Learn more about Memory Cards
In this world of technology, memory cards have established their own importance. Earlier, they used to present everywhere – and almost everyone had at least one memory card. People used to expand the storage capacity on their mobile devices using memory cards. While external storage support is slowly vanishing from the smartphone world, memory cards still play an important role when we talk about cameras.
Almost all cameras still need a memory card to store photos and videos. There are a few exceptions where cameras can also shoot directly on external solid state drives. But memory cards are still one of the most important gears for shooting and storing images as well as videos - on most cameras. And every content creator will likely have at least a few memory cards – as they don’t want to run out of storage while creating.
What is a memory card?
In simple words, a memory card is an electronic storage device that is used to store any photo and video that you shoot on your camera. If you own a consumer-level camera, it’s almost certain that it will require some form of a memory card. And yes, there are quite a few form factors available for a memory card – ranging from a microSD card to a CFExpress card.
What should you look for while buying a memory card?
If you have just stepped into the creative field and are looking to buy your first memory card, there’s a good chance that you might be confused after looking at the availability of several options in the market. But don’t worry as we are here to help you out in selecting the memory card – by informing you about what to look for before making a purchase.
The first – and possibly one of the most important things – that you should be looking for is the type of memory card. Before you even get to choose the type of memory card, check out your camera specifications and see what all form factors and types of memory cards are supported by it. Most of the beginner-level cameras will usually support regular SD Cards – while some of the higher-end ones will take a CFExpress Card.
If your camera supports a CFExpress Card as well as a regular SD Card, then you should be good to go with either of them. However, the CFExpress will be a preferred choice in that case – because of higher speeds – that will indeed be required if you are shooting videos at a higher bitrate – or if you are shooting burst images.
The type and form factor of the memory card that you buy is highly dependent on what your camera supports. So, it is extremely important to consider this while making a purchase decision.
As we saw earlier, a different type of card can give you different speeds. However, the same type of card is also capable of having different speeds – and they are differentiated based on the speed classes.
Speed classes on an SD card might look a bit complicated – especially when we look at all the text on the card. However, you can also look at the rated speeds which are directly mentioned on the card to make it simpler while making the purchase decision. Just one quick suggestion: Select an SD Card that has the SD Speed Class of 10 – and is at least UHS-I. UHS-III is the highest standard but in the beginning, you would be good to go with UHS-I as well – if you have an entry-level camera.
If you are already on a higher end of the spectrum and own a camera that supports CFExpress cards, then the speed ratings here will be quite a bit different. Most CFExpress cards run on the PCIe technology – which is also used in Solid State Drives – and hence, they usually have higher speed.
A CFExpress Card like the Sandisk Extreme Pro is capable of supporting read speeds of up to 1700MB/s and write speeds of up to 1200 MB/s – which can be extremely helpful while working with higher bitrates or bursts.
Once you have decided the type and the speed of the card that you want to go for, choosing the storage capacity for a memory card will feel like a piece of a cake. You will just need to select the capacity of the card – based on your requirements.
If you shoot a lot of videos, you might be able to fill up your card quite fast. So, in that case, you should be looking for a higher storage capacity. However, if you are mainly shooting images, then you should be fine to have a lower-capacity card. Usually, for most people, having a 128GB capacity on the card is considered the sweet spot.
Also, while selecting the storage capacity, you mustn’t put all your eggs in one basket. This means that if you think you need a 256GB capacity on your card, just go for a couple of 128GB cards. When you do this, you might have to change multiple cards on a longer shoot. However, if you end up losing one – you will still have the other card to complete the shoot.
Compatibility is an important factor while choosing a memory card. As mentioned from the beginning, we would have already checked the compatibility of the cards with our camera – when we check for the Type, Speed, and Capacity. However, the compatibility here isn’t just limited to the camera.
Once you have already verified the compatibility with your camera, you also need to make sure that you have a compatible device to transfer the data from those cards to your laptop – or any other external storage drives.
