Camera memory card has made traditional film obsolete. The option to click thousands of pictures without the fear of running out of film, has spurred the camera industry to come up with compact camera sd cards with larger and larger storage capacities. The ease with which photos can be transferred, edited, shared, and printed has revolutionized photography.
The question is which camera memory card should you choose? With so many brand options, and duplicates flooding the market, it is essential to know about the different kinds of digital camera memory cards and which are the best.
Types of digital camera memory cards
1. Smart Media
Introduced in 1995 by Toshiba, it is a 3.3/5V variety, with an available capacity of 128 MB. It is very slim (45x37x.76) mm. It does not have a wear leveling controller.
2. Compact Flash
Introduced in 1994 by SanDisk, it has 2 varieties.
The Compact Flash-I has a thickness of 3.3 mm and is thinner than the other variety. It has flash and a maximum capacity of 512 GB, and can go up to 128 PB since CF 5.0.
The Compact Flash II is thicker, at 5.0 mm and has an older flash, usually Microdrives, up to 128 PB.
3. Multimedia Card
The Multimedia Card manufactured by Siemens AG, SanDisk, came out in 4 varieties
a. MMC – introduced in 1997, with maximum capacity of 16 GB. It is small and slim (24x32x1.4) mm.
b. RS-MMC/ MMC Mobile – introduced in 2003 and 2005 respectively, with maximum capacity of 16 GB. It is a compact card (24x18x1.4) mm.
c. MMC Plus – Introduced in 2005, with maximum capacity of 16 GB. This is swifter with optional DRM, and size (24x32x1.4) mm.
d. MMC Micro – Introduced in 2005, this subcompact version has a maximum capacity of 4 GB. It has optional DRM, and size (14x12x1.1) mm.
4. Secure Digital
This new variety of memory cards were introduced by Panasonic, SanDisk, Toshiba, and Kodak. There are quite a few varieties:
a. SD – Introduced in 1999, with maximum capacity of 4 GB, and DRM. It is of small size (32x24x2.1) mm. The 2 GB and 4 GB memory cards use larger block sizes and may not be compatible with some cameras.
b. miniSD – Introduced in 2003, with maximum capacity of 4 GB, and DRM. It has a compact size (21.5x20x1.4) mm. The 2 GB and 4 GB memory cards use larger block sizes and may not be compatible with some cameras.
c. microSD–Introduced in 2005, with maximum capacity of 4 GB, and DRM. It is a subcompact device (15x11x1) mm. The 2 GB and 4 GB memory cards use larger block sizes and may not be compatible with some cameras.
d. SDHC – introduced in 2006, with maximum capacity of 4 GB to 32 GB. It has the same build as SD, but has a faster transfer speed and greater capacity. This card is not compatible with older devices.
e. miniSDHC – introduced in 2008, with maximum capacity of 4 GB to 32 GB, and same build as miniSD. The largest was 8 GB introduced in 2011 and is not compatible with older devices.
f. microSDHC – introduced in 2007, with maximum capacity of 4 Gb to 32 GB. It has same build as microSD, but with faster transfer speed and greater capacity.This card is not compatible with older devices.
g. SDXC – introduced in 2009, with maximum capacity of 32 GB to 512 GB. The standard goes up to 2 TB. It has the same build as SD but with faster transfer speed and greater capacity. This card is not compatible with older devices.
h. microSDXC – introduced in 2009, with maximum capacity of 32 GB to 256 GB. The standard goes up to 2 TB. It has the same build as microSD but with faster transfer speed and greater capacity. This card is not compatible with older devices.
5. Memory Stick
The memory sticks were introduced by Sony and SanDisk with the following varieties:
a. Standard – introduced in 1998, with optional DRM and maximum capacity of 128 MB. Slim and narrow (50×21.52.8) mm.
b. PRO – introduced in 2003, swifter, with optional DRM and maximum capacity of 4 GB. Slim and narrow (50×21.52.8) mm.
c. Duo – introduced in 2003, with optional DRM and maximum capacity of 128 MB. It is compact (31x20x1.6) mm.
d. PRO Duo – introducedin 2002 – 2006, with optional DRM and maximum capacity of 32 GB. It is compact (31x20x1.6) mm.
e. PRO-HG Duo – introduced in 2007 – 2008, swifter, with optional DRM and maximum capacity of 32 GB. It is compact (31x20x1.6) mm.
f. Micro (M2) – introduced in 2006, with optional DRM and maximum capacity of 16 GB. It is subcompact (15×12.5×1.2) mm.
