What’s the Best Memory Card for Your DSLR

No matter what kind of photography or videography you do, you’ll know choosing the Best Memory Card for your DSLR is important. It could be make or break between getting the shot you’ve been hoping to get, either missing it by a moment or capturing it smoothly. But how can you know which are the Best Memory Cards for Cameras?

To make the choice easier, we delve into the different aspects of a memory card in our section Memory Cards Explained. Then we review our picks for Best 3 Memory Cards of 2018, as well as our top choice for Best Micro SD Card.

A black flatlay including one of the Best Memory Cards for Cameras

Memory Cards Explained

Memory Cards Explained: Memory Card Type

Photographers and videographers these days have the option of CompactFlash (CF) Cards, SD Cards, Mini and Micro SD Cards, and MultiMediaCards. Some camera manufacturers even create specific cards for their product, like Sony Memory Sticks. This might seem confusing but choosing the Best Memory Card for your DLSR insofar as type is an easy thing to do, as it will depend on your camera.

This being said, by far the most popular type of memory cards for cameras is the SD Card. There are two main types of SD Card – SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) which range in size from 4GB to 32 GB, and SDXC (Secure Digital eXtended Capacity) which have storage space from 64GB to 2TB.

Memory Cards Explained: Write Speed

Write Speed determines how fast your Memory Card can write files to the card. This means that generally the higher the number is the better, especially for photographers shooting RAWs or videographers filming high-resolution video. SD Cards tend to come at 4 speeds – Class 2 (2 MB/s), Class 4 (4 MB/s), Class 6 (6 MB/s) and Class 10 (10 MB/s).

The speed class will then be followed by an acronym denoting its mode, being either NS, HS, UHS-I, UHS-II or UHS-III. NS and HS, meaning Normal Speed or High Speed, are fine for amateur photographers or personal cameras. Generally though, we wouldn’t recommend them for more serious photographers. If you are looking for the Best Memory Card for your DSLR or professional mirrorless body, you should definitely look out for Ultra High Speed (UHS) Cards.

Finally, higher end cards will have been given an additional speed class rating of either U1 or U3. This rating signifies the minimum writing speed for a card. Where U1 supports a minimum of 10 MB per second, a card rated U3 will write at a minimum of 30 MB per second.

With this in mind, we’d highly recommend using a Class 10 UHS-I memory card at the minimum, especially for those photographing fast-paced events, weddings or sports. For photographers, don’t forget to look out for the U1 ranking either! For those looking for the Best Memory Card for 4K Video however, make sure to go for an SD Card rated U3 to ensure smooth shooting.

Memory Cards Explained: Read Speed

Where write speed is important when taking photos or shooting video, read speed relates to the card’s capacity for copying files from your SD Card to a computer or hard drive. For photographers and videographers shooting a high volume of files, a decent read speed can definitely save you precious time. This feature needn’t be a high priority when choosing the Best Memory Card for your DSLR though, as it won’t affect performance while shooting.

Memory Cards Explained: Capacity

Capacity is nice and simple! It simply means the amount of storage space a card has. Whether you need 4GB or 64GB is totally up to you! Photographers from the same fields all have different preferences, with some shooting smaller cards in case one accidentally formats, while others prefer larger cards so they don’t need to swap them out so regularly.

Memory Cards Explained: Recovery Software

While this isn’t a technical aspect of the SD Card itself, another thing to take into account when choosing the Best Memory Card for your DSLR is whether or not your memory card includes Recovery software. If something happens to go wrong, you’ll be wanting the best chance possible to recover your work! With this in mind, we’re going to focus on brands that offer this service – SanDisk, Lexar Professional and Transcend.

The Best Memory Cards for Your DSLR

A stock photo of the SanDisk Extreme Pro SD Card, Best Memory Card for Your DSLR

1. Best Card for Cameras: 64GB Extreme Pro UHS-I

Capacity:              64GB (also available in 32 GB, 128 GB, 256 GB and 512 GB)

Write Speed:        up to 90 MB/s

Read Speed:         up to 95 MB/s

Video Speed:         C10, U3

Form:                     SDXC

Ask any photographer what Memory Cards they keep handy and it’s likely the answer starts with SanDisk. This is not the only reason we chose SanDisk Extreme Pro Memory Cards as our number one choice for Best Memory Card for your DSLR though! SanDisk Extreme Pro are very reliable cards designed to be used. Of course, most SD Cards are designed to ‘be used’, but we mean used under any circumstance. These memory cards are shockproof, temperature proof, waterproof and x-ray proof, meaning it will stand up to almost any condition you put yourself and your camera in. Not to mention, SanDisk Extreme Pro are extremely fast, and can shoot seamless 4K video. Finally, they come with access to RescuePRO Deluxe Data Recovery software, saving you in case of any accidentally deleted files.

