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Kingston Technology Canvas React MicroSD and a general comment for Apple / Mac users

Yemsky

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After SanDisk decided not to replace a defective memory card earlier this year (it stopped working in several GoPros, a DSLR and all my computers, so it was the card) I decided to go for Kingston Technology for my GoPro collection as well as my new ANAFI. I had decades of good product quality and customer service experience with Kingston's memory modules, USB sticks, cards and SSDs and can not remember why I even bought the SanDisk card that failed....
The ANAFI needs a fast card to write both video and photo as well as flight data so I went for Kingston's "Canvas React" which is a Class 10 UHS-I U3 MicroSD card that supports V30 standards (for 4K Video) as well as A1 (which is a speed class for application loads on mobile devices, so not relevant for the ANAFI).

The Kingston Canvas React comes in capacities from 32 - 512GB, but I felt that 128GB was the right size for me. They sell it with or without SD card adapter, which might make a few cents price difference when you look them up online. If you want other capacities, just replace the digits in the part numbers:
SDCR/128GBSP (Micro SD only without SD card adapter)
SDCR/128GB (with SD card adapter)

The Kingston cards perform really well, but Mac users, remember to format any card (not just Kingston) to FAT32 on your Mac first, then one more time in the ANAFI.

I didn't see any posts here about this yet, but apparently many DJI Mavic users have similar experiences as you can see in their forums. I believe I know a bit about memory cards, but this is odd and something Parrot and DJI would have to explain:

FAT32 is a format that is meant to be used on cards up to a capacity of 32GB with the actual limitation being that individual files are just under 4GB. Kingston (and probably most other manufacturers) ship bigger capacity cards formatted as ExFAT, the ANAFI supports Fat32.
So, if you take your larger card which comes ExFAT formatted and put it straight into your drone you get an error message. You can easily fix this by formatting the card in the drone using the FreeFlight App. I think you will be OK if you later take that card and put it into a Windows PC. HOWEVER, if you go straight from the drone to your Mac you will probably encounter the error message "the disk you inserted was not readable by this computer” as I did. The Apple OS will not allow you to mount the card and you will not see the content. As far as I can tell there is nothing you can do but Erase (Mac-speak for Windows "format") the card and kiss your recorded content Good Bye. Find a Windows machine for data backup first.
Here’s what worked for me: Take your MicroSD card and (despite it being larger than 32GB) do an initial FAT32 format on the Mac via Disk Utility => Erase => Format: MS-DOS (FAT). Then put the card in the ANAFI: It will trigger another error message from the drone (why I don't know) and you need to format it a second time in the drone via Free Flight. I do not know why this is necessary, but after this exercise your footage will be readable on your Mac as well as any Windows computer.


One last remark: I have not done particularly long flights to check what the ANAFI does when the recorded file approaches the individual 4GB file size limit under FAT32. All I can say at the moment is that on a GoPro a continuous recording exceeding the FAT32 limitations is “chaptered” into individual video files at around 3.6GB which under default settings is equivalent to around 8 minutes recording time. When you play back the video these individual files are automatically being stitched together without you ever noticing that there are multiple files being played in succession.
 
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Chorobe

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FAT32 actually has a 2TB partition limit. The card that comes with the Anafi is a 16GB SanDisk Industrial, which I learned was an MLC card. Most microsd cards now are TLC, which traditionally don't have as good of a lifespan as MLC's in terms of writing/erasing data and are less expensive. I am kind of surprised that they included this kind of card, it's not really necessary for an aerial drone. For something like a security cam that constantly writes and deletes old data, yes that makes more sense. Either way most of the other recommended cards for the Anafi are TLC and I would think other microSD's would work fine, probably the key would be what the real world write speed is, not what they list as the max.
 

Yemsky

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FAT32 actually has a 2TB partition limit. The card that comes with the Anafi is a 16GB SanDisk Industrial, which I learned was an MLC card. Most microsd cards now are TLC, which traditionally don't have as good of a lifespan as MLC's in terms of writing/erasing data and are less expensive. I am kind of surprised that they included this kind of card, it's not really necessary for an aerial drone. For something like a security cam that constantly writes and deletes old data, yes that makes more sense. Either way most of the other recommended cards for the Anafi are TLC and I would think other microSD's would work fine, probably the key would be what the real world write speed is, not what they list as the max.

You are right about the maximum partition size: FAT32 max partition size is 2TB. However, this is irrelevant to the issue here as partition size and file size are two different issues.

A storage device, such as a hard drive (HDD) or Solid State Drive (SSD) as well as a USB stick or a memory card can be split into separate partitions which can be managed individually. The information about the partitions' locations on the storage medium and their respective sizes are written to an area known as the partition table that the system reads before any other part of the disk. On your computer HDD or SSD you might use this create one partition to boot into Windows and another to boot into Linux.
You might also have a good reason to partition a USB drive or a memory card but this is not necessary for anything related to the Parrot formatting issue that is giving so many users problems.

