It hap­pens that dur­ing intense shoot­ing, when you need to take a lot of frames quick­ly, the cam­era sud­den­ly starts shoot­ing with a long inter­val or does not allow you to take a sin­gle frame at all. Or maybe you are a begin­ner who just brought home the first cam­era and is now think­ing about how to com­plete it? If at first it does not mat­ter which lens you use and whether there is a pro­tec­tive fil­ter on it, then with­out a mem­o­ry card, not a sin­gle shoot­ing will take place.

We fig­ured out what mem­o­ry cards are, what the num­bers and let­ters on them mean, and what to do to make your card last as long as pos­si­ble.


Types of memory cards

1. SD (Secure Dig­i­tal Mem­o­ry Card)

Most mod­ern cam­eras sup­port this type of dri­ve. Even if you sud­den­ly decide to change the cam­era mod­el, switch from Nikon to Canon or from a DSLR to a mir­ror­less cam­era, you don’t have to change the card.

Cards of this type have more mod­ern mod­i­fi­ca­tions:

  • SDHC (mem­o­ry capac­i­ty up to 32 GB);
  • SDXC (up to 2 TB);
  • SDUC (vol­ume up to 128 TB);
  • Eye-Fi (cards that sup­port Wi-Fi, which allows you to imme­di­ate­ly trans­fer pic­tures to a com­put­er and even upload them to the Inter­net).

It seems that the choice is obvi­ous — it is bet­ter to imme­di­ate­ly take a card with the max­i­mum amount of mem­o­ry. But the new­er the dri­ve ver­sion, the less like­ly your cam­era is com­pat­i­ble with it.

There­fore, before buy­ing, you need to find out if the cam­era can sup­port the type of card. Look in the instruc­tions for the cam­era, on the man­u­fac­tur­er’s web­site (for exam­ple, here is a table of cor­re­spon­dence between mem­o­ry cards and Canon cam­era mod­els), or open the char­ac­ter­is­tics of your cam­era in an online store.


These cards are suit­able not only for cam­eras, but also for phones. But in order for the cam­era to read it, you will have to buy an adapter. Despite the fact that SD and MicroSD are equal in all respects, this option is con­sid­ered less reli­able. But cards of this type, as a rule, are cheap­er.

This is a good option for a begin­ner pho­tog­ra­ph­er or some­one who is try­ing a new hob­by — why invest in tech­nol­o­gy if you are not sure that you will do it?

3.CF (Com­pact Flash)

Some pro­fes­sion­al and semi-pro­fes­sion­al cam­eras have a ded­i­cat­ed CF card slot (eg Canon 5D Mark III). Their advan­tage is in large vol­umes and record­ing speed. But in order for the card to work to its fullest, you need to make sure that the cam­era has sup­port for the UDMA (direct mem­o­ry access) func­tion.


Some cam­eras allow you to burn pho­tos to both CF and CD at the same time. In this case, if one of the cards breaks, you will always have a sec­ond one with dupli­cates. An option for those who are already mak­ing mon­ey on the set and want to pro­tect them­selves and the client as much as pos­si­ble.

4.Memory Stick Micro

Mem­o­ry card from Sony man­u­fac­tur­ers. It is used both in cam­eras and in game con­soles, phones and even print­ers of the man­u­fac­tur­er. Sony Alpha also sup­ports the reg­u­lar SD for­mat. The advan­tage of a Sony card is not obvi­ous, since they are more expen­sive than uni­ver­sal SD cards, but for the most part they are suit­able only for Sony equip­ment.

What do the markings on memory cards mean?

There are many abbre­vi­a­tions and num­bers writ­ten on any of the above cards. Let’s fig­ure out what para­me­ters mean what.

1. Card class (C2, C4, C6, C10)

It is denot­ed by a num­ber inscribed in the let­ter C. It looks like it was placed in the cen­ter of an under­drawn cir­cle.

Tells about the min­i­mum guar­an­teed speed at which the card writes infor­ma­tion. At the moment, there are only four class­es — 2, 4, 6 and 10. The num­ber deter­mines the num­ber of megabytes per sec­ond. So a class 2 card records infor­ma­tion at a speed of 2 Mb / s, and a class 10 card records infor­ma­tion at 10 Mb / s.

It’s sim­ple — the larg­er the num­ber, the bet­ter.

2. UHS (Ultra High Speed; U1, U2, U3)

Same as card class, only reflects the high-speed data trans­fer stan­dard that cam­eras start­ed to imple­ment in 2009. It is indi­cat­ed by num­bers (1, 2 or 3) placed in the let­ter U. The num­bers indi­cate the speed at which data is record­ed: 10, 20 or 30 Mb / s. If your cam­era sup­ports UHS, then the card will work more sta­ble dur­ing con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing, and even 4K video can be eas­i­ly record­ed at a record­ing speed of 30 Mb / s.

