The Best Memory Cards for Cameras in 2021

Getting the best memory card for camera doesn’t have to be that hard. All you need is a detailed guide on how to choose the best and a wide selection of memory cards. And we have both.

First, we will show you memory cards available on the market that include the best SD card, CF cards, CFast card, and XQD card choices. Next, we prepared a detailed guide on how to choose a perfect memory card for your camera. Let’s begin.

sandisk extreme pro sdxc uhs-i card
  • Capacity Range: 32GB – 1TB
  • Minimum Write Speed: 30MB/s
  • Maximum Read Speed: 170MB/s

The SanDisk Extreme PRO SDXC is the best SD card for recording 4K UHD videos. It has a guaranteed minimum write speed of 30MB/s, enough for recording 4K videos. Write speed can go up to 90MB/s and transfer speed can reach 170MB/s.

Just remember that to achieve the maximum transfer speed you have to use SanDisk USB 3.0 card reader or another compatible card reader.

Pros:
  • Sold In A Variety Of Sizes
  • Excellent Write Speeds
  • Fast Transfer Speed
  • Lifetime Warranty
Cons:
  • A Bit Expensive
  • Specific Card Readers Needed For Achieving Max Transfer Speed

Lexar Professional 633X SDXC UHS-I Card

The Best Budget SD Card

lexar professional 633x sdxc uhs-i card
  • Capacity Range: 32GB – 1TB
  • Minimum Write Speed: 30MB/s
  • Maximum Read Speed: 95MB/s

Lexar Professional SD cards are amazing. They sport noticeably lower price than competitor products, have excellent write speeds, and pretty solid read speeds. You get a minimum write speed of 30MB/s, enough for recording UHD videos.

Transfer speed is rated at 95MB/s and to achieve it you don’t have to buy a proprietary card reader as is the case with the SanDisk Extreme PRO SDXC. Just remember that this card shouldn’t be used with high-end DSLRs and camcorders. Overall, this is an excellent budget SD card.

Pros:
  • Affordable
  • Solid Read and Write Speeds
  • Lifetime Warranty
Cons:
  • Not Suitable For High-End Cameras

PNY Elite-X Class 10 U3 V30 SDXC Card

Solid Budget SD Card

pny elite-x class 10 u3 v30 sdxc card
  • Capacity Range: 64GB – 128GB
  • Minimum Write Speed: 30MB/s
  • Maximum Read Speed: 100 MB/s

The PNY Elite-X is a solid budget SD card that can be used for 4K video recording. The card features minimum write speed of 30MB/s and read speed that can reach up to 100 MB/s. While the specs are more than decent and suitable for mid-range DSLR cameras and camcorders, the downside is that this card is available in capacities of only 64GB and 128GB.

Pros:
  • Affordable
  • Solid Specs
  • Lifetime Warranty
Cons:
  • Not Suitable For High-end Cameras
  • Available Only In 64GB and 128GB Sizes

SanDisk Extreme PRO CompactFlash Card

The Best CF Card

sandisk extreme pro compactflash card
  • Capacity Range: 32GB – 256GB
  • Minimum Write Speed: 65MB/s
  • Maximum Read Speed: 170MB/s

If you need a quality compact flash card for your high-end camera, check out the SanDisk Extreme PRO. The card features the minimum write speed of 65MB/s, which should enable continuous recording of high-quality 4K videos.

Read speeds can go up to 160MB/s, which is the maximum UDMA 7 standard supported on this card offers. Finally, the card comes with a lifetime warranty, which is always a plus.

Pros:
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • VGP65 Support
Cons:
  • None

Lexar Professional 1066x CompactFlash Card

Excellent CF Card For High-End Cameras

lexar professional 1066x compactflash card
  • Capacity Range: 32GB – 256GB
  • Minimum Write Speed: 65MB/s
  • Maximum Read Speed: 160MB/s

The Lexar Professional 1066x CompactFlash Card is an excellent compact flash card for high-end cameras. It comes with VPG65 support and has a maximum read speed of 160MB/s. These cards are also a bit cheaper than their SanDisk Extreme PRO counterparts.

On paper, everything’s great. But some user reviews report corrupted cards and cards that come with build defects. While this is an excellent CF card that comes with a lifetime warranty, getting a defected product can be a major pain.

