“one card equals the world” an SD memory card for photographers
Professional SD card
1. Choosing the correct SD card may cause confusion.
2. In addition to storage capacity, you also need to consider speed and durability.
3. After in-depth research, we found that SanDisk Extreme Pro 32GB SDHC UHS-I card is most suitable for most people, because it has fast reading and writing speed, supports 4K video and can handle extreme conditions.
Each camera requires an SD card, but for many people, SD card seems to be a good place to reduce the cost of the camera kit. However, a damaged memory card may slow down your camera and may even lose or damage files. Whether you want to shoot static images or videos, the best SD card (such as SanDisk Extreme Pro SDHC UHS-I) can make the camera reach the highest speed while protect internal files.
As a professional photographer, I have used a dozen of different memory cards in the camera. The worst one slowed down my camera, while the best one can quickly hid many files and even survive from accidental laundry. However, the favorite SD card recommended by professional photographers may be too much for amateurs who only use 12-megapixel cameras. Therefore, when choosing memory card, you should consider the type, capacity and speed of the card when make purchase.
Memory card category
For memory card type, the two main types you need to consider are SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) and SDXC (Secure Digital Extended Capacity). The only real difference between the two is how much storage space they provide. SDHC cards contain 4GB to 32GB, while SDXC cards usually range from 64GB to 2TB.
You may need an SD card with more than 32GB of storage space, so you need to use an SDXC card. The 32GB memory card is suitable for casual photographers or people who like to use multiple small-capacity memory cards to ensure safety (if you lose one memory card, you will not lose every photo). We usually recommend a 64GB memory card in this guide, because you will need more space to store high-resolution photos and videos, but if you want to shoot 4K video, you may need even more space.
Speed can complicate things. Ordinary users’ SD cards are divided into four speed grades: 10, 6, 4, and 2. Type 2 cards are the slowest and type 10 cards are the fastest. Class number refers to the minimum writing speed in megabytes per second (MB/s), so Class 2 = 2MB/s, Class 4 = 4MB/s, Class 6 = 6MB/s, and Class 10 = 10MB/s.
On top premium cards, the speed grade is specified by the U symbol instead of the C symbol. U1 supports a writing speed of at least 10MB/s (similar to Class 10), and U3 cards provide a writing speed of at least 30MB/s. If shooting in 4K, you will need a U3 SD card. All SD cards in this guide are U3 or U1.
UHS speed refers to the absolute maximum theoretical speed of each card, not the minimum speed indicated by the card type. This is a good way to measure the speed of continuous shooting. The maximum speed of the UHS-I card is 104 MB/s, while the maximum speed of the UHS-II card is 312 MB/s. (The new UHS-III theoretically supports up to 624 MB/s, but it has not been widely used.)
The SD Association also classifies cards according to the video speed rating standard, which currently ranges from V6 to V90. For 4K, the ideal video speed grade is V30 or higher.
Generally, it is a good idea to get a high-speed SD card, especially when you are shooting in RAW or high-resolution video. In this case, you need a Class 10 SD card with UHS (Ultra High Speed) classification or higher.
You need to check to make sure your camera supports these speeds. Otherwise, you will not get the full effect of the card. Insist to use well-known brand memory cards to avoid inferior cards.
SD card recommended by photographer
Overall best SD card: SanDisk Extreme Pro SDHC UHS-I
Most durable SD card: Sony SF-G Tough series UHS-II SDHC
Best large-capacity SD card: Lexar 1 TB Professional 633x UHS-I SDXC
Best fast upload SD card: Lexar Professional 1000x UHS-II SDHC
Best budget SD card: SanDisk Extreme UHS SDHC
The best SD card overall
SanDisk Extreme PRO has high speed and durability with a reasonable price.
With SanDisk Extreme Pro, the best features are in the name – the SD card is fast enough for professionals and has a durable design under extreme conditions. The card’s capacity ranges from 16 GB to as high as 512 GB, which can be said to be very cost effective. The price of a 32 GB card is less than 141 yuan.
This U3 card can write files at a speed of 90 MB/s, while the reading speed is only 95 MB/s. This is enough to capture 4K video and RAW continuous photos. I have six such cards, and it can even be used in the SD slot of my professional 45-megapixel Nikon D850, the card can keep up with the speed of which large files were captured by the camera.
It is also able to withstand water, shock, extreme temperatures and X-rays in extreme environment. I accidentally put this SD card in my pocket and put it in the washing machine and dryer, and the card was not demoulded (although I do not recommend you put SD card in the spin cycle). SanDisk includes a data recovery program RescuePro one year after purchase, and also includes a lifetime limited warranty abroad.
