The Nikon D810 features both an SD memory card slot and a CF card slot giving you some very nice versatility when you need backup or overflow. But not all cards are created equal and it’s important to be aware of the various speeds of the cards out there and how they can perform in your camera.
Just because you buy a CF card doesn’t mean it’s going to be faster than an SD card. And something else to consider is when you’re shooting in backup mode, the write speeds will slow down to your slowest card in your camera. So it’s important to know and to choose the fastest memory cards to eke as much performance out of your camera as possible.
Fastest Memory Card Nikon D810 – SD vs CF Comparison
Comparison between CF (Compact Flash) and SD cards in the Nikon D810.
|Compact Flash (CF Card)||Read MB/s||Write MB/s||Nikon D810 Speeds||Order|
|KomputerBay 32GB 1000x UDMA 7||147.80 MB/s||134.90 MB/s||71.01 MB/s||Amazon|
|KomputerBay 32GB 1066x UDMA 7||153.34 MB/s||135.90 MB/s||70.93 MB/s||Amazon|
|Lexar 32GB 1066x UDMA 7||155.50 MB/s||138.40 MB/s||70.42 MB/s||Amazon|
|Sandisk 32GB Extreme Pro UDMA 7||154.90 MB/s||135.20 MB/s||70.14 MB/s||Amazon|
|Toshiba 32GB 1066X UDMA 7||158.00 MB/s||134.30 MB/s||69.70 MB/s||Amazon|
|Transcend 32GB 1000x UDMA 7||155.30 MB/s||132.80 MB/s||68.82 MB/s||Amazon|
|Kingston 32GB 600x UDMA 6||114.90 MB/s||101.70 MB/s||64.29 MB/s||Amazon|
|PixelFlash 32GB 1106x UDMA 7||154.34 MB/s||90.71 MB/s||58.58 MB/s||Amazon|
|Sandisk 32GB Extreme UDMA 7||118.10 MB/s||68.43 MB/s||48.95 MB/s||Amazon|
|KomputerBay 32GB 600x UDMA 7||85.77 MB/s||51.16 MB/s||42.57 MB/s||Amazon|
|KomputerBay 32GB 800x UDMA 7||86.42 MB/s||50.83 MB/s||42.24 MB/s||Amazon|
|Lexar 32GB 800x UDMA 7||152.70 MB/s||44.72 MB/s||38.41 MB/s||Amazon|
|Transcend 32GB 800x UDMA 7||152.30 MB/s||40.25 MB/s||34.94 MB/s||Amazon|
|Transcend 32GB 400x UDMA 7||152.50 MB/s||39.55 MB/s||34.29 MB/s||Amazon|
|UHS-II SD CARDS|
|Lexar 64GB 2000x UHS-II||272.7 MB/s||244.5 MB/s||58.59 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Transcend 64GB UHS-II||290.2 MB/s||182.1 MB/s||57.48 MB/s||Amazon|
|Toshiba 64GB Exceria Pro UHS-II||258.8 MB/s||226.5 MB/s||57.20 MB/s||Amazon|
|Delkin 32GB UHS-II||253.5 MB/s||219.6 MB/s||56.36 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Lexar 64GB 1000x UHS-II||147.4 MB/s||78.4 MB/s||50.26 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Sandisk Extreme Pro 64GB UHS-II||260.5 MB/s||214.8 MB/s||37.70 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|UHS-I SD CARDS|
|Sandisk Extreme Pro 64GB U3||98.6 MB/s||90.8 MB/s||58.46 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Samsung Pro+ 64GB U3||97.5 MB/s||87.3 MB/s||57.39 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Kingston 64GB U3||98.1 MB/s||90.4 MB/s||56.47 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Samsung Pro 64GB U1||96.3 MB/s||82.2 MB/s||55.44 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Samsung Pro U3||97.7 MB/s||78.6 MB/s||54.78 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Sony 64GB U3||96.5 MB/s||84.5 MB/s||49.64 MB/s||Amazon|
|Sandisk Extreme Plus 64GB U3||99.0 MB/s||64.4 MB/s||48.42 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|PNY 64GB U1||96.5 MB/s||66.5 MB/s||46.13 MB/s||Amazon|
|PNY 64GB U3||96.5 MB/s||66.1 MB/s||45.44 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Transcend 64GB U3||96.7 MB/s||68.4 MB/s||45.43 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Lexar 600x 64GB U1||95.4 MB/s||64.8 MB/s||43.75 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Sandisk Extreme 64GB U3||72.43 MB/s||54.1 MB/s||43.35 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Lexar 633x 64GB U3||93.3 MB/s||67.3 MB/s||45.12 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
Best CF Memory Cards For the Nikon D800, D800E & D810
One thing I immediately noticed with the D810 is that there is a bottleneck when it comes to write speeds. I’ve seen all of these cards perform much faster in the Canon 7DII and I think this has to do with the way the Nikon processes the RAW images. It will process the shot then write to buffer then to card, before starting processing the next image. This causes a delay in writing and ultimately slows down the write speeds significantly. I’m not sure if the Expeed 4 image processor is dual core or dual processor, but the Canon 7DII was faster I think because of the multitasking.
