The Best Memory Cards for Photography

The Best Memory Cards for Photography

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Using a camera today isn’t like when you were a kid. Long gone are the days of roll after roll of film being dropped off to be developed. Now, photos are saved digitally on SD cards can make taking photos and sharing them with family or online or even having a career in photography even easier. With this amazing technology though, there are always things you should consider before you decide to buy.

So before we get into our list of the Best Memory Cards for Photographers, let’s take a look at what you should consider before you decide to buy one.

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What you should consider before buying a memory card

When you first look at the different options out there for memory cards, it can get to be a little confusing if you don’t know what you’re looking for. To help, we narrowed it down to 4 major points of consideration:

Type

There are a lot of different types of memory cards on the market today. From Micro SD card to SD card, CF card, and even the M2 from Sony. Many of these have different uses, but two are more generally used by professional photographers and videographers: the SD Card and the CF card.

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  • SD Card

SD cards are used primarily in digital cameras and their only real constraint is the capacity of the card. While when they were first created, the capacity limit was only 2GB, today you can find SD cards with capacities of up to 512GB. SanDisk even makes a 1TB SD card, though it is definitely not cheap.

  • CF Card

CF cards, otherwise known as Compact Flash cards have high speeds and high capacity which is why they appear inside many professionals cameras. While SD cards are catching up, professionals aren’t ready to ditch CF cards just yet. Many cameras will have a slot for each. The cost of CF cars is almost double that to SD cards, which is why many wish that the CF card format would become obsolete because SD cards are much more affordable

Price

When you go shopping, the factor that determines how much you will end up paying is the transfer speed, not the capacity. For example, an SD card will cost much less than a CF card at the same capacity. On the other hand, you can buy a high capacity card for an affordable price but the speed won’t be as good as some others.

Speed

When it comes to memory cards, the term speed relates to writing and reading. The number indicated on the card is the maximum speed at which the card can read the data on the card but how fast it can write it is what is really important. For example, on CF cards, the speed is often presented as X times or in MBps. If it is shown as 600X or 1066X, what exactly does X mean? It means 150Kb per second. So to what out the exact speed, multiply the number in front of the X by 150 and you will have the MBps that data can be read off the card.

Capacity

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The actual capacity of the card you use is pretty easy to understand. If you buy a 32GB memory card, it can hold up to about 1000 RAW photographs. If you take photos in jpeg format, a 32GB card can hold up to 3200 photographs. If you plan on shooting a lot of photos or even videos, aiming for a higher capacity card can ensure you don’t run out of storage at the wrong time.

