What SD card should I buy for my action camera?

October 4, 2016

So you finally decided to buy a new action camera and are eager to start recording and photographing your adventures in crisp 4K or 1080p… However in most cases you’ll still need to buy an SD card separately, read on to find out how to decide which SD memory card will work best for your camera.

How to pick a memory card?

Be it a top of the line  GoPro or  Sony or a more affordable  ISAW camera. These days, the vast majority of action cameras use microSD cards, but there are quite a few choices and technical terms you should be familiar with, prices also vary widely. so which SD card to you need? For the most part it will come down to one thing:

Shooting 4k?

UHS-speed-class

Look for this symbol the ‘3’ indicates an UHS (Ultra High Speed), of at least 30MB/s necessary for 4K video recording

If your camera supports 4K UHD or even 2K resolution then you should definitely go with a card that is rated for  a UHS Speed Class of 3, this will ensure your ultra high definition video writes smoothly and consistently to the card this will be especially important at higher frame rates at these resolutions (24fps or more).

Samsung 64GB PRO MicroSDXC

Samsung 64GB PRO, a good choice for 4K recording
From
$44.99 on amazon.com

Shooting 4K also means your videos will be taking a lot more space in your memory card so you are going to want to get as high a capacity as you can afford BUT first make sure to check what is the maximum capacity your action camera accepts, as many of them can top out 64GB or even less for cheaper or older models.

shooting at 4K 30fps will fill a 64GB SD card with about 2:13min of footage. This means you can opt for one large pricy card or carry a couple of cheaper spares.

The best Price we found for a brand 64GB UHS3 card was the  Samsung 64GB PRO going for $44.99.

If you have a GoPro you can take a look a this table for the cards they have tested for compatibility.

Shooting 1080p?

Samsung EVO plus is a good all around and affordable card if you don't need to shoot 4K video
From
$21.89 on amazon.com

SDHC Speed Class 10.svgUHS Class 1.png

Well In this case you will be able to save a bit of money.

You will still want to look for at least a class 10 card, and if your camera supports higher frame rates (60fps+) you will definitely want to go with a UHS(Ultra High Speed) category of at least 1.

Shooting a 1080p 60fps will fill up a 64GB card in around 4 hours depending on your camera, if your device supports it and you hate having to switch cards you can go for a pricey 128GB card or you can always get a a second card  for about $21.89 .

 

sd-uhs-speed-class-table

A handy table provided by the SD association describing the differences and uses for each SD speed class

A big note on capacity

As mentioned before you are going to want to check your camera’s manual and find what is the maximum capacity you action cam accepts. It would be a shame to splurge on that expensive 128GB card and find out your camera doesn’t support it.

Brand

In general we recommend sticking with name brands (Samsung, SanDisk, Lexar) and reputable sellers, as there is a big market for fake cards that over-report their specifications, look out for strange packaging and it might be a good idea to test the card to check its speeds.

Any questions? having trouble deciding which microSD card is right for your camera? let us know in the comments below or check out the forums.

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