There are different ways to format storage devices which have been developed over time as storage capacity grew further and further. These different methods do limit your maximum storage and go somewhat in parallel with SD card capacity standards:
  • SD/microSD card: FAT12/16 up to 2GB. This is almost irrelevant today but remember some years ago when many mobile phones and even digital cameras would not recognise 4GB cards because of this.
  • SDHC/microSDHC (High Capacity) card: FAT32 more than 2GB and up to 32GB. This is what the Ananfi supports “natively”)
  • SDXC/microSDXC (eXtended Capacity) card: exFAT more than 32GB and up to 2TB (which is obviously what you need for a card bigger than 32GB, such as my 128GB Kingston MicroSD).
  • SDUC (Ultra Capacity): 2TB to 128TB (do not check on Amazon just yet…). These will also be exFAT formatted
Parrot’s manual is stumm about what formatting the drone actually creates. As the manual lists cards with as much as 128GB capacity you would think it is exFAT, but seemingly not as a card formatted with exFAT on your Mac will not be recognised straight away and requires one more formatting in the drone... However, as no files can be transferred to a FAT32 partition if the file is larger than 4GB you end up during longer flights / video shots with a series of video files each just a bit smaller than 4GB which either play seamlessly one after the other in your video software or which need to be stitched together in post production.

Consumer Grade memory cards are rated to work in environments between 0°C to +70°C.
Industrial Grade is a term which in essence only confirms that the card should work in a wider temperature range, ie -25ºC to 85ºC (-13ºF to 185ºF).
A card rated for industrial use in your Anafi drone is a nice to have but not essential.
Some manufacturers might also state for an industrial card the humidity range the card has been tested for or the number of insertions it is guaranteed to withstand.

Another difference between Consumer and Industrial cards can be the endurance of the Flash (NAND) memory cells, ie the number of program/erase cycles they can sustain. SLC (Single Level Cell) NAND was the original NAND architecture. It has only two states - a high or a low (“1” or “0”). It is still made today for certain usage due to its much higher endurance over the MLC and TLC NAND but it is super expensive and therefore totally unattractive when building memory cards with several GB capacity.
MLC (Multi Level Cell) NAND was invented to double the amount of data stored in the same area of silicon on the semiconductor. This significantly lowers the cost of storing data on a MLC component versus a SLC part. The tradeoff for the lower cost of MLC NAND is less reliability and 10-20 times less endurance cycles (the number of times you can erase/write to the NAND cell).
TLC (Tri Level Cell) and QLC (Quad Level Cell) NAND takes the MLC concept further: By creating more states in the memory cell, you can effectively store 3 bits and even 4 bits per cell which comes with significant cost reduction in mass production but, again, the tradeoff is less endurance/write cycles and less reliability than even the “original MLC” components.

I don’t know where you found the information that the SanDisk Industrial card that came with the Anafi is MLC and not TLC. I’d be grateful if you could provide a link but be careful to take such a statement from Sandisk at face value. What I have seen in a number of posts and certainly on their help forums and in replies to customer inquiries where people query what NAND they use for which product is that they say “all our cards are MLC” which is true as TLC and QLC are also MULTI Level Cell... ;-)



For me the Kingston Canvas React works just fine as it is fast (that’s what you want for 4K video + GPS and flight data), good quality and backed with an excellent service. I know that in April 2018 they will launch a number of High Endurance MicroSD cards as there are applications where memory cards need to sustain a lot of write/erase cycles. You correctly point to security cameras as an example of a write heavy environment for memory cards. Drones are a bit more demanding than ordinary digital cameras as they not only write the video data onto the cards but also GPS and flight information. But you should not really need to worry about the endurance issue though as card manufacturers have clever ways via controller algorithms, wear levelling and over-provisioning to prevent you from ever noticing a cell wearing out in normal usage.
 
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Chorobe

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You are right about the maximum partition size: FAT32 max partition size is 2TB. However, this is irrelevant to the issue here as partition size and file size are two different issues.

A storage device, such as a hard drive (HDD) or Solid State Drive (SSD) as well as a USB stick or a memory card can be split into separate partitions which can be managed individually. The information about the partitions' locations on the storage medium and their respective sizes are written to an area known as the partition table that the system reads before any other part of the disk. On your computer HDD or SSD you might use this create one partition to boot into Windows and another to boot into Linux.
You might also have a good reason to partition a USB drive or a memory card but this is not necessary for anything related to the Parrot formatting issue that is giving so many users problems.

There are different ways to format storage devices which have been developed over time as storage capacity grew further and further. These different methods do limit your maximum storage and go somewhat in parallel with SD card capacity standards:
  • SD/microSD card: FAT12/16 up to 2GB. This is almost irrelevant today but remember some years ago when many mobile phones and even digital cameras would not recognise 4GB cards because of this.
  • SDHC/microSDHC (High Capacity) card: FAT32 more than 2GB and up to 32GB. This is what the Ananfi supports “natively”)
  • SDXC/microSDXC (eXtended Capacity) card: exFAT more than 32GB and up to 2TB (which is obviously what you need for a card bigger than 32GB, such as my 128GB Kingston MicroSD).
  • SDUC (Ultra Capacity): 2TB to 128TB (do not check on Amazon just yet…). These will also be exFAT formatted
Parrot’s manual is stumm about what formatting the drone actually creates. As the manual lists cards with as much as 128GB capacity you would think it is exFAT, but seemingly not as a card formatted with exFAT on your Mac will not be recognised straight away and requires one more formatting in the drone... However, as no files can be transferred to a FAT32 partition if the file is larger than 4GB you end up during longer flights / video shots with a series of video files each just a bit smaller than 4GB which either play seamlessly one after the other in your video software or which need to be stitched together in post production.

