Complete Memory Card Guide: SD cards, CompactFlash, xD, micro SD

Views 1 Like Comments Comment
Like if this guide is helpful

There are lots of options when it comes to memory cards. This guide will help you decide what sort of card will suit your needs. We will discuss the different formats (SD, SDHC, SDXC, MicroSD, CompactFlash, xD etc), different read / write speeds and capacities.
Edit Link Remove
Add up to 3 more photos

Memory Card Formats: SD (Secure Digital) cards

Probably the most popular memory cards today, SD cards are the dominant format for digital cameras. There are three types of SD cards SD, SDHC and SDXC. Some devices will not work with all these different types. Often older cameras only take the lower capacity SD cards and will not work with SDHC or SDXC cards. Check with your manufacturer if you are not sure which type of SD cards your device is compatible with.
                                             
SD cards have a maximum capacity of 2Gb, SDHC can span 4Gb to 32Gb, while SDXC can accommodate up to 2Tb. Please note that as well as referring to the older format lower capacity cards, the term ‘SD card’ is commonly used to refer to SD, SDHC and SDXC cards.
 
As well as different capacities SD cards comes in different speeds. More demanding uses such as HD video recording will require faster cards. For more info on memory cards speeds please see the dedicated section below.

We have lots of great deals on SD cards such as this SanDisk Extreme 16GB SDHC UHS-1 45 MB/s card for only £10.98 with free UK delivery.
Edit Link Remove
Add up to 3 more photos

Micro SD Cards

Micro SD is a very popular smaller type of memory card extremely common in smartphones and other portable devices. Just like their full size compatriots, they’re divided into type depending on capacity and speed, with newer cards incompatible with older devices. Like their larger variants they also have the Micro SD, Micro SDHC and Micro SDXC types.
 
You can use a Micro SD card in a standard size SD card device or card reader with the use of an adapter. Allcam stock Micro SD cards that come readily supplied with these adapters. If you own both a digital camera, most of which use a standard size SD card, as well as a smartphone, most of which use a micro SD card, then a micro SD card with an adapter is a great purchase. It is then easy to use the micro SD card in your phone and then in your camera using the SD card adapter.
 
Now Micro SD cards are very affordable and even larger sizes can be had for a reasonable price. This is great for storing photos, videos and music which can eat up your storage space.

Link to an eBay page Remove
Add up to 3 more photos
Link to an eBay page

xD-Picture / xD Cards

The xD format is particular to older Olympus and Fujifilm cameras. Storage capacity ranges from 8Mb to 2Gb.
                     
There are three types of xD picture card available: Standard, Type M and Type H. The Standard cards have a maximum capacity of 512Mb but this has proved very limiting as digital cameras have move on.
 
Type M cards were introduced to combat this with a maximum capacity of 2gb. Type H cards have the same maximum capacity as the Type M cards but have a faster write speed. There is also the Olympus Type M+ cards that are Type M cards with a faster write speed.
                                                      
Fuji and Olympus have now stopped making cameras that use the xD format memory cards. We are one of the few retailers that still have xD cards in stock. We have Olympus 2gb type M+ cards available.
Link to an eBay page Remove
Add up to 3 more photos
Link to an eBay page

CompactFlash (CF) Cards

CompactFlash was one of the most successful earlier memory card formats. CF cards remain popular with many manufactures using this format in their premium level devices. CompactFlash slots are often found in large enthusiast and professional level DSLR camerass. They are used to capture high resolution photos and videos at fast frame rates. They’re more robust than SD cards as well as traditionally being higher capacity and faster.

There are two types of CompactFlash card which are called CompactFlash I and CompactFlash II. The only difference is the thickness of the card but most cameras will take either format. CompactFlash I is the most common type. CompactFlash cards measure 43mm X 36mm, and are 3.3mm (CompactFlash I) or 5mm (CompactFlash II) deep. 
Link to an eBay page Remove
Add up to 3 more photos
Link to an eBay page

Memory Card Capacities

Whatever format of card you use it is important to make sure that you select one that is an appropriate capacity. You can take a look and the image on the left when gives you a rough idea of how many photos and how much video / audio can be stored on a given capacity card. Please be aware that this is an approximation and you may find that your files take up more or less space.

The more demanding your usage the larger card you will need. If you will be taking a lot of RAW photos then you will almost certainly need a larger card to avoid running out of space or needing to switch cards. If you only snap the occasional low resolution JPEG then a larger card is probably not necessary. 

If you just want to add a bit of extra storage to your phone for a few MP3s and photos then a smaller card will probably suit you fine. However if you want to be able to store lots of video and high quality audio you will appreciate a large size card.

One of the most demanding use is the recording of high Mbps HD video. If you need a card for such purposes a larger card will be needed especially for longer shoots. 
Link to an eBay page Remove
Add up to 3 more photos
Link to an eBay page

Memory Card Speeds

Once you have decided what memory card format and capacity you require you need to look at the memory card speed. The speeds indicate how quickly the card can read or write data. Take a look at the table on the right for some info on what the different speed ratings mean for SD cards and CompactFlash.

Modern SD cards of the SDHC and SDXC type have their card speed measured in the class system.  Lower class cards are suitable for low resolution photos and non-HD video. If you want to record video in full HD or do continuous photo shooting you will want to take a look at the faster cards.

With the latest CompactFlash cards, the speed is rated according to a UDMA rating. Each rating brings a speed boost, although the effectiveness of this increased speed depends on the ability of your camera. Also take care to look closely at the manufacturers information UDMA-5 means a maximum speed of 100 MB/s but the card may say something like 30 MB/s on it.

It is also worth taking a look at the read speed particularly for lager cards. This dictates how fast the card can read data so you will want a decent read speed if you are planning on transferring a large amount of data off the card.
Edit Link Remove
Add up to 3 more photos

Refurbished SD Cards

Allcam stocks a great range of refurbished SD cards from top memory card brand SanDisk. These SanDisk memory cards are genuine manufacturer refurbished so you know they have been properly refurbished to brand new standard. They are in pristine condition and are delivered in OEM packaging (plain packaging not retail). We are so confident the quality of these refurbished cards that we are still offering our standard 2 year warranty for new products even though these are refurbished cards.
                                  
Refurbished memory cards can be a great way to get high quality cards with brilliant specs for amazing prices. We have lots of choice available, such as this amazing 2 pack of 32GB SanDisk Pixtor SDHC Class 10 UHS-1 memory cards for just £13.98. Check out our full range at the link here.

Where to Find Our Products

Allcam stock a great range of memory cards to suit all application. To see our product selection take a look at our eBay shop at the link here
Have something to share, create your own guide... Write a guide
Explore more guides