Pros:
  • Affordable
  • VPG65 Support
  • Lifetime Warranty
Cons:
  • User Reviews Mention Corrupted Cards and Cards With Build Defects

Silicon Power CFast2.0 CinemaPro CFX310 Card

The Best CFast Memory Card For Most Users

silicon power cfast2 0 cinemapro cfx310 card
  • Capacity Range: 128GB – 512GB
  • Minimum Write Speed: About 190MB/s
  • Maximum Read Speed: 530MB/s

If you require a fast CFast memory card for your high-end DSLR or camcorder, check out the Silicon Power CFast2.0 CinemaPro CFX310. The card has superb specs. CFast 2.0 support allows for up to 330MB/s write speed. This means continuous recording of cinema-quality 4K videos. Just not expect to be able to shoot at 4K lossless in every codec.

Read speed is also impressive. At 530MB/s it can match SATA SSDs. Last but not least, the card is available in up to 512BG capacity. The only slight downside is the 3-year warranty period. Most competitors offer a lifetime warranty.

Pros:
  • Relatively Affordable
  • Great Specs For The Price
Cons:
  • 3-Year Warranty
  • Cannot Be Used For 4K Lossless Recordings In All Codecs

Sony Professional XQD G series

The Best XQD Card

sony professional xqd g series
  • Capacity Range: 32GB – 240GB
  • Minimum Write Speed: About 237MB/s
  • Maximum Read Speed: About 315MB/s

If you need an XQD card for your Sony or Nikon DSLR, look no further than the Sony Professional XQD G series memory cards. This is a robust memory card made for recording high-quality 4K video and continuous RAW burst shooting. Write speed can reach 350MB/s but real-life tests show a minimum write speed of about 237MB/s when used for recording. Impressive even though lower than advertised.

Read speed can reach 440MB/s and in real-life tests, the card reached about 315MB/s read speed. Not as impressive as write speed but still pretty good. The only major downside of this card is the price, which is fairly high for any memory card.

Pros:
  • Ultra-Fast Write Speed
  • Rugged Design
Cons:
  • Expensive

SanDisk Ultra MicroSDXC UHS-I Card

Excellent Micro SD Card For Wide Range Of Usages

sandisk ultra microsdxc uhs-i card
  • Capacity Range: 32GB – 512GB
  • Minimum Write Speed: 10MB/s
  • Maximum Read Speed: 100MB/s

The SanDisk Ultra MicroSDXC UHS-I Card is a reliable micro SD card for varied usage. You can use the card not only with action cameras, DSLR’s, and other cameras but also with a wide range of devices such as laptops, smartphones, drones, etc.

The minimum write speed is 10MB/s, which is enough for older GoPro models and their 1080p recordings. If you have a 4K action camera, look somewhere else. Read speed can go up to 100MB/s, which is pretty good. Finally, the card comes with a 10-year warranty.

Pros:
  • 10-Year Warranty
Cons:
  • Not Suitable For 4K Video Recording

Samsung (U3) MicroSDXC EVO Select Card

The Best Micro SD Card For GoPro

samsung u3 microsdxc evo select card
  • Capacity Range: 32GB – 512GB
  • Minimum Write Speed: 30MB/s
  • Maximum Read Speed: 93MB/s

All of you who own a newer GoPro model or any action camera capable of recording 4K video, this is the card to buy. This Samsung micro SD card comes with a minimum write speed of 30MB/s, which should be enough for 4K video recording on any action camera.

Advertised read speed can reach 550MB/s but we wouldn’t take that as a guarantee. In real life usage expect read speed of about 93MB/s. Overall, this is a great micro SD card that’s perfect for action cameras. It comes with a 10-year warranty and an affordable price.

Pros:
  • Affordable
  • Great For 4K-Capable Action Cameras
  • Excellent Read And Write Speeds For The Price
  • 10-Year Warranty
Cons:
  • None

How To Choose A Memory Card For Camera

The best SD card for DSLR doesn’t have to be the best for GoPro. The reason is that different devices support different memory card types and can benefit from different read and write speeds.

Luckily, picking the best memory card for the camera boils down to just a couple of steps. Let’s cover each of them.

Which Memory Card Type You Need

First of all, check which memory card type your device supports. The easiest way to get the answer to this question is by reading your device manual. You can also check memory card slots on your device, each slot has a specific label informing which memory cards can fit inside it.

Reading your device manual can also provide info on max memory card write speeds supported by your device. Buying a memory card with a higher than supported write speed is a waste of money. It’s like buying a 1TB flash drive to backup your Steam saves.

Different Memory Card Types

SD cards can be complicated – The good old SD card is more complicated than it looks on the surface. Different SD cards feature different capacities and read speeds. Depending on their capacity, they are labeled as SD, SDHC, SDXC, and SDUC.

