After running benchmarks for most memory cards in the Nikon Z9, here is a quick guide to get you started on finding the best memory cards for the Nikon Z8.
Table Of Contents
Best High-End Cards
If you want the most out of your Nikon Z8, this includes, fast bursting, Prores, and Raw video you’ll need the fastest cards. The Nikon Z8 doesn’t have a significant buffer so this is important.
My top two brands here would be Lexar and Delkin. Lexar is without a doubt the best brand for Nikon shooters right now. The Prograde Cobalt is also a popular card, but from my testing, they get hot, I’ll update to the latest before testing the Z8. Sandisk cards have been a no-go. They have a new Cine card, but their regular CFexpress and even UHS-II cards have not been great these last few years.
My #1 Choice – Lexar
Lexar has just updated their CFexpress cards this year. They run really fast and stay cool. These cards do still get hot, but they don’t get too hot to touch like so many of the previous generation cards. For the D850 shooter, the Diamond cards are also XQD backward compatible, so they will work in your DSLR, but they will not work in XQD readers, so you still need a new reader.
I like the Prograde CFx + UHS-II Reader you can see here: Amazon / B&H – I’ll write more about readers further down, it’s important if you want fast read speeds, so check it out.
CFexpress: Lexar Diamond 128/512GB – Amazon / B&H
My #2 Choice Delkin
Like Lexar, Delkin cards are always been really good and give solid performance in every camera I’ve tested. Also, their UHS-II cards are great with the rugged Black editions.
CFexpress: Delkin Black 150/325/650 – Amazon / B&H
UHS-II: Delkin Black – B&H
Best High Capacity Cards Or Best Cards For Video
Video shooters want high-capacity cards and depending on the bitrate, they might need fast cards, or if you’re shooting 10-bit h.265, UHS-II cards are a better deal.
Alternatively, if you’re just shooting 4k N-RAW Normal at 24p, you could also use a v90 UHS-II card, however, CFexpress cards are often a similar price and have more features.
You will only need a UHS-II V60 card if you only plan on shooting H.265 since its max bit rate equals about 50MB/s. You do not need to buy CFx Card for H.265 video.
For ProRes or RAW with higher encodings, you will need CFexpress cards. But keep in mind, H.265 is superior to ProRes unless you shoot RAW.
My #1 Choice Lexar
My top recommendation here is again Lexar. You won’t beat the value of their 1TB or 2TB Gold card. They just came out this year, and are pretty much as fast as the Diamond card, and also run fairly cool.
Note: You can’t record video to both CFx and UHS-II in Nikon cameras at the same time. So buy UHS-II cards for video only if you’re fine recording lower bitrates and you want a less expensive card. The 1800x or even the 1667x cards are great for H.265 recordings.
CFexpress: Lexar Gold 64GB-2TB – Amazon / B&H
Here is a larger v60 option if you’re recording lower bitrates – some brands are doing V60 cards in 1TB now.
UHS-II: Lexar 1800 v60 512GB – Amazon / B&H – This will give you up to 480Mbps.
UHS-II: Lexar 1667x v60 card: Amazon / B&H – if you only need 256GB cards. It will get the job done and is a better deal.
The 1TB Angelbird CFxB cards can be good here as well, however, sometimes in some Nikon cameras, Angelbird cards can be too thick and difficult to get out, so only buy Angelbird if you have an easy way of returning it in case it doesn’t work out. Also, there are a lot of different types of Angelbird cards, you only want the PRO XT. Some of their cards get crazy hot so you can’t even touch them. But the Pro XT is a great card. The regular 1TB Pro XT MK II gets too hot. But I haven’t tested the larger capacities.
My #2 Choice Prograde
You could try the Prograde Gold Gen 3 cards. I don’t have these latest cards yet but the specs look great. They were just updated in Feb of 2023 and the 1TB cards have some pretty good specs. You’ll want the 1TB card and not the 512GB card. The 1TB card has a sustained speed of 1300MB/s, whereas the 512GB card’s sustained speed is only 850MB/s which would about put the limit of 8k60 HQ N-RAW.
