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Pentax's O-GPS1 GPS receiver mounted on the 645D digital SLR. Photo provided by Pentax Europe Imaging Systems Ltd. Pentax shoots for the stars with weather-sealed GPS unit
(Thursday, June 2, 2011 - 09:30 EDT)

Japan's Hoya Corp. has unveiled a new GPS unit designed for use with its K-5 and K-r APS-C digital SLRs, as well as its medium format flagship 645D DSLR.

The Pentax O-GPS1 will be shipping in the US market next month, priced at around US$250, and looks to offer some pretty unusual capabilities in concert with the company's cameras.

To start with, the device offers a degree of weather sealing that will allow use in light rain with the weather-sealed K-5 and 645D bodies. On top of this, Pentax has cleverly coupled the GPS receiver and its in-body image stabilization to provide the unique ability to correct for motion of celestial bodies. In simple terms, this "ASTROTRACER" function allows the ability to shoot long-exposure images that are automatically corrected to render stars and planets as sharp points, rather than moving trails. The duration that can be corrected for depends on the camera body, lens / focal length, and declination for any given shot. Shooting with a 200mm lens at 0° declination, the K-r can correct for an 80 second exposure, while the K-5 allows a 110 second correction. At higher declinations, shorter focal lengths, or both, this can increase to as long as a 300 second correction for either camera. Since the 645D lacks in-body stabilization, it isn't able to offer this function.

Pentax's O-GPS1 GPS receiver. Photo provided by Hoya Corp. Click for a bigger picture!

Pentax's O-GPS1 GPS receiver.
Photo provided by Hoya Corp.

The Pentax O-GPS1 unit mounts in the hot shoe of the company's cameras, and allows geotagging of images with latitude, longitude, altitude, shooting direction, and UTC timestamp. Although this isn't stated, it appears that the device precludes use of on-camera flash, since there's not room for the cameras' pop-up flash units to deploy, and the hot shoe is occupied. Photographers shooting with the K-5 and 645D can still use flash via the PC sync socket, but K-r photographers would be limited to available light photography while using the GPS unit. As well as the unusual ASTROTRACER mode, the O-GPS1 also allows a simple navigation function which indicates on the camera's LCD display both the distance and bearing either to the location of a previously captured image, or to a preset location that was saved to the camera body from an attached PC. By default, the camera is aware of the locations of nine Pentax international service centers worldwide. The O-GPS1 also allows display of an electronic compass that accounts for variation between magnetic and true north, depending on the GPS location.

Pentax's O-GPS1 GPS unit draws power from one AAA-sized battery, and is capable of a cold start in around 40 seconds, while a warm start takes just 5 seconds. It can determine location information at one second intervals, save GPS track information, and has a battery life of around 5-7 hours from a rechargeable NiMH battery depending on ambient temperature. Maximum battery life is around 12 hours with a lithium disposable cell at around 23°C / 73°F.

More details can be found in the official press release below.

Pentax's O-GPS1 GPS receiver. Photo provided by Pentax Imaging Co. Click for a bigger picture!

Pentax's O-GPS1 GPS receiver. Photo provided by Pentax Pentax Imaging Co. Click for a bigger picture!

Pentax's O-GPS1 GPS receiver.
Photos provided by Pentax Pentax Imaging Co.

Original Source Press Release:

Pentax Announces O-GPS1 Unit For Digital SLR Cameras

New SLR Accessory Helps Pentax Photographers Track Every Step Of The Way

GOLDEN, CO. (June 1, 2011)…PENTAX Imaging Company announced the PENTAX O-GPS1 unit designed for recent PENTAX digital SLR cameras. This new, versatile GPS unit tracks both basic geographical and celestial body location data for both earthbound and astrophotography purposes.

Mounted on the hot shoe of select PENTAX digital SLR cameras,* the O-GPS1 unit records latitude, longitude, altitude, and universal time coordinated (UTC) of shooting locations with captured images. Image files with this GPS data may be used to track shooting locations and review location data on a personal computing device. The GPS location data also helps sort and file recorded images.
* Compatible models are the K-5, K-r and 645D (as of May, 2011).

