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GPS and Canon Cameras

Connecting a GPS unit directly to a digital SLR and other cameras has long been a goal of mine. I've used various improvisations over the years, many have worked ok, but were still way too much trouble relative to the possibilities.

Currently there are some very direct ways of connecting specialized GPS units to some Nikon dSRLs, but it has been more challenging for Canon users. In its newest models Canon is offering support for some GPS units through their wireless transmitter WFT-E2 which provides the USB host and enables the built-in GPS configuration set-up. Currently the GPS unit needs to support data protocal NMEA 0183 Version 2.0.1 for the Canon cameras to understand and record the location.

The WFT-E2 is expensive, but if you have wireless camera control needs and/or concurrent back-up of your files needs, this can be a good multi-purpose unit. Otherwise, it can be a little out of reach for just GPS.

Link to Connection Video

Photography Workshops with Stephen Johnson


Canon 1Ds Mark III and the WFT-E2 Wireless Transmitter.

Gentoo Penguin and Chicks. Port Lockroy. Antarctica. 2009
64 49.30.6S x 63 29.40.1W


Canon 1Ds Mark III camera screen with GPS readings displayed. Preview image pasted in from capture for clarity. Another photograph's Metadata panel from Adobe Bridge shown below. Missing data is not currently being collected by the Canon implimentation.


Port Lockroy image location on the Antarctic Peninsula rendered in Google Maps.


Port Lockroy image location rendered in Google Earth.

Steve with GPS on camera. Stonnington Island, Antarctica, 2009.
Photo by Gary Maxworthy.

Garmin Vista C GPS mounted for camera's hot shoe with custom-made adaptor.

Steve with GPS on camera at his Pacifica, California Studio, 2009.
Photo by Michael Berkleypile.

GPS mounted on camera's hot shoe with custom-made adaptor. I know, I need a shorter USB cable. It's on its way.

Compatible GPS units (information from Canon)

"The Garmin GPS Map 60Cx, Garmin eTrex Venture HC, Garmin eTrex Legend HCx, Garmin eTrex Vista HCx, and Garmin eTrex Summit HC units have been tested by Canon and are compatible with the current range of Canon WiFi transmitters. If you have a different GPS unit you want to use, it is worth testing it as Canon has not tested all of the available options. Canon has, however, tested the Garmin Oregon and Colorado range of units and these have been found to be incompatible. It is likely that if you have a different variation of the Venture, Legend, Vista or Summit units that it will work, but you should check it yourself first to make absolutely sure."

I also happen to know that my Garmin Vista C works fine. -SJ

More Canon Information on the use of the Wireless Transmiter, including GPS.

Canon Cameras with GPS Support

  • EOS 40D and 50D: WFT-E3A
    (WFT-E3A requires firmware version 3.0.0 for use with the 50D)
  • EOS 5D Mark II: WFT-E4A
  • EOS-1Ds Mark III and EOS-1D Mark III: WFT-E2A



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Last updated on 1/29/09. Mail comments to: info@sjphoto.com
Photographs and Text Copyright ©2009, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.