Best Memory Card For The Canon 5D Mark IV

Canon 5Dmk4 Memory Card Review

The Canon 5D IV with its dual SD and CF memory card slots, is a very versatile and practical camera. Not only can you use the very fast CF memory cards like you could with previous 5D cameras, but Canon has updated the SD memory card interface to allow for much improved performance over the Canon 5D III.

With the Canon 5D IV, you can now either use SD memory cards as your primary storage, or if you need more speed you can use CF cards.

But to see which cards are the fastest, I’ve put them all through a speed test. Check out the results.

 

Best Memory Cards For The Canon 5D Mark IV


The Canon 5D IV isn’t just a 5D III with a few upgrade like the mkIII was compared to the mkII. This camera, like the Canon 5D II is a huge leap forward in the evolution of the 5D. With 4K video, dual pixel Raw which give us stills that allow for minor focus adjustments in post and a completely new 30MP sensor, Canon created a monster of a camera.

So for those looking to buy the best SD or CF memory cards for the Canon 5D IV, this guide should help you get started so you’re not making purchasing decisions completely blind, even though it’s not 100% accurate.

I’ve also included a new column in the chart that  shows which cards work for shooting internal 4k video.

 

Camera Specs

Sensor: Full Frame 30.4MP  /  Processor: Digic 6+

Memory Card Type: SD UHS-I / Compact Flash

Video: 4k 29.97p 500Mbps / 24p 500Mbps

4k Video Record Time: 16 minutes per 64GB card

Est. Size Of Buffer: 1GB

 

Canon 5D Mark IVAmazon / Adorama / B&H

 

Canon 5D Mark IV Memory Card Speed Test


The memory card speed tests for the Canon 5D IV has turned out fairly impressed. Not quite as fast as the Canon 7D II but that’s understandable considering the 5D has a bit more information to processes. But also not nearly as fast as the  Canon 1DX II.

I did something with this test I don’t do too often, which is, I’ve tested each card for its ability to record 4k video. The Canon 5D IV can record video at 500mb/s which is a data stream of 62MB a second. So the cards the performed close to 60MB/s or higher seemed to allow for 4k video recording. Anything lower and you would get a buffer bar that would eventually stop your recording. 

 

Canon 5Dmk4 Memory Card Speed Tests

You can also see the Memory Card Speeds for the Canon 5Ds, Canon 7D II, Canon 1DX II.

Compact Flash (CF Card) USB 3.0 Read USB 3.0 Write 4K Canon 5D IV See Price
Lexar 1066x 32GB 155.50 MB/s 138.40 MB/s Yes 101.16 MB/s Amazon
KomputerBay 1066x 32GB 153.34 MB/s 135.90 MB/s Yes 100.03 MB/s Amazon
Transcend 1000x 32GB 155.30 MB/s 132.80 MB/s Yes 100.23 MB/s Amazon
KomputerBay 1000x 32GB 147.80 MB/s 134.90 MB/s Yes 98.78 MB/s Amazon
Sandisk Extreme Pro 32GB 154.90 MB/s 135.20 MB/s Yes 98.65 MB/s Amazon
Toshiba 1066x 32GB 158.00 MB/s 134.30 MB/s Yes 96.10 MB/s Amazon
PixelFlash 1106x 32GB 154.34 MB/s 90.71 MB/s Yes 78.09 MB/s Amazon
Kingston 600x 32GB 114.90 MB/s 101.70 MB/s Yes 76.56 MB/s Amazon
Sandisk Extreme 32GB 118.10 MB/s 68.43 MB/s No 58.79 MB/s Amazon
Lexar 800x 32GB 152.70 MB/s 44.72 MB/s No 41.17 MB/s Amazon
Transcend 800x 32GB 152.30 MB/s 40.25 MB/s No 37.05 MB/s Amazon
Transcend 400x 32GB 152.50 MB/s 39.55 MB/s No 36.34 MB/s Amazon
KomputerBay 600x 32GB 85.77 MB/s 51.16 MB/s No 29.19 MB/s Amazon
KomputerBay 800x 32GB 86.42 MB/s 50.83 MB/s No 29.10 MB/s Amazon
           
