To maximize the full potential of the Nikon Z9, you’ll need the fastest CFexpress memory cards on the market. Not only do they need to be fast, but they also need fast minimum write speeds with good consistency.
Use this guide to find the best CFexpress cards for the Nikon Z9.
Be sure to also read through the benchmarks and methodology, I share some of my notes which are important since CFexpress cards can be a little finicky.
Nikon Z9 – Amazon / Adorama / B&H
Also, see my Accessory List For The Nikon Z9.
Z8 Shooters – Since the Z8 is a little more prosumer focused and is attracting a different audience, I’ve built a guide that breaks things down a little nicer, you can find that here:
Fastest Memory Cards Nikon Z9
The latest generation of CFexpress cards has improved dramatically with thermal throttling and minimum sustained write speeds in the Nikon Z9. However, the Z9 is still a little picky about cards and since it has a small buffer, you’ll want a card with good consistency vs top speed.
Here is what you need to know:
The Nikon Z9 can take dual CFexpress Type B memory cards with no restrictions on size.
You want a card with a high sustained write speed. Not all brands list this in their specs.
The Nikon Z9 can shoot video bitrates up to around 500MBs and a lot of cards, and most older CFexpress cards cannot sustain these speeds. I’ve tested most of the relevant bands to see what works for 8k NRAW video and here are the results.
Recommended Memory Cards Nikon Z9
Most of the new higher-end cards are able to record 8k RAW in the Nikon Z9. Just not Sony or Sandisk right now.
Videographers will want to look at the Lexar Gold cards, they are very fast, stay cool (relative to some of the other brands), and come in 2TB sizes.
The Lexar Diamond is probably the absolute best card right now in terms of features. It is one of the fastest cards, is VGP 400 certified, and is XQD backward compatibility which makes it a great choice if you’re still using older XQD cameras. I also rate the Lexar reader as the best right now.
There are also a few different versions of the Delkin Black cards, the 150GB size variants, and the 128GB variants. I didn’t see a noticeable difference in performance or speed between them and they were all able to run NRAW without an issue, but the Delkin 150GB variants typically behave a little more consistently than the 128GB varients in different tests.
*There are a lot of new cards since this test. Lexar Gold has all been updated. Prograde is now doing Gen 3. Try to get Gen3 Prograde if you go that route, otherwise, Lexar is hands down going to be the best right now. Also, Delkin would be a good second or third choice. But right now, it’s Lexar Diamond or Gold as the no-brainer best option.
|Recommended Cards||In-Camera Speeds||USB 3.2 Write||8k 60 NRAW||Check Price / Sizes|
|Lexar Diamond 256GB||728 MB/s||983 MB/s||yes||B&H|
|Nikon 660GB||725 MB/s||961 MB/s||yes||Amazon / B&H|
|Lexar Gold 128GB||620 MB/s||923 MB/s||yes||Amazon / B&H|
|Delkin Black 150GB||723 MB/s||966 MB/s||yes||B&H|
|Prograde Cobalt 325GB||722 MB/s||973 MB/s||yes||Amazon / B&H|
|Wise Advanced Pro 128GB||670 MB/s||941 MB/s||yes||B&H|
|Best Value For Video|
|Lexar Gold 1TB/2TB||—||1019 MB/s||yes||B&H|
Warning For AngelBird Cards: I removed AngelBird from the recommendations. For one they get too hot, they also are also often a little too thick, and are often times difficult to remove. This is also the case with OWC cards.
Nikon Z9 Benchmarks
In-camera tests to show which cards support RAW 8k 60p recording as well as in-camera speed tests.
For the in-camera benchmarks, a series of continuous bursts were taken until the buffer was filled. The time it took to clear the buffer was recorded and calculated against how much data was written. The Z9 doesn’t record uncompressed RAW, it uses a compressed RAW format.
For the video recording benchmarks, I shot NRAW at 8k60p for around 5 minutes on each card or until the card filled if it was a smaller card. I did a few different things in order to max the file sizes by forcing the camera to record the highest bitrate possible. I started by recording very busy landscapes of trees blowing in the wind against a blue sky, then I would also record a very busy computer screen with a lot of changing colors.
To see how the memory cards function under high heat or with a thunderbolt 3 reader, check out this guide to CFexpress Type-B Memory Cards.