3. UHS bus ver­sion

Denot­ed by Roman numer­als I, II or III. These num­bers are usu­al­ly writ­ten next to U1, U2 or U3 from the pre­vi­ous para­graph (while you can still find the class of the card near­by), but there is no clear sys­tem — it all depends on the design of the card. If the num­ber II is on the card, there are two rows of con­tacts on the dri­ve. The high­er the num­ber, the high­er the per­for­mance, the sta­bil­i­ty of the card, the faster the pho­tos are record­ed dur­ing con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing. But all this is rel­e­vant if the cam­era sup­ports UHS II or III. If the cam­era is not capa­ble, it makes no sense to over­pay for unnec­es­sary fea­tures — the sec­ond row of con­tacts will not be used for data trans­fer, and, there­fore, the per­for­mance of the card will drop to UHS I.


4. Max­i­mum read­ing speed

It is indi­cat­ed by a num­ber, next to which MB / s is writ­ten. Not an impor­tant para­me­ter for shoot­ing. It indi­cates how quick­ly you can trans­fer files from the card to your com­put­er and view them.

5. Speed ​​val­ue

Denot­ed by a num­ber and an X after it. For exam­ple, 1000X. Shows the max­i­mum speed of the card in read mode. Essen­tial­ly the same as the max­i­mum read­ing speed. It is eas­i­er and clear­er to focus on the max­i­mum read­ing speed para­me­ter from point 4. But if it is not indi­cat­ed on the map, we focus on the speed val­ue.

6. Card type

Those same SD, SDHC, SDXC, SDUC, MicroSD, Com­pact Flash and Mem­o­ry Stick Micro, which we have already talked about in detail.

7. Vol­ume

It is indi­cat­ed by a num­ber and the mark­ing of GB or TB after it. The high­er the num­ber, the more data will fit on the card, and the more it will cost you. For exam­ple, an 8 GB card will fit about 300 pho­tos tak­en in Raw and JPEG for­mats.

The larg­er the card, the more expen­sive it is, and the more infor­ma­tion can be lost if it breaks. There­fore, it is bet­ter to take sev­er­al mem­o­ry cards of a small­er capac­i­ty (16 GB cards are ide­al), divide the shoot­ing into parts, between which you will change cards, so that not all shoot­ing is lost in case of a break­down. For exam­ple, set your­self a timer and change the card every half an hour or an hour. Or record pho­tos simul­ta­ne­ous­ly on SD and CF.

8. Video Record­ing Card Class (V6 to V90)

Indi­cates the min­i­mum video record­ing speed. For exam­ple, the V6 records video at a min­i­mum of 6 Mbps, while the V90 starts at 90 Mbps. You also need to know that V6 allows you to record video in HD, V10 — Full­HD, V30 — 4K video, and start­ing with V60 — 8K video.

How to choose a mem­o­ry card for pho­tog­ra­phy. Brief check­list

  • Choose the high­est card class — C10.
  • UHS and UHS bus ver­sion are only impor­tant if your cam­era sup­ports these set­tings. In this case, the larg­er the num­ber, the bet­ter.
  • More reli­able cards are con­sid­ered SD or FC.
  • If the cam­era is capa­ble of record­ing pic­tures on two media at once, buy both.
  • The vol­ume of the card. Most pho­tog­ra­phers agree that it is bet­ter to buy sev­er­al cards of a small vol­ume than one large one. Although, if you are work­ing with two cards at the same time, then you can neglect this advice.
  • The max­i­mum read­ing speed and the speed val­ue are not the most impor­tant para­me­ters when choos­ing a card for sta­ble and fast per­for­mance dur­ing shoot­ing. If you come to a pho­to ses­sion with a lap­top and imme­di­ate­ly give the source mate­r­i­al, then it is bet­ter that these para­me­ters are high­er.

How to take care of your memory card so that it lasts longer

  • If you can trans­fer pho­tos with­out remov­ing the card from the cam­era, choose this method. The less you pull out the dri­ve and insert it back, the slow­er the con­tacts will be over­writ­ten.
  • Do not for­mat the card using a com­put­er. If you need to erase files, do it direct­ly on the cam­era. It is believed that this option is safer for the card. This also applies to par­tial dele­tion of files. For exam­ple, if you decide to erase bad frames direct­ly from the dri­ve. This can lead to a fail­ure in the log­ic of the equip­ment.
  • Do not pull out the mem­o­ry card from the switched on cam­era. Also, do not dis­con­nect from the com­put­er, turn off the cam­era or remove the bat­tery when trans­fer­ring infor­ma­tion from the card to anoth­er medi­um, or sim­ply inter­act­ing with it. For exam­ple, you are view­ing footage. It’s like remov­ing a work­ing flash dri­ve from a com­put­er with­out safe­ly remov­ing it — there is a chance of dam­ag­ing the dri­ve and los­ing files.
  • Turn on LOCK mode to avoid acci­den­tal­ly delet­ing pho­tos. This fea­ture can be enabled on the card itself by slid­ing down the small lever on the side. In this case, you can copy the files to your com­put­er.
  • If you are using a microSD adapter, make sure the card is firm­ly insert­ed into it. Oth­er­wise it may break.