What Size Memory Card is Best for a GoPro HERO4?

Wondering how much video footage or how many photos you can fit on a memory card with the new GoPro HERO4 Black and Silver cameras? Here are some guides.
GoPro HERO4 Memory Card Close-Up
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GoPros don’t come with a memory card. So unless you’re getting one of the special bundles in which the retailer might throw in some accessories, chances are you’re going to need to pick up an SD card separately. It’s not really optional–you won’t get far without an SD card in the camera–but it is an extra.

Aside from choosing an SD card that’s fast enough to keep up with the high-bitrate video modes of the GoPro HERO4 or HERO3+ cameras, you’re going to need to choose the storage capacity. So this post is aimed at giving you an idea of what you can expect to fit on a 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB SD card when shooting with a HERO4 or HERO3+.

There’s not really a “right” answer on which size to get. It really comes down to a combination of convenience and price. It’s more convenient to use a larger card. But there tends to be a sweet spot in the market at any given time, and if you go to the cards that are much bigger than that, the cost per gigabyte can suddenly jump.

The most common sizes available these days range from 32GB to 128GB, but you can also get 16GB, 256GB, and even 512GB cards. And because the SD card market moves along with the advances in SD card technology, the larger cards are coming down in price pretty consistently. Right now, the sweet spot is probably around the 64GB to 128GB sizes.

In most cases, you can expect much the same speed from cards of the same model with different storage capacities. That is, as an example, a SanDisk Extreme 32GB will give you much the same speed as a SanDisk Extreme 128GB SD card.

Below are guides on how much video footage and many still photos you can expect to fit on a 32GB or 64GB card with a GoPro HERO4. Please note that these refer only to the data that can be stored on a card and have nothing to do with battery life you can expect to get when filming, which is a separate issue.

Shooting Video

The top-end video modes of the GoPro HERO4 Black edition record data at a rate of 60Mb/s, which is a bit under 8MB/s. The GoPro HERO4 Silver has a maximum data stream of 45Mb/s, which works out to just over 5.6MB/s.

This table shows approximately the maximum number of minutes of footage you can expect to fit on a fully formatted 32GB and 64GB card with the HERO4 cameras.1 All of the modes that record at 60Mb/s are only available on the Black edition. A smaller number are only available on the Silver edition, such as the 4K 15fps mode.