A stock photo of the Lexar Professional 633x UHS-I, Best Memory Card for Your DSLR

2. Best Card for Cameras: Lexar Professional 633x UHS-I

Capacity:              64GB (also available in 16 GB, 32 GB, 128 GB, 256 GB and 512 GB)

Write Speed:        up to 45 MB/s

Read Speed:         up to 95 MB/s

Video Speed:         C10, U3

Form:                     SDXC

Lexar cards, while somewhat slower than their SanDisk counterpart, are our number two choice for Best Memory Card for your DSLR because of their reliability. Lexar cards have stood the test of time, despite some recent bumps in the road (see here and here), and are rigorously tested to ensure quality. Even if one of your Lexar Professional 633x Memory Cards does fail, the cards are backed by a limited lifetime warranty and technical support. The cards also offer everything you’d expect in terms of speed, making them ideal for professional photographers and videographers alike.

A stock photo of the Transcend 64GB UHS-I U3 SD Card, Best Memory Card for Your DSLR

Best Card for Cameras: Transcend 64GB UHS-I U3

Capacity:              64GB (also available in 8 GB, 16 GB, 32 GB, 128 GB and 256 GB)

Write Speed:        up to 85 MB/s

Read Speed:         up to 95 MB/s

Video Speed:         C10, U3

Form:                     SDXC

Designed for professional photographers of all types, Transcend is an excellent option for photographers with a smaller budget. All Transcend SD Cards are built to be waterproof, temperature proof from -25°C to 85°C, static proof, x-ray proof and shock proof. Not only can they withstand most conditions, Transcend SDXC UHS-I U3 memory cards are fast, offering a maximum write speed of 85 MB per second. As with our top two choices for Best Memory Card for your DSLR, Transcend also offers its own recovery software, allowing users to do a deep search of their card to recover as much of their files as possible. It also comes with Built-In Error Correcting Code, to minimise errors that may occur while transferring files.

A stock photo of the SanDisk Ultra Micro SD Card, Best Micro SD Card

4. Best Micro SD Card

When it comes to the Best Micro SD Card, the answer becomes a little more complicated. For starters, not many DSLRs take Micro SD Cards, requiring either CF Cards or SD Cards. This doesn’t mean that you can’t use a Micro SD Card, it just means you’d need to invest in an adaptor as well.

As a general rule, the cards that we have recommended above would also be our top picks for Best Micro SD Card. However, as always, you should check the specifications of your camera or device before deciding which is the best choice for you. For example, it is common practice to buy a Micro SD Card to increase smartphone storage. In this case a UHS-I card might be overkill but you’d likely want an SDXC, being a card with a capacity of 64GB or more, but only if it is supported by your device.

When all is said and done however, our choice for the Best Micro SD Card is the SanDisk Ultra 32GB. Given that it’s unlikely you’ll be using your Micro SD Card in a DSLR, this should provide high enough write speeds and plenty of storage for your device.

Capacity:              32GB (also available in 16 GB, 64 GB, 128 GB, 200 GB, 256 GB and 400 GB)

Write Speed:        not specified

Read Speed:         up to 98 MB/s

Video Speed:         C10, U1

Form:                     SDHC

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Special Mention: GOBE Memory Cards

It’s rare to see a new player enter the realm of memory cards for cameras, especially one that puts sustainability at the forefront of their business, so we’d like to give a special mention to GOBE Memory Cards. These cards are designed for adventure photographers and videographers, offering read speeds of up to 70 MB/s and write speeds of up to over 100 MB/s. While these cards weren’t included in our Top 3 because we’re still waiting to see if they survive the test of time, we hope to include them on our future lists of Best Memory Card for Your DSLR.

Now that you have more information on memory cards, what about checking our blog post about the best e-commerce to buy photography gear online?

What’s your number one choice for Best Memory Card for your DLSR? Are there any features you require your memory cards to have? Let us know in the comments below!