If your laptop or PC isn’t directly compatible with the memory card, you will need to get a card reader. While several devices still come with the SD Card slot, a CFExpress slot is missing on almost every single one of them. So, if you use a higher-end camera with a CFExpress card, having compatible card readers will be one of the most essential things to look after.
There are many extra features to look after in SD Cards. Several cards like the Sony Tough Series – will offer you durability from extreme conditions. There are SD Cards that are shockproof, have UV light resistance, are also resistant to extreme temperatures and water while also being X-Ray Proof. While all these features aren’t essential, having them will just give you peace of mind.
Other than the additional durability features, some memory cards also come with their own recovery software – which can be useful to get back the important data that you might have formatted or lost due to technical failure. Third-party recovery software is also available and might get the job done – but having recovery software directly from the manufacturer of the card doesn’t hurt.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Buying memory cards, in the beginning, can give rise to several questions. But don’t worry as we are here to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about memory cards.
What are the different types of SD cards?
There are three main types of SD Cards – SD, SDHC, and SDXC. Here, the letters SD stands for Secure Digital – while the HC and XC indicated high capacity and extended capacity respectively.
When we look at the memory cards from a wider perspective, there are more types of cards. First, there is microSD – which can again have microSD, microSDHC, and microSDXC. Adding to the microSD cards, we also have XQD cards, CompactFlash cards, CFast cards as well as the latest CFExpress cards.
Would I be able to connect all SD Cards directly to my PC/Laptop?
In simple words, you won’t be able to do that.
While the laptops used to come with SD Card slots, we are seeing them less frequently these days. Also, the card slots that are present on the laptops are only capable of reading different types of SD Cards – but not all types of memory cards. To connect different types of memory cards to your PC/Laptop, you will need to have additional items like the card readers.
Does an SD Card matter for a camera?
For most cameras, SD Cards matter a lot. You won’t be able to shoot anything on the camera without having a compatible SD Card. Sure, some cameras support the higher level of memory cards as well as external solid state drives. But for most cameras, SD cards are still the way to go.
Can I use a micro-SD card instead of an SD card?
If you really want to and if your camera supports it, you can do it. However, it won’t be our first recommendation here.
While you can use a microSD card with an SD adapter, it might not match the capabilities of a standard SD Card – especially the speeds. That’s because the card is directly not attached to the camera. Instead, it is working through the adapter that might result in the reduction of speeds. Also, microSD cards aren’t directly supported by cameras. And there’s also a small chance that the camera might not support it with the adapter as well.
Are items like an SD Card Reader necessary?
Yes – and – No.
If you have a laptop that comes with an SD card slot and if you are just using a standard SD Card, then you might not need an SD Card Reader. However, if you are shooting with any other form factor of the memory cards i.e., XQD, microSD, CompactFlash, CFast, and CFExpress, you might very well need an SD Card Reader.
If my camera supports ultra-high-speed memory cards, should I invest in them?
Absolutely. You should definitely invest in them.
If your camera supports ultra-high-speed cards like the CFExpress cards, there’s a good possibility that your camera also supports shooting a high number of burst images as well as videos with a higher bitrate. To take complete advantage of the abilities of your camera, you should definitely invest in such cards.
Is investing in a good SD Card worth it?
The answer here is – Yes.
Investing in a good SD card is definitely worth it as they can even enable more capabilities of your camera – as answered in the previous question. And you won’t need to buy these SD cards every few months – so paying a slightly higher price for a good SD Card can be easily justified.
How long does an SD card last?
If you invest in a good memory card, it can easily last you for five or more years. However, the lifespan of any memory card will also depend on how much it is being used over time along with the care one takes for them. Even though memory cards can last you for a long time, you might want to upgrade them every few years – depending on your usage.
What brands do you carry for SD Cards?
We have SanDisk and Sony in our store. They offer a variety of memory cards – which will most likely be enough to fulfill your needs.
We hope that we were able to make your purchase decision easier with this article. Also, we hope that we were able to most of your questions about the memory cards here. However, if you are still in doubt about which memory card to go for, just visit our Gear Guides page and reach out to us with your needs. We’ll provide you personal recommendations and will help you select the right memory card.