Consumer Grade memory cards are rated to work in environments between 0°C to +70°C.
Industrial Grade is a term which in essence only confirms that the card should work in a wider temperature range, ie -25ºC to 85ºC (-13ºF to 185ºF).
A card rated for industrial use in your Anafi drone is a nice to have but not essential.
Some manufacturers might also state for an industrial card the humidity range the card has been tested for or the number of insertions it is guaranteed to withstand.

Another difference between Consumer and Industrial cards can be the endurance of the Flash (NAND) memory cells, ie the number of program/erase cycles they can sustain. SLC (Single Level Cell) NAND was the original NAND architecture. It has only two states - a high or a low (“1” or “0”). It is still made today for certain usage due to its much higher endurance over the MLC and TLC NAND but it is super expensive and therefore totally unattractive when building memory cards with several GB capacity.
MLC (Multi Level Cell) NAND was invented to double the amount of data stored in the same area of silicon on the semiconductor. This significantly lowers the cost of storing data on a MLC component versus a SLC part. The tradeoff for the lower cost of MLC NAND is less reliability and 10-20 times less endurance cycles (the number of times you can erase/write to the NAND cell).
TLC (Tri Level Cell) and QLC (Quad Level Cell) NAND takes the MLC concept further: By creating more states in the memory cell, you can effectively store 3 bits and even 4 bits per cell which comes with significant cost reduction in mass production but, again, the tradeoff is less endurance/write cycles and less reliability than even the “original MLC” components.

I don’t know where you found the information that the SanDisk Industrial card that came with the Anafi is MLC and not TLC. I’d be grateful if you could provide a link but be careful to take such a statement from Sandisk at face value. What I have seen in a number of posts and certainly on their help forums and in replies to customer inquiries where people query what NAND they use for which product is that they say “all our cards are MLC” which is true as TLC and QLC are also MULTI Level Cell... ;-)



For me the Kingston Canvas React works just fine as it is fast (that’s what you want for 4K video + GPS and flight data), good quality and backed with an excellent service. I know that in April 2018 they will launch a number of High Endurance MicroSD cards as there are applications where memory cards need to sustain a lot of write/erase cycles. You correctly point to security cameras as an example of a write heavy environment for memory cards. Drones are a bit more demanding than ordinary digital cameras as they not only write the video data onto the cards but also GPS and flight information. But you should not really need to worry about the endurance issue though as card manufacturers have clever ways via controller algorithms, wear levelling and over-provisioning to prevent you from ever noticing a cell wearing out in normal usage.
You are preaching to the choir. Thanks for the long reply. Does anyone know how long you can record Anafi’s 4K before reaching the 4GB file size limit for FAT32?

Here is a link that does point to the MLC NAND type for Sandisk’s Industrial MicroSDs. https://4donline.ihs.com/images/VipMasterIC/IC/SAND/SAND-S-A0006524691/SAND-S-A0006524691-1.pdf
 

Yemsky

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Here is a link that does point to the MLC NAND type for Sandisk’s Industrial MicroSDs. https://4donline.ihs.com/images/VipMasterIC/IC/SAND/SAND-S-A0006524691/SAND-S-A0006524691-1.pdf
Thanks.
That datasheet does indeed confirm the Sandisk Industrial card is using MLC, not TLC.
Same as https://www.kingston.com/datasheets/SDCIT_en.pdf

You are preaching to the choir. Thanks for the long reply. Does anyone know how long you can record Anafi’s 4K before reaching the 4GB file size limit for FAT32?
Around five to five and a half minutes. I have a few times seen exactly 5:35 though miraculously, those videos display a file size of 4.2GB in my Mac's Photo app, which is a bit unexpected given what we discussed above ;-)
 
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Landbo

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Around five to five and a half minutes. I have a few times seen exactly 5:35 though miraculously, those videos display a file size of 4.2GB in my Mac's Photo app, which is a bit unexpected given what we discussed above ;-)
Suppose it is because 1K bytes are 1000 in Apple languages, while everyone else knows it is 1024. ;)

Regards, Leif.
 
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luisvale

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At 3840 × 2160 /29.97 fps the Anafi cuts the file to a new file at 05:35,09 and the file size is 4 204 369 309 bytes (4.21 GB on disk)

I guess that this can vary but not by much given the average 100 Mbits stream bitrate

Does anyone know how long you can record Anafi’s 4K before reaching the 4GB file size limit for FAT32?
 
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