Video / Buying Guide

5 Storage Solutions for Aerial Photos and Cinematography

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With everything that goes into capturing aerial footage—type of drone, camera setup, lens configuration, etc.—it’s easy to overlook one of the simplest but most crucial components of the recording process: storage. And while not as varied as drones themselves, the solutions for saving all your flying footage are sundry, and require careful consideration. To help decide which solution is right for you, we’ve selected five great options to choose from, with some helpful use-cases thrown in. Be sure to read all the way to the bottom, as we’ve definitely saved the best for last.

1. microSD Card

Philosopher and renowned immaterial girl, Georgina Berkeley, once asked: “If a drone captures a landscape and no one sees it, did it really happen?” Obviously she wasn’t very familiar with microSD cards. Your standard and most basic method for recording aerial footage (apart from built-in storage), microSD cards allow you to save all your celestial shots for editing and review. Cards come in a number of size configurations, typically anywhere within the range of 4 to 256GB, and with different write speeds and classes. Most consumer-level, video-capable drones come with a built-it microSD card reader that allow you to pop a card right in and begin filming. When choosing a card, you’ll want consider your drone’s flight time, how much you’ll be recording or capturing, and camera capability—these questions will inform what size card you need.

Samsung 64GB EVO+ UHS-I microSDXC Memory Card

Author’s Recommendation: While most any microSD card will suffice, I typically use SanDisk cards. For instance, when shooting footage with my DJI Spark, I went with a SanDisk 64GB microSDXC Card. With it, I was able to capture hundreds of photos and multiple short videos. It’s reliable, transfers fast, and has never given me any data-loss issues—in short, it’s everything you want from a memory card.

SanDisk 64GB Ultra UHS-I microSDXC Memory Card

2. microSD Card Reader

If you want the option to upload your footage right away, you should consider picking up a microSD card reader or adapter to go along with your microSD card. These handy storage solutions allow you to transfer footage from your card to a compatible device, such as a laptop, external hard drive, or OTG device. Once transferred, you can edit, review, and share your footage as you see fit. Plus, after all your recordings are backed up on a separate device, you’re free to reuse your microSD card to shoot all-new footage.

Transcend RDF5 USB 3.0 SDHC / SDXC / microSDHC/SDXC Memory Card Reader

Author's Recommendation: While not super common, there are times when I want to grab footage from my SD card and put it on my laptop immediately. Whenever that’s the case, I use a microSD-to-USB adapter similar to StarTech’s microSD to Micro-USB/USB OTG Adapter. The transfer process is as easy as dropping my card into the adapter, then plugging it into my laptop. The adapter lets me access footage from my laptop and use it as needed. No muss, no fuss.

StarTech microSD to Micro-USB/USB OTG Adaptor Card Reader

3. Back-Up Storage

Instead of uploading your SD footage to a laptop, you can back it up to a portable storage device. In addition to peace of mind, these devices typically offer plenty of advanced features, including near-bottomless storage, image preview, high-speed wireless transfer, and more—all in a compact form that’s much easier to tote around than a laptop. If you’re someone who likes to preview your footage right away, or wants the security of having your images saved somewhere other than an SD card, a back-up storage device is for you.

NEXTO DI NVS2501 Field Video Storage

4. microSD Card Carrying Case

As the old Latin saying goes: Quid continebit ipsos contines? What stores our storage devices? The answer is actually pretty straightforward: a memory card case. These storage solutions for your storage solutions are great because, not only do they protect cards against damage from shock and moisture, they also help you keep track of the little guys, which, let’s be honest, can be difficult given their inherent tiny-ness.

Pelican 0915 Memory Card Case

Author’s Recommendation: I keep all my SD cards in a Ruggard Pouch. As the name suggests, they’re rugged, reliable, and relatively low-cost. True, they’re a bit low on flash and frills, but they do exactly what you need at a price you can afford—what else could you want?

Ruggard Neoprene Protective Pouch for Memory Cards

5. Seagate Fly Drive

And finally, if you want the ultimate in aerial storage solutions, look no further than Seagate’s newly-released Fly Drive. Designed with aerial cinematographers in mind, and working alongside perennial drone powerhouse, DJI, Seagate created a drone-specific storage solution that nearly does it all. The Fly Drive triples as a hard drive, card reader, and landing pad. It comes with a 2TB storage capacity, integrated slot for microSD cards, and features a protective bumper that not only keeps the Fly Drive safe, but helps make it into a suitable landing platform for your drone. The only thing missing from the Fly Drive is the ability for wireless transfer, BUT it does feature a built-in USB Type-C cable for when you’re ready to quickly offload your footage to a laptop or computer.

Seagate 2TB DJI Fly Drive External Hard Drive

There you have it. Is our list complete or is there something we forgot? Pilots, sound off below and tell us about your favorite storage solutions for capturing aerial footage.

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