camera_memory_cards camera memory cards

A Quick Guide To Camera Memory Cards

camera memory cards – introduction

If you are planning to buy a new memory card for your digital camera, then this quick guide to camera memory cards will help you know what type of cards you need and assist you in making the correct purchase decision according to your personal needs.

This guide will be brief and straight to the point. So let’s start:

There are 2 types of memory cards that are used in today’s digital cameras:

SD (Secure digital)

These memory cards are the most known and seen in the market. They come in 3 sizes.


  • Standard SD card
  • Mini SD card
  • Micro SD card

You are able to use the mini and micro SD cards in your camera with SD adaptor.


SD memory cards come in 3 capacities:

Standard capacity (SDSC): Up to 2 GB

High capacity (SDHC): 4 GB to 32 GB

Extended capacity (SDXC): 32 GB to 2 TB

Speed and Class Rating

Memory cards have different writing speeds and they are divided into classes based on those speeds. The price of any memory card will depend on both the memory card capacity and writing speed.

If you use your camera to record HD videos or capture images in RAW format then you should invest in fast memory cards with higher memory capacities.

Memory cards writing speeds starts at 2 MB/sec up to 624 MB/sec and as mentioned earlier, cards are divided into classes based on their writing speeds. There are 4 normal speed classes and 2 ultra high speed (UHS) classes.

CompactFlash (CF)

These memory cards are used in high end cameras and other mass storage devices. They are larger in size than the SD cards, have higher writing speeds and memory capacities, and are more expensive.

Speed and Class Rating

Similar to SD cards, CF cards come in different writing speeds and memory capacities. However some older CF cards don’t have the writing speeds explained in the form of  150MB/sec but instead in the form of 1066x. the following equation can be used to convert the numbers and know the writing speed:

X number/6.6666 = Y number MB/sec

Luckily the new cards display both the x number and the MB/sec so you don’t have to worry about the calculation.

As for classes you will probably see UDMA 7 on the card label which mean the card has up to 167MB/sec writing speed. Also there will be mentioning of the lowest writing speed that the card can reach. This is a very important information for videographers as it might affect their videos and the frames’s rate.

Reading the Label

SD Card

1- Writing speed 95 MB/s

2- Memory size 8 GB

3- Card capacity SDHC

4- Video speed class V1

5- Speed class 10

CF Card

1- Memory size 8 GB

2- Maximum writing speed 120 MB/s (800X/6.6666 = 120 MB/sec)

3- Card transfer speed class UDMA7

4- Minimum writing speed 20 MB/s

Which Card To Buy?

The answer is dependent on 3 things:

1- Your camera: Does it take SD or CF cards? Many cameras have slots for both types.

2- Your needs: Do you record 4K or HD movies? Do you need fast card with large memory size?

3- Your budget: This one is self explained.

I can’t recommend a certain brand or card for you as it all depends on you and what you need it for. Do your homework first then go and buy what you need, don’t buy what the sale person wants to sell you.

I hope this guide helped you in knowing more about camera memory cards. If you have any questions please drop me a line and I will be more than happy to help.

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