GoPros don't come with a memory card as standard. Some retailers put together bundles that include a memory card with the camera, but uncless you buy one of those bundles you'll most likely have to pick up an SD card separately.
Sounds simple enough, right? But there's a catch. Not every card will work well in the GoPro HERO4 Black and Silver editions.
The biggest issue is the speed of the card. And, more specifically, the write speed of the card. That's how quickly the card can record the stream of data that's being thrown at it as the camera films video. The GoPro HERO4 Black and Silver editions can both shoot 4K and high-framerate video. Those video modes use high bitrates of up to 60 megabits per second (up to 45 Mbps in the Silver). So to be able to use the full range of video modes on these cameras you'll need a card that can keep up.
If you use a card that's too slow, the most common thing you'll run into is the video recording stopping unexpectedly. That's usually because the card simply can't keep up with the data that's being thrown at it in the high-bitrate modes of these cameras and the system gives up. But you can also get other unusual behavior like the camera shutting down or burst mode shooting failing.
When the HERO4 Black and Silver models were originally released, there were relatively few memory cards that worked well. But since then, memory card manufacturers have been coming out with newer and faster cards. So it's now quite easy to find a good SD card for them, and you don't have to pay and arm and a leg for it. That still doesn't mean you can just throw any old microSD card in these cameras, though.
So I've put together some practical recommendations on which SD cards work best in the HERO4 Black and Silver. I'm focusing here on cards that are fast enough for these cameras, readily available at major retailers, reliable, and cost-effective. I make a point to speed test as many models of microSD cards as I can get hold of, including all of the ones here. So I've had the chance to try these out myself in addition to consulting GoPro's official recommendations.
Quick Recommendations on the Best SD Cards for GoPro HERO4 Black and HERO4 Silver
If you just want to cut to the chase, here are some quick recommendations for the best SD cards to use in GoPro HERO4 Black and HERO4 Silver. These are fast and reliable, cost-effective, and readily available. Any of these make a good choice.
If you'd like more detailed recommendations or other brands and models, you can find them below.
Best SD Cards for the GoPro HERO4 Black and Silver | In Detail
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 GoPro HERO6 Black. Extreme cards are the ones that GoPro themselves often bundle with their cameras and sell on GoPro.com, and it's one of the ones they officially recommend in their "Works with GoPro" certification program.
From my tests, it is plenty fast enough for the 4K60 and 1080p240 video of the HERO6 Black, but it also has the virtue of being cost-effective.
The latest version of the SanDisk Extreme comes in 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, and 400GB 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 in GoPros.
SanDisk uses a three-part model numbering system in the format SDSQXA1-064G-AN6MA. In this example, SDSQXA1 is the model number, 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
Find them at: Amazon
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.
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 GoPro's data stream.
This is the latest version of this card--you can tell it apart by the V30 rating on the card. But in practice, previous models of the Extreme PLUS microSD cards will also work well--because it's a relatively new line, there aren't any older versions that are too slow.
SanDisk Extreme PRO V30 UHS-I
The Extreme Pro line is SanDisk's top-of-the-range line. It's faster and fancier than the HERO6 Black needs--the regular Extreme and Extreme Plus cards work just as well in the camera, but the Extreme Pro also works well.
It comes with a very fast USB thumb reader that can take advantage of the UHS-II host type, but again, that's not something that will give you any benefit when you're filming.
SanDisk Pixtor Advanced U3 UHS-I
SanDisk's Pixtor range is the same as SanDisk's Extreme range--it's simply a rebranded version that's designed as a house brand for Best Buy. But their labeling is not as clear as it could be. The one you want is the SanDisk Pixtor Advanced, which is red and gold, but the card itself doesn't have the "Advanced" part printed on it. There's another version, which is just the SanDisk Pixtor, which is red and gray; that's the equivalent of the SanDisk Ultra and isn't fast enough for the GoPros.
Lexar 1000x U3 UHS-II
During 2017, Lexar went through some ownership changes, with their initial owner saying they were retiring the brand and then another company coming in a buying the brand up. The upshot is that it's not clear what Lexar products will survive, and some of them are listed as discontinued at some major retailers. For now, at least, it's still possible to find Lexar microSD cards, although you might have to try more than one source.
Lexar has always to put more emphasis on marketing the read speeds of their cards--in this case, 1000x or up to 150MB/s--but several of their cards have write speeds fast enough for GoPros shooting 4K video. This is one of the newer ones and is rated for a write speed of up to 45MB/s. It comes in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB versions.
Samsung Pro Select U3 UHS-I
Find them at: Amazon
Like SanDisk, Samsung has quite a few different microSD models. It's not always clear what the difference is, especially when they have similar model names like Pro, Pro+, and Pro Select. This is one of their newer cards, and I've found it to work well and be fast.
Delkin 1900x V60 UHS-II
These cards by Delkin are one of the few currently available that come with the new V60 rating for recording 4K and 8K video. It's also a UHS-II card and comes with a UHS-II SD adapter cartridge (most other adapter cartridges are UHS-I). I use these a lot in my GoPros and have found them to be fast and reliable.
