The GoPro HERO3 Black and the HERO3+ Black are quite sensitive to the type of SD card you use. The primary issue relates to the high-bitrate recording in the high-resolution video modes. They generate large amounts of data that needs to be written to the memory card quickly. It can be particularly true if you have ProTune enabled, since that records even more data than the standard modes.
If the SD card isn't fast enough and can't keep up, you can run into issues like the video recording stopping unexpectedly, the camera freezing up, or it just shutting down. So if you're having trouble with video on the GoPro HERO3 or HERO3+, one of the first things to check is the memory card. It's possible it's faulty and needs to be replaced, or it might simply be too slow.
The first time I ran into this problem, I was being caught out with the SanDisk Ultra card. On paper, it looks good, and the price was certainly attractive. But I found that the video was cutting out. The culprit was the memory card--it's simply not fast enough to handle the data rate of the newer GoPros (but the SanDisk Extreme's listed below are fast enough). Once I got one of the faster cards, there was no more cutting out, even with Protune turned on.
Quick Recommendations on the Best SD Cards for the GoPro HERO3 Black and HERO3+ Black
If you just want to cut to the chase, here are some quick recommendations for good SD cards to use in GoPro HERO3 Black and HERO3+ Black:
Best SD Cards for the GoPro HERO3 Black and HERO3+ Black: Detailed Version
Thankfully, since these cameras were first released, finding fast memory cards at affordable prices has become much easier.
Both the GoPro HERO3 Black and HERO3+ Black require a microSD card with fast write speeds. Specifically, they need one that's rated for video recording speed Class 10 or higher. But it's not enough just to have a Class 10 card because not all Class 10 cards are created equal. It would be nice if Class 10 was a consistent standard, but the reality is that it's not. Two different Class 10 cards from two different manufacturers can have very different write speeds, and that's the crucial spec here. And to complicate things further, there are different kinds of write speeds and they vary by the hardware and software combination that's doing the writing.
So I've put together this list of recommended SD cards for the GoPro HERO3 Black and HERO3+ Black in the hope that helps anyone wondering which SD card to get for these models. I make a point of doing speed tests on microSD cards, so I've had a good opportunity to try out the best SD cards on the market.
I originally posted a list of recommended memory cards for the HERO3 and HERO3+ models back when those cameras first came out. Since then, memory card manufacturers have released a bunch of newer, faster models and retired older cards that were originally on the list, making them hard to find. So this is an updated list with an emphasis on SD cards that are a combination of fast enough, readily available at major retailers, from manufacturers known for making high quality cards, and are cost effective. In several cases, these are faster than you technically need, but because of the way the memory card business works, these newer, faster cards can be cheaper than older, discontinued cards.
SanDisk Extreme V30 UHS-I
Fast, cost-effective, reliable, and widely available, the SanDisk Extreme range is a safe bet for using in GoPros. It's the card that GoPro itself often bundles with its cameras, and it's one of the ones they officially recommend in their Works with GoPro program.
From my tests, it has plenty of headroom for the 4K60 video of the HERO6 Black. It comes in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB. (There's a 265GB version marketed under model number SDSQXAO-256G-AN6MA in North America).
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. The newest version of this card has a model number that starts with SDSQXAF.
SanDisk uses a three-part model numbering system in the format SDSQXAF-064G-ANCMA. In this example, SDSQXAF is the model general, 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 U3 UHS-I
Samsung makes several excellent microSD cards. This is among their less expensive models and represents great value, but it's plenty fast enough for the Black cameras. It's available in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB sizes.
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.
Samsung EVO Select U3 UHS-I
A small step up from Samsung's standard EVO card, these EVO Select cards are also quick, reliable, and offer good value. They come in sizes from 32GB up through 256GB.
Find them at: Amazon
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.
Lexar 633x U1 UHS-I
While slower than the 1000x Lexar cards, these also work well and are a good cost-effective option. It's a card that has now been available for quite some time and they're typically very reasonably priced--sometimes in multi-packs. One of the other appeals of this range is that there's an unusually wide choice of sizes: 256GB, 200GB, 128GB, 64GB, 32GB, and 16GB.
It comes with *either* a microSD to SD adapter cartridge *or* a USB 3.0 thumb reader, so make sure you're getting the version you want. You can also find multi-packs.
Samsung Pro Select U3 UHS-I
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.
Find them at: Amazon
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.
Transcend Ultimate 633x U3 UHS-I
While Transcend doesn't have the same marketing budget in the US as some of the bigger brands, they're actually one of the major players in memory cards globally, and in addition to the consumer market they also make specialist industrial and high-durability cards.
This card has a rated write speed of up to 85MB/s and read speed of up to 95MB/s.
Find them at: Amazon
SD Card Requirements of Other Models
While most of the newer GoPros also require fast memory cards, the other HERO3 models and older GoPros aren't quite as demanding, but there are still some gotchas to watch out for. So here's a rundown of the SD card requirements for those other models.
HERO3 White and Silver | SD Card Requirements
You can use any class 10 microSD cards (both SDHC and SDXC) with a GoPro HERO3 Silver and HERO3 White. In some circumstances, you can get away with a lower class card; more on that below.
HERO3 Silver and HERO3+ Silver | SD Card Requirements
A Class 4 MicroSD card up to 64 GB is required.
A Class 10 MicroSD card up to 64 GB is required for 0.5 sec Time-lapse, 10/1 Photo Burst, and Protune.
HERO3: White Edition | SD Card Requirements
A Class 4 MicroSD card up to 64 GB is required.
A Class 10 MicroSD card up to 64 GB is required for 0.5 sec Time-lapse.
HD HERO2 | SD Card Requirements
A Class 4 SD card up to 32 GB is required.
A Class 10 SD card up to 32 GB is required to use 0.5 sec Time-lapse, 10/1 Photo Burst, and Protune (ie. if you want to use any of those features, make sure your card is an SDHC card, NOT an SDXC card).
HD HERO Original & HD HERO 960 | SD Card Requirements
A Class 4 SD card up to 32 GB is required. SDXC cards (ie. larger than 32GB) will NOT work in these models.
Tips for Buying and Using microSD Cards
SDXC vs SDHC. SDHC and SDXC aren't really direct versions, and it has nothing to do with speed. SDHC applies to cards that are between 4GB and 32GB. They use a filesystem known as FAT32. Cards 64GB and larger will have SDXC on them because those 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 HERO3 Black and HERO3+ Black work with SDHC and SDXC cards.
Formatting. 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.
Where to Buy. Buy from a reputable retailer. There are a lot of counterfeit memory cards out there being peddled by less-reputable dealers. I buy a lot of memory cards, and I usually get them from Amazon or B&H Photo--I haven't run into any issues with cards from those places, although be a little extra careful if buying from a third-party seller.
Images and product information from Amazon Product Advertising API were last updated on 2018-06-19 at 18:30.
Common GoPro Questions
Here are some common questions I get from GoPro users.
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.