Best Micro-SD Cards For Your Drone

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Drones like Mavic Air have internal storage which you can use to capture that essential moment, but a lot of other drones don’t have this feature. That’s where MicroSD cards step in to provide plenty of storage for your drone.

In this article, we are going to cover everything you need to know about MicroSD cards and which one your drone exactly needs. So let’s begin.


There are a few things you need to check off before buying a MicroSD card for your drone.
Obviously, you want as much memory as possible for the best price possible, but you must make sure the card is fast enough because no one wants a choppy and unusable footage.

We are going to split this article into 5 categories:

  1. The difference between MicroSD HC vs. MicroSD XC
  2. Class, Speed & Max microSD Size 
  3. How to Calculate the amount of footage you can store on the card
  4. What MicroSD card speed is necessary for good footage
  5. The Conclusion

MicroSD HC vs. MicroSD XC


MicroSD card stands for Micro Secure Digital card. HC and XC stand for High Capacity and Extended Capacity. The difference between these two is the amount of data they can store.
MicroSDHC cards go from 2GB to 32GB while MicroSDXC cards go from 32GB up to 2TB. Even though the “biggest” MicroSDXC card is a 512GB card made by Integral.


Class, Speed & Max Size


The Class of your card is a very important thing. It states the minimum transfer speed of the card. For example, Class 2 has a minimum of 2MB/s, Class 4 has a minimum of 4MB/s, Class 10 – 10MB/s, etc… Let’s see the full list:

  • Class 2 – Minimum speed of 2 MB/s
  • Class 4 – Minimum speed of 4 MB/s
  • Class 6 – Minimum speed of 6 MB/s
  • Class 8 – Minimum speed of 8 MB/s
  • Class 10 – Minimum speed of 10 MB/s
  • UHS 1 – Minimum speed of 10 MB/s
  • UHS 3 – Minimum speed of 30 MB/s

Most cards are much faster than their minimum stated speed. Class 10 cards can offer 90+ MB/s, and UHS 3 can even be 300+ MB/s.

If you are curious about what is the maximum SD card that your drone will support, check this out. We gathered info on every popular drone lately:


DJI


Spark 64GB
Mavic Air 128GB
Mavic Pro 128GB
Mavic Pro Platinum 128GB
Phantom 3 Std 64GB
Phantom 3 Adv 64GB
Phantom 3 Pro 64GB
Phantom 3 SE 64GB
Phantom 3 4K 64GB
Phantom 4 64GB
Phantom 4 Adv 128GB
Phantom 4 Pro 128GB

AUTEL


X-Star PREMIUM 64GB
EVO 128GB

YUNEEC


Breeze NoCard
Typhoon H 128GB
Typhoon 4K 128GB
H920 Plus 128GB
H500 32GB

GOPRO


HERO 4 64GB
HERO 5 128GB
HERO 6 128GB

XIAOMI


Mi Drone 64GB

NOTE: Scroll down to see the Best MicroSD card of each size.

In the next section, we are going to explain what MB/s means and how to calculate which MicroSD card you need for your drone.


How to Calculate


We are getting a bit technical in this one. There are a few things you need to know first:
Bit – The smallest unit of memory size.
Byte – A unit of memory size. Consists of 8 Bits.
Bitrate – That’s how many Bits your camera drone records each second.

So for calculating with Bytes it goes like this:
1B = 8b , 1KB = 1024B , 1MB = 1024KB , 1GB = 1024 MB , etc.
And for calculating with bits:
1Kb = 1000b , 1Mb = 1000Kb, 1Gb = 1000Mb , etc.

Let’s take SanDisk 32GB UHC 3 (Link card here) for example, with a newest DJI drone Mavic Air.

Mavic Air has a maximum bit rate of 100 Mbps (one hundred megabits per second).

NOTE: We are using maximum possible bitrate for each drone mentioned. If you choose a lower resolution with lower bitrate when shooting, available time for recording will increase.

In order to calculate how much footage can we record on that card, we have to do following things:
We must transform 32GB into bits. So that’s:
32 GB = 32 * 1024 (for MegaBytes) * 1024 (for KiloBytes) * 1024 (for Bytes) * 8 (for bits) = 274,877,906,944 bits.
This number represents the amount of data on our card in bits.