About these Recommendations
This is not designed to be a comprehensive list of every card that works with the GoPro HERO4 Black and Silver models. What I'm trying to do is present some options so you can choose a card and be confident that it's compatible. There are 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.
This list is a combination of GoPro's official recommendations and my own real-world testing in the cameras, not on card manufacturers' speed claims or the microSD benchmark testing I conduct separately (although it won't come as a surprise that the ones that top my list of fastest microSD cards work well in these cameras).
What Size, Format, and Rating of SD Card Works Best in the HERO4 Black and Silver?
These models are fully compatible with both the microSDXC and microSDHC specifications (more on that below). This isn't a performance rating. It refers to the formatting system used on the card. and I've been using 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, and 200GB cards in them. There are also some 256GB cards available now, but I haven't yet tested any of those.
You want either UHS-I or UHS-II host specifications. This is marked with either a small I or II on the card. The cameras seem to use the UHS-I host specification, so you won't get added benefits if you put a UHS-II card in them (it will still work but will roll back to UHS-I).
For the speed rating, the safest bet is to stick with one that's rated with the new V30 category or U3, although there are also U1 cards that work just fine.
Why You Need an SD Card with a Fast Sequential Write Speed in the GoPro HERO4 Black and HERO4 Silver
So why do you need a fast memory card in these models? The GoPro HERO4 Black and GoPro HERO4 SILVER editions can create ultra-high definition video. The Black edition is capable of up to 4K at 30fps and 2.7K at 60fps and 1080p at 120fps (you can find more details here). Even the slightly less expensive Silver edition can capture 4K video at 15fps, 1080p footage at 60fps, and 720p footage at 120fps. That's going to make for some incredible video footage when you get to filming. But if you try to use a memory card that's not fast enough, you're going to run into trouble.
If you find that your video is stopping prematurely or that the camera is freezing while you're trying to record video, the first thing to check is that your memory card is fast enough. (If it's just breaking up the video file into smaller segments but keeps recording, that's normal. Here's an explanation of why.) You won't see any error message that tells you what the problem is--it tends to just stop recording and lock up.
The GoPros' high-resolution video modes require a lot of data to get written very quickly to the memory card. And not all memory cards are equal. You can't just put any Class 10 microSD card in the new GoPros and expect it to work flawlessly. If the card is too slow, you'll find that the camera stops recording as the memory card just can't keep up. The newer cards use a newer transfer technology known as UHS-I that allows for speeds that far exceed the older Class 10 technology.
Aside from reliability--which is a big issue in itself--memory cards vary widely in their speed. The key is the write speed--or, technically, sustained write speed--which is how fast the camera can write to the memory card. All of the cards that GoPro recommends with the new high-resolution video modes on the new GoPro HERO4 Black and Silver editions are rated for writes speeds of 40MB/s or faster.
Card manufacturers don't make it easy in other ways. They often advertise "transfer speed" or "read speed." Neither of those is the same thing as "write speed." When memory card manufacturers put the speed on their advertising, it's usually the read speed (ie. the maximum speed you can get data off the card). It's often a higher number and sounds more impressive. But for our purposes, we need to know who quickly we can get data onto the card--that is, write speed.
The speed at which data can be written also depends also on the file sizes of the data you're writing. The speed ratings provided by manufacturers are sequential write speed. They don't typically divulge for a different kind of writing: large-block random data. That figure is typically significantly slower than the sequential write speed, and it explains why, when the GoPro HERO4 Black maxes out at 60Mb/s (7.5MB/s) and the Silver at 45Mb/s (5.625MB/s), you need a card with a speed rating that's much higher than 7.5MB/s or 5.6MB/s (ie. they're measuring two different kinds of data writing).
HERO4 Silver vs Black Video Bitrates
The Silver edition doesn't have the top-end video modes of the Black; its maximum data stream is 45Mb/s. So technically it can handle a memory card that's a little slower than the requirements of the Black.
Below are the write date speeds for all the video modes available on the GoPro HERO4 Black and Silver editions. The Black's top data rate is 60Mb/s, whereas the Silver's is 45Mb/s. So any of the video modes that record at 60Mb/s are only available with the Black.1
Note that these data rates are in megabits per second (Mb/s), whereas memory card speed ratings are typically measured in megabytes per second (MB/s). There are 8 megabits to one megabyte. But it's not as simple as doing the conversion and then comparing that to the card speed because the card speeds are maximum speeds for writing small files of sequential data. Writing large files of random data is usually much slower.
But this chart will give you ideas on which video modes to try if your memory card is struggling to keep up.
|Mode||FPS||Bitrate (Megabits/s) - Protune / + Protune||Aspect Ratio||Resolution||HERO4 Black||HERO4 Silver|
Common Questions About the SD Cards for the HERO4 Black and Silver
Here are some quick answers for some of the common questions I get about the SD card for these models.
Is it Normal for the Card and Camera to Get Hot?
All of the cards I've tried get hot, along with the rest of the camera, when recording the top-end video modes that write at 60Mb/s on the Black (making anti-fog inserts a good idea in cold, wet, or humid shooting conditions).