The Best Memory Cards for Photographers & Designers

The Best Memory Cards for Photographers Compared

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Best Budget
SanDisk 16GB Extreme SDHC UHS-I Memory Card - 90MB/s, C10, U3, V30, 4K UHD, SD Card -...
Sony TOUGH-G series SDXC UHS-II Card 128GB, V90, CL10, U3, Max R300MB/S, W299MB/S (SF-G128T/T1)
Fastest SD Card
SanDisk SDSDXPK-128G-ANCINSandisk Extreme Pro - Flash Memory Card - 128 GB - SDXC UHS-II - Black
Best For Photographers
Lexar Professional 2000x 32GB SDHC UHS-II Card (LSD32GCBNA2000R)
Sony Professional XQD G Series 64GB  Memory Card (QDG64E/J)
Title
SanDisk 16GB Extreme SDHC UHS-I Memory Card - 90MB/s, C10, U3, V30, 4K UHD, SD Card -...
Sony TOUGH-G series SDXC UHS-II Card 128GB, V90, CL10, U3, Max R300MB/S, W299MB/S (SF-G128T/T1)
SanDisk SDSDXPK-128G-ANCINSandisk Extreme Pro - Flash Memory Card - 128 GB - SDXC UHS-II - Black
Lexar Professional 2000x 32GB SDHC UHS-II Card (LSD32GCBNA2000R)
Sony Professional XQD G Series 64GB Memory Card (QDG64E/J)
Prime Status
-
-
-
-
Star Rating
-
-
-
-
Reviews
42,345 Reviews
-
-
-
-
Card Type
SDHC
SDXC
SDXC
SDHC and/or SDXC
XQD
Capacity
Up to 256GB
Up to 128GB
Up to 128GB
Up to 128GB
Up to 64GB
Read Speed
Up to 90MB/s
Up to 300 MB/s
Up to 300MB/s
Up to 300MB/s
Up to 440 MB/s
Write Speed
Up to 40MB/s
Up to 299 MB/s
Up to 260MB/s
Up to 260MB/s
Up to 400 MB/s
Warranty
Lifetime limited warranty
Manufacturer’s
Lifetime limited warranty
Lifetime limited warranty
Manufacturer’s
Suitable For
Both photography and video (including 4K)
High-speed burst photography and video (including 4K)
Pros wanting to shoot swift bursts of high res stills and video
Both photography and video (including 4K)
High-speed burst photography and video (including 4K)
Price
$10.99
$249.99
$170.00
$127.92
$98.00
Best Budget
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SanDisk 16GB Extreme SDHC UHS-I Memory Card - 90MB/s, C10, U3, V30, 4K UHD, SD Card -...
Title
SanDisk 16GB Extreme SDHC UHS-I Memory Card - 90MB/s, C10, U3, V30, 4K UHD, SD Card -...
Prime Status
-
Star Rating
Reviews
42,345 Reviews
Card Type
SDHC
Capacity
Up to 256GB
Read Speed
Up to 90MB/s
Write Speed
Up to 40MB/s
Warranty
Lifetime limited warranty
Suitable For
Both photography and video (including 4K)
Price
$10.99
Buy Now
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Sony TOUGH-G series SDXC UHS-II Card 128GB, V90, CL10, U3, Max R300MB/S, W299MB/S (SF-G128T/T1)
Title
Sony TOUGH-G series SDXC UHS-II Card 128GB, V90, CL10, U3, Max R300MB/S, W299MB/S (SF-G128T/T1)
Prime Status
-
Star Rating
-
Reviews
-
Card Type
SDXC
Capacity
Up to 128GB
Read Speed
Up to 300 MB/s
Write Speed
Up to 299 MB/s
Warranty
Manufacturer’s
Suitable For
High-speed burst photography and video (including 4K)
Price
$249.99
Buy Now
Fastest SD Card
Thumbnail
SanDisk SDSDXPK-128G-ANCINSandisk Extreme Pro - Flash Memory Card - 128 GB - SDXC UHS-II - Black
Title
SanDisk SDSDXPK-128G-ANCINSandisk Extreme Pro - Flash Memory Card - 128 GB - SDXC UHS-II - Black
Prime Status
Star Rating
-
Reviews
-
Card Type
SDXC
Capacity
Up to 128GB
Read Speed
Up to 300MB/s
Write Speed
Up to 260MB/s
Warranty
Lifetime limited warranty
Suitable For
Pros wanting to shoot swift bursts of high res stills and video
Price
$170.00
Buy Now
Best For Photographers
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Lexar Professional 2000x 32GB SDHC UHS-II Card (LSD32GCBNA2000R)
Title
Lexar Professional 2000x 32GB SDHC UHS-II Card (LSD32GCBNA2000R)
Prime Status
-
Star Rating
-
Reviews
-
Card Type
SDHC and/or SDXC
Capacity
Up to 128GB
Read Speed
Up to 300MB/s
Write Speed
Up to 260MB/s
Warranty
Lifetime limited warranty
Suitable For
Both photography and video (including 4K)
Price
$127.92
Buy Now
Thumbnail
Sony Professional XQD G Series 64GB  Memory Card (QDG64E/J)
Title
Sony Professional XQD G Series 64GB Memory Card (QDG64E/J)
Prime Status
-
Star Rating
-
Reviews
-
Card Type
XQD
Capacity
Up to 64GB
Read Speed
Up to 440 MB/s
Write Speed
Up to 400 MB/s
Warranty
Manufacturer’s
Suitable For
High-speed burst photography and video (including 4K)
Price
$98.00
Buy Now