Now let’s see how many bits does our Mavic Air record every second:
100 Mbps = 100 * 1000 (for Kilobits) * 1000 (for bits) = 100,000,000 bits

If we finally take the number of bits that are on our MicroSD card and divide it by the number of bits Mavic’s camera records every second we will get:
274,877,906,944 (b) / 100,000,000 (b/s) = 2,748.77906944 seconds

So we can have 2748 seconds, or 45 minutes of footage when recording 4k at 100Mbps bit rate on our 32GB MicroSD card. If it was a 64GB card, we would have an hour and a half (90mins) of footage.


MicroSD Card Speed


Similar to the previous section, we are going to see what speed is needed for good smooth footage that won’t show any stuttering.

We are going to take the Mavic Air as our example once again.
So we know the bit rate of the Air’s camera is 100 Mbps. That’s Megabits per second. The problem is that card manufacturers usually tell us what speed is achievable in MegaBytes per second. That means we must calculate once again.

In order to transfer 100 Mbps to MB/s we must see how many bits it has, and then convert those to MegaBytes:
100Mbps = 100,000,000b / 8 (for Bytes) / 1024 (for KiloBytes) / 1024 (for MegaBytes) ≈  11.9 MB/s

This number means that every second our drone records almost 12 MegaBytes of footage. So you can clearly tell we need a card that cant go below 12MB/s at any moment.
We can ensure this by getting a card that is UHS 3 class. Because from our Class & Speed section above we can see it has the minimum of 30MB/s read and write speed.


The Conclusion


The conclusion? Yes, you need a MicroSD card to record.


Just kidding… You should be able to check off these 2 things when buying a MicroSD card for your drone:

  • It has enough storage for your flights. If you cycle through 3 batteries, you want to have at least 60 minutes of footage. Our choice would be a 64GB card in that case. That would give you 90mins of footage unless you have an Inspire2 with Zenmuse X7… Then a 64GB card would last you almost 62seconds or just over 1 minute. Not very much, right?:)
  • Your MicroSD card should have good writing speed, so you don’t get choppy footage. Our choice is always UHS 3 class! But if you aren’t able to get it, make sure to find one that has faster writing speed than your camera drone max video bitrate.

If you would like to skip the calculating process, check out our top MicroSD cards for drones out there.


32 GB
SanDisk Extreme MicroSD Card

32GB is enough storage for a recreational drone use.

It is going to give you:
3h 10min of footage on Spark
1h 15min of footage on Mavic Pro/Platinum
0h 45min of footage on Mavic Air
1h 15min of footage on Phantom 4
0h 45min of footage on Phantom 4 Advanced
0h 45min of footage on Phantom 4 Pro

Check Availability and Price

DJI store | Best Price out there


64 GB
SanDisk Extreme MicroSD Card

64GB is a good amount of storage for daily use without needing to transfer data often.

It is going to give you:
6h 20min of footage on Spark
2h 30min of footage on Mavic Pro/Platinum
1h 30min of footage on Mavic Air
2h 30min of footage on Phantom 4
1h 30min of footage on Phantom 4 Advanced
1h 30min of footage on Phantom 4 Pro

Check Availability and Price

DJI store | Best Price out there


128 GB
SanDisk Extreme MicroSD Card

128GB is a great amount of storage that minimizes the need to download data often.

It is going to give you:
5h 0min of footage on Mavic Pro/Platinum
3h 0min of footage on Mavic Air
5h 0min of footage on Phantom 4
3h 0min of footage on Phantom 4 Advanced
3h 0min of footage on Phantom 4 Pro

Check Availability and Price

DJI store | Best Price out there


Recommended articles:


 Most useful accessories for the DJI Mavic Air

best accessories for the dji mavic air

ND Filters, Landing Gear, Charging Stations, in-flight gadgets and more!


 Most useful accessories for the DJI Spark

dji spark best accessories

Power Banks, Portable Charging Hubs, Finger protector, Landing Gear and more!


 Most useful accessories for the DJI Mavic Pro/Platinum

Best Accessories Extras for DJI Mavic Pro

Car Charger, Prop Guards, Landing Pad, in-flight gadgets and more!


 Most useful accessories for DJI Phantom drones

Phantom 3 and 4 Advanced Pro Standard Best and Most useful Accessories

Signal Range Extenders, ND Filters, Guards, in-flight gadgets and more!


We hope this helped you. If you have any opinions on this or suggestions, please leave a comment below.
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