DJI drones need at least an SD card (MicroSD) to store photographs and videos.
However, we sometimes have reasons to format these SD cards – they are either full or corrupted. You might also format the card to fix compatibility issues or keep them healthy.
How to format SD cards in DJI drones?
The easiest way to format an SD card in a DJI drone is to remove and format it on your Windows or Mac PC. You can also format it via the DJI Fly App while the drone is on or directly in the DJI FPV and Avata goggles.
I will cover each step of properly formatting SD cards in DJI drones, including many illustrative photos.
What are SD cards, and why do we need them for DJI drones?
SD cards, specifically MicroSD, are storage devices for drones to save videos or store images.
Most DJI drones lack internal storage. Some have a bit of internal storage, but not enough to store more than a flight session of recordings.
This will all depend on the resolution you photograph or film and the framerate.
For instance, a short video recorded in H.265 (D-Cinelog) on the DJI Mini 3 Pro in 4k at 24 frames per second will require about 700 MB per minute. This drone only has 1.2GB of internal storage.
That’s why high-dimension MicroSD cards like 64, 128, or 256GB are crucial.
However, these cards must be formatted to reduce recording issues.
In the meantime, let me share with you our top three recommended SD cards compatible with most DJI drones (high-capacity and great speed) to record even beyond 4k at 60 frames per second.
Note: Do not confuse standard-sized SD cards that are incompatible with DJI drones with MicroSD cards, which are the ones to look for. Every mention of SD cards from this topic refers to these MicroSD cards needed to store video and photographs on DJI drones. MicroSDXC is just an advanced type of MicroSD card.
Best SD card formats to use with DJI drones
DJI drones must have an SD card in a specific format, FAT32 or exFAT.
No other options will support the SD cards on your DJI drone.
Most DJI drones should be compatible with both formats, but if one creates a problem, format and switch to the other.
The most recommended format for SD cards is exFAT.
The FAT32 is an older file system and usually is recommended if the card has total storage below 32GB.
You can format any dimension SD card to FAT32, and you should be able to use it without issues.
The maximum file size for FAT32 is 4GB. So, a continuous large video will be split into multiple 4GB video files on your SD card.
If you have issues with an SD card on a DJI drone formatted on FAT32, attempt to reformat it on exFAT to see if this fixes the issue.
- It keeps the file safe in case of a critical power loss. You will lose only your last 4GB of video file that hasn’t been completed.
- Almost all drones, even very old ones, should be fully compatible with the FAT32 format system.
- You will have to deal with many video files for one recording session.
- There may be a few frame gaps between one video and the other, interrupting a smooth continuous recording experience.
exFAT is the card format to use if you have a larger SD card, usually beyond 32GB.
Nowadays, as SD cards are cheap and of higher dimensions, there’s little reason to use FAT32. You may want to avoid it when formatting a high-capacity MicroSD card.
However, if you have issues with your DJI drone recording smoothly on exFAT, attempt to format it in FAT32.
- Single video file per recording.
- Simple to deal with.
- It’s the most modern way of card formatting.
- Widely compatible with almost all computing devices.
- Supports high writing and reading speeds.
- Can format on exFAT big-size SD cards (e.g., half-terrabyte).
- If your drone suddenly loses power, your entire video file will be corrupted and unusable.
- Not all DJI drones are compatible with the exFAT format.
How to format an SD card on Windows PC
This is the most straightforward way to format an SD card.
Simply remove your MicroSD card from the DJI drone and insert it into an SD card adapter if your laptop has one or a USB-C or USB-A MicroSD card reader.
STEP 1: Connect the SD card to the Windows computer, either with a card reader or adapter.
Step 2: Go onto “This PC.” Your card should be recognized as new.
STEP 3: Right-click the SD card and press “FORMAT.”
STEP 4: A new window will pop up. Select the file system (if below 32GB, FAT32, or above 32GB, exFAT). Do not change allocation unit size. Tick “Quick Format.”
STEP 5: Press “Start.” It will take a few seconds for the SD card to be formatted. A new window will appear with “Format Complete.”
» MORE: Best Drones for Beginners
How to format SD cards on Mac
Formatting an SD card on Mac is the same across the entire operating system. Here are the steps to follow.
STEP 1: Remove your MicroSD card from your DJI drone and insert it into the Mac using a proper adapter.
STEP 2: Go to “Spotlight Search” and write “Disk Utility.”
STEP 3: Open the Disk Utility Program. Go to the left side and click on the SD card you connected under the “External” source. Afterward, click “Erase” in the top right corner.
STEP 4: A window will pop up. Add a name for the card (optional), select format (exFAT; unlikely you will be able to format FAT32 across all SD cards on Mac), and then click “Erase.” Do not change anything else.
STEP 5: After it is done (will take a few seconds), a window will appear as in the image below.
Note: Formatting an SD card will permanently delete all existing content. Ensure you have saved a backup of your videos or photos from the card before formatting it.
Can you format an SD card from an iPad?
Unfortunately, Apple hasn’t added any options to format an SD card or hard drive directly from the iPad.
