There are so many different memory cards out there, choosing the best one for your camera can be a bit of a minefield. Not only are there different shapes and sizes of cards, but you also have to consider factors such as the card’s capacity and the read and write speeds. It is important to choose a card that will fit your camera and is fast enough to cope with the camera’s high burst shooting speed.
Here, we will outline the different types of memory cards on the market, and help you choose the best one for your photographic needs. You’ll also find our reviews of 15 of the best SD cards and other memory cards on the market today.
- 1 What are the Different Types of Memory Cards?
- 2 Considerations When Choosing a Memory Card for your Camera
- 3 Top 15 Memory Cards for Your Camera
- 3.1 1. SanDisk Extreme PRO SDXC UHS-I
- 3.2 2. Lexar Professional 2000x 32GB
- 3.3 3. Lexar Professional UHS-I 633x
- 3.4 4. SanDisk 16GB 90MB/s
- 3.5 5. Transcend 32GB UHS-II
- 3.6 6. Samsung PRO Endurance
- 3.7 7. Samsung EVO Plus 32GB
- 3.8 8. Lexar 64GB
- 3.9 9. SanDisk Extreme Pro 160 MB/s
- 3.10 10. Transcend CompactFlash 800x
- 3.11 11. SanDisk 64GB Extreme PRO CFexpress
- 3.12 12. Sony Professional XQD
- 3.13 13. SanDisk Extreme Pro CFast
- 3.14 14. Transcend CompactFlash 800x
- 3.15 15. Silicon Power 256GB CFast 2.0
- 4 Best Buy Overall
- 5 Best Budget Pick
- 6 FAQs
What are the Different Types of Memory Cards?
Before diving into the reviews, it is important to know the different memory card types you can find. Here are some of the main types your camera might use.
By far the most common type of memory card is the SD, or secure digital, card. They come in three different types, SD, SDHC, and SDXC, the latter two of which we will take a closer look at below. Standard SD cards have a lower capacity and are no longer in production, however, they can still be used if you don’t need very high performance from your memory card.
Secure digital high capacity cards have a higher capacity of 4GB to 32GB and they are excellent for all types of cameras in day-to-day use.
If you need better performance, for example, professional photographers, an SDXC card is a better choice. These extended capacity cards have a capacity of 64GB and over so they are ideal for shooting 4K video or taking photographs on cameras with a high resolution.
Compact Flash cards are used on some DSLRs with two card slots, along with SD cards. They used to be preferred over SD cards, but as SD cards are smaller and lighter, these became more popular leaving CompactFlash somewhat obsolete.
CFast cards are close in size to CompactFlash cards but the two are not interchangeable. CFast cards are fast and are commonly found in professional cameras and video cameras.
This card type is quite limited in its uses, currently only compatible with certain Nikon DSLRs and Sony camcorders. They are very well suited to video recording and fast burst photography and are smaller than CompactFlash cards.
CFexpress cards are newer than XQD cards and offer extremely fast read and write speeds, although they are currently only compatible with certain Nikon and Canon cameras. However, it is expected that this card type will become increasingly common amongst professional-level DSLRs in the near future.
microSDHC or microSDXC
These cards are very similar to standard-sized SDHC and SDXC cards but in a smaller size. They tend to be used in phones, tablets, and other devices, rather than cameras.
Considerations When Choosing a Memory Card for your Camera
As we have seen above, there are a lot of different types of memory cards out there, so how do you know which to choose? Here are a few factors to keep in mind to help guide your search to something suitable.
Most cameras can only accept one type of card, so it is vital to ensure your camera is compatible with your chosen card type. Some professional cameras have two card slots, so there might be more options available if your camera has dual card slots.
The file size of an image taken on a modern camera is quite large, so it is crucial to choose a card with a large capacity. If you are shooting a lot of videos, it is necessary to choose a card with an even higher capacity.
A high write speed is essential to ensure you can use the card for 4K video and high-speed bursts. Memory cards belong to different speed classes, with the highest of UHS 3 required for 4K video recording.
Different types of photographers will have different needs from their memory card. As mentioned above, some are suitable for 4K video recording, or rapid bursts of RAW images at a professional level, whilst lower-performing cards are likely to be sufficient for enthusiasts or day-to-day photography. So, think about what you need from your memory card before making a decision.
