Here you are, in the perfect area of operations. The birds are singing the song of their people, there is no wind, the area is filled with colors from the trees, sky, the water… All that is left for you to do is press the photo/video capture. However, then you realize that you forgot to buy an SD card for your drone!
The Secure Digital card, or SD card for short, is a proprietary nonvolatile memory card format developed to be used in portable devices. In drones, it enables the user to store large amounts of data in an ultra-portable memory. Therefore, it is an essential part of your aircraft, and also your work equipment.
My recommendation for DJI Mini 2 is the Samsung Evo Plus 128 GB SD card. This is a grade 3 microSDXC UHS-1 card officially recommended by DJI for the Mini 2.
Your precise drones, as well as your particular needs, will help you choose which type of SD card to get. In this article, we will take a look at the flash memory requirements for the DJI Mini 2, how to install it, format it, and what are the most common problems, amongst other things. So, sit back, relax, and learn with us!
SD card types (with some technical data)
Since they were invented back in 1999, SD cards have evolved from being able to store 2 GB, to storing up to 1 TB. Back in the early days of this technology, it was a common practice for photographers to carry many SD cards to be able to store their shots in full.
Now, drone pilots may carry several SD cards, but usually just to make sure that they have a replacement in case one of them breaks. Reaching the maximum capacity of the cards supported by the most popular commercial drones is hard, but it all depends on the work you might be performing.
When we talk about SD cards, we need to understand the three main ways they are classified:
Capacity: Probably the most obvious way to sort SD cards is by their capacity. In this way, we find 4 families.
- SDSC: The standard (or first) SD card, with a maximum capacity of 2 GB.
- SDHC: The first SD memory card that surpassed 2 GB, with a limit of 32 GB.
- SDXC: In this type, the capacity was greatly increased, from over 32 GB, up to 2 TB.
- SDUC: The SD card with the largest capacity to date. From more than 2 TB to an astounding 128 TB of storage. It comes with a nice price tag, of course.
Read Mechanism: Another way of classifying SD cards is by their read mechanism. We find 6 types in this category:
- Standard: Features a read speed of 12.5 MB/s.
- High-speed: 25 MB/s (double the standard speed).
- UHS-I: 50 MB/s (doubles the speed of the high-speed SD card).
- UHS-II: 156 MB/s (triples the speed of the UHS-I).
- UHS-III: 312 MB/s full duplex (doubles the speed of UHS-II), or 624 MB/s half duplex (four times the speed of the UHS-II SD card).
- Express: 985 MB/s full duplex (more than three times the speed of the UHS-III in full duplex).
Dimensions: SD cards can also be classified according to their physical dimensions:
- Standard: The typical large SD card used in DSLR cameras, measuring 1.260×0.945×0.083 in (32.0×24.0×2.1 mm).
- Mini: The cards used in old phones. They measure 0.846×0.787×0.055 in (21.5×20.0×1.4 mm).
- Micro: The flash memory used by drones or new smartphones. Their measurements are 0.591×0.433×0.039 in (15.0×11.0×1.0 mm).
Does the DJI Mini 2 come with an SD card?
Some stores could bundle the DJI Mini 2 with an SD card or some other accessories, but in general, the Mini 2 does not include an SD card in the package (including the Fly More Combo).
The SD card of your drone is probably the most essential accessory for your operations, so it is a good thing that DJI is not forcing you to use whatever they include in the package, or have a flash drive embedded in the aircraft.
But don’t forget to buy an SD card before heading out to fly your new Mini 2.
What SD card do I need for the DJI Mini 2?
There are many types of SD cards, which can be classified by their capacity, read mechanism, or size.
The DJI Mini 2 needs a microSD UHS-I with a grade 3 speed as a minimum due to the high demands of reading and writing high-resolution video at 4K.
You could use a higher-grade microSD, but it would be more expensive and unnecessary.
Now, here comes one of the most frequently asked questions; what SD card capacity should you choose for your drone? There are several factors that dictate the video file size, such as bit rate, frame rate, compression, etc.
