SD Cards Can Be Confusing. Don’t Get Caught Out

The most baffling thing about SD cards is the difference in price. Even if you understand all the different classes, the price difference between the major brands for what apparently would appear to be the same specification remains a mystery.

The most important thing to know is that all classes of SD cards are regulated by minimum standards set out by the SD Association, so as long as you buy one holding an authorized logo it meets the specification prescribed for the class number it holds.

Another important consideration is the environment you’ll be using it in. Higher price cards such as the SanDisk Ultra will tend to be waterproof, dust-proof and vibration proof. Bear this in mind at all times because, waterproof housing or not, getting the card out on the beach will expose both camera and card to environmental issues (especially salt), and vibration is generally part and parcel of daily GoPro use. If in doubt, don’t render your camera useless with bad cards.



SD Cards Speed Differences

Which SD Card for my Hero?

First we’ll tell you which class you need for which GoPro in case you don’t require further on the details, and then for those who want a better understanding we’ll set out the “Class” rules.

SD card recommendations for all HERO 3 models would be:

32GB SDHC Class 10 – See Doctors Page for more info if you are wondering why 64GB is not the way to go; at present.

If you are on a budget the possible options are as below. Note: lower class cards will function, but use of Protune or rapid time-lapse is not recommended.

Black Edition:

Silver Edition:

  • micro SD Class 10, micro SDHC Class 10, SDHC UHS-1, SDXC UHS-1. Up to 64GB

White Edition:

Considering today’s prices, our recommendation for the previous HERO models would be: 32GB SDHC Class 10.

HD HERO 2 Edition:

Naked Edition:

  • SD, SDHC, Class 4 if recording in HD. Up to 32GB

960 Edition:

  • SD, SDHC, Class 4 if recording in HD. Up to 32GB




SD Card Speed Rating

Common tactics employed by certain manufacturers

This card is rated as a class 4, which means that the cards does not perform high enough to gain a Class 10 rating which would put it in the the range of 10Mb/s, so stamping 15Mb/s on it, even if the asterisk small print states that it is a potential value is blatantly just a marketing ploy.



Understanding the classes of SD Card

There are currently two classes recognized by the SD Association: “Speed Class” signified by a number placed in a “C”, and “UHS Speed Class” signified by a number placed in a letter “U”. These classes apply to the following card formats: SD , mini SD, Micro SD, Micro SDHC, SDXC, Micro SDXC.

The formats that interested us for the new models of GoPro is the micro SDHC or micro SDXC. If you have a GoPro HD hero 2 it’s the mini SDHC which concerns you.

To clarify:

  • HC means “High Capacity” (as it used to be), and runs up to 32GB.
  • XC is over 32GB and currently up to 2TB.
  • SD is the original card up to 2GB.

The current classes for “Speed Class” are so ridiculously obvious once you see them write alongside each other you’ll wonder why you had to ask!
Class 2:
Write speed of around 2 Mb/s
Class 4:
Write speed of around 4 Mb/s
Class 6:
Write speed of around 6 Mb/s
Class 10:
Write speed of around 10 Mb/s

Cards that have a write speed of higher than 10 Mb/s then fall into the “UHS Speed Class”, of which there is currently only one class and should carry the marks:

Up to 32GB
Above 32GB
Class 1:
Which is a 1 sat in a U.

Write speed up to 312 Mb/s.



Write Speed Basics

when you’ll GoPro Hero has to transmit all the data of the high definition video and audio that is being captured onto a means of storage, in this case the SD card , speed is crucial to ensure that there is no data loss and the camera functions at an acceptable speed for the user. Waiting for the camera to become operational again can become an issue if you are taking multiple batches of either video or multi-shot photos of passing subjects. In today’s world we expect everything to happen instantaneously, and even if the film/photo results are exceptional some of the pleasure can be taken out of the user experience during filming. So, speed matters, don’t try and save money by buying an SD card below the required specification .

Despite what your partner tells you size really does matter too. In the same way that the home computer has to search for partition space on its hard drive, an SD card also has to search for vacant memory units. The larger the capacity of the card, the less your GoPro will have to look for vacant memory units and the write speed will not begin to get dragged down due to fragmented storage.

With all that in mind, if possible do some background checks on “own brand” SD cards to find out who supplies them, because the same as supermarket food brands it’s not the retailer that manufactures them and you may find that you can get “big brand” cards with an “own brand” price tag. Just keep an eye on the vibration issue mentioned at the top of the page.

If you’re in need of more information about this type of card, the SD Association are in control of implementing all the related specifications.

Pin It on Pinterest