of the Geotime value. Set to 0 to disable interpolation and use the coordinates of the nearest fix instead (provided it is within GeoMaxExtSecs, otherwise geotagging fails). A floating point number 1800
GeoMaxExtSecs Maximum extrapolation time in seconds for geotagging. Geotagging fails if the Geotime value lies outside a GPS track by a number of seconds greater than this. Otherwise, the coordinates of the nearest fix are taken. A floating point number 1800
GeoMaxHDOP Maximum Horizontal (2D) Dilution Of Precision for geotagging. GPS fixes are ignored if the HDOP is greater than this. A floating point number, or undef to disable undef
GeoMaxPDOP Maximum Position (3D) Dilution Of Precision for geotagging. GPS fixes are ignored if the PDOP is greater than this. A floating point number, or undef to disable undef
GeoMinSats Minimum number of satellites for geotagging. GPS fixes are ignored if the number of acquired satellites is less than this. A positive integer, or undef to disable undef

Orientation

ExifTool reads orientation information from the PTNTHPR sentence generated by some Honeywell digital compasses. This is a proprietary NMEA sentence which contains information about heading, pitch and roll angles. When this information is available, the heading is written to GPSImgDirection (and GPSImgDirectionRef is set to "T"), but no standard GPS tags exist for pitch and roll. Regardless, ExifTool attempts to write GPSPitch and GPSRoll tags. For this information to be stored, appropriate user-defined tags must be created. Below is a simple config file which defines the necessary EXIF GPS tags. Corresponding XMP-exif tags may also be created. See the config file documentation for more information.

%Image::ExifTool::UserDefined = (
    'Image::ExifTool::GPS::Main' => {
        0xd000 => {
            Name => 'GPSPitch',
            Writable => 'rational64s',
        },
        0xd001 => {
            Name => 'GPSRoll',
            Writable => 'rational64s',
        },
    },
);
1; #end

Troubleshooting

1. "No track points found in GPS file"

If you see the above message, either exiftool does not yet support your track log file format, or your track log does not contain the necessary position/timestamp information. For instance, in KML files each Placemark must contain a TimeStamp. If you believe your track log contains the necessary information, please send me a sample file and I will add support for this format.

2. "0 image files updated"

If you see this message without any other warning messages, it is likely that Geotime didn't get set properly.
Be sure that the necessary date/time tag exists in your image for copying to Geotime. Unless otherwise specified, the required tag is DateTimeOriginal. The following command may be used to list the names and values of all available date/time tags in an image:
exiftool -s -time:all image.jpg
Even if there is no metadata in the image you may be able to set Geotime from the filesystem modification date for the image (which will appear as FileModifyDate in the output of the above command). In this case you may also want to include the -P option to preserve the original value of FileModifyDate:
exiftool -geotag track.gpx "-geotime<filemodifydate" -P image.jpg
Without the -P option, FileModifyDate is set to the current date/time when the file is rewritten.

3. "Warning: Time is too far before track in File:Geotime (ValueConvInv)"

If you see a warning like this, you may have a time zone problem, or a time synchronization issue. Keep in mind that GPS times are in UTC, but the camera times are typically in your local time zone.
To see more details about what ExifTool is doing, try adding the -v2 option to your command. You should then see messages like this if the GPS track log was loaded successfully:
Loaded 372 points from GPS track log file 'my_track.log'
  GPS track start: 2009:03:30 19:45:25 UTC
  GPS track end:   2009:04:03 11:16:04 UTC
If the number of points loaded and start/end times seem reasonable, then the problem is likely in the time synchronization. Also printed will be the UTC time for the image:
  Geotime value:   2009:04:03 10:57:01 UTC (local timezone is -05:00)
The "Geotime value" must lie within 1/2 hour of a valid GPS fix in the track log for a position to be calculated. (1/2 hour is the default, but this can be configured via the geotagging Options.) The time calibration relies on proper synchronization between the GPS time and your camera's clock. If a timezone is not specified, the local system time zone (as set by the shell's TZ environment variable) is printed in the above message and used to convert the Geotime value to UTC. You should specify the timezone for Geotime if your images were taken in a different timezone (see Examples above). If the camera clock was wrong, the Geosync tag may be used to apply a time correction, or the ExifTool time shift feature may be used to adjust the image times before geotagging -- see the Time Synchronization tip below for examples.