Before I answer that question, let me show you something important. Look at this chart:
|Video Duration||4K File Size Using Codec x264|
|60 seconds||720 MB|
|5 min.||3.6 GB|
|10 min.||7.2 GB|
|30 min.||21.6 GB|
Thanks to that chart, based on the data shown in my Mini 2 files, we can know what capacity our drone needs to have its microSD card to store all the work done in one session. Of course, the session will vary from pilot to pilot, depending on operational needs.
For example, if you have purchased the Mini 2 Fly More Combo, and you consider that one battery will last around 30 minutes (it is actually less, as you know), you can calculate that all three batteries would require a total of 64.8 GB of storage, if you recorded all three flights nonstop.
However, oftentimes three batteries will not be enough for professionals, so if you need to fly six batteries, for example, and record video nonstop through all of them, a 64 GB microSD card would not be enough.
In this case, you could do two things; use two 64 GB microSD cards, or use one with a 128 GB capacity. My recommendation would be to choose the latter.
Our drone uses the most storage capacity when recording video at 4K resolution, but let us have a look at how big the photos are that are taken in the mode known as AEB (auto-exposure bracketing), employed to create amazing HDR images.
|Number of AEB pictures||DNG File Size in SD Card||JPG File Size in SD Card|
|1||17.6 MB||4 MB|
|3||52.8 MB||12 MB|
|5||88 MB||20 MB|
|7||123.2 MB||28 MB|
As the chart shows, the pictures stored in DNG (RAW) format require much more storage capacity (more than four times the size) than those saved as JPG.
If you only intend to use your drone to take photographs, and you have the Fly More Combo, a 64 GB microSD would be more than enough. This flash memory capacity should give you roughly 3,855 pictures in DNG format and around 16,384 images in JPG.
Recommended MicroSD cards for the Mini 2
We have covered all the technical information that you need to know about your SD card, and now we are going to have a look at all officially recommended options for your aircraft.
As seen, the microSD card for your DJI Mini 2 must be a UHS-I grade 3 (or superior). I recommend using one with a capacity of at least 64 GB (128 GB is my preferred) but others will work just fine. These are the models recommended by DJI:
|16 GB SanDisk Extreme|
|32 GB Samsung Pro Endurance|
|32 GB Samsung Evo Plus|
|32 GB SanDisk Industrial|
|32 GB SanDisk Extreme V30 A1|
|32 GB SanDisk Extreme V30 A2|
|32 GB SanDisk Extreme Pro V30 A1|
|32 GB SanDisk Extreme Pro V30 A2|
|32 GB Lexar 633x|
|32 GB Lexar 667x|
|64 GB Samsung Pro Endurance|
|64 GB Samsung Evo Plus|
|64 GB SanDisk Extreme V30 A1|
|64 GB SanDisk Extreme V30 A2|
|64 GB Lexar 633x|
|64 GB Lexar 667x|
|64 GB Lexar 1000x|
|64 GB Lexar High Endurance|
|64 GB Toshiba EXCERIA M303 V30 A1|
|64 GB Netac Pro V30 A1|
|128 GB Samsung Pro Plus|
|128 GB Samsung Evo Plus|
|128 GB SanDisk Extreme V30 A1|
|128 GB SanDisk Extreme V30 A2|
|128 GB Lexar 633x|
|128 GB Lexar 667x|
|128 GB Lexar 1000x|
|128 GB Lexar High Endurance|
|128 GB Toshiba EXCERIA M303 V30 A1|
|128 GB Netac Pro V30 A1|
|256 GB SanDisk Extreme V30 A1|
|256 GB SanDisk Extreme V30 A2|
Best SD card for DJI Mini 2
The best SD card for your drone depends on the needs of your operation. However, we could say that those with a storage capacity of 128 GB are probably the safest bet for most situations.
Nowadays flash memories are inexpensive. Not having enough space can seriously compromise your job, so you should not risk it trying to save a few dollars on a cheaper card with less capacity. Better safe than sorry.
My recommendation is the Samsung Evo Plus 128 GB SD card. This is a grade 3 microSDXC UHS-1 card officially recommended by DJI for the Mini 2. It has a read speed of 100 MB/s, a write speed of 60 MB/s, and with it in your drone, you can’t go wrong.