Video Mode Minutes / 128GB Minutes / 64GB Minutes / 32GB
4K 30fps 266 133 66.5 H4 Black only
4K 30fps + Protune 266 133 66.5 H4 Black only
4K 25fps 266 133 66.5 H4 Black only
4K 25fps + Protune 266 133 66.5 H4 Black only
4K 24fps 266 133 66.5 H4 Black only
4K 24fps + Protune 266 133 66.5 H4 Black only
4K 24fps Superview 266 133 66.5 H4 Black only
4K 24fps Superview + Protune 266 133 66.5 H4 Black only
4K 15fps 352 176 88 H4 Silver only
4K 15fps + Protune 352 176 88 H4 Silver only
4K 12fps 352 176 88 H4 Silver only
4K 12 fps + Protune 352 176 88 H4 Silver only
2.7K 50fps 266 133 66.5 H4 Black only
2.7K 50fps + Protune 266 133 66.5 H4 Black only
2.7K 48fps 266 133 66.5 H4 Black only
2.7K 48fps + Protune 266 133 66.5 H4 Black only
2.7K 30fps 352 176 88
2.7K 30fps + Protune 352 176 88
2.7K 25fps 352 176 88
2.7K 25fps + Protune 352 176 88
2.7K 24fps 352 176 88
2.7K 24fps + Protune 352 176 88
2.7K 30fps Superview 352 176 88 H4 Black only
2.7K 30fps Superview + Protune 266 133 66.5 H4 Black only
2.7K 25fps Superview 352 176 88 H4 Black only
2.7K 25fps Superview + Protune 266 133 66.5 H4 Black only
2.7K 4:3 30fps 352 176 88
2.7K 4:3 30fps + Protune 266 133 66.5 H4 Black only
2.7K 4:3 25fps 352 176 88
2.7K 4:3 25fps + Protune 266 133 66.5 H4 Black only
1440p 80fps 266 133 66.5 H4 Black only
1440p 80fps + Protune 266 133 66.5 H4 Black only
1440p 60fps 352 176 88
1440p 60fps + Protune 266 133 66.5 H4 Black only
1440p 50fps 352 176 88
1440p 50fps + Protune 266 133 66.5 H4 Black only
1440p 48fps 524 262 131
1440p 48fps + Protune 352 176 88
1440p 30fps 524 262 131
1440p 30fps + Protune 352 176 88
1080p 120fps 266 133 66.5 H4 Black only
1080p 120fps + Protune 266 133 66.5 H4 Black only
1080p 90fps 266 133 66.5 H4 Black only
1080p 90fps + Protune 266 133 66.5 H4 Black only
1080p 60fps 524 262 131
1080p 60fps + Protune 352 176 88
1080p 50fps 524 262 131
1080p 50fps + Protune 352 176 88
1080p 48fps 524 262 131
1080p 48fps + Protune 352 176 88
1080p 30fps 524 262 131
1080p 30fps + Protune 352 176 88
1080p 25fps 524 262 131
1080p 25fps + Protune 352 176 88
1080p 24fps 524 262 131
1080p 24fps + Protune 352 176 88
1080p 80fps Superview 266 133 66.5 H4 Black only
1080p 80fps Superview + Protune 266 133 66.5 H4 Black only
1080p 60fps Superview 524 262 131
1080p 60fps Superview + Protune 352 176 88
1080p 50fps Superview 524 262 131
1080p 50fps Superview + Protune 352 176 88
1080p 48fps Superview 524 262 131
1080p 48fps Superview + Protune 352 176 88
1080p 30fps Superview 524 262 131
1080p 30fps Superview + Protune 352 176 88
1080p 25fps Superview 524 262 131
1080p 25fps Superview + Protune 352 176 88
1080p 24fps Superview 524 262 131
1080p 24fps Superview + Protune 352 176 88
960p 120fps 524 262 131
960p 120fps + Protune 352 176 88
960p 60fps 524 262 131
960p 60fps + Protune 352 176 88
960p 50fps 524 262 131
960p 50fps + Protune 352 176 88
720p 120fps 524 262 131
720p 120fps + Protune 352 176 88
720p 60fps 524 262 131
720p 60fps + Protune 352 176 88
720p 50fps 524 262 131
720p 50fps + Protune 352 176 88
720p 30fps 706 353 176.5
720p 30fps + Protune 352 176 88
720p 25fps 706 353 176.5
720p 25fps + Protune 352 176 88
720p 120fps Superview 524 262 131
720p 120fps Superview + Protune 352 176 88
720p 60fps Superview 524 262 131
720p 60fps Superview + Protune 352 176 88
720p 50fps Superview 524 262 131
720p 50fps Superview + Protune 352 176 88
WVGA 240fps 524 262 131
WVGA 240fps + Protune 524 262 131

Shooting Photos

The GoPro HERO4 Black takes 12MP, 7MP, and 5MP still photos saved as JPGs.

The camera itself does offer an estimate of how many images can fit on the remaining space for a given shooting mode. It’s the number at the bottom left of the front screen, to the left of the battery status indicator. But it doesn’t appear to be very accurate–at least for still images. For a new, freshly formatted 32GB card, it shows 3040 images regardless of whether it’s set to 12MP, 7MP, or 5MP.

In real-world shooting, I’ve found that you can get many more images on a card than that indicator suggests. The file sizes vary by image size as well as from image to image within the same image size. That’s because of the way that JPG compression works. The amount of JPG compression that can be applied varies according to the colors and detail of the image. An image with little detail and big blocks of uniform colors can be compressed far more than an image with lots of detail and lots of colors with smooth gradations.

But with normal shooting, I’ve found that most file sizes for the 12MP still images from a GoPro HERO4 Black fall between about 5.8MB and 7.2MB. For the purposes of these calculations, I’m going to take the upper end of this range since that represents a target minimum number of images that will fit on the card. In real-world conditions, you’re likely going to have file sizes smaller than this mixed in, meaning you’ll be able to get more images than these minimums here. So the numbers are “at least” numbers. But for this, it’s prudent to treat those extras as bonus images rather than counting on them. After all, it’s more likely to spoil a shoot if you overestimate how many images you can fit on a card rather than underestimating.

16GB 32GB 64GB 128GB
12MP 2,200 4,400 8,800 17,600
7MP 3,475 6,950 13,900 27,800
5MP 4,000 8,000 16,000 32,000

  1. Data sources: 1 | 2 

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:

  1. Stop using the SD card. This is important, because overwriting the data will make it harder to recover deleted files from it.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
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44 Responses

  1. Hello David,

    I currently own a GoPro Hero 4 Silver and i have a 256GB Samsung Evo Plus SD Card. May i ask if it will still work with my gopro since it only supports up to 128GB? I am worried about it heating up and thus spoiling the camera.

