How to Choose a Camera Memory Card

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How to Choose a Camera Memory Card

A camera memory card allows users to store image and video files for printing or downloading. Storage capacity and read and write speeds vary on memory cards depending on the specific type. Understand the differences to choose one that suits your skill level and camera storage needs.


Camera Memory Card Types

The most common, Security Digital or
are compatible with most cameras. Secure Digital High Capacity or SDHC memory cards have higher capacities. Original SD cards only reached 2 GB capacities, where the first SDHC cards came in capacities of up to 32 GB. SDXC memory cards can store up to 2 TB and boast increased read and write speeds. SDHC and SDXC memory cards look like normal SD cards, but are not compatible with older cameras, so check camera's specifications before buying. Compact cameras may require microSD or microSDHC memory cards, which are smaller versions of standard SD and SDHC cards.


Other Types

SD cards are not the only options for storing photos and videos. The table describes additional types of camera memory cards.





Very high capacities and processing speeds and usually found in advanced DSLRs and HD video cameras

xD Picture or eXtreme Digital

Fujifilm format used in some older Fuji and Olympus cameras

Memory Stick Duo

Unique to Sony digital cameras

Multi-Media (MMC)

Look like SD cards, but lack access lock and slower transfer rates than SDs


Choose a card compatible with your memory card reader. You can buy a dedicated card reader, but keep in mind that many laptops and computers come with integrated card readers.


Camera Memory Card Capacity

Amateur photographers should focus on memory card capacity. Use the tables that indicate the number of files at specific resolutions per gigabyte published on memory card manufacturers' websites to determine what size memory card you need. In most cases, 8 GB is ample. Semi-professional and professional photographers require larger capacity cards that can store large raw files, such as 32 and 64 GB versions.


Read and Write Speeds

The card speed should be adequate for processing and storing HD video and multiple, single burst shots, and for transferring files to a computer quickly. CompactFlash cards offer superior read and write speeds. Transcend, Kingston, and SanDisk offer a range of quality memory cards.

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