I don’t really follow what Nikon is doing although I’ve always loved their cameras. It’s hard to follow both Nikon and Canon because you just get confused by their almost identical camera names. You just flop the position of the D and there you go, mass product name confusion.
I don’t know what it is about Japan that loves making things so confusing. For example, in Japan when a light turns green, they call it blue, and road construction sites even use a blue light instead of a green light. You want to use free internet in Japan in a coffee shop? You have to download an app to use free Internet, kind of impossible if you don’t already have Internet. Welcome to the Japanese mindset.
Anyway, I rented the Nikon D500 having no idea what it was. I knew as much as it was Nikon’s version of the Canon 7D mark II, an amazing camera. But I have to say with all honesty, the Nikon D500 is better. This camera rocks and I love it. So responsive, and the touch screen is just fantastic. Only thing that bothered me was some of the settings are not intuitive to get to. Like changing the ISO is a pain, even when you figure it out and get your muscle memory working, it’s still a pain.
So how do memory cards perform in this camera? Amazing! Check out the results.
Sensor: APS-C 20.9MP / Processor: EXPEED 5
Memory Card Type: XQD / SD UHS-I / UHS-II
Video: 3840 x 2160p / 30 fps
Est. Size Of Buffer: 1.25 GB
Continues Shooting Speed: 10fps
Shots To Fill Buffer: 43 RAW Lexar 2000x
Time To Clear Buffer: 7.5 seconds – Lexar 2000x
Best Memory Cards For The Nikon D500
Some Nikon cameras are like Sony cameras in that they’ll have an annoying memory card bottleneck. Not the NIkon D500. It’s blazing fast.
My only regret when testing this camera is I wasn’t able to get any XQD memory cards in time for my test. But maybe that’s not a huge deal, there are only like four or five different ones on the market anyway, plus, the Nikon D500 takes UHS-II cards which already perform extremely well.
So my plan to test XQD cards for this camera is to wait a bit. Hopefully a few more come out and I can test everything all at once. But I will be ordering some to test with the Nikon D5 so maybe I’ll test them sooner. We’ll see.
One thing I can assure you is that XQD cards should run close to twice as fast as UHS-II cards; as long as you get the cream of the crop.
USB 3.0 read and write speeds are determined using Crystal Disk on Windows 10.
|SD Memory Cards||USB 3.0 Read||USB 3.0 Write||Nikon D500 Write||See Price|
|Lexar 2933x 64GB XQD 2.0||440 MB/s||400 MB/s||—||Amazon|
|Lexar 1400x 64GB XQD||210 MB/s||185 MB/s||—||Amazon|
|Sony G 64GB XQD 2.0||440 MB/s||400 MB/s||—||Amazon|
|Sony G 64GB XQD 2.0||400 MB/s||350 MB/s||—||Amazon|
|Sony M 64GB XQD||440 MB/s||150 MB/s||—||Amazon|
|Lexar 2000x U3 64GB||280.9 MB/s||181.4 MB/s||157.96 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Toshiba U3 64GB||238.5 MB/s||199.7 MB/s||140.39 MB/s||Amazon|
|Transcend U3 64GB||268.9 MB/s||174.3 MB/s||135.03 MB/s||Amazon|
|Delkin UHS-II U3 32GB||245.1 MB/s||164.6 MB/s||134.88 MB/s||Amazon|
|Sandisk Extreme Pro U3 64GB||257.3 MB/s||109.9 MB/s||131.72 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Sony UHS-II U3 64GB||253.2 MB/s||91.62 MB/s||84.22 MB/s||Amazon|
|Lexar 1000x U3 64GB||145.0 MB/s||60.7 MB/s||70.21 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Sandisk Extreme Pro 64GB U3||98.6 MB/s||90.8 MB/s||82.45 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Kingston 64GB U3||98.1 MB/s||90.4 MB/s||78.26 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Samsung Pro 64GB U1||96.3 MB/s||82.2 MB/s||73.25 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Sony 64GB U3 (Old Model)||96.5 MB/s||84.5 MB/s||69.39 MB/s||Amazon|
|Transcend 64GB U3||96.7 MB/s||68.4 MB/s||58.79 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Samsung Pro+ 64GB U3||97.5 MB/s||87.3 MB/s||58.21 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Lexar 633x 64GB U3||93.3 MB/s||67.3 MB/s||58.00 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Sandisk Extreme Plus 64GB U3||99.0 MB/s||64.4 MB/s||57.98 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|PNY 64GB U1||96.5 MB/s||66.5 MB/s||57.61 MB/s||Amazon|
