The Red Hen Blue2CAN unit is one of the latest emerging technologies allowing photographers to encode GPS data with their photographs. I have earlier explored the many reasons why this is important (see http://wildportraits.com/gps.aspx for more details on GPS and photography), but the most obvious is the ability to sort photos by not only time but place.
As an early adopter of combining GPS with photography, I am always looking for the ultimate solution in allowing me to collect location data automatically with my photographs. I have had the pleasure of using the Red Hen Blue2CAN for the past month, and can fully endorse it. My early adoption of GPS units with my Nikon D200 has kept me searching for the optimal geotagging solution, and this latest unit from Red Hen is a welcome addition.
The Blue2CAN is a BlueTooth unit, and locks onto signals relatively quickly. The Red Hen unit works automatically with many Nikon DSLR cameras, including the D200, D2X and D2Xs), D2Hs, D3 and D300. It connects to the Nikon 10-pin remote on the front of the camera. It is also necessary to have a BlueTooth GPS receiver, as the unit connects to any nearby GPS receiver. If for some reason you have 2 BlueTooth devices, simply move one out of range (approximately 30 feet) until the desired unit connects to the camera, and then it stays locked on.
When first attaching the unit, the camera should be off. Once the camera is turned on, the light on the unit will flash 3 times, then search for a GPS unit. It continues to search at 20 second intervals until it makes a connection with a GPS. In field testing the unit, it locked on slightly faster than other units I have been using. In my experience, it kept the signal reliably, as long as the GPS unit is located within about 30 feet. Once it has locked on, it stays locked, allowing very fast startup.
It is a very small, measuring only about ¾"by 3/8". Unlike other units I have been using, it plugs right into the 10 pin connector, requiring no bulky mounts or cables. It is therefore by far the easiest of any unit I have ever had, adding a minimal footprint to the camera. Another major plus is its battery usage. I have found with other units that my camera is drained quickly when I leave the GPS unit attached, even when the camera is turned off. With the Red Hen unit, I have seen very little difference in battery life with the unit attached, so I have just left it on all the time, ready for instant use.
In practice, the Red Hen is very easy to use. In setting up the properties, through the menu, I simply enabled the Auto Meter function. Since the unit is designed to work with the Nikon technology, this then ensured all my pictures were stamped with the GPS data.
After a month of using the Blue2CAN, I can honestly say it is my new favorite GPS technology. It is so light and easy to use, I am really happy to be free of all the previous contraptions I have had connecting the GPS to the camera. This, combined with its significantly lower battery usage, make this unit a real winner. I strongly recommend it to anyone considering integrating GPS data with photography.