Types of Memory Cards

SD, SDHC, XQD, compact flash, microSD … These days we use memory cards to store digital data on everything from gaming devices and mobile phones to digital cameras.

Their popularity is all thanks to their storage capacities and compact size – you can record hundreds and even thousands of images or videos on one and then fit it easily in a coin purse!

Unlike CDs and DVDs, which can be easily scratched and damaged, resulting in data loss, a memory card has no moving parts, so it’s extremely shock proof – the biggest danger is misplacing the card itself due to its small size.

Knowing how much you want to store and what you will use your card for is vital when it comes to discovering the right card to suit your purpose.

SD, SDHC & SDCX Cards

sd cards

The postage stamp-sized SD (Secure Digital) card is probably the most prevalent type of card used in digital cameras today. Its large capacity and rugged design make it popular among amateur and professional photographers. In fact, these days they’re almost universally used in compact cameras, with the exception of a few brands that use their own type of memory card.

Another great thing about SD cards is that many laptops now come with SD card slots so it’s even easier to transfer your data without an adaptor. To make it even easier, some SD cards now come with built-in Wi-Fi, so that you can transfer your images straight from the camera to upload on social media or your laptop.

SDHC Cards

Within the SD card category is the SDHC card, or Secure Digital High Capacity cards. SDHC cards have a higher storage capacity above 4GB, with a maximum size of 32 GB.

While they look exactly the same as SD cards, they’re actually a different media time. This means it’s important to check that your camera is actually compatible with an SDHC card; if it’s an old camera, it’s possible it won’t recognise the SDHC format.

SDXC Cards

SDXC cards, or Secure Digital “Xtra Capacity” cards, are the next level up again from SDHC cards. They have an even higher capacity, along with faster processing speeds. In fact, SDXC cards can have a maximum capacity of a whopping 2TB.

As with SDHC cards, make sure SDXC cards are compatible with your camera. You may also want to check that your computer will be able to read SDXC cards.

MicroSD Cards

microsd cards

More commonly found in mobile phones, microSD cards are incredibly small, making them easy to fit into more compact equipment that wouldn’t otherwise support a larger SD card. In fact, they’re the smallest memory cards you can buy on the market.

While you won’t commonly find them for use with digital cameras, there are some models that are compatible with them. Often, you can buy a microSD to SD adapter so you can even use them in cameras that take SD cards or readers.

Just as with SD cards, you can purchase microSD cards in SD, SDHC or SDXC formats – they also follow the same class speed ratings. More on that below!

Compact Flash

compact flash card

Going the other way to microSD cards, Compact Flash cards (also called CF cards) are actually the largest memory cards. They were once fairly commonly used, although now you’ll often only find them used for mid-sized to larger DSLRs.

With Compact Flash cards, you can expect high storage capacities of up to 256GB and fast processing times of 160Mb/second. However, it’s worth noting there are two types of Compact Flash cards – type I and type II. While the Type II cards can hold more storage, they’re also much thicker, so it’s important to know which format your device supports. Cameras that support Type II Compact Flash cards should accept Type I, but it doesn’t work the other way round.

However, it’s worth noting there are two types of Compact Flash cards – type I and type II. While the Type II cards can hold more storage, they’re also much thicker, so it’s important to know which format your device supports. Cameras that support Type II Compact Flash cards should accept Type I, but it doesn’t work the other way round.

XQD

lexar xqd card

XQD memory cards are slightly newer to the scene. They’ve been designed for both high-speed reading and writing, meaning they can produce high resolution (4k) video, along with high-speed continuous shooting.

It’s important to note that XQD cards are only produced by Lexar and Sony and are supported by just a number of cameras, including the Nikon D4, D4s, D5 and D500 range.

So that’s our rundown of all the memory cards you might be interested in, although it’s worth noting that new and improved technology comes out all the time. When choosing your preferred memory card, think about its compatibility with your device, how often you use your camera, and the quality of photos you aspire to.

Lastly generic cards may seem like a cheap alternative, but the name brands offer guarantees on quality and reliability – so why trust your valuable memories to a possibly inferior product?

Browse our range of memory cards today to get snapping some incredible shots on your mobile phone or camera!

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