|PNY 64GB U3||96.5 MB/s||66.1 MB/s||57.52 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Lexar 600x 64GB U1||95.4 MB/s||64.8 MB/s||54.63 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Sony 64GB U3 (New Model)||96.7 MB/s||56.2 MB/s||54.37 MB/s||Amazon|
|Samsung Pro 64GB U3||97.7 MB/s||78.6 MB/s||53.56 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Sandisk Extreme 64GB U3||72.43 MB/s||54.1 MB/s||49.49 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Samsung 64GB SDXC EVO U1||47.7 MB/s||27.3 MB/s||21.97 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
If you’re not going with XQD or you need the fastest memory card for a backup slot, then it seems UHS-II cards are the way to go. The Lexar 2000x hands down destroys the competition. Although there is a Sandisk UHS-II 300MB/s card I just ordered. It was impossible to find for awhile. So when I retest XQD cards I’ll also test that bad boy.
Fastest Memory Cards For the Nikon D500 | The Results
Best UHS-II Memory Card
Since the Nikon D500 uses the UHS-II memory card interface it makes sense to buy the best UHS-II cards you can get. Right now the best performing cards that I tested were the Lexar 2000x and the Toshiba. Third and fourth are Transcend and Delkin. While Toshiba makes a great card, it’s often difficult to find it at a reasonable price, so I would gravitate towards a Transcend or Delkin if you don’t want Lexar. There is also the Sandisk Extreme 300MB/s card that will likely perform on par with the 2000x. But it’s still untested.
Transcend U3 64GB – Amazon
Best UHS-I Memory Cards
If you already have a great XQD card and want some backup card for JPEGs or something, then UHS-I cards will be fine. But keep in mind, putting in a slow card into slot two when running dual backup, will create a speed bottleneck. So only use slower cards if you’re using RAW+JPEG where the JPEG files are going to the second card slot.
Problems With Lexar Cards
There are a lot of angry keyboard warriors trashing Lexar because a few of their cards were not working in the Nikon D500. Of the four Lexar cards I tested, shooting thousands of frames, I did not get one corrupted file, or one issue.
When people have trouble with some cards, there are a few things that could be happening and I’ll go over my experience that I’ve seen with bad cards and bad cameras.
Bad Batch Of Cards: No company is immune to a bad production run of anything. It could be that the Lexar cards that came out at around the time of the Nikon D500 just simply had some issues. Maybe a bad production run. But, I highly doubt this because I recommend a lot of Lexar cards for various cameras and a lot of people buy them through this site and believe me, I would have heard about it if Lexar put out a bad batch. I didn’t.
Bad Firmware: This is likely the issue and it took me a long time to really figure out how this works after testing most cameras out there.
Sony was notorious for having issues with memory cards. The brands that would give me problems and users problems were PNY, Transcend, and even Sandisk. And when I was testing cameras, some cameras would work fine, then other cameras would have problems, even of the same model. So the problem was clearly with the camera not the cards. Then, about mid 2016 to early 2016, Sony rolled out new firmware on most of their cameras addressing memory card issues. One of which was allowing SDHC cards to work with 4k video. Now I almost never hear of Sony shooters having issues.
Another example is the GoPro Hero 5. So many cards when I first got the GoPro Hero5 were giving me corrupted files, or simply wouldn’t work. About a month after the camera came out, a new firmware came out and suddenly all my cards started working.