 

SanDisk Extreme PRO SD UHS-I

SanDisk Extreme PRO SD UHS-I

The best all-around SD memory card

Card type: SDXC | Capacity: Up to 512GB | Read Speed: Up to 90MB/s | Write Speed: Up to 95MB/s | Warranty: Lifetime limited warranty | Suitable for: Both photography and/or video (including 4K)

SanDisk, one of the top names in SD cards has really done it this time with the Extreme Pro SDXC card. Available in capacities up to 512GB, the card comes with a speed class 3 rating and can write at speeds up to 90 MBps which means that it can deal with both JPEG and Raw rapid-fire sequential shooting. With a transfer speed of up to 95MBps, this extremely fast rating will entice both professionals and hobbyists to consider the card for their cameras and while the card makes it easier to capture a Raw photograph sequence, 4K video is also possible thanks to the data-crunching the card offers. All this adds up to the Extreme Pro SDXC being a great card for everyone.

 

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Lexar Professional Class 10 UHS-II 2000X Speed

Lexar Professional Class 10 UHS-II 2000X Speed

The best SD card for professional photographers

Card type: SDHC and/or SDXC | Capacity: Up to 128GB | Read Speed: Up to 300MB/s | Write Speed: Up to 260MB/s | Warranty: Lifetime limited warranty | Suitable for: Both photography and video (including 4K)

When you’re a professional photographer, having the best equipment can be the difference between getting and losing a job. Lexar has long been a company that many professional photographers trust and with their Professional Class 10 SD card, that trust will definitely continue. Deploying UHS-II technology helps the card’s transfer speeds reach up to 300 Mbps and write speeds up to 260Mbps. This means that regardless of if your recording FullHD, 4K, or high-resolution Raw files, the card will be able to handle it with ease. While the capacity is limited to 128GB, the affordable price makes up for that.

 

Latest Price on Amazon:

Lexar Professional 2000x 32GB SDHC UHS-II Card (LSD32GCBNA2000R)
  • High-speed performance leverages UHS-II technology (U3) for a read transfer speed up to 2000x (300MB/s)
  • Captures high-quality images and extended lengths of stunning 1080p full-HD, 3D, and 4K video with a DSLR camera, HD camcorder, or 3D camera
  • Includes SD UHS-II reader for high-speed file transfer from card to computer, dramatically accelerating workflow
  • Backwards compatible with UHS-I device
  • Limited lifetime product support for card and 1-year limited support on reader

 

SanDisk Extreme PRO SD UHS-II

SanDisk Extreme PRO SD UHS-II

An extremely fast SDXC card for your camera

Card type: SDXC | Capacity: Up to 128GB | Read Speed: Up to 300MB/s | Write Speed: Up to 260MB/s | Warranty: Lifetime limited warranty | Suitable for: Pros wanting to shoot swift bursts of high res stills and video

If you miss a critical shot as a professional photographer, it might not just be a bad day at work, it could cost you money. This can be even more frustrating when your SD card isn’t able to keep up with what you’re trying to shoot. With the Extreme Pro SD UHS-II from SanDisk, you’ll never have that issue again with read speeds up to 300Mbps and write speeds of up to 260Mbps. This can make it a must-have option for those who take photos of nature, sports or even videographers shooting in 4K resolution. The storage capacity is impressive as well ranging from 32GB up to 128GB but the selling point on the SDXC is the speed it can offer you.