Manufactured by SanDisk, Sony, Nikon, and CFA, it has a Standard variety, introduced in 2011 – 2012 with maximum capacity greater than 2TB. It uses PCIe as interface with high capacity and high speed.
Manufactured by Olympus and Fujifilm, is comes in the following varieties:
a. Standard – introduced in 2002 – 2007, with maximum capacity of 512 MB. It is slim and small (20x25x1.78) mm. It is similar to SmartMedia and has no wear leveling controller.
b. Type M – introduced in 2005, with maximum capacity of 2 GB. It is slim and small, with slower read/write, size (20x25x1.78) mm. It has no wear leveling controller.
c. Type H – Introduced in 2005, with maximum capacity of 2 GB. It is slim and small but swifter (20x25x1.78) mm. It has no wear leveling controller.
8. Universal Flash Storage Card Extensions
Manufactured by Samsung and introduced in 2016, the UFS card has a maximum capacity greater than 256 GB. The electrical interface enables high bus speeds and reduced pin count because of differential signaling.
9. USB Flash Drive
Manufactured by various companies, it was introduced in 2000/2001 with maximum capacity greater than 1 TB. This device is compatible with most platforms. It can be easily used as a storage device. Transfer of media is also greatly simplified.
How to choose the best memory card
The different memory cards available suit different needs depending on usage and quality of picture required. The read speed and write speed are important factors in a memory card. The read speed determines how fast data from the card can be transferred onto a computer. The write speed determines the speed with which images are saved onto the memory card. Write speed become important in the case of HD shooting, or for high resolution cameras that are capable of clicking large files. Here are a few tips depending on what you intend to use it for.
1. Amateur – The prime need for an amateur photographer is capacity. A compact camera can hold an SD card with a capacity of 1 to 8 GB which should be adequate for a beginner with medium photography skills.
2. Semi-professionals – Now that DSLR cameras are easily available, semi-professionals are able to click large files and HD videos in a single burst just like professionals. To match up to the data streamed into the DSLR, a card capable of receiving that amount of information should be used. Sometimes the card may be too fast for your camera to utilize all its benefits. Look for a card that will be compatible with the device you own.
3. Professionals – if you are shooting anniversaries, birthdays, or weddings, you need to look for a card with a good reading speed for quick transfer of files. On the other hand if you are shooting sports events, you will need a card with a good writing speed, to capture every moment of the burst shooting.
Below is a list of 10 best SD cards for digital cameras in 2017
1. SanDisk Ultra SDHC UHS-I Card –Best SDHC Memory Card
Manufactured by SanDisk, this is an ultrafast card with a capacity of 32 GB and can store
a great number of pictures and HD videos. It has a read speed of 80 MB/s, making downloading a breeze. The write speed is also better than regular memory cards, enabling great single shots and HD videos. It is compatible with compact to midsized cameras and video recorders. This memory card is highly durable, shock proof, temperature proof, and X-ray proof, so shooting in any weather condition will not be a problem.It comes with a limited warranty of 10 years.
2. SanDisk Ultra microSDHC —Best microSDHC on a budget
Manufactured by SanDisk, with a capacity of 16 GB, this card works great on android Smartphones and tablets. It comes with an adapter in case you want to use it with your camera. It has a Class 10 rating in write speed for capturing full HD videos. The read speed is 80 MB/s, enabling ultrafast downloads to the computer. Managing media and memory is made easy with the Memory Zone App, so that your phone is always at peak performance. It can move files from the device to the memory card to free up space in the phone. This memory card too, as with most of SanDisk products, is very durable, magnet proof, x-ray proof, water proof, shock proof, and temperature proof, to give you a worry free shooting experience. It comes with a limited warranty of 10 years.
3. SanDisk Extreme PLUS microSDXC UHS-I Card–Best microSDXC
Manufactured by SanDisk, with a capacity of 64 GB, this card can be used on any compatible device and is specially designed for MIL cameras, Android smartphones and tablets. The adapter enables easy access to any tablet, camcorder, or laptop for easy storage or transfer. The read speed of this card is 90 Mb/s, so you can download files even faster than before, and with a write speed of 40 MB/s, you can enjoy burst mode like never before. The card comes with 4K Ultra HD video that can display vibrant colors and give sharper details to your pictures. The memory card is rigorously tested under harsh conditions, so that you don’t lose your precious pictures and videos. It is x-ray proof, shock proof, water proof and temperature proof. It also comes with a Rescue Data Recovery Plan that will recover the data from your device and transfer it to a new device, in the event it stops working.
