Action cameras demand a lot from the memory card. And the most demanding aspect is related to video bitrate. That’s the setting that is related to how much compression is being applied By the video encoder to the video as it’s being saved to the card. Lower bitrates mean more compression to keep the data stream smaller. That, in turn, means lower quality but also that the data stream being written to the memory card is much smaller. Higher bitrates mean less compression, which means potentially higher image quality. But it also means that a much fatter stream of data needs to be written more quickly to the memory card. So you’ll need a card that can write data quickly. A card that’s too slow can lead to interrupted recordings, errors, dropped frames, or even camera lockups.
Neither the EK7000 nor the EK7000 Pro has an especially high bitrate by today’s action camera standards. Both have a maximum bitrate of 60 megabits per second (60 Mbps). That’s used for the 4K and 2.7K resolutions–at 1080 and 720 the bitrates are lower. For the sake of comparison, market-leading cameras like the GoPro HERO7 Black goes up to 78 Mbps and the DJI Osmo Action goes up to 100 Mbps. That said, 60 Mbps is the same maximum bitrate in the HERO7 Silver and HERO5 Black and is plenty high enough to get very good quality for most uses.
The upshot is that you don’t need the latest and greatest SD card that money can buy. And you don’t need to pay an arm and a leg–there are very capable cards that will work well and that are affordably priced.
I make a point of buying as many different models of microSD cards as I can and running them through my own independent speed tests. You can find those here.
So here are some practical recommendations for which SD cards to get for the EK7000 and EK7000 Pro. I have some quick recommendations at the top, with more detail in the section below.
If you just want to cut to the chase, here are some quick recommendations for the best SD cards to use in Akaso EK7000 and EK7000 Pro.
Any of these make for a good choice. If you’d like more detailed recommendations or cards from other brands or different models, you can find them below.
What to Look For When Buying an SD Card for the Akaso EK7000 or EK7000 Pro
First, the basics. Both the EK7000 and EK7000 Pro take microSD cards. That’s the smaller, thumbnail-size card rather than the larger SD format. There’s a single slot, so you can use one card at a time.
Once you get beyond that, the manual is both vague and contains confusing errors, which is quite unhelpful. This is what it says:
Use brand name memory cards that meet these requirements: micro SD, micro SDHC, or micro SDXC; Class 10 or UHS-I rating; Capacity up to 64GB (FAT32)
So, trying to make sense of that . . .
You can use cards that are labeled as microSDXC or microSDHC. As a practical matter, microSDXC cards are more logical choices for the simple reason that it’s applied to cards that are 64GB and larger (there’s more detail below on what the technical difference is).
You can use cards from 4GB and up. Where it gets a bit confusing is when it comes to the maximum card size. The manual says “up to 64GB”, but confusing it also refers to 64GB formatted in FAT32–the SD standard specifies that 64GB cards should be formatted in exFAT, and that is the filesystem that they’re sold with and that all cameras will format them as. I’ve used 128GB cards in these cameras without issue. I’ve tried 400GB cards and started to get some intermittently odd behavior. While I wasn’t able to narrow down precisely what the problem was, to be safe I’d steer clear of these very large capacity cards in these cameras for now. If you want to be very safe, stick with 64GB as recommended in the manual. By all means try a 128GB card–they’ve worked well for me. But any smaller than that and you’ll be filling it up too quickly when shooting 4K.
When the manual says you can use “Class 10 or UHS-I rating”, those two things are not an either-or–they’re describing two different specs. The first is the video speed rating, and basic Class 10 is not fast enough to work reliably in these cameras at 4K and 2.7K. If the card has both U1 (or U3) and Class 10 printed on it, you’re on safer ground, because the higher rating (in this case, U1 or U3) trumps the lower Class 10 rating.
The UHS-I part is referring not to the video recording speed rating at all but rather to the bus interface. You can use cards that have UHS-I or UHS-II on them (or sometimes just I or II), although you won’t get any extra benefit from using cards that are UHS-II.
Detailed Recommendations on SD Cards for the Akaso EK7000 and EK7000 Pro
Here’s some more detailed information on these cards, including direct links to where you can buy them.
SanDisk Extreme V30 UHS-I
Fast, cost-effective, reliable, and widely available, the SanDisk Extreme cards are safe bets for a wide range of uses, including the Akaso EK7000 and EK7000 Pro.