    Thank you.

    1. You shouldn’t run into any issues. There is a built-in overheating protection mechanism designed to shut the camera down before overheating could cause damage, although that’s unlikely to be the type of issue you’d run into anyway.

  2. Hello,

    I am looking for a 4gb and least expensive sd card for my Go Pro Hero 4 Silver?

    I am filming customers on a paraglide flight, about 2 minutes of video and 200 pictures, then I sell them the card at the end of the flight.

    Thanks

    1. It’s actually pretty hard to find 4GB cards that are fast enough–the manufacturers are making all of their newer, faster cards at least 16GB or 32GB. You can find fast 32GB cards that work well in the HERO4 Silver for under $15. I’ve put together some specific recommendations for cards that work well in this camera here. None of them are 4GB, but it includes some inexpensive larger cards.

  3. Hi all…I am a Samsung Evo Plus 128 G on my Hero 4…Work perfect togheter! Didnt have problems with the card in it…Super!

  4. So I have a 64gb card and wish to shoot 8 days continously at 12MP per shot, 60 secs interval. Will 64gb be enough for the whole week? What is the actual file size for a 12MP and 7MP shot on the card?

    1. Because of the way JPG compression works, it varies a bit shot to shot depending on the colors, tones, and details. But in general, with the HERO4 Black, the 12MP mostly come out in the 3.8MB to 4.5MB range, 7MP around 2MB to 2.6MB, and 5MP around 1.5MB to 2MB. If it’s not just a one-off shoot, you can also get external intervalometers that can turn the camera off at certain times–say, at night. More details here.

  5. am gonna use go pro 4 for my wild trip this weekend
    with 16 gb sd card
    how many min can be recorded as video mode
    How many photos can be taken

    1. It depends on what settings you use. There are estimates above for still photos on a 16GB card at the various resolutions. For video, use the column for 32GB and halve it.

  6. Excellent information . Thanks. I am testing out 128 card on my hero 3 with hard wiring on a road bike touring Tasmania soon. Also will use in my phantom 4 drone.

  7. The major problem I face with GoPro is lack of time to edit the videos in post and a lack of storage space on my phone to store unedited (or even edited) videos. I’ve been using this app called younity (getyounity.com) and it lets you access the videos stored on your computer from your phone. I’m not sure if there is a better option. I know that Plex also works, but I haven’t tried it on a phone. Anyone have any suggestions? Other than dropbox ;)

    1. There’s a new device that’s designed to tackle this problem (and a few others): the Gnarbox. It’s not out just yet, and it’s very different approach and much more expensive than the ones you’ve raised, but looks like an interesting option. I’ll be posting a detailed review when I get mine. I haven’t tried Younity but will check it out.

  8. Thank you for this information. I’m a new GoPro user and I have the Hero 4 Silver. May I know if SanDisk Ultra 64GB Micro SD is good for it? Plus I will most likely use 1080p 60 fps for recording and photos will be 12MP. Will it lag?

  9. Hi David, thanks for the thorough review. I am planning to get a Hero 4 Silver. Which micro sd card do you recommend?
    – SanDisk Extreme 32GB microSDHC UHS-1 Card with Adapter (SDSQXNE-032G-GN6MA) or
    – Lexar High-Performance MicroSDHC 633x 32GB UHS-I/U3 (Up to 95MB/s Read) w/USB 3.0 Reader Flash Memory Card LSDMI32GBBNL633R

    Thanks!

  10. Hello, I am going on a trip for a little over a week and was planning on having 2 64gb memory cards. I am nervous that won’t be enough, and since I won’t be brining a lap top I won’t have anything to say the video/pics to. I am ok with buying more memory cards just would like your opinion on how many might be needed.
    thanks

    1. Not sure I can really answer that, since it depends entirely on how much you’ll be shooting and at what resolution/fps, etc. But an alternative way to tackle the problem is rather than by more memory cards, buy something to dump the data on the cards to. There are a bunch of different devices that can do that. One of the simplest is the Western Digital MyPassport Wireless. If you already have a portable hard drive on hand, something like the RAVPower FileHub can act as a bridge. That said, extra memory cards might also work out to be the cheaper option.

