FME + GPS Compass Camera

Bye bye SLR

This weekend I decided to get rid of my Olympus SLR Camera and get something more mobile. Some major reasons for this:

– My back sucks. Carrying lenses etc is just too much.

– Honestly, I never really got into the SLR-thing. I always forget the P/M/EV stuff and go fully automatic.

– It has no GPS and compass – useless for FME.

A new direction – not only GPS !

Look at me now! I got the  HX7V from Sony.

Why? It has a built in GPS and a digital compass!!! Dude!!! (It’s also pretty cheapish).

The sweet little thing  records both location and direction in the EXIF-tags for each picture. (And yes it consumes a lot of the built in battery. That is a small price for feeling like owning your own streetview device).

First test in the garden

The first test took place in my garden. I switched on the camera with GPS on and it picked up a position pretty fast. I then took some pictures while turning 360 degrees around. And then transferred the pics to my computer with FME installed.

FME reads all these EXIF-tags in  jpeg-files.

I then was prepared for some Python hacking but (sadly?) I did not need to. Turns out FME reads the EXIF-tags with the encoded information I was looking for:


In a few minutes I had created a workbench that:

* Reads the jpgs and extract the position and direction for the picture throught the Exif-tags.

* Reprojects to meters and creates 3D-planes for the different pictures.

* Writes out Google Earth KMZ files thus creating a 3D-panorama.

* (Also some other stuff as calculating decimal degrees and offsetting the focal distance).

The result

The workbench creates a KMZ-file that looks like this in Google Earth:

Overview in Google Earth
You can spin the panorama like this...
...or like this!
From above


I bet there are tons of hacks that could do similar things out there. However – I clearly doubt that there is any GUI in the world that could do all this in just some minutes and one workflow. It’s just awesome. And I can write this to many other formats and make tons of other stuff.

FME Rocks! (And also HX7V from Sony.)

-Post a comment if you would like the entire KMZ etc. It’s pretty big as the pics are hires.


10 thoughts on “FME + GPS Compass Camera

  1. Wow, this is awesome! Can we get this. This would be an awesome template for FME. I would love to show this at the ESRI User Conference in San Diego.

    How long did it take to Run? Have you thought about how you would use this for your FME Art?

    Great stuff here Ulf.

  2. Hi Ulf,
    So perfect !
    I was looking for something similar for my new Nikon AW110 … Are you ok for sending your FME workspace ?
    Thanks a lot.


  3. Hi Ulf,

    This is surely pretty cool. I would like to try and render it with Cesium. Could you send me the KMZ ?


  4. This is really good stuff! I tried to do something similar with some aerial photos (in angle) we’ve got and for the jpegs it works fine but I can’t fetch the geotagged coordinates from the tiff-files with FME. Do you have a clue how to handle this!?



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