Pentax's O-GPS1 GPS receiver mounted on the K-5 digital SLR. Photo provided by Pentax Imaging Co. Click for a bigger picture!

Pentax's O-GPS1 GPS receiver mounted on the K-5 digital SLR.
Photo provided by Pentax Imaging Co.

Some of the O-GPS1’s functions may not be available when used with the 645D. Compatible PENTAX digital SLR camera bodies must be updated with the latest firmware version for proper O-GPS1 functionality.

In addition to location data, the GPS unit works with the PENTAX Shake Reduction (SR) system to offer unique, advanced applications, including Astrotracer, Simple Navigation and Electronic Compass. Together, the PENTAX O-GPS and associated applications offer several key functions:

  • Geotags images for location information on popular photo sharing websites.

  • Charts progress of a hike, bike, boat or other adventure trip with interval position tracking.

  • A separate, efficient power source will not drain the camera’s battery during GPS operation.

  • Supports terrestrial-based Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) for highly accurate positioning.

  • An Electronic Compass function assists navigation.

The PENTAX O-GPS1 unit will ship in July 2011. It is available for pre-order now on www.pentaxwebstore.com for $249.95 USD. More information is available here: www.pentaximaging.com/news.

PENTAX Imaging Company is an innovative leader in the production of a variety of adventure ready digital cameras including weather-resistant digital SLRs and stylish, compact, waterproof cameras, as well as lenses, flash units, binoculars, scopes, and eyepieces. For more than 90 years, PENTAX has developed durable, reliable products that meet the needs of adventurous consumers and businesses. With headquarters in Golden, Colorado, PENTAX Imaging Company is a division of PENTAX of America, Inc.

# # #


GPS function records shooting location data
The O-GPS1 mounts easily on the hot shoe of a compatible PENTAX DSLR camera to records the latitude, longitude, altitude, universal time coordinated (UTC) and direction of the shooting location onto captured images. Using mapping software such as Google Earth™, users may recall shooting locations and directions on a map. GPS functionality also helps sort and file-recorded images.
Note: When the O-GPS1 is used in locations where it cannot receive signals from GPS satellites, location data may be in error or missing.

Astrotracer for astrophotography
The O-GPS1offers the advanced PENTAX original Astrotracer function,* which works with the PENTAX Shake Reduction (SR) system on select cameras for tracking and photographing celestial bodies. The unit calculates the movement of stars, planets, and other bodies using the latitude obtained from GPS data and the camera’s alignment data (horizontal and vertical inclinations and aspect) obtained from its magnetic and acceleration sensors. Then, the unit shifts the camera’s image sensor in synchronization with the movement of the object(s).** As a result, stars and other bodies are captured as solid points rather than blurry streaks, even during extended exposures. The unit also simplifies astrophotography by requiring only a tripod and eliminating the need for additional accessories such as an equatorial telescope.
* This function is available only when the O-GPS1 is mounted on a PENTAX digital SLR camera body equipped with a magnet-driven SR system.
** The duration of Astrotracer operation may vary depending on photographic conditions.

Simple Navigation to indicate location data to a destination
The O-GPS1 offers a Simple Navigation function, which calculates the direction and distance to a given destination from the current position. Users may locate destinations using location data stored on recorded images or register/assign destinations by uploading location data created on a personal computing device.*
* At the time of purchase, the O-GPS1 has nine PENTAX international service centers as preset destinations.

Electronic Compass function to indicate and record direction
The O-GPS1 features an Electronic Compass function, which displays the camera’s direction on its LCD monitor with great precision. Using the aspect of geomagnetism detected by its magnetic sensor and GPS location data, the unit indicates the aspect in relation to true north. Users may record directional data on captured images.

Additional important features

  • Simplified weather-resistant construction for use in light rain.

  • Independent power source (one AAA-size battery) eliminating the need to draw power from the camera body.

PENTAX, K-5, K-r, and 645D are trademarks of HOYA CORPORATION.
Google and Google Earth are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Google, Inc.
All other brands or product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies.
Design and Specifications are subject to change without notice.

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