From my tests, it is plenty fast enough for the 4K and 2.7K video of these cameras, but it's also cost-effective.
The latest version of the SanDisk Extreme comes in 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, 400GB, 512GB, and even new 1TB versions.
As with most of its product names, SanDisk recycles them with newer, faster cards. So you can find "Extreme" cards that are actually several years old. It's therefore worth checking the model number, although in practice even some of the older versions of the Extreme cards will also work well.
SanDisk uses a three-part model numbering system in the format SDSQXA1-064G-AN6MA. In this example, SDSQXA1 is the model number, the 064G refers to the amount of memory, and the last 5 characters are used by the marketing department for different parts of the world but the cards are otherwise the same. So the first part is the crucial part if you're looking to see which model the card is, and you don't have to take much notice of the last 5 characters.
Samsung EVO Select U3 UHS-I
Samsung makes several excellent microSD cards and have a somewhat confusing naming system that doesn't always make clear what the difference between the models is. The Select is one of their better cards but is also very cost-effective. Like SanDisk, Samsung recycles the series names. The latest version of the EVO Select is available in 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB sizes. Alternatively, the EVO Plus line also works well.
Find them at: Amazon
Delkin Select V30 UHS-I
Delkin Devices have been making memory cards for a long time, and very good ones at that. But it's only recently that they simplified and streamlined their product lines to make it clearer what the differences are between cards. The Select line isn't their fastest line--that is the Power V90 line--but the Select series are rated for V30 and are good combination of being fast enough for this camera and cost-effective.
This card is rated for V30 and has a UHS-I interface. It's available in sizes ranging from 16GB up through 512GB.
Lexar 1000x U3 UHS-II
Despite some recent corporate upheaval, Lexar seem to be bouncing back. This card isn't the fastest they make, but it's readily available and comes in 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB versions.
SanDisk Extreme PRO V30 UHS-I
The Extreme Pro line is SanDisk's top-of-the-range line. SanDisk has recently refreshed the Extreme Pro line, and there are now 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, and 400GB versions.
Find them at: Amazon
SanDisk Extreme PLUS V30 UHS-I
The Extreme PLUS line is a relatively new addition to SanDisk's product lines and, as you'd expect, this is a step up from the standard Extreme. In my tests, the Extreme PLUS does have a faster sequential write speed than the Extreme, but you won't get any added benefit from that in the camera--both exceed the speed requirements of the EK7000's highest-bitrate data streams.
The latest version is available in 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, and 400GB sizes.
Find them at: Amazon
Why Do You Need a Fast SD Card in the Akaso EK7000 and EK7000 Pro
While you don’t necessarily need the very fastest cards money can buy in these cameras, you will want one that’s fast enough. If you try using a card that’s too slow, you might run into issues when recording video. If the card can’t keep up with the 60 Mbps data stream from the camera, it can lead to errors, stopped recordings, dropped frames, or lockups.
The most demanding shooting modes on these cameras is at 4K and 2.7K. If you’re not using those modes, you can get away with slower cards.
Speed Measures Explained
A common source of confusion with the speed of memory cards is the difference between Mb/s and MB/s (or Mbps and MBps). It’s a little thing, but it matters.
Video bitrates are conventionally measured in megabits per second, which is sometimes written as Mbps or Mb/s. The speed of memory cards is conventionally measured in megabytes per second, which is written as MBps or MB/s. There are 8 megabits in 1 megabyte. So 60Mb/s (megabits per second) is equivalent to 7.5 MB/s (megabytes per second).
Unfortunately, that’s not the end of the story. It would be nice and easy if that meant that you could just make sure your card had a write speed faster than 7.5 MB/s, but there are other factors that come into play, including inflated manufacturer speed ratings, sustained speeds vs peak speeds, and the role and overhead of host devices and connections. All of which means that it’s best to stick to cards that are known to work rather than try to cut it too fine with measurements.
Another common source of confusion is that not all memory card manufacturers use the same speed measure. Some manufacturers use a more cryptic “x” rating in place of MB/s. Lexar, in particular, has long used this system. It comes from the old way of measuring the speed of CD-ROM drives when the standard speed of a CD-ROM drive was 150KB/s. Each x, therefore, equals 150KB/s. But that’s obviously not particularly useful today, and thankfully more and more manufacturers are adopting the more conventional of using raw MB/s numbers.
