GoPro is a great camera you would want to use with your quadcopter. That much is obvious. But what is not so apparent is the fact that these cameras do not come with a memory card. You will need to buy one. And you wouldn't want to pick just about any. You see, the performance of the SDcard you use with your GoPro greatly influences the quality of your videos .
You might have the best go pro action camera, but if your SD memory card is not fast enough you will have a hard time capturing video with it. So you will want to choose the card you use carefully if you are really serious about performance. And if you are into aerial videography or real estate videography, you simply cannot afford to use a card that's not good enough.
Data transfer rate
recommended SD card
30 MB per second
4K. 2.7K video reording
GoPro Hero4 Black
GoPro Hero4 Silver
10 MB per second
Full HD video
SanDisk Extreme 32GB MicroSDHC UHS-1
GoPro Hero3 Black
Speed Class 10
10 MB per second
Speed Class 6
6 MB per second
HD, Full HD filming
SanDisk Extreme 32GB MicroSDHC UHS-1
Speed Class 4
4 MB per second
Speed Class 2
2 MB per second
Note : For 0.5 second time lapse photography, you will need a Class 10, UHS 1 or UHS 3 micro SD card.
There's no point buying Speed Class 2 through 6 SD cards. Not only are these hard to find on the market, you might not save much money either.
You would want to buy a UHS 1 or UHS 3 card instead.
Speed Class Rating
Recording videos onto a SD card requires a constant, sustained speed at which data needs to be written.
Speed Class Rating is what is used to measure the minimum sustained data transfer rates any SD memory card is capable of. This is applicable for micro-SD cards as well.
The speed at which different SD cards can handle data very a lot. And different users need different speeds. Not everybody needs an ultra fast data transfer rate.
But if you are using a GoPro Hero4 and planning to shoot 4K at 30fps or 12MP photos at 30fps in the multi shot burst mode and save it onto the card, you will need a SD card that is capable of handling very high data transfer speeds.
On the other hand, someone using a SD card mainly to store videos and photos on their smartphone does not have to care about the SD card's Speed Class rating. It just does not matter in such instances.
Here's a table you might helpful when you are choosing a SD card for your GoPro camera
Note : The Speed Class Rating specifies the minimum sustained read write speed a card is capable of. It does not indicate the exact data transfer rate occuring during a read write operation.
Always Get The Fastest Card You Can ...
If your card is not fast enough, you might get error messages and even lose data. In case your GoPro FPV camera has ever frozen or crashed, you can be pretty sure your memory card is simply not fast enough. It's not capable of writing data at the minimum sustained speed that is required of it.
- Buy A 32GB Card - not 16GB, not 64GB
GoPro cameras are battery guzzlers. If you are shooting videos at 1080p or 4K, the batteries will not last for more than a couple of minutes. And even at 720p, they might not last more than 3 minutes.
Which is why if you will not need a 64GB card. A 32GB sd card might be more than good enough. The batteries will simply not last that long and you will end up never using all of the additional space on your card.
But that does not mean you should settle for a 16GB card either. That might be too less and you will have to keep transferring files to your computer or phone too often to have some empty space on the card for new videos.
How Large Is A 1 Minute Video?
720p @ 30fps
1080p @ 30fps
1080p @ 60fps
4K @ 30fps
How Large Is A 1 Hour Video?
720p @ 30fps
1080p @ 30fps
1080p @ 60fps
4K @ 30fps
So on a 16GB card, you can store less than a hour of 4K video, while on a 32GB card you will be around 85 minutes of 4K video at 30fps.
Use only FAT32 Video Cards With GoPro
GoPro cameras are designed to be compatible with the FAT32 file system Microsoft created around 1995. It's a very reliable file system that is compatible with just about any device or operating system. While newer, more advanced file systems have been introduced since then, most devices still support mostly FAT32.
- One limitation of FAT32 is it restricts the maximum file size to 4GB.
So if you shoot more than 4GB of video in a single session, the file gets split into several parts, with each part being a maximum of 4GB in size.
If you are shooting 4k video with the Hero 4, it takes less than 9 minutes for this 4GB limit to be reached. But that usually is not a big deal because most quadcopter batteries do not last much beyond 9 minutes anyway.
But if you do end up with several 4GB files, you can easily stich them all together with GoPro Studio or Adobe Premiere.
Even if you use a 64GB card, GoPro will format it as exFAT, but still will restrict maximum file size to 4GB.
But then, there's really no point in buying 64GB or 128GB cards for use with quadcopter cameras. The batteries will not last that long anyway. So you will be much better off just sticking to 16GB or 32GB cards. 32GB cards may be your best choice.
The Ultimate SD Card Buying Guide
- SD Memory Card Types
SD memory cards are available in several different formats or types. Generally speaking, cards offering high-capacity (large data storage amounts) and high-performance (high transfer speeds) will tend to cost more.
Digital cameras typically use standard size cards, while subcompact and compact cards like micro and mini format are used with other devices, including tablets, smart phones and mobile phones.
Mini SD memory Cards are 20 mm x 21.5 mm x 1.4 mm and standard SD cards are 32 mm x 24 mm x 2.1 mm.
Micro SD memory cards are 11 mm x 15 mm x 1.0 mm.
Standard cards offer write-protect, while mini, micro and switch cards do not.
Major SD Memory Card categories
- Standard-Capacity (SDSC)
Fat 16 and 12 file systems are used by the format Secure Digital Standard Capacity (SDSC). They offer lower capacities and transfer speeds compared to other types of SD memory card formats, like SDXC and SDHC.
