The best memory cards are a critical part of any photographer or videographer’s toolkit. After all, the most sophisticated camera in the world isn’t much without something to record its images and videos on.
Whatever kinds of shots you plan to take, you’ll need a decent memory card that not only has the storage to accommodate them but also the transfer speeds required to keep up with the volumes of data involved.
The best cameras are compatible with several different types of the memory card; the most common is the Secure Digital (SD) card, which is about the size of a postage stamp, while the second most popular is the smaller variant known as a microSD, about the size of a fingernail. Smartphones and tablets with an expandable memory option usually favor the microSD card, while dedicated cameras will tend to use an SD card.
There are other forms to consider. About the size of an After Eight mint is the CompactFlash (CF) card, a robust format that is commonly seen in older DSLR, and its successor in the form of the newer XQD format, developed to cope with the increasing demands of the latest-generation cameras that can shoot very high-resolution images and videos in very short spaces of time.
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This is used by many of the well-regarded current mirrorless cameras, such as the Nikon Z6 and Nikon Z7. For more information, jump to choosing the right memory card section.
6 Best SD Cards for Camera to Buy
1. SanDisk Extreme PRO SD UHS-I
Power users are advised to check out the Extreme PRO SDXC card from long-standing card manufacturer SanDisk. Available in capacities from 64GB up to an impressive 1TB, this option offers a speed class 3 rating.
The real practical advantage here is not only writing speeds up to an impressive 90MB/s – which means that it is able to deal with rapid-fire sequential shooting and in both JPEG and Raw – but has an extremely fast transfer speed of up to 170MB/s, which will speed up the workflow of enthusiasts and pros.
Aside from making it easier to capture a sequence of Raw photographs, the data crunching on offer here also makes it suitable for 4K video shooting. To sum up, this is one capable contender.
2. Lexar Professional 633x SDHC / SDXC UHS-I
Available in a variety of capacities from 32GB to 1TB, the Lexar Professional 633x SDHC / SDXC UHS-I is a card designed to undergo the rigors of professional use.
Its transfer speeds are fast enough to handle both high volumes of photos and 4K video, so no matter what you plan to shoot, you can rest assured that the card can keep up.
While the lower-capacity cards can be picked up for a pretty reasonable price these days, prices climb pretty quickly when you get up to the 1TB level, so do bear that in mind if budget is a concern. If you can stretch though, it’s a great card that should reward you with many years’ use.
3. SanDisk Extreme Pro microSDXC UHS-I
Another relatively new microSDXC card and larger SD adapter combo for those prolific image-makers sticking their cards in a variety of slots; here available in a variety of storage capacities ranging from 32GB all the way up to a whopping 1TB.
Imagine that from solid-state media the mere size of a fingernail. However, while read and write speeds for these cards are adequate, they’re not quite the quickest on the market at a read speed of ‘only’ 170MB/sec maximum and a write speed of up to 90MB/sec.
If it’s the speed you want rather than capacity, alternatively look at the same manufacturer’s UHS-II cards in the series, which max out at 128GB capacity, yet offer a transfer speed of a slightly more satisfying 275MB/sec.
4. Lexar Professional Class 10 UHS-II 2000X Speed
Lexar has long been the go-to card for photography enthusiasts and professional shooters, and, despite disappearing from the market for a little while, it has bounced back with plenty of Lexar options still available.
A solid choice for us is the Lexar Professional 16GB Class 10 UHS-II 1000x Speed, which deploys UHS-II tech to enable transfer speeds up to 300 MB/s and write speeds up to 260 MB/s.
This ensures that, whether you’re recording Full HD, 4K video, or shooting high-resolution Raw files, this card delivers the goods, even if maximum data capacity is 128GB, rather than the maximum 512GB offered by some rivals.
A close alternative in terms of specification and performance would be SanDisk’s Extreme PRO SD UHS-II (also featured here), but we feel you can’t really go wrong with this one.
5. SanDisk Extreme PRO SD UHS-II
Missing that essential shot if you’re working as a pro photographer can be an expensive mistake, and is especially irritating if it’s because your card can’t keep up. Try and avoid the latter ever happening by investing in this ultra-speedy, inevitably costlier, an example from industry stalwart SanDisk – the SanDisk Extreme PRO SD UHS-II.
In offering read speeds of up to 300 MB/s and write speeds of an equally impressive 260 MB/s, it’s a class leader among memory cards. The above specification makes it a must-have option for reportage, sports, and wildlife photographers, shooting bursts of rapid-fire stills, or videographers wanting the clarity of 4K resolution video, with the inevitable data hungriness that comes with it.
As this is an SDXC (‘Extended Capacity’) card too, storage is impressive. Available card offerings are from 32GB up to 128GB, but truly the accent is on speed here.
6. Sony SF-G Tough SDXC
The bigger the card’s data capacity, the higher the potential worry of losing hundreds, possibly thousands of precious image files should anything untoward happen.
Purporting to eliminate some of that stress is the Sony Tough range, supplied in common-use SD format. While arguably no card can claim to be 100% destruction–proof, there come with the boast of being dustproof and waterproof, while possessing ‘bend-proof’ strength into the bargain – namely being able to withstand 18KG of exerted pressure (that’s18x greater than standard SD).
If you need more convincing still, Sony’s Tough has also been tested against drops from 5 meters in height, while the card can simply be washed clean of any grime that gets on it.
Speed-wise, a further bonus is the card’s ability to cope with the sequential capture of 241-compressed Raw or 362 JPEGs in the 20fps burst shooting mode on the Sony A9. If you’re a pro shooter and have the budget, you’ll definitely want to check these out.