 

Latest Price on Amazon:

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SanDisk SDSDXPK-128G-ANCINSandisk Extreme Pro - Flash Memory Card - 128 GB - SDXC UHS-II - Black
  • Fast speeds
  • Cinema-quality video capture
  • Designed to withstand extreme environments

 

Sony SF-G Tough SDXC

Sony SF-G Tough SDXC

A tough little card for the world around it

Card type: SDXC | Capacity: Up to 128GB | Read Speed: Up to 300 MB/s | Write Speed: Up to 299 MB/s | Warranty: Manufacturer’s | Suitable for: High-speed burst photography and video (including 4K)

Having a card with a large capacity can seem great. Until you lose it or it gets damaged. That could be hundreds of photos and videos lost. With their Tough series, Sony has created an SD card that can stand up to the elements. Dust, dirt, water, and grime-proof, the SDXC can stand up to just about anything Mother Nature will throw at it. While it has been tested for drops from 15 feet high and survived, its not something we’d recommend doing. The speed of the card is a nice added bonus with write speeds up to 299 Mbps and read speeds up to 300Mbps. If you’re a shooter that braves the elements for your work, this may be a good option for you.

 

Latest Price on Amazon:

Sony TOUGH-G series SDXC UHS-II Card 128GB, V90, CL10, U3, Max R300MB/S, W299MB/S (SF-G128T/T1)
  • Tough specs: world's first one-piece molded construction with high hardness materials have resulted in the world's highest level of Bend strength, 18 times greater than the SD standard
  • Ribless, no write protection switch design: world's first ribless, no write protection switch design6 removed easy to break Parts, such as rib
  • Fast file transfer: up to 300 MB/s transfer speed and up to 299MB/s write speed 3. Uhs-ii, Class 10, U3 compliant. Fast writing speed excellent for 4K recording and continuous burst mode...
  • Highest level Waterproof (ipx8*5) & dustproof (ip6x*5): completely sealed with monolithic structure, This card is waterproof (compliant to IPX8)
  • Backward compatible with UHS-I compatible equipment: while highest performance is obtained using a UHS-II compatible camera, (up to 95MB/s transfer and 90MB/s writing speeds3)

 

Sony XQD G Series Memory Card

Sony XQD G Series Memory Card

The best XQD card available

Card type: XQD | Capacity: Up to 64GB | Read Speed: Up to 440 MB/s | Write Speed: Up to 400 MB/s | Warranty: Manufacturer’s | Suitable for: High-speed burst photography and video (including 4K)

While it’s not a widely supported card format, the XQD card has been adopted by Nikon for some of the DSLRs AND Z-series full-frame mirrorless cameras. If you happen to have one these cameras, using the G Series Memory Card from Sony seems like a match made in heaven. With both read and write speeds of more than 400Mbps it can keep up with just about anything you want to do and then when it comes time to transfer them to your computer at home, it will be done in moments.

 

Latest Price on Amazon:

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Sony Professional XQD G Series 64GB Memory Card (QDG64E/J)
  • Both PCI Express Gen2 Interface and USB 3.0 (Super speed) are supported for higher performance and easy connection to PCs
  • Maximum read 440MB/s, and maximum write 400MB/s
  • High speed burst shooting with DSLR cameras
  • Recessed pins add contact protection from damage, dust, or electrostatic shock
  • Increased shell Strength Provides a robust structure for reliable use.Operating temperature range:-25-+65°c (non-condensing)

 

Transcend SDXC UHS-II U3

Transcend SDXC UHS-II U3

A great card for high-resolution video

Card type: SDXC | Capacity: Up to 64GB | Read Speed: Up to 285MB/s | Write Speed: Up to 180MB/s | Warranty: Five-year limited warranty | Suitable for: Pros shooting rapid-fire high res Raw stills and high-quality 4K video

If you primarily work with Raw files, the images that you capture need to on a card that is able to handle the highest quality images coming in sequential bursts along with having enough storage capacity so that you won’t have to swap out a card at an important moment. While the capacity of the SDXC UHS-II U3 from Transcend can leave those wishing for more, the performance more than makes up for it with a quick read and write speeds of 285 Mbps and 180 Mbps respectively. Built to be shock and x-ray proof, the SDXC card from Transcend is certain to be a favorite of photo and video enthusiasts as well as professionals.

