One of the biggest areas that is overlooked when getting a video/camera setup for trips out is the speed of the your SD or Micro SD card. Now this doesn’t matter if your camera is a GoPro, Contour, Garmin, Sony or whatever because without a good memory card you may struggle to capture the video footage you want.
As cameras have become more capable the need for faster cards with greater capacity has become more important.
SD Speed Class
The Speed Class Rating is the official unit of speed measurement for all SD cards, including both full and micro sized versions. Speed Class is a minimum speed based on a worst case scenario test and represents the minimum transfer rate of data that the card is capable of.
Class 2 – 2MB/s
Class 4 – 4MB/s
Class 6 – 6MB/s
Class 8 – 8MB/s
Class 10 – 10MB/s
This can be seen on cards as a number within a circle.
Ultra High Speed (UHS) Class
Just to confuse things a little more there is also an Ultra High Speed (UHS) classification. Ultra High Speed 1 – U1 is the same as Class 10 (10MB/s). UHS sets a minimum transfer of data that the card is capable of in a similar way to the SD speed class.
U1 – 10MB/s (same as class 10)
U3 – 30MB/s
This can be seen on cards as a number within a bucket/U.
U3 is pretty new and is a response to ensure that consumers can easily identify those cards with the highest transfer rates suitable for 4K/2K filming. If your card is not U3 this doesn’t necessarily mean that it is not up to the job. It may simply not be labeled with the new U3 symbol. Check the transfer rates – this is the key.
Why should you care?
The Speed Class is important for video mode or camcorders, as when recording video the device is actually saving a steady stream of data. This is exactly what you are expecting a GoPro camera to do whilst filming video at high resolutions. GoPro recommend SDHC cards with a class 10/U3 rating for the Hero4, Hero Session, Hero5 Black, and Hero5 Session. A Class 10 SD card (U3) is the best choice regardless of what you are using it for. Always get the fastest card you can.
There is always a danger that if your SD card isn’t up to it that you could encounter error messages or loss of data. When ever my GoPro has crashed or frozen it has always been down to the card I have been using.
The difficulty comes when you start looking at Speed Class and card storage size. The higher the speed class the higher the price, the higher the card capacity the higher the prices. Over the last few months I have swapped out pretty much all of my cards for the newest Lexar 1000x U3 series. All are more than capable of coping with all the recording options available on the GoPro.
SD Card Storage Capacity
Some of the older GoPro cameras are limited in the size of card they can handle. The GoPro Hero5, Hero5 Session, Hero 4 Black/Silver and the Hero Session can accept cards up to 128GB in capacity. Others are limited to 64GB. As with all things like this if you are purchasing a new card for your GoPro try and get the largest capacity that will work with your camera.
SD Card Recommendations
GoPro issue a list of suitable cards and seem to update this on a fairly regular basis. It’s important to use one of the recommended SD cards (or a similar/better spec card) in your camera, or you may experience freeze-up or video corruption issues.
Here are the Micro SD card recommended for GoPro Hero5 Black and Hero5 Session:
The Lexar 1000x are professional grade and can happily handle shooting at 4K with speeds of upto 150MB/s.
The Sandisk Extreme range are only available in 32GB and 64GB versions. If you are looking for 128GB you’ll need to go for something like the Lexar.
Although these are the ones endorsed and recommended by GoPro other brands work just as well. I have been using the PNY range of U3 Micro SD cards without issue.
There are a great deal of fake SD cards out in circulation and it is important that you buy yours from a reputable supplier.
Once you get into taking video you’ll soon build up a collection of memory cards. These things are so easy to misplace or lose. After losing a few last year I use Peli SD Card storage case. It can handle both SD and Micro SD cards at the same time, and although not fully waterproof it is water resistant and keeps the dirt/grime out.
What else should you consider?