Maximum SD card size for the DJI Mini 2
According to the Chinese drone manufacturer, the DJI Mini 2 supports microSD cards with a maximum storage capacity of 256 GB. There are only two cards recommended officially in this category: the SanDisk Extreme V30 A1, and the SanDisk Extreme V30 A2.
Personally, I would not purchase an SD card with such capacity, as I do not need it and it is hard for me to think about someone who might. Just so you get an idea, these cards can store around 12 hours of video at 4K/30 FPS. In other words, you would need to use at least 24 batteries and record 30 minutes of video on each of them to reach the maximum storage size of the card.
How to install and format the SD card for the DJI Mini 2
You have your Mini 2 ready to fly, but you still need to install your brand new microSD card. In this drone, it could not be easier.
Just underneath the battery compartment, there are two small gaps. The one on the left is for the USB cable, and the other for the SD card. Simply insert the microSDXC card into the left slot.
But you are not ready yet, so follow these steps to format it:
- Connect your device to the Mini 2 controller.
- Open the DJI Fly app.
- Select your aircraft.
- Tap on ‘Go Fly’.
- Tap on the three dots in the top right corner of the screen (settings menu will appear).
- Tap on camera.
- Scroll down until you find ‘SD card’.
- Tap on ‘format’.
- When asked ‘Format SD Card?’. Tap on confirm.
- Wait for the SD to format (it only takes a second).
Do I really need an SD card in my DJI Mini 2?
Contrary to what most DJI Mini 2 owners believe, you can actually store images and videos even if your drone does not have a microSD card. However, you can only save single pictures and videos at 720p resolution. The content is stored directly to the DJI Fly app.
This method is only for emergencies, as the maximum quality of the video file is much lower in resolution. That said, it can save you from completely messing up a job (particularly those that require you to take single images).
DJI Mini 2 SD format and card problems
We all love technology, but sometimes we might encounter a problem that will drive us crazy. SD cards can give us some trouble, so the first thing to do is to format them correctly.
The best format for your drone’s SD card is FAT32 if its capacity is less than or equal to 32 GB. If the storage capacity is larger than 32 GB, the recommended format is exFAT.
Pilots can make the mistake of formatting the card in NTFS, but most mobile devices will not be able to read it.
Once your flash memory is formatted and inserted into the drone, you might encounter some issues. To make your life a little easier, here is a list of the most commonly found:
SD card malfunction (Code 10023)
There is a long list of pilots who have encountered this problem. No one seems to have found the real issue, but it looks like this code could be used to tell you that your SD card has broken or has been corrupted. Code 10023 can even be shown while flying, and the only solution is getting a new card.
SD card space available. Storage location switched to SD card:
This error is very frustrating if you don’t know how to fix it, as everything seems to work well, but the message keeps popping up. It turns out that it occurs when your card is not fast enough to meet the processing requirements for storing 4K video. Replacing the card with a faster one should solve it.
Empty SD card
This problem occurs when you are going to check your recordings and find that your SD card is empty. This could be the result of a virus attack, so make sure that your computer is clean. Use antivirus and anti-malware software.
Unable to read SD card content
This happened to me today. A USB drive appeared on my computer, but I could not see what was inside. The microSD card was inserted into a multiformat card reader, which always works great for me, but not this time. I decided to try my luck putting the microSD into an SD card adapter, then insert it into the multi-format card reader. It worked!
SD card unavailable
This is another issue that no one knows its origin. Some pilots have reported that this has happened with recommended SD cards, and some others with cards not on that list. The only solution seems to be to replace the flash memory.
SD card precautions
Operating an SD card is easy, but we still need to follow some precautions to ensure proper longevity and to avoid losing important data when shooting.
Here is a list of things to consider:
- Do not remove the microSD card from the aircraft while it is still powered on, otherwise the card could be damaged.
- To guarantee the stability of the camera system, each video recording has a 30-minute limit.
- Make sure to check the camera settings to confirm that all parameters are set correctly.
- Turn off the aircraft properly, otherwise, the camera configuration won’t be saved, causing the photos and videos to be damaged.
- Before taking or shooting important photos or videos, take a few pictures and record some videos to check if everything appears to be as intended.
- You won’t be able to transfer photos or videos from the microSD card while the aircraft is powered off.
Photo by Samsung Memory