Just unboxed your DJI Mavic Air but was surprised to see that it didn't include a Micro SD card. Actually there is no free Micro SD card for aircraft body of DJI's one of best-selling consumer drones Mavic Air, even in its Fly More Combo. That's why choosing best Micro SD Card for your drone matters today. In 2019, the current crop of Micro SD cards on the market can really be a confusing one varied from capacities, speed ratings and prices. So how do we start?
Mavic Air is DJI's first drone with an 8 GB of onboard storage available while Mavic Pro and other drones don't have any. You don't get into panic when you forget to bring Micro SD cards as its internal storage allows you to save a few photos and a very limited video duration. The camera of DJI Mavic Air supports shooting 4K UHD video and can handle the card up to 128GB per the product manual.
Though the supported sizes of Micro SD Card for DJI Mavic Air are 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB, we recommend having multiple 32GB or 64GB cards forces you to swap the card to save previous recordings safely. In the air 128 GB keeps quite a few footages to risk.
Having different storage capacities, Micro SD cards are classified into three categories: Micro SD, Micro SDHC and Micro SDXC. Apparently Micro SD comes with a maximum of 2GB capacity is not suitable to use in a drone.
Micro SDXC (Secure Digital eXtended Capacity) card is made in basically a higher storage capacity of the Micro SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) card. Micro SDXC cards offer a higher capacity of storing many more minutes of video footage than what you can store on Micro SDHC cards. So, there is an obvious advantage to size. For 4K drone DJI Mavic Air, it will be better off to go something bigger and more reliable for smooth shooting and sufficient storage.
Also, you need to ensure your drone supports the file system that the card is formatted with. Due to the nature of the FAT 32 format, it's safe to say that videos more than 4 GB will be split across multiple files recorded by DJI Mavic Air. In result of this, you’re going to need a bigger card than 16GB for a longer flight with multiple batteries and a car charger.
We have a 64GB Sandisk Extreme Pro UHS-3 Micro SD card that formatted in the Mavic Air without any issue. Here is a video tutorial by hamstergraphics about how to format micro SD card for DJI Mavic Air:
Micro SD cards also have a series of speed classifications that give a rough idea of the minimum writing performance to be expected. It is vital when the cards are used in 4K drones because speed class of the card will restrict the resolution and bit rate of videos you’re able to record. And the writing speed will also affect how fast the camera of your drone offloads the data to the card so that it can keep constant video recording.
Speed class (Source: SD Card Association)
Here is the max video bitrate of DJI Mavic Air and recommended class ratings of the card on the DJI's product page:
Both Class 10/UHS-1 and UHS-3 can work for DJI Mavic Air, and the question comes into your mind - Is UHS-3 necessary for Mavic Air? If you shoot some stunning footage that you cannot recreate, but there is a glitch that stutters in the short duration due to slow writing speed. Yep you will regret buying an inferior card.
So we always recommend buying UHS-3 speed class cards for perfect 4K video shooting. High-resolution and high bit rate video supported by 4K drones like DJI Mavic Air, a maximum bitrate on 4K up to 100mbps (12.5Mb/s), requires loads of data to be written to the card very quickly.
Based on different compression codecs (such as HEVC, H.264, etc.) and bit rates recording, file size of video is varied. Using the maximum video bitrate of DJI Mavic Air, we can get an approximation of video recording time. And it will be theoretically more minutes of footage by using lower setting of video bitrate like 1080p FHD instead of 4K.
In addition to the mentioned above, there are also two reasons for Mavic Air users to go with multiple 32GB cards or 64GB (UHS-3) cards:
1. It is not wise to putting all eggs in one basket by storing all your footage in a 128 GB large card. You will benefit from frequent backup of your cards in risk of drone loss or crash.
2. Since UHS-3 Speed Class speeds up to 100MB/s transfer and 60MB/s write, it is able to meet a fully fledged standard for DJI Mavic Air with 4K video recording feature. Plus, it is somewhat future-proofing that you can use them in other 4K devices, such as GoPro and up-to-date DSLR camera.
For faster speed (up to 100MB/s transfer and 90MB/s write), advanced users can give Extreme Plus and Extreme Pro series of SanDisk a shot.
If you have any recommendations regarding micro SD card you use, please don't hesitate to reach us below:
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