 

Latest Price on Amazon:

Transcend 64 GB High Speed 10 UHS-3 Flash Memory Card 95/60 MB/s (TS64GSDU3),Gold
  • Ideal for Full 1080p HDD, Ultra 2160p HD, 3D and 4K video recording.Operating Temperature -25°C(-13°F) to 85°C(185°F)
  • Up to 95/60 MB/s ; Minimum constant 30 Mb/s write speed guaranteed for real-time video recording
  • Supports Ultra High Speed Class 3 specification (U3)
  • Improved camera response for fast-action consecutive shooting
  • Efficient exFAT file system (SDXC)

 

Lexar Professional 633x SDHC / SDXC UHS-I

Lexar Professional 633x SDHC / SDXC UHS-I

The highest capacity card on our list

Card type: SDHC and/or SDXC | Capacity: Up to 1TB | Read Speed: Up to 95MB/s | Write Speed: Up to 45MB/s | Warranty: Lifetime limited warranty | Suitable for: Both photography and video (including 4K) at a pro-level

Have you ever had a day like this? You’re out shooting and everything is going great and then you get the dread message that your SD card is out of memory. While it’s designed to be used with DSLR camera, the SDXC UHS-I from Lexar has more than enough storage space with up to 1TB of room. The caveat is that the read and transfer speeds are pretty basic when you compare them to other cards. This inevitably will lead to one important question you need to ask. Do I want more space or do I want transfers to be quick? Either way, because we have to ask this question, we have already won.

 

Latest Price on Amazon:

Lexar Professional 633x 64GB SDXC UHS-I Cards, Up To 95MB/s Read, for Mid-Range DSLR, HD Camcorder,...
22,347 Reviews
Lexar Professional 633x 64GB SDXC UHS-I Cards, Up To 95MB/s Read, for Mid-Range DSLR, HD Camcorder,...
  • High-speed, Class 10 performance leverages UHS-I (U1 or U3 depends on capacity) technology for a read transfer speed up to 95MB/s (633x).
  • Capture high quality images of stunning 1080p full-HD, 3D, and 4K video
  • Enjoy shooting longer without changing cards large capacity options up to 1TB
  • High-speed file transfer from card to computer to dramatically accelerate workflow
  • Operating Temperature 0 Degrees Celsius to 70 Degrees Celsius ( 32 Degrees Fahrenheit to 158 Degrees Fahrenheit). Limited lifetime product support

 

PNY Elite Performance SDXC

PNY Elite Performance SDXC

Peace of mind from a high-quality SD card

Card type: SDXC | Capacity: Up to 512GB | Read Speed: Up to 95MB/s | Write Speed: Not specified | Warranty: Lifetime (limited) | Suitable for: High-speed burst photography and video (including 4K)

PNY is a company that can be known for making affordable SD cards and while many of their cards could be considered as standard offerings, the Elite Performance SDXC, with its capacity range from 32GB all the way up to 512GB, it is definitely one of their better releases. The card offers a standard read speed of 95 Mbps while the ‘Elite’ tag signifies that the Class 10 speed, UHS-I compatible card is not only good for shooting videos on a DSLR but is also durable as well with the card being waterproof, shockproof, magnet proof and temperature proof. PNY claims that this range of cards can be a good choice for professionals as well as anyone recording 4K video. All this is packaged with PNY’s lifetime-limited warranty, protecting your card if something happens.

