Digital cameras are fast becoming as essential to birding as binoculars and a field guide. A digital camera is a great tool to document unusual sightings, study field marks, refine your identification skills, remember a field trip, or share photos of beautiful birds with others. But have you ever taken so many photos you forgot which bird was where? In the past, the hassle and expense of using film cameras kept us in check. But with today’s digital cameras, it’s all too easy to rack up hundreds — even thousands — of photos on a single memory card.
All digital cameras record the time and date in each photo’s EXIF (Exchangeable Image File Format) file. But as birdwatchers, we’re often most interested in location: to document the observation of an accidental species, log a nest location for a breeding-bird survey, or communicate a find’s whereabouts to other birders.
Precise position data also is becoming more commonplace — and more important — for citizen-science projects. Many sighting databases, such as those managed by eBird, breeding-bird atlases, and regional or state ornithological unions, now incorporate latitude and longitude to document location. And what about out-of-town birders, reading about local hotspots discussed on web forums? An exact location, communicated with pushpins and links, is especially helpful to birders unfamiliar with an area.
The good news is that it’s now incredibly easy to georeference your photos. Geotagging technology is now available in cameras (including the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 and the Leica V-Lux 20 super-zoom compacts), smartphones, and phot