Advantages: fast, durable and affordable
Disadvantages: You can use a faster SD card, but the price will also increase significantly
The best budget SD card
SanDisk Extreme SDHC UHS is an affordable SD card that will not destroy your data.
Remove Pro from our first choice list and you can have a slower but still reliable SD card. The SanDisk Extreme SDHC UHS is easy to find and is about 70 yuan, making it suitable for users on a budget or use multiple cards at once.
The fastest SD card is overkill for many cameras. If you buy a card faster than the camera, you will spend more money but will not get better experience. The writing speed of 40 MB/s is not ideal for 4K or 50 megapixel RAW photos, but it is sufficient for amateurs and lower resolution devices.
Although casual users will not notice the difference in the speed of more expensive cards, the difference in durability will be very obvious. Thankfully, SanDisk still makes this card waterproof, shockproof, extreme temperature and X-ray resistant, but not as strong as the Pro version. The SD card has two capacities of 16 GB and 32 GB, the price is cheaper, but the quality is not cheap.
Advantages: low price, durable design
Disadvantages: slower than our first choice
The best durable SD card
Sony SF-G Tough series UHS-II SDHC, its future proof and its waterproof and dustproof.
But when you can experience a three -digit speed, why should you settle with a double-digit speed? Although our preferred speed is more than enough for most photographers, the writing speed of the Sony SF-G Tough series is as high as 299 MB/s, thanks to the V90 video speed grade, it is even enough for 8K video. Today, not many devices require such a high speed, but the speed of such card is so fast that in theory, when the number of megapixels continues to grow and consumers can finally record 8K video, you may not need to update the card.
There is a reason for the name “toughness” – the card is not only manufactured to survive washing machine, but it can still stick even after three days under water. The card also protects against dust, drops, bends, extreme temperatures and more. This durability comes from the one-piece appearance. Although the design is sturdy, it also means that there is no write-protect switch to prevent you from accidentally deleting files on the card.
Another disadvantage is the price. The price of the 32 GB version is about 493 yuan – if you need all that speed and durability, this is good, but it may be too large for some people.
Advantages: extremely high durability and speed
Disadvantages: no write protection switch, expensive
The best large-capacity SD card
Lexar 1 TB Professional 633x UHS-I SDXC
If the you need a memory card that is about the same size of your thumb, then Lexar 1 TB Professional 633x UHS-I SDXC is a good choice.
For most users, a 32 GB card may be sufficient, but the Lexar Professional UHS-I SDXC series can provide up to 1TB of capacity, which can store much more data than standard size SD card. You may not need to take 1 TB videos or photos at a time, but a large-capacity SD card is a great way to expand space on laptops and other devices without having to carry a bulky external hard drive.
When using an SD card for data storage, a reading speed of 95 MB/s will be helpful, and when you write to the card, its writing speed is 70 MB/s (although not the best in its class) ). This is enough for 4K video, 3D video and RAW continuous shooting and processing other large files.
Lexar will not advertise any durability statement for this card outside its temperature range, therefore, it will not withstand abuses like Sony Tough or SanDisk Extreme Pro. Large-capacity memory cards are expensive, but these kind of memory cards are cheaper—Lexar is about 1,419 yuan less than 1 TB SanDisk Extreme Pro.
Advantages: one of the more affordable 1 TB cards, fast reading speed
Disadvantages: poor durability, slower writing speed than our first choice
The best SD card for fast upload
Lexar Professional 1000x UHS-II SDHC
With a reading speed of 150 MB/s, you can quickly access files on Lexar Professional 1000x UHS-II SDHC.
The 95 MB/s speed of our preferred is good, but is not as fast as the file transfer speed of Lexar Professional 1000x UHS-II SDHC, with a maximum reading speed of 150 MB/s. A writing speed of 60 MB/s is still sufficient for 4K shooting and RAW bursts, and a higher reading speed enables faster transfers, which means faster file transfer from the camera to the computer.
Like the Lexar Professional 633x in our list, the durability of this SD card is different from the SanDisk Extreme Pro or Sony Tough series. Despite this difference, compared to SanDisk Extreme Pro, it lists same prices for similar capacities. A few reviewers claimed that they lost their data due to a card reading error, but this is another card used by many photographers and I, but our cards does not have any problems.
The capacity of this Lexar ranges from 32 GB to 256 GB, and the price ranges from 92 yuan to 425 yuan.
Advantages: fast reading speed
Disadvantages: slower writing speed and poor durability