A regular question from most new Mavic Air owners is: what is the best memory card for the DJI Mavic Air? There are so many options for micro SD cards for the Mavic Air that choosing the right option is difficult! We’ve tried and tested many different brands of memory cards in our drones and wanted to share our experiences and recommended micro SD cards. As travel photographers we rely on our memory cards to work 100% of the time and the cards below are the ones we personally use for our all our drones. We’ve trusted them heavily over the past years – so you can trust us when we say these are some of the best SD cards for your Mavic Air!
Mavic Air Memory Cards
The Mavic Air uses micro SD cards to store video footage and images captured on the drone. For those who are new to micro SD cards they look like this!
Luckily the Mavic Air has 8gb on onboard storage so if you forget our memory card you’ll still be able to capture some footage. However, you’re going to need more micro SD cards, especially if you’re going to shoot video in 4k. There are a number of key requirements for a good memory card for the DJI Mavic Air:
- Size: Generally speaking you don’t want to buy a super high capacity card for your Mavic Air. We find that 32gb or 64gb cards work the best and we generally prefer multiple 32gb cards. Anything over 64gb is overkill as you’ll store too much on the card. Using 32GB cards forces you to change the memory card with each battery change. Shooting in 4k will take a large chunk of a 32gb card on a 20 minutes flight. This way if you do crash or lose your drone you’ll only lose the footage from that flight and not all the ones before it!
- Reliability: The most important requirement for any memory card. The memory cards have to be reliable as you want to minimize the change of losing data.
- Transfer speed (read and write): The Mavic Air records 4k and writes to the micro SD card at 12.5 MB/s. So any card above this speed will work well. However, faster cards have the additional benefit that backing up your footage to your laptop/external hard drives is quicker. Slow card red times will mean copying your footage to other media painfully slow
- Cost: You’re going to need a few micro SD cards so it’s important that they are not too expensive. Micro SD cards over 64gb are expensive and generally overkill. We find the 32/64gb cards a good balance of price vs capacity.
The Best Mavic Air Memory Cards
With these basic requirements, our memory cards of choice are the Sandisk Extreme 32gb and 64gb micro SDHC memory cards which we use exclusively for our DJI drones. These 32gb and 64gb cards are the best as they provide the best balance of Size, Cost and Speed. In our experience and opinion, they are the best memory cards for Mavic Air.
Mavic Air Memory Card tip: We’ve never experience any data loss with the micro SD cards below despite heavy use over the past months and years!.
Sandisk Extreme Series Cards
Why these are the best memory cards for the Mavic Air
- Speed: Both cards are class 3 micro SD cards with up to 90/60 MB/s read/write speeds so they can easily handle the 4k video transfer rate of the Mavic Air with no issues. We have never experienced any issues with these cards despite extremely heavy use. Backing up files to your external hard drives is also super quick, just make sure to use a high speed SD card reader like this one!)
- Size: We recommend buying multiple 32gb cards. Each card will hold roughly a battery flights worth of data, assuming 4k video recording and an approximate flight time of around 17-18 minutes. This is for two reasons – it forces you to:
- back up your cards frequently. This avoids any potential data loss that may occur if you have one large card with lots of footage.
- change memory cards on the drone. So if you do crash or lose your Mavic Air the data loss is limited to what’s on the card in the drone and just that flights footage.
- Cost: Both of the cards are great value for money considering the read/write speeds. You can buy faster cards (we have some recommendations below) and these will speed up your read times for backing up footage – they won’t improve video or photo recording!
Need faster cards?
If you’re shooting a lot of video footage on your Mavic Air you’re going to generate a lot of large video files! So the speed at which you can backup your cards to external drives will become more and more important. In this case, you may want to consider faster micro SD cards for the Mavic Air like the Sandisk Extreme Pro and Extreme Plus series memory cards.
These cards offer much faster (around 40%) read speeds which will reduce your file transfer time over USB3.0 to your laptop or hard drives. This extra speed will cost more money, but for those who need these higher read speeds these are the best memory cards for the job.
Memory Card Case: Protecting your SD Cards
Having multiple micro SD cards for your Mavic Air is great for reducing the chances of losing footage due to crash, card failure etc, however keeping these cards organized gets tricky. These micro SD cards are very small and delicate so you’ll need a reliable case for storing and organizing them
Mavic Air Memory Card Tip: Make sure to number of label your memory cards (we use a sharpie pen) so you can keep track of them as you swap them in and out of your Mavic Air drone.
We recommend the following memory card cases
Backing up: Saving files from your memory cards
As the Mavic Air records up to 4k video you will have lots of micro SD cards to backup. Your video files will be limited to 4gb in size due to the nature of the FAT format that is required on the Mavic Air. Backing up lots of full memory cards to your backup hard drives will become a time consuming and frustrating task!
For the fastest transfer times you’ll want to use a laptop/computer with USB 3.0 ports for transferring files.
Mavic Air Memory Card Tip: Not all laptops/computers have USB 3.0 SD card readers installed (check your model) so using the built in sd card slot will be very slow for backing up your footage.
Many laptops have limited USB 3.0 ports so connecting your external hard drive and SD card reader at the same time may not be possible.
Our backup system
To solve this problem we use a simple system with minimal gear:
This is a very compact, versatile solution and should give you a fast reliable transfer method regardless of your computer setup.
How to Store Your Mavic Air Footage
When traveling with our drones we backup our data to two mirrored external hard drives. We then carry these hard drives in seperate bags to reduce the chances of losing both drives. Having two backups of your footage is super helpful and has definitely saved us a number of times! The file sizes are too big to keep copies on the SD cards so carrying multiple hard drives is a practical and cost effective solution.
For the best value, we recommend the Seagate Backup slim hard drives. The 2tb version of these drives are great value and are the hard drive we exclusively use. Despite heavy, regular use we’ve never had any issues with these hard drives for the last few years which we’ve used them.
We also use a rugged drive from Transcend while travelling. It’s got built in shock protection so it can definitely take a few bumps and knocks while you’re moving around.
If you’re looking for a more durable backup drive and have the budget the best rugged hard drive is the LaCie Rugged Mini, which comes in 1TB, 2TB and 4TB models. If you are accident prone we’d recommend investing in some of these!
Check out our other Mavic Air articles:
That completes our ultimate guide to the best SD cards for your Mavic Air. If you’re looking for other Mavic Air accessories check out our other posts on the Mavic Air!