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.
Best SD Cards for the GoPro HERO3 & HERO3+ Black | Top Picks
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:
I also have a more general guide to the best SD card for GoPro cameras.
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+ 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 cards are safe bets for a wide range of uses, including the GoPro Black editions. 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've officially recommend in their "Works with GoPro" certification program.
From my tests, it is plenty fast enough for GoPros' 4K60 and 1080p240 video, but it also has the virtue of being cost-effective.
The latest version of the SanDisk Extreme comes in 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, 400GB, 512GB, and 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 in GoPro cameras.
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 departmenht 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--not surprising given how heavily they're into the mobile device market. They also have a confusing naming system that doesn't always make clear what the difference between the models is. The EVO Select is one of their better cards, but it's also very good value.
Like SanDisk, Samsung recycles the series names. The latest version of the EVO Select is available in 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB sizes. Ut has a rated sequential write speed of up to 90MB/s and a read speed of up to 100MB/s. If you can't find the EVO Select line at your preferred retailer, the EVO Plus line also works well.
Buy at: Amazon.
Lexar 1000x U3 UHS-II
Lexar has long been one of the top makers of memory cards. During 2017, the company 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 and saving it. The upshot is that most of the Lexar cards are still on the market, including this one, although there seemed to be some impact on their supply chain and the cards aren't always as easy to find these days.
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 isn't the fastest microSD card they make--there's one rated at 1800x which is one of the fastest cards I've tested, but this 1000x card works well in GoPros and is rated for a write speed of up to 45MB/s. It comes in 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB versions and includes a USB thumb drive card reader.
It's a UHS-II card, which you technically don't need with GoPro cameras (the cameras have UHS-I interfaces), but it's fully backward-compatible.
PNY is another memory card brand that isn't as well known as some of the others, but in my experience they make very good cards. They have a few different ranges, but the Elite-X strikes a good balance of being fast enough and good value.
They're UHS-I cards and carry a V30 rating. The 32GB card is a sahde slower than the larger capacities, but most users will probably prefer sizes more on the 128GB-256Gb end of the range anyway.
SanDisk Extreme PRO V30 UHS-I
The Extreme Pro line is SanDisk's top-of-the-range line. They're consistently among the fastest microSD cards in my tests. While it's faster and fancier than the camera technically needs, they do work very well. Extreme Pro cards are among my go-tos in all of the memory card formats because of their speed and reliability.
This latest version comes in 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, and 400GB versions. The latest version of the packaging includes both V30 and A2 on them. It gets a little confusing because SanDisk is mixing and matching model numbers even amongst the current cards, but you're looking for model numbers that start with SDSQXCY (for 64GB and 128GB) and SDSQXCZ (for 256GB and 400GB versions).
The standard version of this includes a microSD-to-SD cartridge adapter. You can also find versions that include a USB thumb reader.
Buy at: Amazon.
Delkin Select V30 UHS-I
Delkin Devices have been making memory cards for a long time, and 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 these cameras as well as being 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 and it comes with an microSD-to-SD adapter.
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 card with a lower video speed rating. You can find 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 HERO960 | 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 the SD Card to Use in the HERO3 and HERO3+. 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.
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What to Do if Your GoPro Photos or Videos Go Missing From Your SD Card
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:
- Stop using the SD card. This is important, because overwriting the data will make it harder to recover deleted files from it.
- Scan the memory card with the free trial versions of either Stellar Photo Recovery or Disk Drill. Both have Windows and Mac versions. The scan will show you whether any files can be found and recovered.
- Recover the files. If the apps can find the files, you can then decide whether to buy a full license to run the actual recovery process or to try one of the other options covered here.