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When the GoPro Hero 4 was released in 2014 - it took the action camera market by storm. It was an incredible success and allowed those without deep pockets the ability to afford a rugged all-terrain camera.
Fast forward 7 years and the Hero 4 still remains a very viable option. But, with this amount of time and advancement in technology, what's the best memory card for GoPro Hero 4?
That's the problem we solve for you today. We will discuss the bitrate of the Hero 4, maximum memory card capacity, recording resolutions, and recording frame rates.
By the end of this article, we tie all of those topics together to explain their importance and how those aspects lead us to the best memory card for the GoPro Hero 4.
*This article will discuss/compare the Hero 4 Black and Silver versions.*
Technology Has Advanced Tremendously Since 2014 (Huge Benefit For You)
I know we spoke about this briefly a minute ago - but technology has advanced so much since 2014.
The GoPro itself is on its 10th model/release... 4k video is standard and 60 fps is standard across any resolution.
With that being said, there aren't many features aside from 4k/60/120 and image stabilization that the Hero 4 doesn't have.
The reason this is such a benefit is I'm hoping you didn't pay much for your Hero 4 - because you won't be paying much for your memory card either. Seeing as Micro SD/SD/CFExpress cards are all advancing at such a fast pace that the prices of older gen cards are dropping... and dropping fast and far.
You should expect to spend no more than $30 on a memory card for the Hero 4. This is for either the Black or Silver versions.
So, you really couldn't have picked a better time to pick up a GoPro Hero 4 - it performs amazingly well, it's rugged as hell, and everything for it is very inexpensive.
What more could you ask for?
Specs/Features/Comparison Between The GoPro Hero Black, Silver, And Session
I thought it would only be fitting to include a comparison chart that would allow you to reference depending on the model of the GoPro you've purchased.
You can reference the chart below for resolution comparisons, frame rates, whether it has wifi, protune, and timelapse mode - and lastly, how deep can you go while it still remains waterproof.
Hero 4 Black
Hero 4 Silver
Hero 4 Session
4K/30 - 2.7K/60 - 1080/120
2.7K/30 - 1080/60
1440/30 - 1080/60
Auto Low Light
As you can see - the difference between the black and the silver are only apparent in the realm of resolution and frame rate limits (there is another difference that we will talk about here in a second).
Generally speaking, you'll have a better-looking image and smoother slow motion with the black vs the silver (assuming lighting conditions are exactly the same).
On the other hand - there is a significant difference between the session and the black - with a slightly less dramatic difference between the session and the Silver. It's pretty safe to say you'll have better image quality (and probably a better user experience) with the black vs the Session.
Bitrate Of The GoPro Hero 4 Black And GoPro Hero 4 Silver
If you're wondering why bitrate is so important on an action camera... well, believe it or not - bitrate is very important on anything taking video. That's all the way from broadcasting down to backyard action camera footage.
Bitrate is the rate at which your camera is able to capture footage, send it through it's 'computer' and spit out data onto your memory card. Generally speaking, a higher bitrate would mean more data - more data means a higher quality image (and more data to work with then editing)
Frames Per Second
GoPro Hero 4 Black
GoPro Hero 4 Silver
This directly affects the buying process of a memory card too. A higher bitrate device would mean you would need a card that writes fast. You may have to face a few consequences if these numbers don't jive or come close to matching (we will discuss this in detail shortly).
The max bitrate (depends on resolution and fps) of the GoPro Hero 4 is 60 mb/s. The GoPro Hero 4 Silver is capped at 45 Mb/s.
You can reference the chart above to get a better idea of the bitrates and how they change depending on your resolution and how many frames per second you want.
What Type Of Card And What Is The Maximum Capacity?
These are great questions and believe it or not - they're quite common. Hence the reason I needed to add this section to the article.
The GoPro Hero 4 uses a Micro SD card to save all of its data to. Not a regular SD card, and not anything like a CF Express... just a regular, tiny, micro SD card (one of the reasons that cards are so inexpensive too).
The maximum capacity of a single card in the GoPro Hero 4 is 128GB (according to GoPro themselves). This is due to the chip that is used within the camera. Seeing as the camera is approaching 8 years old - a 64GB sd card was plenty back then (and remains plenty for this model). This is another reason why SD cards are so inexpensive.
How Long Can I Record On The GoPro Hero 4?
Believe it or not - you can record quite a bit of video on just a 64GB card.
The GoPro Hero 4 Black allows for 2 Hours and 13 minutes (average) of footage - shot in 4k. You read that correctly - you can shot over two hours straight on a single 128GB micro SD card. Crazy impressive for an action camera over 7 years old.
The time only increases as you decrease the resolution or frame rates (or both at the same time).
So, What's The Best Memory Card For The GoPro Hero 4?
Before we drop the answer, let's discuss brand, their reputation, and how this fits into making a purchase.
