Memory cards are some of the most important pieces of gear that you need to consider. The last thing that you want is to have a card with a whole project shoot just randomly corrupting on you.
There’s loads of memory cards in the market. There’s good ones, there’s bad ones. There’s the fast ones and the slow ones. And then there’s different types of memory cards.
SD and micro SD cards, there’s compact Flash cards and CFast and XQD cards
SD and microSd cards are basically the same except that SD cards are bigger and used in more consumer level cameras where as microSD cards are used in smaller cameras such as mobiles, gopros and drones.
MicroSDs come with adaptors that essentially turns them into an SD card so a lot beginners who need an SD card will opt to get a microSD with an adaptor because it’s much cheaper but this is a huge mistake and you should avoid it. The reason why is because having the microSD card reader in the equation slows down the writing speed of the camera onto the memory card and becomes a bottle neck, so ultimately you end up with a slow card.
The next type of card is a compact flash which is a faster and more reliable card that’s used for more semi pro cameras.
Finally are the Cfast and XQD cards that are the fastest and most reliable but are super expensive. And are used in the pro and cinema line cameras.
Selecting a compact flash, cfast or xqd card is quite easy.
The complex ones, as well as the ones that most of you will use are the SD cards. So let’s talk about them. When selecting an SD card, the first thing you want to look at is the brand. If it’s a known brand, then it’ll be a reliable card and won’t end up randomly getting corrupted. My preferred brands are sandisk, Lexar or sony.
Now, when you look at an SD card, there’s all these symbols and numbers written on the card. So what do each of them mean.
HC or XC – This just basically means how big the card is. HC cards are available to a maximum of 32gb where as XC are available to a maximum of 512gb.
This leads me to the next number which is the size of the memory card. Now you could choose a size depending on your shoot and how much you’re willing to spend. For me, I follow this one guideline. How much data am I willing to lose if a full memory corrupted on my shoot. Now if you have a 512gb card, that’s a lot of data! So I usually opt for 64gb cards.
The Next symbol is MB/S. This is the maximum read speed of the card. I usually opt for cards that are 95mb/s and above.
The next symbol is the C with a number in it. This is the class of the card and determines the write speed per second of the card. I opt for class 10 cards which write at a minimum of 10mb/s. These are the fastest.
Finally is the U with a 1 or 3 in it. This is the minimum sustained write speeds. U1 writes at a sustained minimum speed of 10mb/s while u3 writes at a sustained minimum speed of 30mb/s. Again, I opt for the faster one which is u3. Again, I’d opt for u3.
Now I’m recommending the highest and fastest memory cards, which will ultimately be quite pricey, but this is for a few reasons.
You want to get a fast card especially if you have a higher end or newer camera. That’s because as technology advances, files are getting larger and if you’re planning to take advantage of slow motion 60fps,120fps or high resolutions like 4k or even higher, then you’ll need a fast SD card to keep up with your camera. Slower cards aren’t compatible with newer cameras too. So that also means, if you’re planning to ugrade your camera in the future, the last thing you’ll need to think about is your memory card compatability. So it’s better to get the best one time
Finally, the transfer speeds will save you so much time.
Note – Selecting a wrong SD card, usually the slower cheaper ones will cause random cuts while you’re recording on camera and you will keep wondering if your camera has an issue. In reality, it’s your card that is the problem.