Regular SD cards have a capacity of up to 4GB. SDHC cards can store between 4 and 32GB of data. SDXC cards are made in sizes from 64GB and 2TB. Finally, SDUC cards can hold more than 2TB of data. Now, most modern cameras can use SD, SDHC, and SDXC cards. If you want to get an SDUC card, double-check if your camera supports it.

Older camera models may come without support for SDXC (models released before 2010) or even SDHC (models that were released before 2008). If you have an older camera, read the manual before getting a large capacity SD card. Do mind that all the above works for microSD cards.

Further, microSD cards usually come with an adapter that allows them to be used in regular SD card slots. But regular SD cards cannot be used in microSD card slots.

Action cameras and cameras used on drones usually come with a microSD card slot. DSLRs and professional cameras usually come with a regular SD card slot.

Compact Flash cards – These memory cards are way older than SD cards but they are still used in many camera models. They offer high write speeds and have a similar range of capacities as SD cards. On the other hand, they are much larger than SD cards.

Despite their chunkier dimensions, CF cards are still in use because they offer better durability than SD cards and come with the same read and write speeds, allowing them to be used for UHD video recordings. Most professional cameras have both SD and CF card slots.

Difference Between Compact Flash and CFast Cards – CFast Cards are the next generation of Compact Flash card technology. While regular CF cards use the outdated IDE – or PATA – interface used in older hard drives and CD-ROM devices, CFast cards use the currently popular Serial ATA (SATA) Interface that enables much higher read and writes speeds. For the best read and write speeds get a CFast card with the CFast 2.0 logo.

XQD Cards – XQD is the latest memory card technology. These cards are currently used in just a handful of Nikon and Sony cameras with more XQD-compatible models coming in the future.

SD and Compact Flash Speed Classes

Aside from different capacity labels, SD and compact flash memory cards have various speed classes. Faster cards are used for recording higher resolution videos. Higher the resolution higher the write speed must be in order to capture that video.

Classic SD cards speed classes have four classes:

  • Class 2 – minimum write speed of 2MB/s
  • Class 4 – minimum write speed of 4MB/s
  • Class 6 – minimum write speed of 6MB/s
  • Class 10 – minimum write speed of 10MB/s

If you need a memory card for recording 1080p video, look for class 6 SD cards or higher. Class 10 is suitable for the 4K video. When it comes to photos, even the class 4 SD card can fit the bill.

UHS (ultra-high speed) SD cards, made to support 4K video recordings, are divided into two groups:

  • U1 – minimum write speed of 10MB/s
  • U3 – minimum write speed of 30MB/s

UHS-II cards come with a new data bus and if inserted into a slot of a device that doesn’t support the UHS data bus, the card will default to slower read speed.

Finally, the latest speed class labeling includes a wide range of write speeds:

  • V6 – minimum write speed of 6MB/s
  • V10 – minimum write speed of 10MB/s
  • V30 – minimum write speed of 30MB/s
  • V60 – minimum write speed of 60MB/s
  • V90 – minimum write speed of 90MB/s

If you need the best SD card for 4K video, get anything between the V30 and V60. For the 1080p video, any V speed class will be enough. The same goes for photos.

Compact Flash cards come with different speed classes. Ultra DMA 7 (UDMA 7) CF cards are the ones you should be looking for. They offer the best read and write speeds and are suited for 4K video recording. UDMA 7 standard allows for up to 167MB/s read speed.

Next, some CF cards show read speed as a number followed by x (for instance 1000x). This can be confusing, but there’s a simple formula for calculating read speeds labeled that way. Just divide the number with 6.666 and that’s it. for instance, read speed of 1000x translates to 1000 divided by 6.666, which equals 150MB/s. Easy.

Finally, there’s another label that guarantees minimum write speed that is used on CF cards. The VPG or video performance guarantee logo is a clapboard with a number inside it. There are three VPG classes – VPG 20, VPG 65, and VPG 130. These stand for 20MB/s, 65MB/s, and 130MB/s, respectively. If you’re looking for a CF card that’s guaranteed to offer continuous write speed for UHD video, look for one that has the VPG logo on it.

The best compact flash card should come with UDMA 7 support, with 1066x read speed and with at least VPG 65 logo on it.

About The Author

Goran Damnjanovic

Goran studied psychology but video games and PC hardware were much more interesting. On top of that he likes writing so he decided to become a writer. And it was the right choice. Other than games and hardware, Goran is interested in basketball, Sci-Fi literature, and music.

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