The greatest SD cards can have a significant impact on the quality of your photographs and videos. Whether you’re an enthusiastic amateur or a creative professional, selecting the appropriate memory card is essential to your shooting experience.
This guide has been compiled to assist you in locating the ideal SD card for your needs and budget. SD cards, which stand for Secure Digital, are the most prevalent memory format for consumer cameras, including some of the best mirrorless cameras and 4K cameras for filmmakers. In the following guide, we explain how and why SD cards are categorized for photographers and videographers, so that you can comprehend the significance of those numbers and characters.
Due to the fact that actual performance transcends labels, we’ve subjected our selection of the finest SD cards to a variety of real-world tests to decide which is the best performer for your unique needs. We believe that the finest SD card for the majority of photographers is the Transcend SDXC UHS-II U3 due to its exceptional transfer speeds and remarkable endurance. The SanDisk Extreme Pro SDXC UHS-I is a more economical choice, while the PNY Elite Performance SDXC is suitable for those on a budget.
1. Transcend SDXC UHS-II U3
The greatest SD card we carry is the Transcend SDXC UHS-II U3. With a Class 10, V90, U3, and UHS-II classification, we anticipated that it would be quick enough to capture practically anything that modern smartphones could throw at it, but we were surprised by the actual speed results.
The Transcend performed exceptionally well in its speed tests, surpassing the advertised write speed (180MB/s) with a whooping 224MB/s, but falling just short of the advertised read speed with 224MB/s. This makes this card an amazing purchase at a fair price. This card is perfect for high-resolution, rapid-fire still photography and 8K video recording, as well as 4K and HD video recording.
Add this to the card’s waterproofing, shockproofing, X-ray proofing, temperature resistance, and static proofing, and we have a card suited for usage in virtually any environment. It appears that the only thing it can’t do is block a bullet, but for such an affordable price, we’re really delighted.
2. SanDisk Extreme Pro SDXC UHS-I
The next item on our list is the SanDisk Extreme Pro SDXC UHS-1. Being part of a group of manufacturers that collaborated to standardize the SD card industry, we’re receiving a high-quality, dependable card at a reasonable price.
Our tests revealed a write speed of 63.6MB/s and a read speed of 65.9MB/s, which is significantly slower than the advertised speeds. Nonetheless, given the price, it’s still a very solid bargain. Extreme Pro UHS-I is ideal for customers who wish to take still photographs and 4K video.
For added piece of mind, the card has a warranty directly from SanDisk that provides a lifetime guarantee in the event of a defect (and by lifetime, they mean 30 years). Pretty bad, considering we will likely no longer need SD cards in such a distant future.
3. Lexar Professional 633x UHS-I storage media
After Lexar’s launch of the world’s first consumer 1TB SD card in 2019, several other manufacturers have entered the market. Lexar is renowned for their memory card lineup, and the 633X UHS-I performs admirably under examination.
While the price of higher-capacity cards increases rapidly, the 633x is available in capacities as low as 16GB, making it suited for a diverse spectrum of photographers and videographers that require a variety of capacities for leisure or commercial use. We found its write performance to be a bit slower than comparable UHS-I cards in this class range, but it’s a fantastic value and its V30/U3 class rating means it’s still adequate for 4K UHD video recording.
Real transfer speeds during our tests produced a write speed of 33MB/s and a read speed of 82MB/s; not terrible, but the write speed is near to the minimum V30 classification on the label, so if write speeds are essential to your job, you should keep that in mind.
4. PNY Elite Performance SDXC
Given their inexpensive cost, these cards are surprisingly durable and well-protected against the elements. The Elite Performance SDXC lineup is magnet-proof, shock-proof, temperature-proof, and waterproof, according to PNY’s internal testing. This makes it the best memory card for consumers who require a durable card that can survive the weather.
As a UHS-I vehicle, the Elite Performance is marginally slower than its larger siblings. With a promised read speed of up to 100MB/s, it fell short in our tests with a maximum of 65.7MB/s and an average of 20.8MB/s. But, for the average photographer who needs a durable card to capture some stills and HD video, the pricing is quite reasonable. If you require up to 128GB of memory and are in need of a speedy solution, PNY Elite performance may be for you.
5. SanDisk Extreme PRO SDXC UHS-II V90
The SanDisk Extreme PRO SDXC UHS-II has a maximum storage capacity of 128GB. It is manufactured by one of the largest SD card manufacturers. Nonetheless, its read and write speeds more than make up for this shortcoming. Suitable for 4K and even 8K video capture as well as continuous burst photography with high-resolution stills in raw and JPEG format, our tests revealed that its actual read and write rates were approximately 30MB/s slower than the advertised capabilities, at 268MB/s and 233MB/s, respectively.
Still, the card’s quick V90 and UHS Speed Class 3 (U3) transfer speeds making it perfect for users who capture fast-paced action or sports stills. Those who need high-resolution video capture will also be pleased to have it. In addition, this card is entirely waterproof, temperature proof, shockproof, and X-ray proof to give travelers peace of mind.
It’s fine to compare card read and write speeds by comparing the numbers on the label, but this rarely reflects how well they perform in practice. Hence, we evaluated them using specialized speed-tracking software to determine more accurate data transmission rates.
To ensure fairness from the outset, we ensure that all playing cards are formatted using the same system. Hence, the storage system on the card cannot affect the card’s speeds. Then, we execute a software for evaluating storage media on each card, which works by filling the card with data and reading it back off the card. This procedure simultaneously measures write and read speeds to get accurate, real-world results that would be expected when shooting photos or movies.