GoPros don’t come with a memory card, so you’re going to need to get one separately. Aside from choosing a card that’s fast enough to handle the impressive video modes of the GoPro HERO4 or GoPro HERO3+, you’re going to need to choose between a 32GB or 64GB card.
GoPro recommends some specific 32GB and 64GB memory cards (you can find them here). Some 128GB cards are starting to appear among the fastest microSD card ranges, but I haven’t tested to see how well they work in a GoPro HERO4. They’re also expensive–more than double the price of two 64GB cards. There are other reasons to stick to a smaller card–especially so you don’t end up with the ‘all your eggs in one basket’ problem. So I’d generally recommend sticking with the 32GB and 64GB sizes that GoPro officially recommends. 16GB cards are also available in some of these ranges, although in some cases, such as with SanDisk Extreme, the 16GB version is actually rated as slower than the 32GB and 64GB cards in the same series.
While benchmark testing can reveal performance differences between a 32GB and 64GB versions within the same series–and even between the same kinds of cards–it’s usually not enough variation to make a critical difference in real-world shooting. So choosing between a 32GB and 64GB card comes down to price and how much data you want to fit on a card.
In general, a 64GB card is almost-but-not-quite double the price of a 32GB card in the same series by the same manufacturer. So in terms of cost-per-gigabyte, they’re pretty similar.
Price aside, 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 expected battery life, which is a separate issue.
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 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 / 64GB||Minutes / 32GB|
|4K 30fps||133||66.5||Black only|
|4K 30fps + Protune||133||66.5||Black only|
|4K 25fps||133||66.5||Black only|
|4K 25fps + Protune||133||66.5||Black only|
|4K 24fps||133||66.5||Black only|
|4K 24fps + Protune||133||66.5||Black only|
|4K 24fps Superview||133||66.5||Black only|
|4K 24fps Superview + Protune||133||66.5||Black only|
|4K 15fps||176||88||Silver only|
|4K 15fps + Protune||176||88||Silver only|
|4K 12fps||176||88||Silver only|
|4K 12 fps + Protune||176||88||Silver only|
|2.7K 50fps||133||66.5||Black only|
|2.7K 50fps + Protune||133||66.5||Black only|
|2.7K 48fps||133||66.5||Black only|
|2.7K 48fps + Protune||133||66.5||Black only|
|2.7K 30fps + Protune||176||88|
|2.7K 25fps + Protune||176||88|
|2.7K 24fps + Protune||176||88|
|2.7K 30fps Superview||176||88||Black only|
|2.7K 30fps Superview + Protune||133||66.5||Black only|
|2.7K 25fps Superview||176||88||Black only|
|2.7K 25fps Superview + Protune||133||66.5||Black only|
|2.7K 4:3 30fps||176||88|
|2.7K 4:3 30fps + Protune||133||66.5||Black only|
|2.7K 4:3 25fps||176||88|
|2.7K 4:3 25fps + Protune||133||66.5||Black only|
|1440p 80fps||133||66.5||Black only|
|1440p 80fps + Protune||133||66.5||Black only|
|1440p 60fps + Protune||133||66.5||Black only|
|1440p 50fps + Protune||133||66.5||Black only|
|1440p 48fps + Protune||176||88|
|1440p 30fps + Protune||176||88|
|1080p 120fps||133||66.5||Black only|
|1080p 120fps + Protune||133||66.5||Black only|
|1080p 90fps||133||66.5||Black only|
|1080p 90fps + Protune||133||66.5||Black only|
|1080p 60fps + Protune||176||88|
|1080p 50fps + Protune||176||88|
|1080p 48fps + Protune||176||88|
|1080p 30fps + Protune||176||88|
|1080p 25fps + Protune||176||88|
|1080p 24fps + Protune||176||88|
|1080p 80fps Superview||133||66.5||Black only|
|1080p 80fps Superview + Protune||133||66.5||Black only|
|1080p 60fps Superview||262||131|
|1080p 60fps Superview + Protune||176||88|
|1080p 50fps Superview||262||131|
|1080p 50fps Superview + Protune||176||88|
|1080p 48fps Superview||262||131|
|1080p 48fps Superview + Protune||176||88|
|1080p 30fps Superview||262||131|
|1080p 30fps Superview + Protune||176||88|
|1080p 25fps Superview||262||131|
|1080p 25fps Superview + Protune||176||88|
|1080p 24fps Superview||262||131|
|1080p 24fps Superview + Protune||176||88|
|960p 120fps + Protune||176||88|
|960p 60fps + Protune||176||88|
|960p 50fps + Protune||176||88|
|720p 120fps + Protune||176||88|
|720p 60fps + Protune||176||88|
|720p 50fps + Protune||176||88|
|720p 30fps + Protune||176||88|
|720p 25fps + Protune||176||88|
|720p 120fps Superview||262||131|
|720p 120fps Superview + Protune||176||88|
|720p 60fps Superview||262||131|
|720p 60fps Superview + Protune||176||88|
|720p 50fps Superview||262||131|
|720p 50fps Superview + Protune||176||88|
|WVGA 240fps + Protune||262||131|
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 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 that 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.
RELATED: You might also be interested in my posts on the best memory cards for a GoPro HERO4 Black and Silver editions or GoPro HERO3+ as well as my up-to-date list of the fastest microSD cards. And you can find more GoPro tips and tricks here.