These days we have a lot of different SD Cards and a lot of different quality differences.
But what is the best SD Card to use with your drone?
For most consumer drones we have these days Class 10 always works… but it is not fast, and it is the absolute minimum to use. If you’re in a hurry and just need a card you’ll be fine.
It will do for 1080p recordings, but the better the quality, the slower the card gets.
If you have a cheaper drone, and the maximum camera resolution is 1080p, then Class 10 is fine!
Faster is better.
Even though 1080p is still industry standard, 2,7K and 4K might be your choice of resolution.
Higher resolutions need faster write speeds, and that is when a Class10 card might not be good for you.
Writing 4K video on a Class10 will work, but it might take longer before the write process has finished.
In worst case you might also have frame drops or even write errors, so faster is better. even with 1080p
You might ask yourself the question “What card do I need then?”
There are many classifications available and the most common one is the standard class, this is also the oldest class. the write speeds mentioned are MINIMUM write speeds. this is standard with all cards, so whatever happens, the card is always capable of writing the speed it is classified in.
The Standard class starts at Class 2 going up to Class 10
This stands for the minimum write speed, Class2 = 2MB/s, Class 4 = 4MB/s, etc. Class 10 would be 10MB/s
But there is also U1 and U3, also called UHS Speed Class
U1 is the same as Class 10 when it comes to minimum write speed, but the maximum write speed is a lot higher than the “class” counterpart, The minimum write speed of a U1 card is 10MB/s, U3 is quicker and should be used for 4K video, the minimum write speed is 30MB/s.
However, UHS-I speed class can only be used if you are using a UHS-I friendly or compatible device, otherwise it will revert to the corresponding “Class” speed, and that is slower.
New in this range is the Video Speed Class.
The V class starts at V6 and goes all the way up to V90
The digits represent the minimum write speed as with the other type of cards, V6 is 6MB/s and V90 is 90MB/s
The V class has a very high write speed, if you are using it in a UHS-I compatible device.
A V90 card can reach speeds up to 300MB/s if conditions are good. that is 30 times faster than a Class 10 card! a V90 card would be your choice if you want to shoot 8K video. The DJI Zenmuse X7 camera would require a V90 card to operate the way it is designed to.
Like said before, a Class 10 or U1 card might be enough for you, but a faster card is recommended especially if you film in 60fps or higher.
SD, SDHC or SDXC?
There are also 3 types cards apart from the speed class, namely SD, SDHC and SDXC.
Up to 4GB is SD
4GB to 32GB is SDHC
32GB and above are SDXC cards.
This has nothing to do with the speed of the card, you can recognise the capacity from it.
If you buy a SDXC card you know it always has a minimum storage of 32GB
How much can I store on a card?
Now that you know everything about the types of cards you might want to know how much can be stored on a card.
This all depends on the way you shoot your video, or the size of your sensor.
4MP pictures are smaller and you can put a lot more on a card than if you use a camera with a 12MP sensor.
Same goes for video, 1080p 30fps a smaller than a 4K 3fps video.
But I think this table will help you in the right direction.
These are values for a camera at 12MP and recording at 1080p at 30fps.
All of this should be decided when a SD card is bought, it’s better to spend a little bit more on a card, that way you know you have the right card for the job.