Posted November 26, 2012 by Gavin Hoey in Articles

Choosing an SD card for video

As a stills photographer I’m used to grabbing the nearest memory card, popping it in the camera and shooting photos. As long as there’s enough space on the card I’m good to go. But when it comes to capturing video with your DSLR, life’s not that simple.

Video-StoppedI learnt the hard way that not all memory cards are the same and even the ones that claim to be suitable for HD video can let you down. Grab the wrong card and you’ll be greeted with a message like this. “Movie recording has been stopped automatically”and basically when you see this it’s game over. So here’s some tips for choosing the right memory card for video.

Compact Flash or SDHC?
If I have the choice then I’d use compact flash cards every time. Generally speaking compact flash cards are faster, which is always good for video and from my personal experience I can testify to their durability too. Having said that, SD cards are now the norm for new cameras and there’s no going back. So it makes sense to invest in decent SD cards if you’re likely to be upgrading your camera body in the future.

The Class 10 rule
When it comes to choosing an SD card for video there’s one golden rule… It absolutely must be rated as a class 10 card. DSLR’s churn out video at an incredible rate and all that data has to be written to the card, a class 10 card can do that at least 10 megabytes per second.

Faster then fast
Class-10-2Good as the class 10 rule is, it doesn’t always work. Take a close look at these two cards from Kingston. They’re both rated as class 10 but one is faster then the other. The card on the left is capable of shifting 15mb of data per second where as the card on the right shifts a whopping 35mb of data per second.

From my experience both cards will work just fine at recording DSLR video but when you combine the faster card with a USB 3 reader, you’ll be able access the data far faster.

I’d recommend the left card is the minimum you should relay on for video, where as the card on the right is my preferred card.

Size matters.
For still photography an 8GB card will usually do me just fine for a days shooting but when it comes to video that same 8GB card will be full in just over 20 minutes. So unless you only want to shoot short clips you’re really going to need a big card. 16GB cards represent good value for money but for me 32GB cards are the way to go.

Gavin Hoey