Thursday, May 21, 2009

The 4GB file limit test

I'll be away for two weeks with my HD2000 in Turkey so there will be no new posts and I will not be able to respond to comments until I am back. The lowlight capability of the HD2000 will be tested since there will be many visits to mosques, churches, museums and other indoor sites where flash and tripod are not allowed.

Meanwhile I did a test on the 4GB file limit and the gap between files. This 4GB limit arose because the SDHC cards are formatted in FAT32 and 4GB is the largest file that the system can handle. (This is also true of all other camcorders that uses the same file system.) Once the video reaches 4GB during recording, it will stop and the file is saved and recording then continues with a new file. This is all done automatically and will continue until the recording is stopped manually or the card capacity limit is reached.

This is what I found out for the HD2000. There is a 30 seconds countdown counter in red on the LCD screen before the 4GB limit is reached. The gap between files (end of the first file to the beginning of the second file) is about 10 seconds in my measurement. These files are marked with a special icon in the playback selection screen and during playback they are continuous, i.e. it moves from one file to the next without stopping, like one continuous file. In fact using the fast forward and reverse will move across files as if they are one continuous file but each file has a separate name.

Hope this is of help to those interested in these details.

Ronald Kwok


  1. Sorry to bother u. I did not understand correctly. Do I lose 10 seconds of video ?
    Lets say I am recording a sport game that lasts 2 hours . I am recording the 2 hours event continouslly. Lets say that the sanyo camcorder reaches the 4 gb limit and create a new file. While the camcorder is creating the new file, will I lose 10 seconds of the game that I am recording ?

    Thank you

  2. Yes, that's right. You'll lose about 10 seconds of action, that's how long it takes to stop the recording, save it and start a new recording. All done automatically, though, by the camcorder. Thus it is better to stop the recording manually when it is near the file limit at an appropriate moment so that you will not miss any important action later on. I believe most if not all camcorders have this 4GB file limitation since they are also using FAT32 fule system.

  3. What a limitation. This would be the main reason why I would not buy the sanyo camcorder....too bad for me....

    Is that possible that there is no way to bypass this 4 gb limit, maybe reformatting the sd card in NTSF ?
    Will the camcorder recognize NTFS formatted sd cards ?

    Thank you for the reply.

  4. I do not think the Sanyo can use NTFS formatted cards. You will find the same limitation of 4GB file size in other camcorders as well (since they also use the FAT32 file system) though the time lost may be different but I believe there will still be a gap between files.

  5. This doesn't seem to be an issue with all manufacturers. In particular, there are claims here that Canon deals better with the issue:

    It seems that some cameras can work around the issue by buffering the video while opening the new file. I will probably skip the Sanyo because of this.

  6. If the missing seconds after reaching the 4GB limit is critical to you, then you should look elsewhere. But in most normal usage, you take clips of ony a few minutes and never reach that limit. If you are recording a full concert or a full game, you can always manually stop at a convenient point unless it is left totally unattended.