Tips

1. Time Synchronization

One way to accurately synchronize your images with GPS time is to take a picture of the time displayed on your GPS unit while you are out shooting. Then after you download your images you can use this image to synchronize the image timestamps for geotagging. This is done by using an image viewer to read the time from the GPS display in the image, and exiftool to extract DateTimeOriginal from the file. For example, if the time in the GPS display reads 19:32:21 UTC and DateTimeOriginal is 14:31:49, then for this image the camera clock was 32 seconds slow (assuming that the timezone of the camera clock was -05:00). There are two different ways to use this time synchronization to improve your geotagging accuracy:
A) Use the Geosync tag to specify the time difference while geotagging. Using this technique the existing image timestamps will not be corrected, but the GPSTimeStamp tag created by the geotagging process will contain the correct GPS time:
exiftool -geosync=+00:00:32 -geotag my_gps.log C:\Images
or equivalently,
exiftool -geosync=19:32:21Z@14:31:49-05:00 -geotag my_gps.log C:\Images
(Note that this technique may also be used for a more advanced time drift correction. See the Geosync section above for details)
B) First fix the image timestamps by shifting them to synchronize with GPS time, then geotag using the corrected timestamps:
exiftool -alldates+=00:00:32 C:\Images
exiftool -geotag my_gps.log C:\Images
Both examples above assume that your track log file (my_gps.log) is in the current directory, that the images were downloaded to the C:\Images directory, and that the computer and camera clocks are in the same timezone.

Inverse Geotagging

The -p option may be used to output files in any number of formats. This section gives examples for creating GPX and KML output files from a set of geotagged images, or from a geotagged video file. (But note that the -ee option must be added to the commands below to extract the full track from a video file, and currently only M2TS videos are supported for this feature.)

Creating a GPX track log

The following print format file may be used to generate a GPX track log from one or more geotagged images:

#------------------------------------------------------------------------------
# File:         gpx.fmt
#
# Description:  Example ExifTool print format file for generating GPX track log
#
# Usage:        exiftool -p gpx.fmt -d %Y-%m-%dT%H:%M:%SZ FILE [...] > out.gpx
#
# Requires:     ExifTool version 8.10 or later
#
# Revisions:    2010/02/05 - P. Harvey created
#
# Notes:     1) All input files must contain GPSLatitude and GPSLongitude.
#            2) The -fileOrder option may be used to control the order of the
#               generated track points.
#------------------------------------------------------------------------------
#[HEAD]<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
#[HEAD]<gpx version="1.0"
#[HEAD] creator="ExifTool $ExifToolVersion"
#[HEAD] xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
#[HEAD] xmlns="http://www.topografix.com/GPX/1/0"
#[HEAD] xsi:schemaLocation="http://www.topografix.com/GPX/1/0 http://www.topografix.com/GPX/1/0/gpx.xsd">
#[HEAD]<trk>
#[HEAD]<number>1</number>
#[HEAD]<trkseg>
#[BODY]<trkpt lat="$gpslatitude#" lon="$gpslongitude#">
#[BODY]  <ele>$gpsaltitude#</ele>
#[BODY]  <time>$gpsdatetime</time>
#[BODY]</trkpt>
#[TAIL]</trkseg>
#[TAIL]</trk>
#[TAIL]</gpx>

This example assumes that the GPSLatitude, GPSLongitude, GPSAltitude and GPSDateTime tags are all available in each processed FILE. Warnings will be generated for missing tags. The output GPX format will invalid if any GPSLatitude or GPSLongitude tags are missing, but will be OK for missing GPSAltitude or GPSDateTime tags.

