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Spatial News Review

Kodak FIS265
by: GeoCommunity Staff, Dec. 1999
editor@geocomm.com
I recently had he pleasure of “test driving” Kodak’s new Digital Science Field Imaging System (FIS 265). This system is the latest product from Kodak, developed as a Field imaging tool bringing together the functionality of the Kodak DC265 Digital Camera, the Garmin GPS III+ GPS, and ArcView GIS version 3.x. The package has been put together to enable users to quickly and easily incorporate digital imagery and related GPS coordinates into ArcView GIS.


Kodak Digital Science Field Imaging System (FIS265)
About the Camera
I won’t go into to many details about the camera (see Kodak DC265 for more) but I will list off some of the main features. The camera uses memory cards which enable you to store a relatively large number of digital images (additional cards are also available from Kodak). A battery charger and four AA rechargeable batteries are provided so you have a constant supply of fresh batteries. The DC265 is highly customizable - watermark properties can be set to display date, time, text, and logos. Advanced exposure settings let you take control over the external flash, exposure, and aperture settings. Advanced focus settings enable you to set multi-spot, single spot and manual focus as the default setting. Other advanced settings will enable you to set image file type (FPX, or JPG), auto rotate, or quick burst options.

Other camera features:

  • Digital 3X zoom lens
  • Mode dial to set Capture/Review/Connect/Info modes
  • Thumbnail picture review
  • Self timer
  • Protect from deletion
  • Slide show
  • Video - to view images on Television
  • Built in flash
  • Album settings
  • Record Sounds

Options for image resolution:
  • High 1536x1024
  • Med 1152x768
  • Low 768x512

The FIS265 has an optional setting that enables you to capture and store audio clips - a very cool feature! Simply take a picture, review the image, press and hold the “Record” button. Your comments will be recorded and saved in a corresponding .WAV file when downloaded data to your PC. The camera will take approximately 30 images (1024x1536) and store them on a single memory card when capturing images using the default quality setting. Optionally, there is an enhanced or super quality setting - I didn’t use this option.

When its time to download images to your PC you have an option of using serial cable connection, USB cable, or infrared transceiver. A CD accompanies the camera and contains proprietary mounter software. Kodak picture easy software enables you to organize and enhance images. Additional software shipped with the camera includes TWAIN and Macintosh software. The programs are relatively simple to use and are provided to facilitate the interaction between your camera and PC, enabling you to view, select, manipulate, and save your data to a local PC.

System Requirements:

  • PC with 486/66 MHz or Pentium Processor
  • 16 MB RAM
  • 50 MB Hard disk space
  • serial port, USB port, or PCMCIA card reader
  • Windows 95, 98 or NT 4.0
  • CD-ROM drive
  • 256 colours

About the Garmin GPS III+
The system comes with a mounting bracket that holds the camera and the GPS unit. The GPS comes with a cable which plugs into the camera’s serial port. When first getting started, the camera is set to GPS capture. In order to commence taking pictures with associated GPS data you must first run a companion script which reminds the camera to take “GPS Pictures”. Activating this script will ensure that when you turn on the camera, a script is automatically run which activates the GPS Receiver and initiates interaction between the GPS unit and the digital camera. I’m not about to go into too much detail concerning operation of the GPS, however, I will advize potential users to carefully follow the instruction given in the FIS265 user’s guide and to ensure that you have set the GPS to Interact in “Text Out” mode (see p 3-4). The accompanying documentation is excellent and easy to follow. It took me about 5 minutes to follow instructions and get the camera communicating properly with the GPS.

Taking GPS Pictures
Once again, I don’t plan on getting into the details of taking pictures, however, I will briefly discuss what is involved in capturing images with associated GPS data. When you power on the camera the unit goes through a start-up script to establish communications with the GPS - the first time you turn on the unit the GPS will need to locate satellites in order to determine your location. The camera then displays a message stating “ready to take GPS image”. Take images as you normally would and you will notice the processing takes a little longer since now your images are being tagged and water-marked with GPS data. Users have complete control over several GPS-Camera options including the number of images taken per location, GPS activation at start-up, when to update GPS coordinates, and image bearing settings.

GPS Images are water marked with the following information - note, users have control over the position and display of watermarks (ie. Bottom, top, opaque, transparent):

  • UTC Time and Date and bearing
  • Latitude
  • Longitude
  • PS Status (2D, 3D, 2D differential, and 3D differential)

Loading Images on PC
Digital images are transferred to your PC using PCMCIA Slot, USB cable, or infrared transceiver. I chose to connect via serial port and experienced no problems whatsoever. You will have to make sure that your PC detects the unit and is connected to the appropriate Com port (see documentation if necessary). If all accompanying software has been properly installed you will need to simply connect the camera to the PC using a serial cable. Next, the camera mode dial is turned to “Connect Mode” and the camera power turned on. Windows users select the My computer/DC265 Zoom Camera icon and a folder will be displayed containing the images captured as files. Simply drag and drop these files into a folder on the local machine. It’s that simple, images are not stored locally and can be deleted from the camera.

