Here are some recommendations for the best SD cards to use with the DJI Osmo Action.
The DJI Osmo Action doesn’t come with a memory card included as standard. So chances are you’ll need to pick one up separately. But not every SD card will work well with all of the camera’s features. So here are some recommendations on what to look for and which cards are safe bets.
If you plan to use the DJI Osmo’s high-bitrate video modes–which is pretty likely–you’ll want to make sure that your memory card is fast enough to handle the data stream that the camera throws at it. If the card is too slow, you risk the recording stopping unexpectedly, missed frames, or even lockups.
The Osmo Action’s maximum bitrate of 100 Mbps is quite high for an action camera–higher than the GoPro HERO7 Black’s–but still well within the range of the better memory cards that are on the market now. The problem is that there are also many cards available that aren’t fast enough, and it’s not always easy to tell the difference.
I make a point of buying as many different models of microSD cards as I can and running them through my own speed tests. You can find those here. I’ve also taken the top cards and tested them in the DJI Osmo Action, running 4K60 video–one of the Action’s video modes that encodes at the maximum 100 Mbps video bitrate.
So here are some practical recommendations for which SD cards to get for the Osmo Action. I have some quick recommendations at the top, with more detail in the section below.
My emphasis here is not so much getting a bleeding edge card for the camera, because the reality is that the DJI Osmo Action, like most other action cameras on the market, isn’t built to take full advantage of all the speed features of some memory cards. For example, the camera has a UHS-I interface, which means that it can’t take advantage of the newer, faster UHS-II interface that some of the leading cards have (UHS-II cards still work perfectly well, but they’ll roll back to UHS-I speeds). Similarly, there’s no need to chase down a hard-to-find card that costs and arm and a leg when there are other easier-to-find cards that are priced quite reasonably.
Rather, my emphasis is on microSD cards that offer a good combination of meeting the camera’s needs to be able to use all of its features, are cost-effective, are from reputable and reliable brands, and are easy to find at major retailers.
If you just want to cut to the chase, here are some quick recommendations for the best SD cards to use in DJI Osmo Action that can handle all of the camera’s features.
Any of these make for a good choice. If you’d like more detailed recommendations or other brands and models, you can find them below.
First, the basics. The DJI Osmo Action takes 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.
You can use cards that are labeled as microSDXC or microSDHC. As a practical matter, the microSDXC cards are more logical choices for the Osmo Action 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 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.
You can use cards up to at least 256GB. DJI’s documentation says explicitly that the camera can take a maximum of a 256GB card. I’ve been using a 400GB SanDisk Extreme card in it and have had no problems. But I haven’t tested other large-capacity cards in it extensively, and your mileage might vary.
You won’t break your camera if you use an SD card that’s too slow, but you can end up with some pretty unfortunate side effects. You might have already found this out the hard way if your recordings have stopped unexpectedly or you’ve been getting SD card errors. Those are the most common issues you can run into with a slower SD card, but you can also get the camera overheating or shutting down. You might see an error message, you might lose footage, or the camera might lock up. Or maybe you’ll get all of the above. Some memory cards can also provoke write error messages and cause excessive battery drain, although those issues tend to be less common. But the upshot is that if your Osmo Action is behaving strangely, one of the first things to check is the microSD card.
So the speed of the card is an important factor. But there are different types of speed. Some cards carry a speed rating system such as A1 or A2. You can ignore that rating system–it’s relevant only to devices running apps, not video recording. For action cameras like the Osmo Action, the most important kind of speed is known as sequential write speed. There’s a separate rating system for that, with categories such as V30, V90, U3, and U1. But the way those rating systems have been rolled out has been all over the place, and just because a card doesn’t have V30 on it doesn’t mean it’s not just as fast as cards that do carry the V30 rating. But as a rule of thumb, you’re on safe ground with cards that carry a U3, V30, V60, or V90 rating. As a technical matter, there are other cards that are also fast enough, but since cards with those ratings are readily available, and DJI officially recommends SD cards with at least a U3 rating for the Osmo Action, it makes sense to stick with the safe bets.
I’m not aiming to create a comprehensive list of every card that works with the Osmo Action. There are some other cards that also work well; I’ll update this list as I have a chance to test them or as new models come out. There are also other fast cards that simply aren’t easy to find or aren’t cost-effective when you do. I’m most interested in ones that are readily available and reasonably priced. What I am trying to do is present some options so you can choose a card and be confident that it’s compatible.
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.
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.
The Osmo Action is compatible with both the microSDHC and microSDXC formats, so you can use either. But because the high-bitrate video modes of the Osmo Action 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.
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 peaks. Each category corresponds to a real-world video recording use. 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. There are more of them coming onto the market now, and I’ve used some in the Osmo Action, but they tend to be overkill for this camera–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.
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 Osmo Action: 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.)
Here are some answers to common questions related to using SD cards in the Osmo Action.
Note that this will wipe everything on the card, so make sure you’ve already downloaded anything off the card that you want to keep.
It’s always a good idea to format the card in the camera rather than on a computer. That reduces the risk of compatibility issues. And it’s a good idea to format the card fairly regularly to make sure that the filesystem stays healthy and how the camera expects it to be.
If you get the error message “SD card file system format not supported. Format and try again.” follow the process above to format the card the way the camera wants it. It doesn’t mean the card is faulty.
Yes, you can safely use UHS-II cards in the Osmo Action, but you won’t get any benefit compared with using a UHS-I card. The camera’s own bus interface is UHS-I, so if you use a UHS-II card it will still roll back to UHS-I.
Yes, so long as those cards properly conform to the microSDXC spec and they’re otherwise fast enough, you shouldn’t have any issue.
As for larger cards, DJI’s official guidance in the camera’s specs lists compatibility with a maximum size of 256GB. I’ve been using a 400GB SanDisk Extreme in it without any issues, but I haven’t tested other large-capacity cards in this camera and your mileage might vary.
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There can be several reasons why photos and videos go missing from memory cards. But you can often recover at least some of them. I have a more detailed post on how to recover deleted GoPro videos and photos from SD cards, but here's the quick version:
This post was last modified on January 13, 2021 11:25 pm