GoPro still has an issue with some SanDisk SD cards

Sat, Jan 23, 2021 3-minute read

In true form for this blog of documenting obscure things that will be inconsequential to 99.999999% of normal people, here’s (yet) another.

My — well-documented on Twitter, but as yet undocumented here — fallout with Drift Innovation’s Ghost cameras led me to emergency buy three GoPro Hero Session cameras - 1x Hero 4 Session and 2x Hero 5 Session.

The form factor of these diminutive cameras is highly appealing compared with the bulkier form of similar. You can really achieve a stealth cam thing.

And having not used GoPro in some years, the fact they’ve been at the forefront of action cameras became abundantly when comparing the slick operation of the camera software and companion app - compared to that of the Drift and others.

However, after a few weeks of use, a baffling thing was occurring. The Hero 4 Session worked perfectly; however both of the Hero 5 Session cameras suffered from a complete inability to maintain a charge.

Unlike the Ghost cameras, I refused to accept that this was down to the actual Li-Ion batteries that are in the GoPro’s. And various hunts on t’interwebs tended to confirm that indeed this *had been* an issue in the past, but should have been long since fixed with firmware updates.

Well, I’m here to tell you that, in the case of the Hero 5 Session, at least, this has not been resolved. Even on latest firmware, for the camera which is now discontinued, the working theory was that when using SanDisk Extreme SD cards, it somehow caused constant scanning, which ultimately flattened the battery - and quickly, too - in most cases even leaving overnight was enough to lose all charge.

The budget fix for this is relatively obvious: when you’ve finished recording, eject the card.

And I did this for a few weeks with expected results - the battery in the cameras would no longer flatten. But this quickly became annoying, and I elected to perform some practical tests.

I bought two non-SanDisk 128gb U3 MicroSD cards. One is the Samsung Evo Select, the other a Lexar.

I fully charged both Hero 5 Session cameras and then inserted the Samsung into one camera, and the existing SanDisk Extreme Pro in to the other. I used the onboard function to format the SD cards. And then other than periodically checking the charge state, did not touch the cameras again.

And this is what happened.

Both cameras, fully charged
Brand new Samsung Evo on the left; SanDisk Extreme Pro on the R. Comparable cards in terms of performance.
After 3 hours.
After 6 hours. No use in between.
After 9 hours.
The next morning.
Later the next morning.

And as simple as that, without touching the cameras, the battery on the camera with the SanDisk was flattened.

I then repeated the same experiment, instead using the Lexar - and *swapping the card* - so the Lexar was in the Right camera and the SanDisk in the Left - i.e., to rule out any chance of it being related to the camera or the specific SanDisk card.

And exactly the same thing occurred - the camera with the SanDisk had a flat battery after a day or so whilst the Lexar was at nearly full charge.

And the whole time, the GoPro Hero 4 Session with the exact same SanDisk Extreme Pro card in it - was absolutely fine… 🤷🏻‍♂️

Go figure.

I don’t even vaguely expect GoPro to fix this; but if, by some chance, you are in the same boat, try a different SD card.