SD Cards for DJI Drones (What You Need to Know)


SD cards are an integral part of a drone. With the latest technological advancements, drones can take high-quality photos and videos, which you can’t really save on your phone, so you’ll need a high-quality SD card to get the best quality photo and video files. If you’re a fan of DJI drones like me, you may be wondering what SD cards DJI drones use.

DJI recommends UHS-I SD cards, with a minimum writing speed of 30MB/s and a maximum capacity of 256Gb. These requirements may differ by model, so make sure you check yours before purchasing an SD card. Some of the best SD cards to use with DJI drones include SanDisk, Lexar, Transcend, and Samsung.

Keep reading to learn more about the various SD cards you can use with your DJI drone. I’ll also go into some of the issues you may face and how to solve them.

What SD cards do DJI drones use?

DJI drones are some of the best drones in the market today. With powerful cameras, stabilization, and intelligent batteries, it’s no surprise that they hold more than 60% of the drone market. This article will look at some of the current top drone models from DJI, their specifications, and the SD cards they use.

But before that, let’s look at what the ratings indicated on the SD card mean.

  • U1 – This is the lowest and means that the SD card can record at 10MB/S. The U stands for UHS speed class.
  • U3 – U3 means that the SD card can record at 30MB/s or higher.
  • V10 – V stands for video speed class, a format that allows sd cards to record high-resolution videos. Just like in the Us, V10 means the sd card can record at 10MB/s.
  • V30 – A V30 rated sd card can record at 30MB/s
  • V60 – Records at 60MB/s
  • V90 – Records at 90MB/s

SD cards for DJI Mavic Air 2S

The Mavic Air 2S is one of the best photography and videography drones from DJI. DJI took some of the best features of the Mavic Air 2 and the Mavic Air 2 Pro to build this drone. As a result, it comes with a 20MP 1-inch sensor and a resolution of up to 5.4K at 30fps. 

Another unique feature is the intelligent HDR that produces the best photographs by combining different shots. And lastly, you’ll also love the Mastershots feature, which is a more advanced version of the Quickshots in other DJI drones. Mastershots enable you to take cinematic footage for your film, Vlog, or any other activities that need cinematic shots.

DJI doesn’t recommend specific SD card models, but they do suggest a type. For the Mavic Air 2S, they recommend any SD card that meets the following criteria – UHS-I Speed Grade 3 and a maximum capacity of 256 GB.

To record a 4K video, you need an SD card with a minimum writing speed of up to 30MB/S, also denoted as U3. Since the Air 2S records in 5.4K, the higher the writing speed, the better. Anything lower than U3, such as the U1 SD cards, is not suitable unless you’re recording standard videos.

So, if you find a 60MB/S or 90MB/S, you’ll be good to go. 30MB/s is the minimum, but higher speeds will definitely work. Since the SD cards fill up fast, look for 64GB SD cards or higher. 

It would also be a good idea to get several of them if you’ll be filming for a long time. 

With that in mind, below are some of the best SD cards you can use with the Air 2S.

SanDisk Extreme PRO 64GB U3 MicroSDXC

SanDisk manufactures some of the best SD cards. If you’ve been using SD cards on cameras or smartphones before, you have probably come across them. They are known for the large red logo on the upper part, while the lower section is colored black.

And the Extreme PRO product line is what you should be getting for your drone. Featuring reading speeds of up to 170MB/S and write speeds of up to 90MB/S, they will suit your drone’s filming requirements. Better yet, they come in 64 GB, 128 GB, and 256 GB.

Besides the excellent write speeds and read speeds, SanDisk EXTREME PRO SD cards are also quite durable, featuring a shockproof, waterproof, and temperature resistant design. You can leave it in your drone for months, and it will still be working. That also means that they could even survive a crash, so you can still access your photo and video files, even if your drone is toast.

Besides the SD card, you also get an adapter that you can use to transfer the footage to your laptop or any other device where they need to be transferred.

However, be careful when purchasing SanDisk SD cards since you will encounter many fake SD cards claiming to be manufactured by SanDisk. Make sure you trust the vendor and check their return and warranty policies.

Samsung EVO PLUS SD Cards

If you’re a fan of Samsung products, there may not be a Samsung drone, but they’ve designed high-quality SD cards you can use with your drones and other devices. The EVO PLUS is one of their latest product lines, with SD cards that can achieve read speeds of up to 100MB/S and 60MB/S write speeds. This may seem slower than the SanDisk SD cards, but it’s still above-average for the Air 2S drone. 

The Evo PLUS SD cards range from 32GB to 256 GB, allowing you to record high-quality footage, store it, and transfer it between devices quite easily. Better yet, they are built to withstand any shock, temperature changes, or moisture. And in case of any issues, you can ask for replacements since they offer a 10-Year warranty. 

However, if you damaged your SD card during data recovery, you may not qualify for the warranty. So, make sure you use it according to their guidelines.

Where does the SD Card Go in A Mavic Air 2S?