SD Memory Cards USB 3.0 Read USB 3.0 Write   Canon 5D IV See Price
UHS-II          
Toshiba U3 64GB 238.5 MB/s 199.7 MB/s Yes 72.67 MB/s Amazon
Lexar 2000x U3 64GB 280.9 MB/s 181.4 MB/s Yes 70.52 MB/s Amazon
Delkin UHS-II U3 32GB 245.1 MB/s 164.6 MB/s Maybe 70.02 MB/s Amazon
Sony UHS-II U3 64GB  253.2 MB/s 91.62 MB/s Yes 68.71 MB/s Amazon
Transcend U3 64GB 268.9 MB/s 174.3 MB/s Yes 67.79 MB/s Amazon
Lexar 1000x U3 64GB 145.0 MB/s 60.7 MB/s No 57.44 MB/s Amazon
Sandisk Extreme Pro U3 64GB 257.3 MB/s 109.9 MB/s No 39.58 MB/s Amazon
           
UHS-I          
Sandisk Extreme Pro 64GB U3 98.6 MB/s 90.8 MB/s Yes 73.23 MB/s Amazon
Samsung Pro+ 64GB U3 97.5 MB/s 87.3 MB/s Yes 69.23 MB/s Amazon
Kingston 64GB U3 98.1 MB/s 90.4 MB/s Yes 69.02 MB/s Amazon
Samsung Pro 64GB U1 96.3 MB/s 82.2 MB/s Yes 66.89 MB/s Amazon
Samsung Pro 64GB U3 97.7 MB/s 78.6 MB/s Yes 65.52 MB/s Amazon
Sandisk Extreme Plus 64GB U3 99.0 MB/s 64.4 MB/s No 57.12 MB/s Amazon
PNY 64GB U1 96.5 MB/s 66.5 MB/s No 56.21 MB/s Amazon
Transcend 64GB U3 96.7 MB/s 68.4 MB/s No 55.54 MB/s Amazon
Lexar 633x 64GB U3 93.3 MB/s 67.3 MB/s No 53.68 MB/s Amazon
PNY 64GB U3 96.5 MB/s 66.1 MB/s No 52.49 MB/s Amazon
Lexar 600x 64GB U1 95.4 MB/s 64.8 MB/s No 52.70 MB/s Amazon
Sony 64GB U3 (Old Model) 96.5 MB/s 84.5 MB/s Yes 51.66 MB/s Amazon
Sony 64GB U3 (New Model) 96.7 MB/s 56.2 MB/s No 51.50 MB/s Amazon
Sandisk Extreme 64GB U3 72.43 MB/s 54.1 MB/s No 48.48 MB/s Amazon
Samsung 64GB SDXC EVO U1 47.7 MB/s 27.3 MB/s No 23.43 MB/s Amazon

-You can see which cards work for 4k video. How I did that test was I recorded video for about a minute and a half, if no buffer indicator ever showed up, I marked it as a ‘Yes’. Some of the cards would records video for a while but often fill the buffer at around a minute, so to be safe I marked those as ‘No’.

 

Unlike the Canon 5D III, the Canon 5D IV features a very fast SD memory card slot, so you should be able to take full advantage of and use solely SD memory cards if you feel CF cards are overkill for your needs. You can also of course use the SD cards as your backup or overflow.

It also looks like the camera does not support UHS-II memory cards or CFast based on the specs which is kind of unfortunate, but I guess still ok because we can use CF cards for maximum speed and performance.

While CFast cards cannot be used, UHS-II cards will still work, you just won’t see any speed benefit in camera.

 

Fastest Memory Cards CF vs SD


 

Fastest CF Memory Cards

When looking for the fastest CF memory card for the Canon 5D IV, the results were so close that any of the cards performance will feel the same in real world use.

Cards 32GB 64GB 128GB 256GB
Lexar 1066x Amazon Amazon Amazon Amazon
Sandisk Extreme Pro Amazon Amazon Amazon Amazon
KomputerBay 1066x Amazon Amazon Amazon Amazon
Komputerbay 1000x Amazon Amazon Amazon
Toshiba 1066x Amazon Amazon Amazon
Transcend 1000x Amazon Amazon Amazon

 

Fastest SD Memory Cards 

UHS-II Memory Card

While the Canon 5D IV cannot take full advantage of the UHS-II memory cards, they still do work in-camera. They will just function as UHS-I cards.

The Toshiba is the fastest memory card if you’re using UHS-II. But only marginally faster than the Lexar. For some reasons Sandisk UHS-II memory cards do not perform very well when used in UHS-I cameras.