The 4 Reputable SD Card Companies
There are only 4 brands on the market today that can stand behind their product and live up to what they claim to be and offer.
These brands include:
SanDisk and Lexar are very well-known and reputable brands. Both of them bend over backward for their customers - hence the reason everyone talks about and trusts enough to purchase from them. They both offer Micro SD card options.
Sony and Prograde, on the other hand, don't offer micro SD card options. Sony does - but they're incredibly outdated U1 class (not good) micro sd cards.
With that being said - let's discuss the best memory card for the GoPro Hero 4 Black and Silver.
This is the top-of-the-line SD card that's offered and compatible with the GoPro Hero 4 Black, Silver, and Session. Reference the chart below for stats/specs don't he card.
Aside from SanDisk being the most reputable brand on the planet for memory cards - there are a couple of features about the card that make it the best match for the GoPro Hero 4 for SanDisk. Those features are:
U3 and V30 represent continuous data rates. U and V represent pretty much the same thing - meaning 'class' or 'video' while the '3' and '30' also represent the same thing... that being 30.
This card is rated for continuous writing speeds of 30 MB/s. This isn't to be confused with maximum writing speeds - these numbers mean that the card won't fall below 30 MB/s (seeing as other nonrated cards handle writing 'spikes' of high speed, but fall short when continuously writing to the card: IE, when it matters).
U3 and V30 are ratings that are more than capable of 4k recording - with this cards speed at or above 95 MB/s.
Not only do you get the speed, brand, and capacity - you get the reliability of SanDisk. Now, I know everyone's experience is different - and some have had horror stories with SanDisk - but, more often than not - SanDisk has been the go-to for hundreds of thousands of people over the years. Hence the reason they're so successful.
All SanDisk cards are also:
Waterproof (30 minutes @ 1 meter/3feet)
X-Ray and static proof
To top it all off - you get the card for less than $20. You can't beat that - seriously.
That's right - Lexar claims this card reads at 160 MB/s. I'll be honest - I've never seen it pass 100 MB/s - especially considering this is a UHS-I card and the UHS-I bus caps at 104 MB/s. But - I like to include data that the manufacturer provides and then make corrections from there.
They do claim that even though they state it doesn't mean it will perform that way for you. It's a safe way to getting out of having to back up your rate claims. But enough of that - I love their products and they haven't failed me yet.
The only thing holding this card back from SanDisk is SanDisk's reputation. SanDisk doesn't make claims they can't back up. They also don't have a problem replacing a damaged card - and even include recovery software on their high-end cards. This is subjective and my opinion, really... but - SanDisk is on top for a reason.
Cheap - fast - and reliable. You can't beat the Lexar for pure performance and cost.
The SanDisk And Lexar Are The Only Two Brands I Can Recommend For The GoPro Hero 4.
As time has gone by - more and more brands are steering away from producing micro SD cards. It's almost as if the Micro SD market is a niche and other companies don't even want to bother with it.
For instance, Sony used to make Micro SD cards al of the time. They were very common in the mid to late 2000's. But as technology progressed - Sony seems to have pulled out of the high capacity/high-speed micro SD market.
With that being said - this is the reason I can only recommend these two cards. There isn't anything on the market currently that beats their price, performance, and reliability. Period.
Either card will work and they will work well. They'll last you years if you take care of them too.
Don't Use Adapters! (Use An Actual Card Reader)
When I say don't use adapters - I'm talking about the plastic adapter that comes with some of the Sandisk, Lexar, and Kingston micro SD cards.
You slide your SD card into it and it then becomes a large SD card. You can then plug it into a normal reader or device, and go from there.
The downside to these (and why I don't recommend them) - is how cheap they are. They can easily break in your bag (mine have split down the middle), both sides can also separate. They can also get jammed inside of readers and other cameras. I swear, they're the worst thing on the market for micro cards.
You'll also get used to using one - and when something like his does happen - you probably don't have anything to read and transfer your data.
Do yourself a favor and purchase a reliable card reader that reads micro SD cards in their non-adapted form. This will ensure you're getting the fastest transfer speeds and nothing could go wrong.
I'll leave a couple below that I use on a consistent basis. They range between $15 and $25 - a small price to pay to transfer files faster and avoid damaged cards and data.
That About Does It!
Well, there you have it!
You probably know a little bit more about your GoPro Hero 4 now, than you did before you started reading.
We discussed how much technology has changed, the bitrate of the Hero 4 and how important it is to know that. We then dove into the type of card it accepts, the maximum capacity of the card, and how long you're able to record on one. We finished with applying those importances to two SD cards that ultimately passed the test - ultimately answering your question of what's the best memory card for GoPro Hero 4.
2022 marks our fourth year in business and my 8th year in photography. I have learned so much about not only photography, running a business, and everything web-related... I've learned so much about myself. Truly determining my passions and constantly learning and improving has gotten me to where I am today.