The 8 Best SD Cards to Buy in 2017

Keep your images and video saved on these top SD cards

When it comes to finding the right SD card for your camera or video camera or even for storing your digital music, there are really only a couple specs you need to pay attention to: capacity and write (aka transfer) speeds.

Capacity is obviously very important for how many images or video stream you can actually fit on a card.

But you also want to pay attention to the write speed. A slow write speed can slow down your shot-to-shot timing or even the number of images you can capture in a given moment. This can prove problematic depending on what type of photography you’re doing. Here, we’ve compiled a list of the best SD cards based on type and purpose.

Read this if you ever need to format an SD card using Windows.  

If you want something with slightly beefier specs and are willing to spend some dollars, you should check out the SanDisk Extreme PLUS 32GB microSDXC. It's designed and tested for harsh conditions, so whether you’re shooting at the top of a mountain or the bottom of a lake, you can rely on its heatproof, waterproof and freezeproof specs. Additionally, it has fast read and write speeds; it offers an impressive write speed of up to 90 MB/s and read speeds of up to 95 MB/s. The Class 3 designation means it can handle 4K Ultra HD video recording with ease, and it even comes with a download offer for the RescuePRO Deluxe data recovery software, which allows you to recover files that have accidentally been deleted. The SanDisk Extreme PLUS is available in SDHC (16 GB) and SDXC (32 GB and 64 GB) formats.

This plug-and-shoot high performance SD card is perfect for photographers of all levels, balancing speed with value and versatility for a solid all-around memory solution. It has class 10 and UHS-1/U3 compatibility, meaning it can handle 4k photos and videos, as well as all other traditional file types. It hits 95Mb/s read speed and 90MB/s write speed, letting you transfer large files at quick speeds. It also supports burst mode for continuous shooting, and is shockproof and waterproof to survive adventurous outings. 

If you’re looking for something a bit cheaper and don’t mind the slower write speeds (maybe you’re not a super fast photographer), then you’re perfectly safe going with a budget SD card. The SanDisk Ultra is that card. It’s available in 16, 32, 64, and 128 GB, and offers a tepid write of about 10 MB per second, meaning it could struggle to keep up with burst shooting in RAW format. Read/transfer speeds are significantly faster at 80 MB/s. This is faster than SanDisk’s previous Ultra SD, which offered read speeds of 40 MB/s. Either way, this is a solid option for casual photographers who do not anticipate firing off 10 wide format shots a second. It’s waterproof, heatproof, freezeproof, X-ray proof, magnetproof and shockproof, and it’s got a 10-year warranty. Most people will walk away happy.

When searching for value, you’ll want to find the optimal balance of price and performance. This Elite Series memory card strikes that balance. It reaches read and write speeds up to 85MB/s (8GB to 64GB) and 75MB/s (128GB) and provides outstanding storage and access efficiency. Its UHS-1 Class 10 specifications enables fast file transfer speeds and also supports full HD video recording. If it’s durability you’re after, this SD card will fit the bill: It’s waterproof and shockproof, immune to airport X-ray machines and can survive temperatures as low as -40 degrees Celsius and as high as 85 degrees Celsius. Depending on your needs, you can purchase up to 128GB of space, and all the cards come with a lifetime warranty.

In our value category, Samsung is a clear winner again with high-performance storage at better-than-average prices. The Samsung Pro Select 64GB card here offers up to 95MB/s read and 90MB/s write speeds, which makes it ideal of all kinds of higher-end uses: HD video, 4K video, 3D video, RAW photography, lossless music files and more. This is the sort of card you could use in a smartphone, DSLR camera, or video camera and you’ll be highly satisfied with its speed and reliability.

We also like that this SD card is built to last, with serious resistances to water, temperature and x-ray. Samsung claims this card would still work after sitting in seawater for 24 hours and can survive temperatures between -13 and 185 degrees Fahrenheit. Oh, and it has a 10-year limited warranty that you likely won’t ever have to use thanks to all those resistances. But it’s good to have just in case.

Now we enter the realm of high-capacity, high-powered SD cards for serious, high-energy photographers and video producers. While a little pricey, the Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC and SDXC cards are available in 32, 64 and 128 GB. Why would you spend that much on an SD card? Because you’re getting perhaps the best SD card on the market, and probably because you’re a professional photographer who doesn’t mess around. Each format offers a remarkable read/transfer speed of up to 300MB/s. Write speeds are pretty much guaranteed to be much slower than that, but depending on your conditions, it can still reach as a high as 275 MB/s. Regardless, the Lexar Professional can handle 1080p (Full HD), 3D, and 4K video, whether you’re shooting from a DSLR camera, HD video camera or 3D camera. This thing is meant to handle a variety of conditions and is equipped to do so with unprecedented speed.

The Toshiba Exceria Pro SD is perhaps runner-up to the Lexar Professional. It’s every bit a competitive SD card for high-powered photographers and video pros—it just offers slightly lower read specs. The Exceria Pro comes in a variety of formats and prices: 16 GB, 32 GB, 64 GB and 128 GB. While that’s all significantly more expensive than the Lexar Professional, the Toshiba Exceria Pro promises higher guaranteed write speeds. Each format in the class delivers a transfer speed of 260 MB/s and an impressive write speed of 240 MB/s, making it the ideal candidate for large format photographers, 4K video producers, continuous high-speed shooting and pros working with large volumes of data. This is an all-around premium SD card for premium users—just be sure you’re willing to drop a pretty penny for it.

A step down from both the Toshiba Exceria Pro and the Lexar Professional, the Transcend Class 10 line of SDHC and SDXC cards offer some high-powered specs at a lower price point. The 32 GB SDHC can be found for less than $50, while the 64 GB SDXC costs around $70. Both offer read and write speeds of 285 MB/s and 180 MB/s, respectively, and both include built-in ECC technology that helps detect and correct for writing and transfer errors. Owners are also offered a free download of RecoveRx data recovery software. This is an ideal option for professional photographers and video producers who prefer to shoot in RAW or ultra-high quality 4K video modes—anything that’s likely to produce large swaths of data. While still somewhat pricey, the Transcend SD cards may be a more affordable option than Toshiba’s Exceria Pro line.

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