In addition, SDSC cards are available in subcompact and compact formats, and marketed as miscroSD and miniSD cards.
- High-Capacity (SDHC)
The SDHC format (Secure Digital High Capacity) is the 2.0 version of the original SD card. Devices support SDHC cards support SDSC card as well. However, there are some devices designed for SDSC cars that might not support SDHC cards.
The FAT 32 file system is used by SDHC cards. There are also micro and mini variations available of the SDHC format (miniSDHC and microSDHC).
- eXtended-Capacity (SDXC)
SDXC (Secure Digital eXtended Capacity) memory cards have storage capacities that are available up to 2 terabytes. Some devices supporting SDSC cards might not recognize SDXC cards. However, other SD formats are supported by devices that have been designed to be used with SDXC. An exFAt file system is used by SDXC cards. A micro kind of SDXC cards is also available (miscroSDXC).
- Input/Output (SDIO)
These are mostly used for mobile phones, laptops and PDAs, there are some digital cameras that support the SD SDIO (Secure Digital Input Output) cards as well.
Devices that have SDIO capability make it possible to use SD slots for other purposes beyond memory cards, including GPS, Bluetooth, barcode readers and Wi-Fi.
Purchasing SD Memory Cards
Whenever you are going to buy a memory card, make sure that you always check the user manual for your digital camera to determine which formats the device supports.
Some digital cameras might also identify which format is supported on the actual device itself. When a device isn't compatible with a certain SD memory card format, the card will not be recognized by it.
Another important consideration besides identifying which memory cards are compatible is to check on the card's capacity and speed.
When buying an SD memory card, you need to consider how you will be using your digital camera. If you will be using the camera for a special occasion or vacation where you plan to take many photographs, then you might want to consider getting a high-capacity card.
For casual or infrequent use, a card that has a lower storage space might be more than sufficient.
When a high performance camera is being used for high-definition video or professional photography, then a high-speed memory card will be very beneficial.
There are different ways that SD memory card speed is measured depending on the specific manufacturer. Transfer speed varies depending on the card itself and the brand. In general, the SD memory card transfer speed is measured using two speed class or speed indicator variations.
A card's minimum writing performance is identified by each class. If a digital camera is being used for video recording then speed is especially important since smooth writing of the content is critical.
Four Speed Classes are featured on SD memory cards:
- Class 10 - 10 MB per second
- Class 6 - 6 MB per second
- Class 4 - 4 MB per second
- Class 2 - 2 MB per second
Class 2 cards have been designed to used with standard definition video recording. Classes 4 and 6 have been designed to used with high definition (HD) recording.
High speeds are delivered by Class 10 and are used with HD video recording. Speed Classes are identified with a number and C. They are used on microSDXC, SDXC, microSDHC, miniSDHC, SDHC, microSD, miniSD and SD memory cards.
UHS Speed Class
The UHS (Ultra High Speed mark uses the number 1 in the U for identification. SD cards that use the Speed Class UHS mark are notated as UHS-1. They provide the highest transfer speeds. Certain SDXC and SDHC cards use UHS Speed Classes.
These kinds of cards have been designed for use with large-sized HD videos. High-performance is delivered for real-time broadcasting. Only products designed to be used with UHS can use UHS Speed Class cards (speeds to 312 megabytes/second).
A device supporting Speed Class 4 SD memory cards also can support Speed Class 10, 6 and 4 memory cards. Similarly, devices designed to be used with Speed Class 6 are also able to support Speed Class 10 and 6 memory cards.
Devices designed to be used for UHS can also use Class 10 cards.
However, devices designed for Class 10 only *cannot* use UHS-1 cards.
How much storage is required frequently depends on the way a digital camera is going to be used. In general, memory cards that have 4GB or 8GB of storage space will be sufficient for a majority of uses and users.
It is convenient to have a high-capacity memory card when high-definition photographs are being taken or when using a camera to make high-definition videos. You can also avoid needing to carry or buy multiple cards when using a high-capacity memory card.
High-capacity memory cards can be especially convenient for those taking many photos on a frequent basis.
SD standard cards have up to 2GB memory, while microSD and miniSD have up to 4GB of storage. SDHC, microSDHC and miniSDHC card have higher transfer speeds and greater capacity, with capacity ranging from 2GB to 32GB. Capacities of 32GB to 2 terabytes are offered by SDXC an microSDXC memory cards.
Caring For Your Memory Cards
If you lose data or your memory card becomes corrupted for some reason, it's more likely to be a software issue and may not mean the card is poorly built. It's usually the file structure that gets corrupted.
This typically happens when data is being written and the process is terminated abruptly - either by the user or by the batteries dying while the card was being written onto. You should always 'eject' the card (Windows) or unmount it (Unix/Linux/Ubuntu) before removing a card from a computer.
If a write process is terminated abruptly before the card is ejected or unmounted, you would want to format the card before using it again. Using it without formating could mean you run the risk of losing data. You should also know how to delete pictures from your SD card safely, and recover deleted images as well.
Here are a few tips to keep your cards working well for a long time ...
- Don't put your cards on microwave ovens or on radiators. They can get damaged.
- Don't put your cards in your backpocket. If you aren't careful, you could inadvertently sit on them and damage them beyond repair.
- Always eject or unmount your card before removing them from a computer.
- If you remove the card while data was being written to it, format it before using it again.
- Backup files from your SD card to your desktop computer or a laptop periodically, Even very well maintained SD cards may fail. And you would not want to lose your data if that happens.