Note that the order of track points in the output GPX file will be the same as the order of processing the input files, which may not be chronological depending on how the files are named. The -fileOrder option may be used to force processing of files in a particular order. For example, the following command processes files in order of increasing GPSDateTime:

exiftool -fileOrder gpsdatetime -p gpx.fmt -d %Y-%m-%dT%H:%M:%SZ /Users/Phil/Pictures > out.gpx

Since no directory was specified for gpx.fmt, this file must exist in the current directory when the above command is executed. (If the gpx.fmt file can't be found then the -p argument is interpreted as a string instead of a file name, and the text "gpx.fmt" is sent to the output, which isn't what we want.)

The -if option may be added to ensure that only files containing GPS information are processed. For example, the following command creates "out.gpx" in the current directory from all pictures containing GPSDateTime information in directory "pics" and its sub-directories:

exiftool -r -if '$gpsdatetime' -fileOrder gpsdatetime -p gpx.fmt -d %Y-%m-%dT%H:%M:%SZ pics > out.gpx

Note: In Windows, double quotes (") must be used instead of single quotes (') around the -if argument above.

The "fmt_files" directory of the full exiftool distribution contains this sample format file ("gpx.fmt") as well as a sample which creates GPX waypoints with pictures ("gpx_wpt.fmt").

Creating a Google Earth KML file

Below is an example of a print format file which generates a Google Earth KML file from a collection of geotagged images:

#------------------------------------------------------------------------------
# File:         kml.fmt
#
# Description:  Example ExifTool print format file for generating a
#               Google Earth KML file from a collection of geotagged images
#
# Usage:        exiftool -p kml.fmt FILE [...] > out.kml
#
# Requires:     ExifTool version 8.10 or later
#
# Revisions:    2010/02/05 - P. Harvey created
#               2013/02/05 - PH Fixed camera icon to work with new Google Earth
#
# Notes:     1) All input files must contain GPSLatitude and GPSLongitude.
#            2) For Google Earth to be able to find the images, the input
#               images must be specified using relative paths, and "out.kml"
#               must stay in the same directory as where the command was run.
#            3) Google Earth is picky about the case of the image file extension,
#               and may not be able to display the image if an upper-case
#               extension is used.
#            4) The -fileOrder option may be used to control the order of the
#               generated placemarks.
#------------------------------------------------------------------------------
#[HEAD]<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
#[HEAD]<kml xmlns="http://earth.google.com/kml/2.0">
#[HEAD]  <Document>
#[HEAD]    <name>My Photos</name>
#[HEAD]    <open>1</open>
#[HEAD]    <Style id="Photo">
#[HEAD]      <IconStyle>
#[HEAD]        <Icon>
#[HEAD]          <href>http://maps.google.com/mapfiles/kml/pal4/icon38.png</href>
#[HEAD]          <scale>1.0</scale>
#[HEAD]        </Icon>
#[HEAD]      </IconStyle>
#[HEAD]    </Style>
#[HEAD]    <Folder>
#[HEAD]      <name>Waypoints</name>
#[HEAD]      <open>0</open>
#[BODY]      <Placemark>
#[BODY]        <description><![CDATA[<br/><table><tr><td>
#[BODY]        <img src='$directory/$filename'
#[BODY]          width='$imagewidth' height='$imageheight'>
#[BODY]        </td></tr></table>]]></description>
#[BODY]        <Snippet/>
#[BODY]        <name>$filename</name>
#[BODY]        <styleUrl>#Photo</styleUrl>
#[BODY]        <Point>
#[BODY]          <altitudeMode>clampedToGround</altitudeMode>
#[BODY]          <coordinates>$gpslongitude#,$gpslatitude#,0</coordinates>
#[BODY]        </Point>
#[BODY]      </Placemark>
#[TAIL]    </Folder>
#[TAIL]  </Document>
#[TAIL]</kml>

This example print format file is included in the "fmt_files" directory of the full ExifTool distribution.


Created Apr. 2, 2009
Last revised May 14, 2014

<-- Back to ExifTool home page