  11. new to this camera hero4 and only taking still photos, only option I see for still photos is 1200 wide or 7.xx will the 1200 wide give me good photos or will they look like birds eye photos

    1. Which model exactly are you using (Black, Silver, or Session)? The Black and Silver can do up to 12MP (4000x3000px), and the Session can do up to 8MP (3264x2448px). All have both wide-angle and medium view modes, although not necessarily for every image size.

  12. Do you know if you can save still photos in other formats besides JPGs, such as 8- or 16-bit TIFF, BMP, etc.?

  13. If I would like to pull stills out of Video with a GroPro 4 black, what setting would be the best choice. I usually use the 2.7k 48fps setting. Thanks

    1. Either 2.7K 4:3 or 4K should work well, with 4K giving you that much more resolution to play with–3840×2160 pixels for 4K vs 2704×2028 pixels for 2.7K4:3 or 2704×1520 pixels for regular 2.7K. You’ll get even better stills quality by using the Video + Photo Interval mode, but then you’re of course limited about which specific frames you want to use.

  14. Hi,

    I’m going on a backpacking trip for about two months next summer. My friends and I really want to film it, but we are worried about how many memory cards we might have to buy. We won’t be able to bring a laptop to load all of the footage on to, so I’m not sure how to go about being able to film all of the trip. I really want to capture the entire experience. Do you know how I could solve this problem?

    1. One good option is to use a memory card backup device. They’re basically battery-powered hard drives with an integrated memory card reader. While they don’t usually accept microSD cards directly, they’ll work with a standard microSD-to-SD adapter. There are a few different ones on the market with different sized hard drives, different features, and at different prices. The simplest and cheapest-per-gigabyte is the Western Digital My Passport Wifi 2TB. That comes with either a 1TB or 2TB drive and works out a lot cheaper than buying the same amount of storage in memory cards. Others have more features–I have reviews of the NEXTO DI ND2901 and the Digital Foci Photo Storage II, and I’ll be posting a detailed review of the ColorSpace UDMA2 sometime in the next day or so. Of course, it’s always a good idea to have a backup copy on more than one drive (and more than one place) because things can and do go wrong, and with the NEXTO and ColorSpace you can copy to another external hard drive as well and pack it separately.

  15. With all due respect, the “eggs in one basket” is an antiquated philosophy. Yes, cards can go corrupt, but that is regardless of storage size. It’s actually more dependent on the quality of manufacturer. Also, most users are offloading their data frequently. They’re not waiting to max out the card before downloading. Just my two cents. My personal belief is, buy the largest capacity if the pricing and quality is good, and always offload your data to a backup on a daily basis.
    Rudy, http://bonniecafe.com/

    1. The 64GB cards, in my experience, are now just as reliable as the 32GB–I use both regularly. There is the eggs-in-one-basket issue, of course, but that’s not an issue of reliability of the cards, per se.

  16. Hi; Thanks very much for very useful reviews about the Gopros. I bought a micros sd card (Sandisk Extreme Pro 64 GB UHS-I U3) for my Hero 4 Black. Is it necessary to format the card for the first time? If yes; can i format it after inserting the card into the camera by using its own menu as it is told on Gopro support page?

    1. It’s always a good idea to format it before using it. The best way is to insert the card into the GoPro and use the camera’s own Delete All function, which is the same as format.

      1. Hi, I was thinking of using the Sandisk Extreme Pro 64 GB UHS-I U3 for my Hero 4 Black as well. Has anybody had any problems with this card? GoPro don’t recommend them and as far as talking to the guy on supprt at GoPro they haven’t tested them. Would it be ok?

  17. Thanks for this. I found it helpful in planning my first time lapse. Addition: Since you loose about 5GB when formatting an SD card, regardless of the size of the card, there should be about 5GB capacity on the 64GB card over the 32GB card. So larger cards do give you that edge. But I like using smaller cards and swapping them out.

    1. How are you formatting them that you’re losing 5GB? You shouldn’t be losing anywhere near that much. Any overhead should be in the tens of megabytes, but nothing like 5GB. Whether you format in-camera or with a computer (FAT for 32GB or exFAT for 64GB), a 32GB card should give you close to 32GB of usable space and a 64GB card should give you close 64GB of usable space if you’re using the whole card as a single partition. Lexar cards often give a touch over, while with SanDisk it’s often a touch under (eg. 63.86GB for a 64GB card). Sometimes Windows won’t report unallocated space properly–deleting all the partitions on the card often helps. SD Card Formatter is also a popular tool for the task.

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