On the right-hand side, close to the rear or close to the rear arms, you’ll find the SD card slot.

Below is an image:

Image Source: DJI Mavic Air 2S Manual

SD cards for DJI FPV drone

The DJI FPV drone offers the ultimate immersive flying experience. Featuring high-end FPV goggles, 4K/60 fps resolution, and an internal 8GB memory, there’s a lot to love about this drone. The DJI FPV is suitable for beginners as well as experienced pilots, thanks to the various control methods. 

There’s an N (Normal) mode which is similar to controlling other drones. There’s the S (Sport) mode, where you can fly at higher speeds. And there’s the M mode that allows you to fly using the FPV goggles. And that’s not all. There’s even a motion controller that gives you a whole new and precise way to control your drone.

Like the Air 2S, DJI also recommends sd cards that are at least UHS-I Speed Grade 3, with a maximum capacity of 256 GB and a minimum writing speed of 30MB/s for the DJI FPV. As mentioned earlier, the DJI FPV records footage in 4K at 60fps, so the higher the writing speed, the better. Also, the inbuilt 8 GB memory won’t help much when recording 4K videos. You need at least 64 GB SD cards, and make sure you have at least 2 to back up your footage. 

One rule of thumb is to have at least 1 SD card for every battery. For instance, the DJI FPV only has a 10-minute flight time. So, you’ll need at least 3 batteries. Since there are situations where the drones crash or fly away, you can switch the SD every time you switch the battery to make sure you don’t lose all your footage during a crash.

All the SD cards I’ve recommended for the Air 2S are also compatible with the DJI FPV. And below are more options to choose from.

Lexar Professional UHS-II SD Card

If you’re a videographer who loves recording high-quality videos, you will love the performance of a UHS-II. I know that DJI recommends UHS-I SD cards, but there’s nothing wrong with looking for a more powerful SD card. UHS-II offers higher write and read speeds, but they also come at a higher price point.

Lexar has made a name for itself in building some of the best high-speed SD cards. The Professional 1000x product line offers 90MB/s write speeds and 150MB/s read speeds. For write speeds of up to 270MB/S, you can opt for the 1800x versions.

Better yet, you can use them with UHS-I devices. The best thing about using a UHS-II in a UHS-I device is that you get to utilize the maximum speeds of a UHS-I. Why? Because even though manufacturers may promise a 90MB/s, that’s just on paper. When it comes to testing, very few of the SD cards will meet the advertised speed.

Delkin Devices Prime UHS-II

This is another high-performance SD card from Delkin. Featuring a 100MB/s write speed, a 300MB/s read speed, and the ability to record up to 8K resolution footage, imagine all you could do with it? Since the DJI FPV records in 4K, that means that you can record a lot of footage within the 10-minute flight time. 

If you have other drones that support HDR or 1080 video quality, you can use this SD card in them too. Better yet, these sd cards are designed to withstand all the harsh conditions a drone faces outdoors.

Where does the SD Card go in a DJI FPV?

The sd card slot is below the gimbal camera and next to the USB port.

Below is an image. 17 is the USB port, and 18 is the SD card slot.

Image Source: DJI FPV Manual

SD cards for DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0

The DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 is another revered drone in the world of drone photography and filming. This is thanks to the 4K/60fps camera, sleek design, 30-minute flight time, and 20Mp 1-inch CMOS sensor for some of the best still shots. 

The Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 is not that demanding when it comes to SD cards. DJI recommends a standard UHS-1 SD card with minimum write speeds of 15MB/s and a maximum capacity of 128GB. 

I find the 64GB sd cards to be the best option to allow regular backup. Below are some of the best sd cards you can use with a Phantom 4 Pro V2.0.

SanDisk EXTREME UHS-I Memory Cards

The EXTREME product line may not be as advanced as the EXTREME PRO I just mentioned, but they offer the best value for money. For starters, they feature a 160MB/S reading speed and a 90MB/S write speed, which is more than what’s required for the Phantom. Secondly, they offer the same durability and performance when recording high-quality videos. 

The SanDisk EXTREME SD cards capacity ranges from 32 GB to 1TB. While the 64 and 128 GB are all you need for the Phantom, you can use the larger capacities in your smartphones, laptops, cameras, and any other compatible devices. 

To tell the difference between the 2, check the background color. The EXTREME PRO has black background color while the EXTREME has a brown or golden background.

Where does the SD Card go in a DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0?

The sd card slot on the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 is on the front, next to the Micro USB port, and next to the Camera linking status indicator and linking button.

Below is an image.

Image Source: Phantom 4 Pro User Manual

If you’re wondering about what SD cards to use with the Mini or Mini 2, check out our article All About SD Cards for DJI Mavic Mini and Mini 2 Drones.

Factors to consider when selecting SD cards for your DJI drone

  • Size – The size of an sd card is crucial. Filming using a drone is not the same as filming on your phone, where the internal memory is sometimes enough. You need more space.