Loading into ArcView
This step is likely the most intriguing to most of us GIS types. The FIS265 comes with a custom ArcView extension which must be placed in your c:\ESRI\Av_GIS30\Arcview\EXT32 directory (or default location for your ArcView scripts). I launched the ArcView software, version 3.2 in my case, and created a new view. Select the File/Extensions option and load the “Kodak Field Imaging System” script.

Click to Enlarge
Initial Kodak Script and dialog

A Kodak icon appears in the ArcView button bar. I simply select the “load all images in a folder” option and a FIS image theme is then created. The resulting data is contained in a Point theme and also contains an attribute field which contains the name of the associated image captured at that particular location.

Click to Enlarge
View of loading Kodak Extension

Clicking on any point in the FIS point data theme with the “hotlink” icon (lightning bolt) results in an image being opened in a new view. The image view functions the same as data views in that you can zoom in/out and pan around.

Click to Enlarge
ArcView theme Showing Hotlink tool and resulting image

Click to Enlarge
Displplay of Point Theme Attributes

I noticed an important step that must be performed if you plan on reprojecting your FIS point data theme. I used the ArcView Reproject script in order to convert my FIS data from Geographic coordinates (the default unit) to UTM Zone16 NAD83 units. This was simple to accomplish, however, you must beware that in the resulting data theme you must re-set the following theme properties in order to maintain a hotlink to the image. Set the Theme/Properties/HotLink setting to be as follows:

Field: ImageName
Predefined Action: Link to User Script
Script: KodakFIS.DisplayImageInView
At first I had some problems with hotlinking my reprojected point data. I soon realized, however, that when reprojecting in ArcView 3.2 that some of the theme properties are not maintained - an easy fix!

We now have our data in the ArcView environment. Locations where we took pictures are geocoded, reprojected, linked to attribute data, hotlinked to imagery, and ready to be incorporated into a custom application if necessary. I can think of several projects that I have worked on in the past where we had to manually georeference picture locations, load a database, associate pictures with the correct data, and import everything into ArcView. This proved to be a very time consuming process, and required much QC in order to ensure that we were relating the appropriate pictures and data with the correct point data.

Image Tour of Destin, Florida
The final step involved using the Alta4 ImageMapper extension to produce a hyperlinked image map which we have uploaded for you to view the results of our photo shoot. On a more personal note, I thought it would be fun for GeoCommunity/SpatialNews visitors to be able to have a brief tour of our part of the world and get some glimpses of the beautiful resort area of Destin/Niceville, Northwest Florida - home to The GeoCommunity Headquarters. (Simply Click on an icon to bring up an image of the corresponding location) To begin your tour Click Here.

Kodak FIS265 Tips
I don't claim to be a "field imaging system guru" by any means, however, as a result of my test drive, I can offer several suggestions - thanks to Dr. Douglas Wood of Kodak's Scientific Imaging Systems division for his input and advice.

  • If you wish to record the position of the subject in your photograph (rather than the position of the photographer) just start the "Take GPS Pictures" script while you are standing next to the object because this is when the camera captures the GPS data for the image. Then, while the camera is displaying the message "Ready to take GPS picture" you can step back, compose your picture and press the shutter button to photograph and record the position of the subject. You can also (optionally) record the direction you are facing when you take the photograph. Just turn on the "Ask for Image Bearing" option and carry a compass with you in the field. The camera software will prompt you for the image bearing (N,NE,E,SE,S,SW,W, or NW). The image bearinginformation is also imported into ArcView by the FIS ArcView extension.
  • Once a photo has been taken, selecting the "Take Another Picture" option will recapture your GPS coordinates
  • The Garmin GPSIII+ accuracy is +/- 15m without Selective Availability (SA). SA is variable but can introduce errors as great as 100m. For 1 to 5 meter accuracy, even with SA turned on, you can operate the FIS265 with an auto-tune differential GPS beacon receiver. For details see the FAQ page on Kodak's FIS265 web site for more information.

Glenn's Comments
I must say I had lots of fun testing out the new FIS265 and I am going to miss not having it around the office - who knows... maybe Santa will be nice to me this year! Overall, I was very impressed with the quality of images compared to my last GPS camera which was a DC240 (although I can't say anything but good things about that product as well). Users of the FIS265 will be well served by first going over the excellent documentation that accompanies the unit. Most people will likely have no problems if they do so. The audio recording feature is very cool and the extensive menu options will likely intimidate some users but is necessary to provide a great deal of custom settings you won't find in other digital cameras. I'd like to learn more about the GPS functionality, however, time was against me. Field crews are guaranteed to be thrilled with the time savings that result from using the FIS265 and in a couple of years, I'm sure they will be asking themselves how they ever managed without one.

Related Links

  • Original Kodak FIS265Press Release
  • Kodak FIS265 Page
  • Kodak FIS265 FAQ
  • Garmin GPS III+ Page

    Please forward any questions or comments to the author


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