Video Bitrate vs Memory Card Size Calculator

This simple calculator tells you how much video footage you can fit on a memory card.

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While any kind of standard data can be written to memory cards, I’m most concerned here with photos and videos. And of those, high-bitrate video footage consumes by far the most storage space. Video at 4K, 5K, and 8K uses a lot of data, and it has to be written to the memory card quickly.

So I’ve put together this simple calculator to work out how much video footage you can fit on a memory card. It’s calculated using the video bitrate (in Mb/s).





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Notes on the Calculator
  • This calculates the amount of video data that can be saved to a memory card of a specified storage capacity, but it doesn’t account for any extra files the camera might write to the card. So it should be read with an implicit “up to.” For instance, some cameras will simultaneously save a low-bitrate proxy video file that’s used as a preview version or for use by mobile apps. Those files take up much less space–that’s why they’re created, after all–but they do still take up space. And, obviously, any other data that’s on the card will reduce the available free space, including files the camera puts on there when it formats the card or any photos or frame grabs.
  • Most cameras use a variable bitrate encoding method with a target bitrate. Over long segments, it’s more likely that it will average out very close to the target bitrate, but ultimately the variable bitrate encoding is affected by the scene being captured and how efficiently it can be encoded.
  • I’ve included common memory card sizes, but not every format has every storage size available. For instance, there are no SD cards available that I know of in 320GB or 165GB or 650GB sizes, but those are available in CFexpress cards. But this calculator is otherwise designed to be agnostic on the form factor of the memory card (or thumb drive or external hard drive, for that matter).

Memory Card Tools

Here are a few other related tools I’ve put together that can be useful when working with memory cards and data rates.

Converting Mbps to MB/s & X Speed Rating to MB/s

Another related and common calculation that often needs to be done when working with memory cards is converting the convention for measuring video bitrate (Mbps, Mb/s, or megabits per second) to the convention for measuring the speed of memory cards (MBps, MB/s, or megabytes per second).

So I’ve put together a simple calculator for that separately. You can find it here:

Memory Card Size Calculators

If you’re trying to figure out what size memory card to buy, it can be useful to know how much video footage from the camera you can fit on a card. Here are a few tools that can be useful for that:

Working with Memory Cards

Here are some related posts for making sense of memory cards and working with them.

FAQs

What is video bitrate?

Video bitrate refers to the amount of data (measured in bits) that is processed per unit of time (usually in seconds) during video playback or recording. It is expressed in kilobits per second (Kbps) or megabits per second (Mbps). A higher bitrate generally results in higher video quality and larger file sizes.

How does video bitrate affect video quality?

A higher video bitrate typically leads to better video quality because more data is being used to represent the video, resulting in more detail and less compression artifacts. However, higher bitrate also means larger file sizes, which may require more storage space and longer upload times.

What is the relationship between video bitrate and memory card size?

The memory card size determines the storage capacity available for recording videos. The video bitrate, on the other hand, influences the size of the video files being recorded. A higher bitrate results in larger video files, which consume more storage space on the memory card. Thus, the memory card size and the video bitrate directly impact how much video can be recorded.

How do I choose the right memory card size for my camera?

To choose the right memory card size, consider the video resolution and bitrate settings you plan to use and the duration of the video you want to record. Using the video bitrate vs. memory card size calculator provided in the article, input your desired video settings and recording duration to determine the appropriate memory card size.

How can I calculate the amount of video I can record on a specific memory card?

To calculate the amount of video you can record on a specific memory card, divide the memory card’s capacity (in megabytes or gigabytes) by the video bitrate (in Mbps) and multiply the result by 8 (to convert from bits to bytes). Then, divide this result by 60 to obtain the recording duration in minutes.

Can I change the video bitrate on my camera?

Many cameras allow you to change the video bitrate settings, which can be found in the camera menu, usually under video or recording settings. The available options depend on your camera model and may include different quality levels or specific bitrates.

Why does my camera stop recording after a certain time limit even though there’s enough space on the memory card?

Some cameras have built-in time limits for continuous video recording due to technical, legal, or thermal constraints. These limits may vary depending on the camera model and video settings. Check your camera’s user manual for more information about its specific recording limits.

David Coleman / Photographer

David Coleman

I'm a professional freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my travel photography here. More »

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