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 , Nikon or whatever because without a good memory card you may struggle to capture the video footage you want.
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.
SD Speed Class
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 4 rating or higher for the Hero 2. A Class 10 SD card is recommended when using Time-Lapse mode or photo every 0.5 seconds. For the GoPro Hero 3, 3+, 4, Session 4, 5 or Session 5 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 all of my cards for the newest Lexar 633x U1/U3 series. All are more than capable of coping with all the recording options available on the GoPro. All my cards are also 32GB, 64GB or 128GB. I have purchased cards with greater capacity as I have incrementally upgraded my GoPro cameras.
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.
All of the cards listed below are fast and you’ll need fast and reliable if you are shooting at high resolutions. We are currently running the Lexar, Sandisk Extreme and Samsung EVO cards that are within the list.
SanDisk Extreme UHS-I 32GB – SDSDQXL-032G-A46A
SanDisk Extreme UHS-I 64GB – SDSDQXL-064G-A46A
SanDisk Extreme A1 – SDSQXAF-032G-GN6MA
SanDisk ExtremePro A1 – SDSQXCG-032G-GN6MA
SanDisk Extreme PLUS microSDHC UHS-I – SDSQXBG-032G-GN6MA
SanDisk Extreme PRO microSDXC UHS-II – SDSQXPJ-064G-ANCM3
Lexar 1000x microSDXC UHS-3 128GB – LSDMI128CBNL1000R
Samsung EVO Select 128GB – MB-ME128GA/AM
Samsung EVO Select 256GB – MB-ME256GA/AM
Samsung EVO Plus 128GB – MB-MC128GA/AM
Samsung EVO Plus 256GB – MB-MC256GA/AM
Sony SR-UZA series 64GB- SR-64UZA/T
Sony SR-UZA series 128GB – SR-128UZA/T
There are a great deal of fake SD cards out in circulation and it is important that you buy yours from a reputable supplier.
GoPro sell the SanDisk Extreme UHS-I 32GB – SDSDQXL-032G-A46A or SDSQXNE-032G-AN6MA for use with the Hero (2018), Hero7 Black, Sliver and White, Hero6 Black, Hero5 Black, Fusion, Hero4 (Black and Silver), Session cameras, Hero3+/Hero3 Black, Hero+LCD/Hero+ and Hero (2014).
Some editions of the GoPro Cameras can only handle card capacities upto 32GB or 64GB.
Hero3: Silver Edition Camera requires a Class 10 MicroSD card up to 64 GB.
Hero3: White Edition Camera requires a Class 10 MicroSD card up to 64 GB.
HD Hero2 Camera requires a Class 10 SD card up to 32 GB.
HD Hero Original & HD HERO 960 Cameras require a Class 4 SD card up to 32 GB.
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?