GoPro is the market leading action camera manufacturer, ultra-tough and designed to be used anywhere. As with any imaging device at their heart is a small memory card that stores the footage and images you shoot. In this feature, I intend to look at the best memory cards for GoPro, or for that matter any action camera, all so you can be sure that you buy the right card for your shiny new GoPro.
MicroSD cards are the card of choice for all action cameras, which makes things easy when it comes to buying one.
MicroSD cards are from the SD family which has three different form factors. The first is simply known as SD and are used by most CSC’s and now many DSLRs, the next is MiniSD, this format is now pretty much obsolete in the imaging industry, and then there’s MicroSD which is popular for mobile phones, tablets, drones and most importantly action cameras.
As we’re looking at Action cameras we just need to look at MicroSD cards, but it’s worth noting that as with standard sized SD cards, the exterior is adorned with numbers and capacities, these denote the speed, capacity as well as type and generation.
It’s important that you understand what these icons and numbers mean, this way you can make sure you buy one with the right speed to write down your video date and have plenty of capacity to store it.
Taking the new GoPro Hero7 range as an example it would at first seem that the three cameras would all require different speeds and classes of cards. The GoPro Hero7 White only has minimal requirements with 1080p at 60fps which the GoPro Hero7 Black shoots footage at 4k 60fps, quite a difference in video quality and file sizes.
But, here’s the shocker – GoPro actually recommend the same class of card for all of their cameras, and to be honest one card really will fit all.
What memory card do I need for my GoPro Hero7?
GoPro Hero7 Black, Silver or White, they all take the same. Look for the following identifiers; UHS-1, U1 16GB or more.
The SanDisk Ultra 64GB card is a great example. It may seem like a no-frills card but it fits all the requirements you need for any GoPro, or for that matter any action camera.
We’ll strip down what exactly each of those letters and numbers means in a moment.
What’s also worth noting is that although the speed class, highlighted with the U1, U2 and U3 is the same for all action cameras as is the Phase, either UHS-I or UHS-II, the capacity will differ.
Capacity is often the big number and obviously, Full HD takes up far less space than 4K.
What memory card for my GoPro Hero7 Black?
The GoPro Hero 7 Black features 4K video at 60fps, 1080p at 240fps. While the camera’s sensor and the processor can handle the waves of data being captured it’s down to the memory card to store it.
A UHS-I U1 128GB will suffice.
Drop down to the GoPro Hero 7 Silver and you still have 4K video but now at 30fps and 1080p at 60fps so a UHS-I U1 64GB will do most people. It will at least last longer than the internal battery.
Dropdown again and the GoPro Hero 7 White offers 1080p at 60fps, so no real issues with storage and you could easily get away with a UHS-I U1 32GB.
As mentioned the actual speed and specifications of the cards above are essentially the same, it’s just the capacities that change.
The official requirements for the GoPro Hero 7 range are ‘microSD™ with at least Class 10 or UHS-I rating’ so as long as your card meets that requirement then you should be fine.
This actually means, for the most part, you don’t need to buy the highest spec’d card to shoot on the GoPro Hero 7 Black, you’ll actually get away with buying a far lesser card and getting exactly the same performance.
It’s worth however knowing exactly what all the figures mean, then as the capabilities and specifications of the camera increase, you’ll have the knowledge to buy the right card.
What UHS MicroSD card should I buy for GoPro?
First of all is SD and this stands for Secure Digital.
UHS stands for Ultra High Speed and things can get a little confusing. Essentially there are two aspects to UHS; Speed Class and Phase.
Let’s start with the speed class as these have relatively recently been updated. You have U1, U2 and U3 these refer to the minimum write speeds, so U1 minimum 10MB/s, U2 20MB/s and U3 30MB/s.
These have recently been extended to v6, V10, V30, V60 and V90, again these refer to the minimum write speeds; V6 = 6mb/s through to V90 at 90mb/s.
Next is the Phase and this is shown by the Roman numerals I, II or III. These refer to the phase or generation of SD card and the bus speed. The original SD card has a bus speed of 25MB/s, UHS-I 104MB/s, UHS-II 312MB/s and UHS-III 624MB/s.
Looking through these numbers it’s instantly apparent that many of the top end cards are well in excess of what we need for our GoPro, that’s not to say we should buy the cheapest but we can actually get away with using cards that are a lot lower specified than we think.
That is unless you have 360 cameras such as the Fusion, then the bar does raise and you’ll need to start your look at UHS-II cards as a minimum, and two cards rather than just one.
What capacity card should I buy for my GoPro Hero7
Finally, before you rush out and buy a card you need to look at capacity. If you’re recording at 4K 60fps then a minimum of 64GB will be needed to store all that high definition footage. As an example, 5 minutes of 4K video shot at 30fps on the GoPro Hero7 Black takes up 2.98GB of data, so a days work is going to quickly consume a card.
Switch to the GoPro Hero 7 Silver or White and then shoot 1080p at 60fps and 5 minutes of video will take up just 1.7GB of storage, that’s quite a bit of difference.
Is there a difference in flash memory quality?
Reading this feature you may be thinking great, so I can buy almost any card for my GoPro Hero 7. To some extent that’s true but there is one last thing to consider.
Cheap memory cards are cheap for a reason, the way that flash memory is made means that the quality of the flash varies greatly depending on where the flash is positioned during manufacture.
In a much-simplified explanation, the flash towards the edge of a sheet is of a lesser quality than that at the centre, and by quite some margin.
This means that the cheap flash you can buy is usually from the edge and the more expensive from the centre. When it comes to action cameras, it’s best to spend a touch more on a decent branded card than it is on a cheaper non-branded.
If you have any thoughts or questions about memory cards for your GoPro then let me know.