Although you can use, transfer and edit any videos or photos from an SD card taken with a DJI drone on iPad, you will be limited to controlling and formatting the card.
How to format an SD card on a DJI Mini, Mavic, or Air drone (DJI Fly App)
The formatting process is the same for all DJI drones utilizing the DJI Fly App.
This applies to using the DJI RC-N1 with a phone connected or formatting directly from a DJI RC controller with a screen.
You may also want to have a look at one of the following articles if you have a Mini 3 or Mini 3 Pro:
Now, let’s take the formatting process step by step.
STEP 1: Turn on your DJI aircraft (non-FPV) and the remote controller. If using the DJI RC-N1, ensure you connect the phone and start the DJI Fly App.
STEP 2: On the main live view screen, tap “MENU.”
STEP 3: Go to the “Camera” tab and scroll down.
STEP 4: Under “Storage Location,” you can see two options: Your SD card and Internal Memory total space if your drone has one. Click format on the right side.
STEP 5: Select the location you want to format, either the internal memory or the SD card.
STEP 6a: Select “Internal Memory” and tap “Format” if you want to format your drone’s internal memory.
STEP 6b: Select “SD Card” and tap “Format” if you want to format your DJI drone SD card.
STEP 7: After you have tapped to format your SD card or internal memory, a message will appear letting you know the space you selected will be formatted (see image below).
This process will apply to about all standard DJI drones because of the common use of the DJI Fly App.
The process will differ if you want to format the SD card on your DJI FPV or DJI Avata.
» MORE: Best DJI Mini 3 Accessories
How to format an SD card on DJI FPV or DJI Avata
Formatting your SD card on DJI FPV or Avata (plus Goggles) is as follows.
STEP 1: Turn on your DJI Avata or DJI FPV and goggles.
STEP 2: On your goggles, enter the “MENU” and scroll down to “SETTINGS.”
STEP 3: Navigate to “Camera.”
STEP 4: From Camera, scroll down to “Format.”
STEP 5: Once you press “Format,” a new window will appear. Select what you would like to format: The SD Card from your DJI goggles, the DJI FPV or Avata drone, or the Internal storage (available only on Avata). Once you have selected your option, press “CONFIRM.“
Note: The DJI goggles will record only what you see through the headset on its SD card, a different video from what your DJI FPV or Avata film on the Aircraft SD card.
You need two MicroSD cards for DJI FPV or Avata to record properly.
One MicroSD card has to be on the goggles. If selected, this will record the pure footage without any stabilization and OSD for Goggles 2 and Integra.
One of the crucial roles of filming on your DJI Goggles is that if you crash your drone far away from you, you’ll have the footage recorded on the goggles and can use it for orientation to find your drone.
The second SD card will be placed on your DJI FPV or DJI Avata drones.
- The DJI FPV drone supports MicroSD cards up to 256GB.
- The DJI Avata also supports the same MicroSD cards up to 256GB.
Best SD Cards for DJI Mini 3/Mini 3 Pro
The DJI Mini 3 and Mini 3 Pro have similar SD card requirements, so it’s recommended to use microSDXC cards A1 or A2 with a total memory of up to 256GB.
If you’re interested in acquiring such MicroSD cards for your Mini 3 or Mini 3 Pro, we recommend checking for the following articles:
Such cards will allow your Mini 3 to record in 4k at 30 frames per second or Mini 3 Pro at 60 fps without issues, shatters, or lags.
Best SD Cards for DJI Mini 2/Mini 2 SE
DJI Mini 2 and Mini 2 SE have similarities in SD cards recommended for use without issues.
Compared to the Mini 3 Pro SD cards, the Mini 2 and Mini 2 SE have lower requirements because the framerate and recording resolution are slightly lower, and these drones record at a lower bit rate.
We have covered the recommended SD cards in this article.
The SD cards recommended for the Mini 2 SE are similar to the ones suggested for the Mini 2 drone.
Best SD Cards for DJI Mavic 3 Series
DJI Mavic 3, Mavic 3 Classic, or Mavic 3 Pro, whether standard or Cine versions, have a slightly higher recommendation by DJI of which SD cards to use.
The bitrate, resolution, and framerate are much higher than in normal drones, and these cards have to support professional-level video at high-speed transfers.
All three types of drones are recommended to use a Kingston Canvas Go! Plus or V30 A2 microSDXC between 64GB and 512GB in size.
We also have a good article for Mavic 3 SD cards that applies to the Mavic 3 Classic and Pro.
» MORE: Best SD Cards for Mavic 3
Best SD Cards for DJI FPV and DJI Avata
DJI FPV and Avata are two fantastic FPV drones capable of recording in 4k at 60 frames per second at an impressive bit rate.
Avata can film in 120 frames per second at 2.7k.
You must have an SD card compatible with these drones without the risk of video becoming corrupted or laggy due to lack of speed.
Both drones support microSDXC cards with a maximum size of 256GB. A U30 A1 card is recommended for Avata, and both U30 A1 + A2 more for the DJI FPV drone.