Top 15 Memory Cards for Your Camera
We will now take a look at 15 of the best memory cards for cameras on the market today. There is something here for users of all levels, from beginners to professionals.
1. SanDisk Extreme PRO SDXC UHS-I
Card type: SDXC | Capacity: 64GB-1TB | Read Speed: 170 MB/s | Write Speed: 90 MB/sKicking off our guide to the best SD cards we have the SanDisk Extreme Pro. It comes bundled with a card reader so it is easy to transfer photos from the card to a laptop even if the laptop doesn’t have an SD card slot. The card reader features USB 3.0 which is capable of transferring data 10 times faster than USB 2.0. There are different capacities available so you can choose the card which is big enough for your needs. Options available include 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or a massive 1TB.
The SanDisk Extreme Pro is fast enough to handle 4K video and fast burst shooting thanks to the 90 MB/s shooting speed and 170 MB/s transfer speed. The Extreme Pro can handle anything you can throw at it – it is waterproof, shockproof, and can withstand extremes of temperature.
2. Lexar Professional 2000x 32GB
Card type: SDHC | Capacity: 32GB-128GB | Read Speed: 300MB/s | Write Speed: 260 MB/sThe Lexar Professional is an ultra high-speed memory card capable of transferring data at up to 300 MB/s, or 2000x. This means it can be used for 4K video recording with a DSLR or camcorder. The UHS-II SD card comes with a reader of the same class, so files can rapidly be transferred to a computer. The Lexar Professional card is also compatible with UHS-I devices.
A limited lifetime warranty is included with this card, so you can be sure it is built to last. As you can tell from the name, this card is suitable for professional users, both photographers and videographers. It works well in high-end DSLR cameras as well as mirrorless systems.
3. Lexar Professional UHS-I 633x
Card type: SDXC | Capacity: 64GB | Read Speed: 95 MB/s | Write Speed: 20 MB/s
Our next pick is another Lexar Professional card with a large capacity of 64GB. It is capable of write speeds of up to 20 MB/s and read speeds of a maximum 95 MB/s. The SDXC UHS-1 card is suitable for most user types as it is capable of storing 1080p or 4K video and even 3D video shot on a 3D camera.
The speed at which data is transferred from the card to a PC is also very high, making this a great choice for professionals as the workflow won’t be interrupted by having to wait for images to be transferred. This card comes at a very reasonable price, too.
4. SanDisk 16GB 90MB/s
Card type: SDHC or SDXC | Capacity: 16GB – 256GB | Read Speed: 90 MB/s | Write Speed: 40 MB/s
Our next pick is another SanDisk Extreme SD card. This model belongs to the UHS-I speed class and is capable of read speeds of 90 MB/s and write speeds of 40 MB/s. This means that it is suitable for shooting UHD 4K video as well as burst photography at high speeds. Like other cards in the SanDisk Extreme range, this one is waterproof, shockproof, x-ray-proof, and can withstand both hot and cold extremes of temperature. This means it can be used anywhere in conjunction with a weather-sealed camera.
You can be sure of the quality of this card as it comes with a limited lifetime warranty or up to 30 years in certain regions. To further prolong the lifespan of the SD UHS-I card, a jewel case is included to store the card in when it is not in use. There are five capacities to choose from, ranging from 16GB all the way up to 256GB so you can choose the one that best suits your requirements.
5. Transcend 32GB UHS-II
Card type: SDHC or SDXC | Capacity: 32GB or 64GB | Read Speed: 285 MB/s | Write Speed: 180 MB/s
This Transcend card comes in two varieties – secure digital extended capacity or secured digital high capacity. So, you can choose from a capacity of either 32GB or 64GB. In either case, the card is capable of withstanding harsh, extreme conditions and has been tested to ensure it is built to last.
The Transcend UHS speed class II card is fast enough to handle 4K video and rapid burst shooting, and the capacity is sufficient to store hours of video footage or thousands of photographs. One very useful feature of this card is the free recovery software which is included. This can find and recover erased files from the card – we’ve all accidentally deleted precious photographs and one point or another.
6. Samsung PRO Endurance
Card type: MicroSDHC | Capacity: 32GB | Read Speed: 100 MB/s | Write Speed: 30 MB/s
Samsung’s Endurance MicroSDHC cards are built to last and can be used in the harshest of environments with confidence. The smaller size means this card is a bit more difficult to use, but an adapter is included to help keep the card safe and easy to use in different devices. It is great for devices such as dashcams and action cameras.