Should I Get the SDHC or SDXC Versions?
SDHC and SDXC aren't really direct versions. SDHC applies to cards that are between 4GB and 32GB. They use a filesystem known as FAT32. SDXC applies to cards 64GB and larger; they use a filesystem known as exFAT. You won't find a 64GB card that's SDHC or a 32GB card that's SDXC. Both the HERO4 Black and Silver cameras work with both SDHC and SDXC cards.
The one current GoPro where this is an issue, though is the lower model, the one that's simply called the GoPro HERO (2014). That will not work with SDXC cards, so you can only use a card that's 32GB or smaller in that particular model. I have more detailed information on that here.
What Size Memory Card is Best for a GoPro HERO4?
The short version is that any size will work. In terms of convenience, 32GB or larger make the most sense so that you're not constantly filling it up.
I've put together a more detailed post on this topic
Do 128GB Cards Work in the GoPro HERO4 Black and Silver?
Yes. Or, more precisely, some do. So long as it meets the other speed requirements outlined on this page, it should work just fine. There are some 128GB cards, like those in SanDisk's Ultra range, that don't work as well.
But cards like the Lexar Professional 1000x 128GB SDXC card and I've not had any issues using ones in SanDisk's Extreme, Extreme Plus, and Extreme Pro lines.
General Tips for Buying and Using microSD Cards
Here are some general tips about using SD cards in the HERO4 Silver and Black:
- If you're going with SanDisk, I don't recommend their "Ultra" or "Ultra Plus" range of cards for any of the recent GoPros. Despite being Class 10, many users have reported issues with the recording stopping prematurely (a problem I ran into myself). The faster cards in the Extreme range are not much more expensive and work much better.
- Test your memory card before using it on your once-in-a-lifetime footage. Memory cards are pretty reliable, but it is possible to get a faulty one. And here are some steps to try if you need to recover photos from a memory card.
- Before using it, format the memory card in the camera. It's a safer option that formatting on your computer and can help prevent problems. And it's a good idea to reformat in the camera fairly regularly as a way to prepare the card for use. I do it immediately after downloading all my footage/photos from the card to my computer so that it's ready to go for next time. You can find the reformat function under Settings > Delete All.
- Buy from a reputable retailer. There are a lot of counterfeit memory cards out there being peddled by less-reputable dealers.
- Don't use the memory card for long-term storage. Download it to a computer or similar as soon as practicable (and back that up!).
- There are also other brands that make very good memory cards, and they might work well in the GoPros. But GoPro doesn't include them on their recommended list. If you go with another brand, there are some things to look for. Pay careful attention to the write speed of the card, not the misleading read speeds that are often used in advertising. If you've never heard of the brand and can't find good reviews of it online, it's probably a good idea to go with another that you do know. Some brands that have good reputations include PNY, Transcend, Samsung, Delkin, Sony, and Kingston. Not all cards from all of those manufacturers work well with the new GoPros--some are too slow, for example--but I have a separate roundup of the fastest microSD cards.
You can find GoPro's official list of microSD card recommendations here.
Images and product information from Amazon Product Advertising API were last updated on 2018-09-29 at 16:47.
Common GoPro Questions
Here are some common questions I get from GoPro users.
How to Maximize a GoPro's battery life
There are several factors that influence how long the GoPro's battery life lasts. Among them include what mode you're recording in (4K uses more power than 1080p30, for instance), the health of the battery, and even the environmental temperature (lithium batteries don't perform well in very cold temperatures). But there are some things you can do to maximize battery life. Not every GoPro has all of these features, but start with these:
- Minimize use of the back screen
- Turn off wireless
- Turn off voice commands
- Turn off GPS
- Turn off Protune
- Use QuickCapture mode
Is it normal for GoPro cameras to get hot?
Yes. Depending on the model and the shooting mode you're using, it's normal for GoPros to get quite warm while shooting. They can get hot enough to be uncomfortable to touch. It's especially noticeable when shooting high-resolution and high-framerate video. Some newer models have an overheating protection mechanism that will shut the camera down if it gets too hot. I have more details on GoPros getting hot, here.
How can I control a GoPro remotely?
GoPro makes a range of wireless remote controls. They don't all work with all GoPros--for example, the HERO (2018) isn't compatible with this type of remote control. Many of the newer models also work with the GoPro mobile app. Not every model can be controlled remotely, but most of the newer models have wireless compatibility that can be used for at least some methods of remote control.
Can you take pictures with a GoPro?
If you've been using a GoPro for a while, this might seem pretty obvious, but if you've never used one, it's not quite so self-evident. GoPros are best known for dramatic action videos, but they can most certainly take still photos too. In fact, they can be a very interesting alternative to a traditional camera so long as you work within its limitations. I have more more details here.
Do GoPro wireless controls work underwater?
No. You can't use the mobile app or a wireless remote control if the camera is fully submerged in water. They will normally work just fine in rain and spray--just not submerged. I have a more detailed explanation here.
Do GoPro touchscreens work underwater?
No. If they're just wet above water, they can work to some extent, although often less reliably. But the touchscreens won't work underwater.