However, the write speeds in the D810 were still very fast and you should use this guide to help find you the fastest card for your camera.
Fastes CF Cards For The Nikon D810
The difference of a few MB/s won’t really be noticeable in real world shooting and most of the top cards from each brand performed about the same.
KomputerBay cards have gotten a lot better over the years and I now fully trust them as much as any other brand. But they use to have a lot of issues.
If you shoot more casual and are on a budget, don’t be afraid of KomputerBay. They likely just OEM cards from another brand anyway.
If you’re a pro and budget isn’t an issue, I would stick with one of the more reputable companies like Sandisk, Lexar or Toshiba.
KomputerBay 1000x 32GB – Amazon
KomputerBay 1066x 32GB – Amazon
Lexar 1066x 32GB – Amazon
Sandisk Extreme Pro 32GB – Amazon
Toshiba 1066x 32GB – Amazon
Transcend 1000x 32GB – Amazon
Best SD Memory Cards For The Nikon D800, D800E & D810
There is no issue with running a single SD memory card configuration in the Nikon D810, and if you’re just shooting casually, or your a landscape photography and don’t need fast read times, this might be a good choice for you.
If you’re using the SD card slot as a backup or overflow, then it will be important to get the fastest card you can.
Should You Use UHS-II Memory Cards?
If you need fast write speeds to your computer, UHS-II cards aren’t a bad idea. However, the Nikon D810 does not have UHS-II support and you will gain no performance in camera.
All About Memory Cards For The Nikon D810
With the faster burst speed you might want a faster memory card to help when the buffer fills up. Which is after only 21 shots, not a big deal for the average landscape photographer but I have noticed waiting on my buffer when doing multiple big bracketed HDR shots on my Sony A7r.
Is the Nikon D810 a UHS-II interface camera?
If you’re looking to the answer to this question, then the answer is no. The camera still only uses UHS-I class SD cards, unfortunately.
At least they did better than the Canon 5Dmkiii which uses a non UHS-I SD interface. Making the UHS slot really only good for JPEG or running magic lantern hacks.
I would have liked to see the D810 use UHS-II SD cards and CFast compact flash cards in hopes they would add future firmware upgrades to take advantage of it. But they did not. Maybe the sensor just doesn’t output fast enough to really ever take advantage of those speeds.
Also CFast cards are not physically or electronically compatible with the standard CF cards that most of use already own. Last thing we want is to all have to go out and buy new more expensive cards.
Nikon does something interesting with the D800 line of cameras including the D810.
You can choose between using the SD Memory Card Slot as the primary slot, or you can choose the CF card slot as the primary. With a few cool option.
Overflow – where once your primary is filled it will write to the secondary.
Backup – will mirror your primary card.
RAW+JPEG – RAW primary JPEG secondary. Useful for wedding shooters that want to give clients quick reference files.
Choosing The Best Memory Card – SD vs CF
Should you go with your primary card as a CF (compact flash) or SD (secure digital)?
There are some advantages between the two but it’s very minimal.
SD Card Pros
– More common interface
SD Card Cons
– Slower only 120MB/s
– More Fragile
CF Card Pros
– CF cards especially UDMA 7 cards are faster than SD cards.
– Capable of speeds up to 160MB/s
CF Card Cons
– More expensive
The differences really come down to minimum write speeds. But you’ll only notice that if you do a lot of burst photography.
The rest is all preference. I use SD cards in my Sony A7r without any problems, and I use CF cards in my Canon 5Dmkii without any problems.
I haven’t really noticed any advantage or disadvantage between the two. I personally prefer CF cards. It’s just a slightly better interface and the cards don’t feel as cheap.
Now if you’re a live view shooter with the Nikon D810, I hear the camera will not use the buffer in live view. At least that’s how the previous models were. If that is still the case, (I’ve yet to test it) you’ll want to choose the fastest card you can afford.
SD UHS-1 or Class 10 rated cards
The Nikon D810, D800 and D800E only has a UHS-1 interfaces so no reason to ever buy a UHS-II card for this camera.
A Little About CF Cards
CF cards I’ve noticed are a little less forgiving than SD cards. With CF you really get what you pay for and buying the cheap cards without running them through serious tests can be risky.
If you need speed and stability go with top brand CF cards. Although they will hurt your wallet.
A Little About UMDA And Its Speeds
UMDA stands for Ultra Direct Memory Access with 7 different modes all with different timings.
UDMA 7 support speeds up to 167MB/s
At this stage in the game you should really be buying UDMA 7 cards. Mainly because of the technology that comes built into them which your camera may or may not take advantage of such as (temperature recording, 32 MB block transfers, video performance guarantees, 48-bit addressing, power enhancements, the list goes on).
Best Memory Card Nikon D810 Conclusion
Although CF cards are much faster than SD cards in the Nikon D810, they aren’t necessarily going to be for everyone. If you don’t do a lot of continuous shooting and don’t find yourself in fast paced shooting situations, then SD cards might be more practical for you because they are a lot less expensive. However, if you do need as much speed as possible, CF cards are going to give you a significant boost to performance speeds.
If you shoot using both cards and need backup or overflow, then you’re going to have to use both types of cards and you’ll want to make sure that you get a CF that performs well but also the fastest SD card you can get your hands on.