May 31

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How To Find The Fastest Memory Card

By Dan

May 31, 2012

The memory card.

That little square or rectangle of plastic that has replaced the film canister as the image storing apparatus in the photography industry.

While they may lack the style and vintage feel of film, memory cards have a couple of huge advantages- they’re durable as hell, and they store a huge number of photos. In all those years, film never got bigger than 36 frames per roll, maybe 39 if you stretched it, but today, we’re talking hundreds, or even thousands of images per card.

Not all cards are created equal, though, so how do you find the fastest memory card that will allow you get the fastest in-camera write speeds for your particular camera?

Simple. Check the Rob Galbraith CF/SD/XQD Memory Card Performance Database, a carefully researched list of read and write speeds for a wide list of specific cards and Nikon & Canon DSLR camera models.

For each camera and card, the list shows you the write speeds for storing both JPEG and
RAW files, as well the max number of RAW+JPEG frames the camera can shoot and store in a 30 second burst. You can use this list to help you determine which cards will perform the best in your camera and allow you the fastest shooting options and card-to-computer workflow.

Generally, you’ll find that Sandisk and Lexar cards are most consistent performing Compact Flash and SD cards and you really can’t go wrong with either brand. (I’ve always relied on Sandisk cards in my photography.) However, don’t get sucked into the notion that you need the best and fastest card; they’re more expensive and unless you’re shooting continuous mode bursts of fast action sports all the time, anything on the upper half of the list will probably perform adequately to your expectations.

If you haven’t checked out Rob Galbraith Digital Photography Insights, before, definitely bookmark the site, it’s a great resource for gear reviews and other cool photo news and features. It’s been on my regular read list for a number of years now.

About the author

Hi, I'm Dan Bailey, a 20+ year pro outdoor and adventure photographer, and official FUJIFILM X-Photographer based in Anchorage, Alaska.


As a top rated blogger and author my goal is to help you become a better, more confident and competent photographer, so that you can have as much fun and creative enjoyment as I do.


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Terry Bourk

I have read you new book “Behind the Landscape.” I could not “put it down” meaning that I kept at it because each photo you presented/analyzed was interesting and informative. I am trying to develop an eye for composition (both the scene and the light).

Thank you! The examples you present and the suggestions are very helpful. Purple Mountains, McKinley River and Wonder Lake are fascinating.


Roger Sinclair

You have done it again! Another triumph.

Your generosity to share, the clarity of thought and concise explanation thereof is brilliant. Perhaps I should also mention the beautiful photos and the talent necessary to produce them.

Thank you, Dan.