What’s the Difference Between microSDHC and microSDXC Cards?
The SDHC and SDXC parts don’t refer to a performance rating. They refer to the kind of storage formatting they use (microSDHC cards use FAT32; microSDXC cards use exFAT). These are specifications adopted by the SD Association. Technically, the distinction doesn’t refer to the storage capacity of the card, but in practice, SDXC applies to cards that are 64GB and larger, while SDHC applies to cards between 4GB and 32GB.
Both the EK7000 and EK7000 Pro are compatible with both the microSDHC and microSDXC formats, so you can use either. But because the high-bitrate video modes burn through storage space, you’ll most likely be focusing on cards that carry the microSDXC label.
microSDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) is a design specification that refers to SD cards that are between 4GB and 32GB in capacity and formatted with the FAT32 filesystem. FAT32 supports individual files up to a maximum of 4GB.
microSDXC (Secure Digital eXtended Capacity) refers to SD cards with a capacity larger than 32GB and with a maximum theoretical limit of 2TB. They’re formatted in the exFAT filesystem.
In practice, you’ll see negligible difference in terms of performance. But there is one aspect where you will see a big difference: microSDHC cards are 32GB or smaller while microSDXC cards are 64GB or larger.
Technically, it’s possible to use a computer to format, say, a 32GB microSD card with exFAT or a 128GB card with FAT32. But doing so goes against the SD Association specifications, can cause problems in some cameras, and they’ll be overwritten to the appropriate standard next time you format the card in the camera. In general, I don’t recommend it.
microSD Speed Classes Explained
Just like the larger SD cards, microSD cards are assigned a class rating that refers to their speed in writing data. Specifically, it refers to a minimum average performance, not maximum peak performance. Each category is designed to correspond to a real-world video recording use (examples are 4K video or 8K video). These apply the same to microSDHC and microSDXC cards.
Where things get a little complicated, though, is that these speed ratings don’t necessarily reflect the absolute speed of the card. Put another way, a card that has a V30 rating isn’t necessarily faster than one that has a U3 rating. That’s because to display the rating on the card, the manufacturers have to have their cards certified for that rating. It also involves revising packaging and marketing materials, which is an expensive process. So not every manufacturer will go to that trouble and expense right away. The upshot is that it’s not as simple as just looking at a card with a V30 or even V60 rating and knowing that it’s faster than one that only carries a U3 rating. It might be, but the rating system doesn’t work quite that way. You can see evidence of that in the speed test results on this page, with some cards with a lower speed rating being faster in testing than ones that display a higher speed rating on the packaging.
V90. The V-class is a new designation created to designate cards that are designed to work with the speeds required for 4K video and faster. The SD Association added some lower numbers to make them backward compatible with the older class designations (eg. Class 10 and Class 6), but the most important ones are V30 and above.
Memory cards in the V90 class are rated to support a minimum sequential write speed of 90MB/sec. Their primary market is for cameras that shoot 8K video. Cards rated for V90 will work in these cameras, but it’s also overkill–with a UHS-I bus, the camera can’t take advantage of the card’s UHS-II interface.
V60 is applied to cards that support a minimum sequential write speed of 60MB/sec.
V30 is applied to cards that support a minimum sequential write speed of 30MB/sec. These are designed to support at least full HD video and some 4K video cameras.
U3 is designed to support 4K video recording at a sustained video capture rate of 30MB/s. This class overlaps with the newer V30 class. That is, cards can have both U3 and V30 printed on them.
If the card has any of the following ratings and it doesn’t carry one of the ones listed above as well (the card might have Class 10, U3, and V30 at the same time, for instance), there’s a good chance it’s not fast enough for the EK7000 and EK7000 Pro: U1, Class 10, Class 6, Class 4, Class 2.
There is another kind of speed rating that some newer cards are sporting. It starts with an A, such as A1 or A2. You can ignore that for these purposes. That’s a parallel rating system that applies to a different kind of write speed that’s relevant to app devices but not video recording. (I have a more detailed explanation of the A1 and A2 ratings separately.)
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