 

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PNY 64GB Elite Performance Class 10 U3 SDXC Flash Memory Card
  • Up to 95MB/sec speed for the ultimate transfer rates
  • Ideal for High Performance DSLR cameras and HD camcorders, especially for ultra fast action shots, sports video, HD video and other professional-quality photography
  • Class 10 UHS-I, U3 performance allows burst-mode shooting, Full HD and 4K Ultra HD video recording
  • Fast speed performance minimizes time spent transferring photos and video to your computer
  • Stores approximately 22,756 photos so you can shoot more shots with fewer downloads

 

SanDisk Extreme

SanDisk Extreme

The best budget-friendly SD card

Card type: SDHC | Capacity: Up to 256GB | Read Speed: Up to 90MB/s | Write Speed: Up to 40MB/s | Warranty: Lifetime limited warranty | Suitable for: Both photography and video (including 4K)

If you’re just starting out and have a budget that you really don’t want to break, the Extreme card from SanDisk is a great option. With up to 256GB of storage available and UHS Speed Class 3 compatibility, you can shoot 4K video with plenty of speed. The best part is that the card if shock-proof, waterproof and temperature-proof so you don’t have to worry about it getting damaged when you’re out taking some beautiful pictures.

 

Latest Price on Amazon:

SanDisk 16GB Extreme SDHC UHS-I Memory Card - 90MB/s, C10, U3, V30, 4K UHD, SD Card -...
42,345 Reviews
SanDisk 16GB Extreme SDHC UHS-I Memory Card - 90MB/s, C10, U3, V30, 4K UHD, SD Card -...
  • Shot speeds up to 40MB/s*, transfer speeds up to 90MB/s* requires compatible devices capable of reaching such speeds. | *Based on internal testing; performance may be lower depending upon host device,...
  • Perfect for shooting 4K UHD video(1) and sequential burst mode photography | (1)Full HD (1920x1080) and 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) video support may vary based upon host device, file attributes and other...
  • Capture uninterrupted video with UHS Speed Class 3 (U3) and Video Speed Class 30 (V30)(2) | (2)Sustained video capture rate of 30MB/s, designates a performance option designed to support real-time...
  • Built for and tested in harsh conditions(3): temperature-proof, waterproof, shock-proof, and x-ray-proof | (3)Card only

 

Samsung PRO Endurance

Samsung PRO Endurance

The best MicroSD card for any device

Card type: microSD (With SD adapter) | Capacity: Up to 128GB | Read Speed: Up to 100MB/s | Write speed: Up to 30MB/s | Warranty: Up to 5 years | Suitable for: Action cameras, dashcams, security cameras

While we’ve put the focus on SD cards, we couldn’t ignore the high-quality MicroSD cards that are out there and the PRO Endurance from Samsung is the best of the bunch. The draw of MicroSD cards comes from the claim that they are able to withstand harsh environments and can last longer typically find a home in many action cameras. This is due to the fact that they can record continuously at high read/write speeds of 100Mbps and 30 Mbps. With the high-end capacity option of 128GB, it can also record up to 43,800 hours of video continuously which is an industry best. With all this performance, a good warranty will keep it safe. Lower capacity cards have two years, while its five years for maximum capacity cards.

 

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Samsung PRO Endurance 128GB 100MB/s (U1) MicroSDXC Memory Card with Adapter (MB-MJ128GA/AM)
14,451 Reviews
Samsung PRO Endurance 128GB 100MB/s (U1) MicroSDXC Memory Card with Adapter (MB-MJ128GA/AM)
  • Designed specifically for video monitoring cameras (dash cams, surveillance & security cams, CCTV, body cams, etc.)
  • Up to 43,800 hours of 4K and Full HD (1080p) recording and playback
  • Reliability Built to Last – Water-proof, Shock-proof, Temperature-proof, X-ray-proof, Magnetic-proof
  • Transfer speeds up to 100MB/s

 

The Best Memory Cards for Creatives

Choosing the best memory card or your camera can come down to three things: price, speed, and capacity. If you can find a memory card with a good balance of all three then you’re on your way. We hope that our list of the Best Memory Cards for Cameras has given you some insight into what to look for as well as some options to consider. That way you can get out there and start taking shot after beautiful shot.

Do you have a memory card that you would guard with your life? If so, tell us about it in the comments below.

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