The Samsung PRO Endurance offers high read and write speeds of up to 100 MB/s and 30 MB/s respectively. Depending on the capacity of the card, the warranty ranges from two years to five years. This card belongs to Class 10 or UHS-I.
7. Samsung EVO Plus 32GB
Card type: MicroSDHC | Capacity: 32GB | Read Speed: 95 MB/s | Write Speed: 30 MB/s
If you are looking for a very budget-friendly MicroSD card, you can’t go wrong with the EVO Plus from Samsung. It offers a very generous read speed of up to 95 MB per second and comes with a reasonable warranty of 10 years to cover accidental damage.
This is a great memory card for day-to-day use and it can also withstand extreme conditions as it is magnetic proof, x-ray-proof, temperature proof, and waterproof. The bright red color ensures it is easy to keep track of the whereabouts of this tiny card, which is sized around the same size as a fingernail.
8. Lexar 64GB
Card type: MicroSDXC | Capacity: 64GB | Read Speed: 150 MB/s | Write Speed: 45 MB/s
If you are looking for a Micro SDXC UHS-II card, this pick from Lexar is a great buy. It comes with a very reasonable price tag and offers a generous read speed of up to 150 MB per second. Write speeds are not quite so generous at up to 45 MB/s, but this should be more than enough for most non-professional photographers.
The Lexar card comes with a lifetime warranty to ensure it is always protected against damage or malfunction. It is possible to achieve very high transfer speeds using the included USB 3.0 adapter. There are different capacities available to choose from, ranging from 16GB to a rather large 256GB, so you can find the one that best suits your expected usage. This is a great pick for general day-to-day use.
9. SanDisk Extreme Pro 160 MB/s
Card type: Compact Flash | Capacity: 32GB – 256GB | Read Speed: 160 MB/s | Write Speed: 150 MB/s
Whilst CompactFlash might be an older type of memory card, this model from SanDisk Extreme Pro is still a great buy. It offers great write and read speeds of up to 150 MB per second and 160 MB per second respectively. This CF card is suitable for both photo and video recording and is optimized for professional video capture. There are different sizes to choose from, between 32GB – 256GB, so there is sure to be something suitable for all types of users. If you have a DSLR that is compatible with CF cards, this SanDisk Extreme Pro is a great buy.
10. Transcend CompactFlash 800x
Card type: CompactFlash| Capacity: 32GB – 256GB | Read Speed: 120 MB/s | Write Speed: 60 MB/s
Another CompactFlash card is next on our list – the Transcend CF 800x. The lower capacity cards are excellent for those on a tight budget, although the higher capacity cards are also relatively affordable compared to other similar models. Depending on the camera and software the card is being used with, it offers excellent write and read speeds compared to the budget price tag. Respectively, these speeds are up to 60 MB/s and 120 MB/s.
The Transcend card is durable and reliable, with a five-year limited warranty coming with the card. Transfer errors are a thing of the past with this card – it comes with an in-built error-correcting code to detect these.
11. SanDisk 64GB Extreme PRO CFexpress
Card type: CFexpress | Capacity: 64GB – 512GB | Read Speed: 1700 MB/s | Write Speed: 1400 MB/s
CFexpress is a relatively new type of card and it offers eye-watering speeds to blow the fastest SD cards out of the water. With a maximum transfer speed of 1700 MB per second and a write speed of 1400 MB per second, you can be sure this card can keep up with 4K video, 3D video, and rapid bursts of RAW images. High-end mirrorless and DSLR cameras are adopting the CFexpress card format, with the card currently being accepted by models such as the Nikon Z7, Canon EOS-1D X Mark III, and Panasonic Lumix S1R.
The maximum capacity of this SanDisk Extreme Pro ensures there are options out there for everyone, although currently, only a limited number of camera bodies can accept this card format. The relative newness of this technology also means it is still quite pricey. However, the benefits it will bring to professional photographers means it is surely worth the higher price tag.
12. Sony Professional XQD
Card type: XQD | Capacity: 32GB – 240GB | Read Speed: 440 MB/s | Write Speed: 400 MB/s
Like the CFexpress card above, XQD cards also offer very impressive speeds in terms of both reading and writing. This Sony Professional XQD is ideal for high-speed burst shooting as well as 4K video footage. Unfortunately, again like the above, this card format is currently compatible only with a limited number of cameras, mostly higher-end Nikon models. The XQD can also be used with Sony professional camcorders as well as some professional Panasonic cameras.