CFexpress: Prograde Gold gen3 (1TB) – Can’t find links to gen 3 yet. Make sure you do not buy Gen 2 for the Z8, they are not good enough.
UHS-II: Prograde UHS-II V90 256GB- Amazon / B&H
If you want to run lower bitrates to a massive UHS-II card, your best option is the Angel Bird 1TB v60 card. Like with Prograde, Angelbird also updates its cards by generation. Make sure you grab the MK II cards here or newer. While the AngelBird and OWC CFxB cards are a little too thick for Nikon cameras, the UHS-II is fine.
Angel Bird UHS-II V60 MKII 1TB – B&H
Best Cards For Casual Shooters
If you just want something to get started or say you don’t need crazy burst performance but plan on mostly recording in H.265 or H.264 video, then you don’t need some crazy ultra-fast huge capacity card.
Depending on what you plan on doing here, you could go really budget, with something like the Pergear Lite card, but I would recommend still getting something like a Pergear Pro card which will give you a sustained speed of around 300MB/s which is as fast as a UHS-II card.
Just be careful because a lot of the budget cards get very hot, to the point where I can’t hold them after doing my benchmarks. You don’t want that kind of heat in your camera all the time.
You could even go with UHS-I cards, although doing so sort of defeats the purpose of owning a Z8 since you’ll be seriously limiting the capabilities of the camera.
Here is what I recommend for just mid-performance cards. Angelbird and OWC cards would be good here as well, but again, they have that thickness issue, only buy them if you can test them in the store to make sure the tolerances are fine.
My #1 Choice is Delkin Power and Lexar 1667x
Slightly less expensive than the Lexar Gold cards but still very good. These give you great speed without really breaking the bank and it comes in the 128GB size and scales all the way up to 2TB. For UHS-II v60 cards, you could also go with the Delkin Prime cards, but I think the Lexar 1667x is the best value right now.
CFexpress: Delkin Power – B&H
Memory Cards And Video What You Need To Know
The Nikon Z8 has a lot of very high-end video recording options. You can record full RAW video, ProRes, or very compressed H.265 or H.264.
If you go 12-bit RAW or Prores you will need very fast cards. There is no point in recording ProRes unless you need to go immediately to editing as H.264 is a much better codec since ProRes is still limited to 10-bit 4:2:2 – same as H.265. H.265 should look better, holds more information, and makes much smaller files. But just make sure your editing hardware is up to date with the latest H.265 encoders and decoders. A lot of encoders or decoders might not have the specs for 4:2:2 and especially 8k unless you’re running the latest processors and GPUs.
For RAW video here are the specs we have from intoPix RAW.
When ordering a CFx or UHS-II card, you can match the Sustained write speed with the MB/s to see what speed card you need for what recording format you like to shoot in.
UHS-II V60 cards have a sustained write speed of 60MB/s and UHS-II V90 cards have a sustained write speed of 90MB/s.
Consider that some memory cards can get very hot which will not only heat up the card, but your camera too.
I post the high heat sustain speeds in the CFexpress Type B memory card guide.
This information was pulled from the Nikon Online manual. You’ll want to choose a memory card that has a guaranteed minimum sustain speed that can handle the bitrate you want to record in.
BitRate For N-RAW Nikon Z8
|Resolution||HQ N-RAW||Normal N-RAW
|8256×4644 24-60fps FX||2310 – 5780||288.75 – 722.5||1390 – 3470||173.75 – 433.75|
|5392×3032 50p-60p DX||2470 – 2960||308.75 – 370||1240 – 1490||155 – 186.25|
|5392×3032 24p-30p DX||1190 – 1480||148.75 – 185||600 – 750||75 – 93.75|
|4096×2160 100p-120p FX||2900 – 3840||362.5 – 480||1460 – 1750||182.5 – 218.75|
|4096×2160 50p-60p FX||1450 – 1740||181.25 – 217||730 – 880||91.25 – 110|
|4096×2160 24p-30p FX||700 – 870||87.5 – 108.75||350 – 440||43.75 – 55|
BitRate For H.265 10-Bit Nikon Z8
From these specs, any UHS-II V60 card is going to be fast enough for H.265 recording, which will be superior to ProRes.