What to look for in an SD card in 2022
Whether you are an occasional hobbyist, vlogger or professional photographer, you need a reliable memory card in your camera. But with all the classifications, numbers and speed ratings, it’s hard to tell what’s good from what’s good.
When buying an SD or microSD card for your camera, speed classification is especially important. It will let you know how fast your camera can write data to the card, how many files it can take and how fast you can record. There are four speed classifications to consider when purchasing an SD card: read / write speed, speed class, UHS speed class, and video speed class.
Read / write speeds are probably easiest to find on the SD card package. “Read” speed is the speed at which a card can transfer data to a computer when you plug it in, while “write” speed is how fast a card can capture data when you take photos and videos. Pay attention to the speed of writing – it will determine how fast you can take photos in fast bursts and the quality of the video you can record on the card without delay.
For casual photographers, a minimum of 30 MB / s should be fine. If you are recording fast action or 4K video, you will need a card with a write speed of at least 90 MB / s. Some of the cards on this list have a write speed of over 200 MB / s.
The speed class of the SD card is shown on the front of the card in a circle and will be a number from 2 to 10. The speed class is the minimum speed in MB / s at which the card can transfer data. Class 10 (10 MB / s) is the fastest at the time of writing.
However, the UHS speed class is different and will be displayed as a number within a symbol that looks like the letter “U”. UHS stands for Ultra High Speed, a standard for data transfer using SD cards. U1 has a minimum speed of 10 MB / s, while U3 has a minimum speed of 30 MB / s. U3 cards get their increased speed from additional pins that allow them to send larger amounts of data at once.
The video speed class is shown as a number next to the letter V. As of this writing, the video speed classes of the SD card include V6, V10, V30, V60 and V90, with V90 being the fastest. The V6 will allow you to record standard definition video, while you will want to look for a V90 card for heavier formats such as 4K and 8K video.
Another factor to consider is durability. Many manufacturers make their cards resistant to dust, moisture, X-rays and more to protect your data in a variety of conditions. Cheaper memory cards are likely to break more easily and offer less protection from more expensive options. This won’t be something most photographers need to worry about, but if you’re a photojournalist shooting on uneven terrain, you may want to invest in a firmer card.
Counterfeit SD cards can be a big problem, especially because they can look like real ones online. The list may state that it is for a 64 GB card, and an 8 GB card will appear instead. If you shop through Amazon or another reputable retailer, avoid third-party resellers. All our recommendations will be in reputable stores, but before you buy, make sure they are sold by the retailer itself.
With these parameters in mind, let’s jump to this list of some of the best SD camera cards currently on the market.
- ✓ The highest speed ratings you can get on an SD card
- ✓ Can be used for professional work
- ✓ Made to withstand harsher conditions
- ✓ Backward compatible with cameras designed for UHS-I cards
- ✗ It could be firmer
The Lexar Professional 2000x SDXC UHS-II offers faster performance than comparable competing cards for less money. Lexar is a reliable brand in digital memory, so you can be sure that you will get the most for your money.
You can get a size of 64 GB for less than 100 USD, and that’s fast. The U3, UHS-II and V90 ratings along with the high projected write speed mean that this card is fast enough for professional photos and video work.
Lexar Professional cards do not have a metal housing, but are designed to withstand some harsh conditions, including temperatures down to -13, according to the company. However, if something happens, the cards are covered by a limited lifetime warranty.
The size of 64 GB offers enough memory that you won’t have to change it often unless you’re shooting a lot of 8K video. But if you think you will need extra memory, these SD cards come in capacities up to 256 GB.
If you are a professional photographer or videographer, this card will serve all your needs.
- ✓ Great performance for the money
- ✓ Built-in decent amount of protection
- ✗ It only comes up to 64GB capacity
The Transcend SDXC UHS-II U3 card gives you performance comparable to SanDisk and Lexar at a great price — about $ 50 for a 64GB size. If you need speed, but your budget is very small, this card is worth a look.
Maximum speed ratings and a respectable write speed of 180 MB / s make this card solid for someone just starting out, who needs fast memory. The Transcend card also has most of the protection you expect from a well-built memory card, including static and shock protection.
This SD card does not have the most resistant form factor, but it is difficult to surpass in price.
The best cheap SD card for cameras
- ✓ Provides decent performance without failure
- ✓ Supports 1080p shots and slower burst shooting
- ✓ Good for photographers learning the ropes
- ✗ Not as fast as newer, more expensive options
- ✗ It can’t handle better quality formats like 4K or 8K
On which photographers have relied for years, SanDisk’s Extreme Pro 64GB SDXC UHS-I card may not be the fastest or highest-capacity memory card, but it’s a solid all-round device for beginners or enthusiast photographers.
The UHS-I rating could be distracting for some people, as they will write slower than UHS-II rated cards — at least 10 MB / s versus 30 MB / s. But it will work well if you use an older camera that is not made for UHS-II, such as the Nikon D750.
The video speed of the V30 means you can record 1080p HD footage without any problems, although 4K can be too late. Moderate burst recording should also be fine with an actual write speed of around 84.5 MB / s, according to the Wirecutter benchmark test.
Honestly, you really can’t surpass this reliable level of performance for less than $ 25.
The best SD card for cameras under $ 25
- ✓ Lots and lots of storage
- ✓ Decent speed ratings for photos and videos
- ✗ Not the fastest
- ✗ More expensive than faster UHS-II cards with lower capacity
Another entry from SanDisk, the 1TB Extreme PRO UHS-I SDXC card is a high capacity card from a reputable manufacturer. It has a slower write speed than UHS-II, but will still prove reliable for less demanding work.
Basically, this is a version of SanTisk’s 1TB 64GB Extreme Pro card. The speed ratings are all the same, and can be used in any camera that can use UHS-I SD cards. It will cost you more money than an external hard drive, but the portability offered by the SD card could pay off if you know you will need so much space.
4K video recording can be performed on this card as it has more space for the bulky RAW video files it would create, but it can still be delayed due to slower write speeds. If you are recording video, you will want to stick to 1080p to record with minimal slowdown.
If you’re looking for something you know will fit on all of your vacation photos and videos, this SanDisk card is worth considering because it comes with the same amount of memory as some computer hard drives.
The best high capacity SD card for cameras
- ✓ Impressive speed ratings for micro SD card
- ✓ Good value for the price
- ✓ Includes SD adapter and USB reader
- ✗ Not for people who need a full SD card
- ✗ Smaller size can facilitate loss
Kingston’s 128GB microSDXC Canvas React Plus gives you good performance in a (very) small package with a decently high storage capacity. If you love photography and drone video, this card will probably become a major component of your kit.
Its ratings in the UHS-II and V90 speed classes mean it can handle even harder work, so 4K and even 8K video recording shouldn’t be a problem. This makes Canvas React Plus a good choice for content creators who need to make a lot of high quality videos with devices that use microSD cards.
The included SD card adapter allows you to use this card in a larger camera such as a DSLR, but drones and action cameras are where you are likely to get the most out of it.
The card also comes bundled with a USB adapter that allows you to connect to a computer to transfer images and video. Older USB connections may be slower to read files, but reviewers say this card is quite fast on newer USB 3 and 3.1 ports when used with the reader turned on.
The best Micro SD card for cameras