So in the case of Nikon, it isn’t that some cards are bad, it’s just Nikon has some shit firmware when it comes to dealing with certain types of memory cards. Maybe it doesn’t like a certain flash configuration, but this is Nikons problem. Maybe they fixed it with firmware and the problem only happened with 1.0 firmware.
Counterfeit Cards: If you buy memory cards from Ebay, or even some unofficial Amazon retailers, then you could be getting counterfeit cards. They are everywhere. Be careful were you buy your cards and who you buy them from. I frequently get emails from people that have purchased counterfeit cards and it’s a sad story.
I’ll be testing more cards in the Nikon D500 very soon. I still haven’t tested the XQD cards and on this next round I’ll pay extra close attention to Lexar. My assumption is that Lexar cards will perform the best as they always do.
Where To Buy Memory Cards
If you don’t buy a memory card from one of the links above, you’ll need to be careful you don’t get counterfeit cards. They are very common on Ebay, even sometimes on Amazon. Always make sure you buy your cards from a trusted source on Amazon, or a trusted camera store like Adorama, or B&HPhoto.
I would avoid buying any memory cards on Ebay.
Best Memory Card For Video In The Nikon D500
While the Nikon D500 shoots 4k video, it’s bandwidth isn’t all that overwhelming and you’ll likely not need anything special in terms of memory cards. However, just to be safe, I would stick with at least U3 memory cards if you’re not going to buy XQD or UHS-II cards.
Frequently Ask Questions
I’ve been doing these memory card speed tests for several years now and I get a lot of the same questions asked, so I’ll do my best to answer those here.
Do I need a UHS-II Memory Card? – You do not need a UHS-II memory card and they actually will give you no benefit over UHS-I memory card when used in camera. The only difference a UHS-II memory card will make in the Nikon D500 is it will allow you to transfer your data to your computer quick, if you have a fast UHS-II memory card reader.
What’s the difference between U1 and U3 SD Memory cards? – The main difference has to do with minimum write speeds. U1 cards are guaranteed to write at a minimum speed of 10MB/s, and U3 SD memory card can write at a minimum speed of 30MB/s. Now of course there are many things that go on inside the camera that might not guarantee this, but it’s usually not the cards fault. You’ll also start seing V30, V60 and V90 written on cards. This has to do with the minimum write speeds V30 – 30MB/s, V60 – 60MB/s, V90 – 90MB/s.
What’s the difference between SDHC and SDXC with SD memory cards? – This has to do with the formatting of the card. SDHC cards are Fat32, and SDXC cards are exFat. Now pretty much SDHC means any card 32GB and smaller, and SDXC means 64GB and larger.
My memory card is creating corrupt shots what do I do? – Unfortunately in this situation you likely have a bad card. There isn’t a lot you can do about this other than to replace your card.
My memory card doesn’t work what do I do? – It’s likely you could have a bad memory card, but also make sure you always format your card in camera. This tends to reduce issues with cards not working or not performing correctly.
My buffer keeps getting fill when recording video? – This usually means you’re memory card is not fast enough and you’ll need get a faster card. If you already have a card on the list above, you should try a different brand. Not all cameras work the same with each card, different production cycles between cameras and cards can produce various results and there is no guarantee the cards I rated will work perfectly with your camera. Lexar, Toshiba, Samsung and Sandisk are usually pretty safe bets.
Can I use Micro SD memory cards? – Yes you can, but there are a lot of crappy out there. I have just about every one made so just leave me a comment if you want to know if they work or not.
Best Memory Card For The Nikon D500 | Conclusions
It seems the Nikon D500 is a true performance beast and you have so many options for memory storage. XQD cards are known to perform with crazy speeds, but if you’re looking to save a buck, UHS-II memory cards also perform very well and will suit most people just fine.
Keep in mind if you do run a dual memory card setup that your second card will be your bottleneck, so make sure you still get a fast UHS-II card for the second slot. If you’re just casually shooting then honestly, there is no reason to get XQD cards unless they go on sale or something.