SD cards are just one of those things you can’t do without. With so many options, what are the best ones for you?
SD versus MicroSD
Before we talk about what SD cards are best, lets discuss what types of SD cards are actually out there. SD cards are broken down into several types: SD, SDHC, and SDXC. These letters will be found on the front of all SD cards to represent the capacity of the card.
- SD stands for “Secure Digital”. Secure Digital cards will have memory capacities no higher than 2GB.
- SDHC stands for “Standard Digital High Capacity”. SDHC cards are designed to have a mid-range capacity up to 32GB.
- SDXC stands for “Standard Digital eXtra Capacity”. SDXC cards are the highest capacity card type ranging from 32GB all the way to 1TB(1000GB)!
MicroSD’s are the same as normal SD cards except, you guessed it, smaller. MicroSD cards are typically used in smaller devices where standard SD cards are too robust. MicroSD cards are widely used in cell phones as well as the newer GoPro cameras.
MicroSD cards come is similar formats, MicroSD, MicroSDHC, and MicroSDXC. All of these represent the same capacity types as their SD predecessors, the only difference being the largest MicroSDXC currently has a max capacity of 128GB.
The next biggest factor when it comes to picking the right SD card is its speed. When we talk about card speed, we are referencing the rate the card can “read” and “write” media.
Read and write speeds mean how fast can the card process information. Read is the rate the card can “read” information to be displayed. Writing speed is how fast the card can put information onto the card after the image is taken.
Card Classes and Speed Ratings
The speed of a card is broken down into 3 main categories, depending on the card. These categories are: Speed Class, UHS Speed Class(Ultra High Speed) and V class(Video). Below are a few charts showing each class, the varying levels and speed ratings per type.
Ultra High Speed Class
The V Class cards were designed with video in mind. Cards with a V class rating will perform better for shooting video, especially at high resolutions like 4K.
You can find these speed class types labelled on the front of every SD card. Below is a breakdown of what each icon is telling you.
Things to Know:
- Speed class is represented by a “C” with a number in it.
- Ultra High Speed Class is represented by a “U” with a number in it.
- UHSC ratings are either I or II. UHSC-I equals 50MB/s up to 104MB/s card capabilities. UHSC-II equals 156MB/s up to 312MB/s card capabilities.
- The MB/s speeds shown on the card are their MAX reading speeds. Their writing speeds may vary, individual product descriptions will inform you better for writing speed capabilities.
- All modern cameras are compatible with UHSC cards. However, if your camera is older than 2007 it may be worth looking into your cameras SD card specifications.
Now that we have covered different card speeds, types, and how to de-code the symbols on SD cards, let’s look at a few great card options for you.
All the cards I list below are ones that I personally use or have heard trusted, positive reviews from. SD cards come in varying storage capacities but for the sake of ease, I am going to be sharing the 32GB versions of each card.
The amount of card space you need, will vary depending on your usage. If you are primarily shooting photos, a 32GB will be more than enough for you. If you are more into shooting video, especially video in 4K, be sure to look at larger card capacities to avoid “burning through cards” out in the field. Below are 3 fantastic cards I recommend for you.
The SanDisk Extreme Pro UHSC-I is a fantastic all around card for those looking for great capabilities at a great value. With a 95MB/s reading speed, you will never have any delays reviewing your photos or video. SanDisk also offers a lifetime warranty with their products, so you can always feel reassured.
The Lexar Professional UHSC-II is an absolute beast. With a reading speed of 150MB/s you will have no issues shooting video in 10-bit 4K. Just as the name suggests, this card is recommended for those who will be putting a lot of pressure on their cards and can’t afford any delays. Lexar also provides a lifetime warranty on their products!
If you are not looking for something that will get the job done for the cheapest price, look no further than the SanDisk Ultra UHSC-I. This card is perfect for those casually taking photos and it can support 1080p video recording. A great option for those just getting started!
Those are the 3 cards I would recommend for you whether you’re looking for your very first card, or just another addition to your collection. Although there may be slightly cheaper alternatives out there, SanDisk and Lexar are extremely reputable brands that you can absolutely depend on, unlike many lesser known card manufacturers.
Please note that the prices of these cards do fluctuate. The prices listed are accurate from the day this article was posted. I will be trying my best to keep them up to date as changes happen.