Toshiba 64GB UHS-II – Amazon

Lexar 2000x 64GB UHS-II – Amazon / Adorama / B&H

 

UHS-I Memory Cards

UHS-I cards are the best value and also perform very well. The fastest UHS-I memory card is the Sandisk, but Kingston, Samsung and Sony all come very close.

Sandisk Extreme Pro U3 64GB – Amazon / Adorama / B&H

Kingston U3 64GB – Amazon / Adorama / B&H

Samsung Pro U1 64GB – Amazon / Adorama

 

 

Best Memory Card For Video | Canon 5D Mark IV


The new Canon 5D IV now offers 4K at 500Mbps with the MJPEG 4:2:2 codec at a 1.7x crop.

MJPEG uses the same compression as JPEG. While the video enthusiast may be disappointed by this, Fujifilm has proven time and time again that JPEG can look great. The current problem is, MJPEG footage will need to be transcoded before going to the edit. Yuk!

To stream 500mb/s video, it requires a lot out of the memory cards and only the fastest memory cards seem to work.

 

Video Record Time Based On Card And Format

I get the question a lot, “how long can I record 4k on a 64GB card?” 

If you’re looking to see how long a memory card can record video based on the format and the card size you’re shooting with, here is a simple chart.

*Video record time based in minutes. This is not tested in camera, I just use a formula based on bitrate to get these numbers.

Record Format Frame Rate Bitrate 16GB 32GB 64GB 128GB 256GB
4k 29.97 / 24/ 23.98 500Mb/s 4.27 8.53 12.07 34.13 68.27
1080p 59.94 180Mb/s 11.85 23.70 47.41 94.81 189.63
720p 120 160Mb/s 13.33 26.67 53.33 106.67 213.33
1080p 29.97 / 24 90Mb/s 19.26 47.41 94.81 189.63 379.26
1080p 59.94 60Mb/s 35.56 71.11 142.22 284.44 568.89
1080p  29.97 30Mb/s 71.11 142.22 284.22 568.89 1,137.78
1080p 29.97 12Mb/s 177.78 355.56 711.11 1,422.22 2,844.44

 

 

When Two Cards Is Better Than One

I’ve been doing these memory card tests for a few years now and I get a lot of emails from people with the horror stories of how they lost a memory card that had their entire trip on it, or how it got corrupted and would cost $2,000 to recover the data.

This can and does happen.

This is why it really is better to own several smaller cards, so if your nightmare comes true, you only lose a portion of what you were shooting instead of everything.

If you’re a professional, it’s going to be really good practice to use that backup SD slot and of course offload those cards onto a hard drive and a backup immediately after every shoot. But you already knew that. 🙂

 

 

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 Canon 5D Mark IV 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. 

 

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. Some camera like Sony use to be limited by certain types of formats, but firmware updates have slowly fixed all that. Now pretty much SDHC means any card 32GB and smaller, and SDXC means 64GB and bigger.

 

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.

 

 

Best Memory Card For The Canon 5D Mark IV – Conclusions


Whether you’re looking for the fastest memory card or just a memory card that will last you a long time, the difference between 5MB/s or even maybe 10MB/s won’t make a very noticeable difference when you’re dealing with already very fast memory cards, unless you’re near the 4k recording threshold. So if there is a card that performs well but has a better warranty and is at a better price, it might be a good idea to just grab that.

However, if you’re doing a lot of burst shooting for sports, nature or even a landscape photography, then it might be a good idea to go with the fastest card you can afford so you never find yourself waiting on that annoying buffer.

  • Jack Spicer Adams

    This was very informative, thank you for your work.

  • Jonathan

    This was a great write-up. Thank you very much for the detailed information.
    Question, have you considered repeating a few SD card tests now that firmware 1.0.4 is out? They claim it “Enhances the reliability of communications between the camera and SD card”, and I’m curious if that changes any of your results.

  • I’ll have to look into that. Retesting this camera is a 12 hour adventure. There were some issues with the Sandisk Extreme Pro CF cards in the Canon 1DX II. It could be that they fixed that glitch end rolled it out into all their cameras that use CF cards. I think the Issue was that the final frame taken in a burst sequence would be corrupted if you turned off the camera or took out the card. So users would have to always shoot a few blanks after every sequence.