Memory cards explained
There’s much more to choosing these storage devices than simply getting the right type…
It’s easy to take memory
cards for granted. However, you only have to go into a camera shop to realise that memory cards come in a bewildering array of sizes, formats and speeds.
It’s easy to work out what memory card format you need – unless you own a Nikon D4 or D4s, it’s either Compact Flash or SD. As far as capacity is concerned, your camera’s LCD display will tell you how many images you can save on your current memory card. If you shoot RAW files, which we usually recommend, you’ll need more storage space, but a 16 gigabyte card should be enough, although individual needs will vary.
Memory card formats
Compact Flash is the oldest memory card format still in use. They’ve disappeared from Nikon’s beginner and enthusiast D-SLRs, but are still going strong in the top-end pro models. They come in two types, and Type I cards fit all cameras. Type II cards are fatter, and are no longer made or supported. Most Type II ‘cards’ were a clever but fragile miniature hard disk ‘MicroDrive’ design, but solid state Type I cards have long since outstripped the capacity of Type II cards.
SD cards are the most common card type, and are used across the Nikon range except for in top-end pro models. Although all SD cards are physically the same, there are three types. SD cards are the oldest and will work in any camera with an SD card slot. SDHC cards are newer but only work in SDHC-compatible cameras (see the list overleaf). SDXC cards are newer still and need an SDXC-compatible camera.
Finally, XQD is a brand-new format used in the D4 and D4s. The cards offer potentially huge capacities and ultra-fast data transfer speeds, but it’s early days, and the future of the format is by no means guaranteed.
Some Nikons take two cards, and you can use twin slots in a variety of ways