The Sony XQD might be super fast, but it is also very robust and comes with a 10-year warranty just in case anything should happen to go wrong. As this is a somewhat niche card and has high specifications, it does come with a larger price tag than some of the other options on our list. However, if your camera is compatible, it offers excellent performance compared to an SD card.
13. SanDisk Extreme Pro CFast
Card type: CFast | Capacity: 64GB – 512GB | Read Speed: 525 MB/s | Write Speed: 430 MB/s
CFast cards offer very high transfer and write speeds, so this SanDisk is perfect for those shooting a lot of 4K video. The format again isn’t yet compatible with a lot of cameras and has a high cost, yet it is very durable and lightning-fast. Faster than USH-II cards, this model offers write speeds of up to a very impressive 430 MB/s and read speeds of 525 MB/s, which is also highly impressive. This is a great buy for those using professional cameras and camcorders who need a high-performance card with a large capacity.
14. Transcend CompactFlash 800x
Card type: CompactFlash | Capacity: 32GB – 256GB | Read Speed: 120 MB/s | Write Speed: 60 MB/s
Our penultimate pick is the Transcend CompactFlash which offers read speeds of 120 MB/s and write speeds of up to 60 MB/s, depending on the device the card is used in. Whilst it might not be the fastest card out there, it offers sufficiently high speed for professional photography and videography equipment.
Storing large, RAW images is no problem for this card, even when shooting in burst mode. The card also includes a free download of RecoveRx data recovery software which can be used to retrieve files that have accidentally been deleted from the card. This card comes at a reasonable price point in relation to the features it has, and it is compatible with a wide range of devices including DSLRs and camcorders.
15. Silicon Power 256GB CFast 2.0
Card type: CFast | Capacity: 256GB | Read Speed: 530 MB/s | Write Speed: 330 MB/s
Our final pick is another CFast card which offers an impressive write speed of 330 megabytes per second, and transfer speeds of up to 530 megabytes per second. It has a high capacity of 256GB making it suitable for storing hours of 4K footage, or thousands of high-quality images. In fact, the card is designed for use by professional users – both videographers and photographers.
Whilst this card doesn’t offer a limited lifetime warranty, it does come with a three-year manufacturer warranty. The speeds of this card ensure moving videos from the card to a computer doesn’t take long at all, and you can capture video smoothly and without interruption. In terms of the speeds and capacity, this card comes at a very reasonable price point and is a great buy for professionals and amateurs looking for something fast yet affordable.
Best Buy Overall
After comparing 15 great SD memory cards, we have picked out the one which is the best buy overall. The SanDisk CFexpress card, found at number 11 on our list above, is undoubtedly the best high-speed card on the market. Whilst it comes with a high price tag and limited compatibility for now, it is a great investment for professionals using a suitably compatible camera. The write and read speeds are unrivalled even by the best SD cards in the highest speed classes.
Best Budget Pick
If you are on a more limited budget, or your camera isn’t compatible with CFexpress cards, fear not as we have another great pick lined up for you. The best SD card is SanDisk’s Extreme PRO UHS-1, the first card in our guide above. It comes in sizes up to a massive 1TB and offers great speeds for the price. The included reader offers a USB 3.0 port for transferring data very rapidly. The card is also very durable and rugged and can withstand any extreme condition you might subject it to.
If you still have some more questions about choosing the best memory card, read on below for some more information.
How Do I Choose an SD Memory Card for My Camera?
There are a few things to keep in mind to help you choose the best memory card for your camera. These are outlined in greater detail above, but include things like write speeds, capacity, and the type of the card.
What Is the Fastest SD Card for Cameras?
The fastest memory cards offer a read speed of around 300 MB/s and a write speed of 250 MB/s. Of all the cards we have looked at above, the fastest is the SanDisk CFexpress. This card offers speeds much higher than these, but it is a relatively new format and is not currently accepted by too many cameras.
What SD Memory Cards Do Professional Photographers Use?
Many of the cards above are suitable for professional use thanks to their fast speeds and large capacity. Some of the best choices for professional usage include many of SanDisk’s offerings, Lexar Professional cards, and Sony’s XQD card, if your camera is compatible.