4. PNY Elite Performance SDXC Flash Memory –Best SDXC Card
Manufactured by PNY, with a capacity of 64 GB, this card is a high performance variety suitable for DSLR cameras, HD camcorders to record or shoot fast action sports videos or detailed pictures with action shots. It is compatible with SDHC and SDXC devices and comes with a lifetime warranty. It has a Class 10 UHS-I rating in write speed that allows shooting in burst mode. It has full HD and 4K Ultra HD video recording. It has read speeds of up to 95 MB/s. Since it is made for high performance cameras and camcorders, it is confirms to highest standards of toughness. It is magnet proof, temperature proof, shock proof and water proof, allowing you to capture your videos in complete peace of mind, no matter the weather condition.
5. Lexar Professional 633x SDHC/SDXC UHS-I cards —Runner up: Best SDXC Card
Manufactured by Lexar, with a capacity of 64 GB, this card comes with one card free. This high performance card is ideal for professional photographers who own DSLR cameras, HD camcorders or 3D cameras. It has a Class 10 UHS-I rating, with a read speed of 95 MB/s, for faster download of files to another device or computer. The write speed of this memory card is 20 MB/s, allowing you to capture high quality pictures and long videos of 1080p full HD, 3D and 4K, with stunning details. It comes with downloadable rescue software that allows recovery of most photos and selected videos in case it stops functioning. It is an excellent option for busy photographers.
6. Lexar Professional 1066x –Best CompactFlash memory card
Another product from Lexar, this memory card has a capacity of 32 GB, and is compatible with most recording devices including DSLR camera, HD camcorder, and 3D camera. It can capture high quality picture and vibrant 1080p full HD, 3D and 4K video. The card supports the Video Performance Guarantee specification for shooting professional quality videos. It utilizes UDMA technology that gives a read speed up to 160 MB/s. This amazing downloading speed will make file transfer faster and easier for those with limited time on their hand. The write speed is guaranteed at a minimum speed of 65 Mb/s in compatible devices. This card also includes downloadable image rescue software that you can use in case of malfunctioning of the memory card. However; it allows rescues of most images but only select videos.
7. SanDisk Ultra CompactFlash —Best CompactFlash memory card on a budget
Another great product from SanDisk, this memory card has a capacity of 16 GB and is compatible with low to midrange DSLR cameras. With read speeds of up to 50 MB/s, downloading files is quiet fast. The fast write speeds reduce lag between scenes. It supports full HD recording. Built for casual photographers, this card delivers a good performance in compatible devices.
8. Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC/SDXC UHS-II —Best SD Card for Professionals
Manufactured by Lexar, keeping professionals in mind, the card has a capacity of 64 GB. It is compatible with DSLR cameras, HD camcorders or 3D cameras. The UHS-II technology enables a read speed of 300 MB/s, giving professionals the edge they need to stay ahead of the rest. This accelerated read speed, makes professional photographers more productive by lessening idol time. It can capture high quality pictures and great videos of 1080p full HD, 3D and 4K. It is also backwards compatible with UHS-I devices. With the Image Rescue Software included in the memory card, you don’t have to worry about losing your pictures and videos even if they become corrupted or erased. The software is able to recover most images and select videos. The card is rigorously tested in Lexar labs for optimal performance, durability, and quality.
9. Transcend Class 10 SD with the fastest Transfer speed
From the house of Transcend, this memory card has a capacity of 64 GB and store up to 4384 RAW images. This is yet another great memory card for professionals owing to its low battery consumption and a lifetime warranty. It has an amazing read speed of 285 MB/s and an equally great write speed of 180 MB/s. The best in its class it comes with built-in ECC technology that automatically detects and corrects errors. The RecoveRx software is available for free download on purchase of this card. This software can carry out a detailed search of the memory card to recover any file which you may have lost or which may have been erased. The card is water proof, shock proof, static proof, x-ray proof, and temperature proof, making your professional shoots worry free and perfect in any weather condition.
10. Samsung PRO Class 10 — Best value SD card for Action Cams and DLSRs
Manufactured by Samsung, the card has a capacity of 64 GB and is compatible in all Android Smartphones, Tablets, DSLR’s and action cameras. It has a good read speed of 90 MB/s and a write speed of 80 MB/s. It is great for high resolution photography, HD video recording, and 4K content. The adapter provided with the card enables you to use the card on your digital camera, laptop, computer or any other compatible device. The card is water proof, temperature proof, x-ray proof, and magnet proof, giving you complete peace of mind while shooting your action scenes in any weather condition.