The 8 Best SD Cards to Buy in 2018

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.  

Best Overall: SanDisk Extreme PLUS microSDXC

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.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Polaroid 64GB

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. 

Best Budget: SanDisk Ultra Class 10 SDHC

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.

Best Value: Silicon Power 64GB Elite Micro SDXC UHS-1

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.

Runner-Up, Best Value: Samsung Evo Select 64GB SD Card

The Evo series from Samsung offers an amazing value for the price because they’ve optimized these SD cards for massive UHD video files while also keeping the 64GB price below $20 -- no small feat when you look at how well this card operates. That 64GB capacity offers read speeds up to 100 mb/s, with write speeds capping at 60 mb/s. Those speeds factor out to accommodate a 3GB video transfer in as little as 38 seconds (under specific conditions). That’s certainly a far cry from the days of floppy disks. The full capacity can accommodate up to 8 hours and 30 minutes of full HD video, 14,000 photos or 5,500 songs.

The card has been tested with dozens of different devices from tablets to cameras to phones and more, and it can accommodate 4K videos, too. Samsung’s four-point protection claims 72 hours in seawater, extreme temperatures, airport X-ray machines, as well as magnetic fields equivalent to an MRI scanner, so the card will go basically anywhere you need it to go without issue. It offers grade 3 and class 10 distinctions, meaning it’s about as pro as it gets, and it comes with a full-sized SD card adapter.

Best for Pros: Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC

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.

Best Capacity: Lexar Pro 256GB SD Card

The Lexar Pro 256GB class 10 SD card does exactly everything you’d hope for it to do -- it transfers data at high speeds and holds a ton of it. The card utilizes UHS-I technology for ultra-fast transfers that clock in at a speed of 95 MB/s for the read levels and a whopping 45 mb/s on writing. But what can you read and write with those speeds? Well, this massive SD card is optimized for high quality, raw images, as well as full video footage from 1080p all the way to 4K, even supporting massive 3D video files. As such, it’ll work formatted with your DSLR, camcorder or 3D camera.

The cards are rigorously tested in Lexar’s Quality labs to ensure that they will work uninterrupted as advertised. But if, for some reason, it does fail and you lose some files, Lexar has included a lifetime license for their Image Rescue software that will do its best to recover lost files due to a corrupt disk.

Best for RAW Shooting: Transcend Class 10 SDXC

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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