Understanding Memory Cards 101
Having trouble finding the right card for your camera? Welcome to Understanding Memory Cards 101, our guide to the basics of information displayed on memory cards you need to know when choosing a media option for your device.
Speed ratings indicated on the card
Don’t be ‘misled’ by the speed marked on the front of the card! These speeds only refer to the maximum speed that the card can read data at. Besides the read speed, there’s also the write speed – both are important to consider when looking at a card’s rating:
- Read speed
The reading speed indicates how quickly the card reads data – i.e., this affects how fast you can transfer files off the card.
- Write speed
The write speed indicates how quickly the card writes data – i.e., this affects how fast data can be written/transferred onto the card.
The maximum read and write speed can often be found at the back of the packaging, so be sure to have a good look! It’s important to note that these speeds only refer to the theoretical peak speed of data transfer rather than a consistent level, so it’s unlikely the actual performance of your card will hit that speed regularly.
Differences in requirements for photography and videography
Photography and videography each work in a vastly disparate manner.
With photography, data is written to the card only when the shutter is pressed, meaning that this rate of data transfer is not often sustained. This reduces the need for a relatively ‘fast-rated’ card.
However, burst or continuous shooting of stills will occasionally require the camera to write to the card at a highly rapid rate. Here, it is good practice to consider the maximum write speed of the card to check if it can handle burst photo shooting.
On the other hand, with videography, data is written to the card constantly when shooting a video. Depending on your video settings, it is important to pay attention to the minimum write speed of the card.
Understanding the technical terms
Bit rate vs ‘byte rate’
They may look very similar, but MB/s and Mb/s are entirely different rates.
MB/s refers to megabytes per second, while Mb/s refers to megabits per second.
Memory card manufacturers often display speed ratings in MB/s while camera manufacturers do so in Mb/s.
1 MB/s = 8Mb/s
Recommended cards for select cameras:
Here’s a list of recommended cards for some of our most popular cameras:
Your card performance is also heavily dependent on what you’re shooting and your camera settings, so make sure to keep these in mind!
And that’s all for Understanding Memory Cards 101 – hope this helps for the next time you need to get a card for your device!