    The higher the resolution the drone records in, the larger the SD cards you’ll need. For 4K drones and above, the minimum size you should get is 64 GB. But if the resolution is less than 4K, you can use 32 Gb and back up your footage frequently. 
  • Price – Several SD card brands have varying prices based on size, speed, and functionality. The best you can do is balance the value you’ll get from an SD card and your budget. Don’t buy an expensive SD card if you don’t have to.

    Since it’s always advisable to back up your footage, it’s better to buy smaller capacities and buy several SD cards, rather than buy one large one. But if you can afford several 128GB or 256Gb sd cards, go for it, as long as you always backup your data.
  • Read Speeds and Write Speeds – The Write speed is the speed at which an SD card records the footage. On the other hand, the read speed is the speed at which the SD card transfers the data to another device. When choosing the speeds, it all depends on the resolution you’ll be shooting in.

    The standard write speed is 30MB/s, but you can get a faster memory card. While I’ve recommended some SD cards with very high write speeds, DJI write speeds don’t exceed 100MB/s. So, buying an SD card faster than 100MB/s is not necessary.
  • Reliability – A sound SD card should not be prone to frequent data losses. While they can’t offer 100% reliability, some models, like the ones reviewed in this article, are more reliable. User reviews can also help determine how reliable an SD card tends to be.

Other reputable SD card brands

SanDisk SD cards are my favorite and are pretty popular in various sectors. But other less popular brands still make high-quality memory cards. Below are some of them;

  • ADATA
  • Transcend
  • PNY
  • Kingstone

SD cards come in different names and tiered levels by different brands. For instance, SanDisk has Extreme, Extreme Pro, High-Endurance, etc. Some may be similar, others may be slightly different, but it’s often a marketing strategy. Don’t pay too much attention to the names. Just make sure you get an sd card that gives you the best value for your money.

As mentioned earlier, you’ll also come across fake SD cards that look identical to the original SD cards from top brands. To avoid getting scammed, purchase from a reliable seller on Amazon. If you’re buying locally, make sure they are authorized to sell the respective SD cards.

How to fix “SD Card Error” message on a DJI drone

A common error that many DJI drone users have experienced is the “SD Card Error, Please Replace It” message. And there are many reasons why you could be getting it. 

Below are the main reasons and how to fix them.

Poor Formatting

If you don’t format the SD card the right way, you may not be able to use it with your drone. There are many ways to format your SD card so you can use it on your drone, but the best way is to format it from the DJI app. This allows the drone to format and add the necessary files for it to work as expected. Below is how you do it.

  1. Insert the SD card into the drone.
  2. On the DJI app, locate the three dots and click on them.
  3. Locate the Camera feature and click on it.
  4. Scroll until you find “Storage Location.”
  5. Next to “storage location,” there will be an option to format the SD card.

Another way to format is to insert the SD card into the drone and connect the drone to a computer through a USB cable. By doing this, the computer will read the drone as a USB drive, allowing you to format it.

  • Avoid formatting the SD card using an adapter in your computer or smartphone.
  • If the error persists, check if the SD card has .bin files and delete them.

Installing the wrong SD card

If you install an SD card that’s too large, too small, or too slow for your drone, it may show an error message. To make sure it’s the SD card quality that’s causing the problem, try lowering the video resolution you’re recording in. For instance, if your drone records in 4K, try reducing it to 2.7K, or 1080p. If it works, you’ll need a better card to record in 4K or higher resolutions.

Each drone has its own SD card requirements. So, make sure you get an SD card that meets the specific requirements of your drone or even a higher model. 

Physical Damage

If you crashed your drone or mishandled the SD card in any way, you may have caused physical damage to the SD card, causing the error. You can recover the files from the SD card using software such as Recoverit Photo Recovery Software.

Corrupted Files, Missing Files, or Invalid Files

If your SD card has malware, it might damage the files or even cause data loss. You can insert the SD card into your computer and use a good antivirus to scan and remove the viruses, then attempt recovery of the files. If the files can’t be fixed, you can re-format the SD card.

If you’re dealing with invalid files, those that your computer can’t read, you can fix them using CMD. Below is a step-by-step process.

  1. Click the Windows Icon.
  2. Type CMD.
  3. Right-click on the CMD and select “Run as Administrator.”
  4. In the black window that appears, type “chkdsk,” which means “Check Disk.”
  5. Click Enter, then wait for it to fix the card.

If none of the fixes work, you may need to get a new SD card.

Conclusion

And there you have it. While flying without an SD card is possible, you need to invest in a good SD card to film in high resolutions. And not just any SD card – you need an SD card that meets the drone’s requirements. We have specifically mentioned three DJI drones in this article, but the SD cards suggested can be used in almost all DJI drones. Just make sure you balance the cost, size, and speed of the SD card to get the best value for your money and get the most out of your drone.

Peter Karanja

Peter Karanja is a freelance writer and drone enthusiast. He enjoys writing about how to fly drones safely, how drone pilots can advance their skills, and the latest news in the drone industry. Peter also enjoys reading, movies, and working out.

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