Though often overlooked, most Trimble data collectors have the built-in ability to take quality photographs in the field. This can be extremely valuable for documenting survey data, saving time and increasing productivity by reducing the need for elaborate field notes and descriptions.

In this installment, we will look at how to use the onboard camera in the TSC7 data collector. We’ll also see how these photos can be linked to field measurements made using Trimble Access. In a future post, we will go over how the photos can be imported and viewed in a TBC project, and even included in special exports and deliverables such as Google Earth KMZ files.

It’s often been said “a picture is worth a thousand words.” This certainly applies in the world of surveying and mapping, where field professionals are tasked with gathering spatial data and descriptive information to generate accurate maps, reports, plans, etc… Although much of this can be done through codes and descriptions, sometimes there is no substitute for a well-executed photograph.

Most of us carry cell phones, many of which are equipped with high-quality cameras. Consequently, it is now common for surveyors to use their phone cameras to document features when text descriptions may not be enough. Frequently however, these same surveyors forget that their data collector likely has a high-quality camera too, and that there can be distinct advantages in using the onboard camera.  These include:

  • Ability to easily “link” one or more photos directly with specific field measurements.
  • Ability to embed and prompt for photos as a mandatory requirement when feature coding and attributing.
  • Ability to geotag photos for actual location; especially important when working with “local” coordinates.
  • Ability to easily import photos along with field data into TBC, and use them for generating additional exports and deliverables, including embedded raster images, embellished CAD & KMZ files, etc.

Despite the advantages, it is surprising how few surveyors leverage this. Surprising too are the number of inquiries we get from people who’ve never used or are uncertain how to use the onboard camera (…or rather, “cameras,” since the TSC7 has both front and rear-facing cameras). Although easy to use and well-documented in User Guides for popular collectors like Trimble’s TSC3 and TSC7, these guides generally refer to using the camera “externally” or “outside” of Trimble Access. For use within Trimble Access, the following video shows how to do this. Enjoy!