|Memory Cards||USB Write||USB Read||Heat||Z9||Links|
|Lexar 512 Pro Diamond||1011||1024||1278||B&H|
|Lexar 128/256/GB Diamond||1013||1023||1283||Amazon||/ B&H||728|
|Lexar Gold 1TB/2TB||1019||1020||1266||B&H|
|Lexar Gold 512GB||1002||1020||897||Amazon||/ B&H||612|
|Lexar Gold 64/128/256||957||1022||927||Amazon||/ B&H||620|
|Sandisk Pro-Cinema 256GB||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Sandisk Extreme 512GB||X|
|Sandisk Extreme 128/256GB||489||1020||316||Amazon||/ B&H||398|
|Sandisk Extreme 65GB||X|
|Sony Tough 128/256/512GB||989||1024||349||Amazon||/ B&H||694|
|Prograde Cobalt 165/325/650GB||1002||1022||1304||Amazon||/ B&H||722|
|Prograde 1TB gen3|
|Prograde 512GB gen3|
|Prograde 512/1TB gen2|
|Prograde 256GB gen2|
|Prograde 128GB gen2||679||778||583||Amazon||/ B&H||244|
|Delkin Black 150/325/650GB||1003||1023||1305||B&H||723|
|Delkin Black 75GB||979||1022||1195||B&H||725|
|Delkin Black 128GB||1000||1022||1304||X||B&H||719|
|Delkin Power 128/256/512/1TB/2TB||999||1022||1305||Amazon||/ B&H||723|
|Delkin Prime 64GB||974||1023||1205||X||Amazon||724|
|Nikon 660GB||987||1022||1278||Amazon||/ B&H||725|
|Hoodman Steel 128GB||608||1018||176||Amazon||/ B&H||470|
|Wise Pro 640GB|
|Wise Pro 160/320GB||964||1024||1106||B&H||670|
|Wise 1TB Mk II|
|Wise 512GB Mk II|
|Wise 128GB||190||1023||142||Amazon||/ B&H||496|
|Angelbird Pro 1TB/2TB/4TB MkII||872||835||852||Amazon||/ B&H||697|
|Angelbird Pro 2TB MkI|
|Angelbird Pro 256GB||844||961||800||X||B&H||349|
|Angelbird Pro XT 330/660/1320GB||994||1020||1260||Amazon||/ B&H||729|
|Angelbird Pro SE 512GB||822||878||796||Amazon||/ B&H||668|
|Angelbird Pro SX 160GB||973||1021||1176||Amazon||/ B&H||727|
|OWC Atlas Ultra 165/325/650GB||996||1010||1295||Amazon||/ B&H|
|OWC Atlas Pro 512GB/1TB/2TB|
|OWC Atlas Pro 256GB||X|
|OWC Atlas Pro 128GB||239||978||158||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Sabrent Rocket 512GB/1TB/2TB||B&H|
|Sabrent Rocket 512GB/1TB||X||Amazon|
|Pergear Ultra 1TB/2TB||Amazon|
|Pergear Pro 512GB||Amazon|
|Pergear Pro 256GB||Amazon|
|Pergear Lite 128GB||324||978||224||Amazon||282|
|Pergear Lite 64GB||Amazon|
|Silicon Power Cinema 512GB/1TB||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Silicon Power Cinema 256GB||453||996||319||Amazon||/ B&H||434|
|Silicon Power Cinema 128GB||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Transcend 820 512GB||B&H|
|Transcend 820 256GB||B&H|
|Sony Tough 640GB||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Sony Tough 320GB||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Sony Tough 160GB||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Sony Tough 80GB||641||852||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Lexar 320GB||837||885||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Lexar 160GB||825||886||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Lexar 80GB||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Delkin Black 160GB||X||B&H|
|Delkin Black 80GB||639||852||X||B&H|
|Delkin Power 160GB||X||B&H|
|Delkin Power 80GB||641||847||X||B&H|
|Sandisk Extreme Pro V90||252||279||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Lexar 2000x V90||219||256||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Toshiba Exceria Pro V90||213||244||X||Amazon|
|Transcend v90||175||263||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Sony G Tough v90||239||275||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Delkin Black v90||253||278||X||B&H|
|Delkin Power v90||240||275||X||B&H|
|Fujifilm Elite II V90||158||277||X||X|
|Hoodman Steel 2000x V90||155||249||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|ProGrade V90||229||270||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|PNY EliteX-Pro90 V90||X||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Amplim 2000x V90||X||X||Amazon|
|Angel Bird V90 II||257||271||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|OWC Atlas Ultra V90||X||X||B&H|
|OWC Atlas S Pro V90||X||X||B&H|
|Kingston Canvas React V90||256||274||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Kodak V90 64GB||260||272||X||Amazon|
|Ritz Gear VideoPro V90||258||273||X||Amazon|
|Wise V90 Pro||256||275||X||B&H|
|Lexar 1800x V60||176||242||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Lexar 1667x V60||99||242||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Lexar 1000x V60||108||167||X||X|
|Sony M Tough V60||155||268||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Sony M v60||X||X||B&H|
|Sony E v60||142||252||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Sony E v30||73||247||X||X||B&H|
|Delkin Prime v60||98||275||X||B&H|
|Hoodman Steel 1500x V60||99||273||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|ProGrade V60||98||155||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|PNY EliteX-Pro60 V60||X||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Amplim 2000x v60||136||253||X||Amazon|
|Amplim 1900x V60||97||275||X||X|
|Angel Bird V60 II||144||243||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|OWC Atlas Pro V60||X||X||B&H|
|FreeTail Evoke Pro V60||96||272||X||X|
|Ritz Gear Video Pro V60 A1||X||X||Amazon|
|Sandisk Extreme Pro U3||144||172||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Sandisk Extreme Plus U3||61||143||X||X||Amazon|
|Sandisk Extreme U3||51||93||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Sandisk Ultra U1 Old||27||93||X||X|
|Kingston CanvasGo! Plus U3||124||161||X||Amazon|
|Kingston Canvas Select Plus U3||84||93||X||Amazon|
|Lexar 633x U3||35||93||X||Amazon|
|Sony Professional U3||84||91||X||X|
|Sony U3 94||60||91||X||X|
|Sony U3 95||81||90||X||X|
|Transcend U3 High Performance A2||X||X||Amazon|
|PNY Pro Elite U3 256GB||87||93||X||Amazon|
|PNY Elite-X U3 128 GB||56||92||X||Amazon|
|PNY Elite Performance U3||63||91||X||X||Amazon|
|Delkin Black U3||86||93||X||B&H|
|Delkin Advantage U3||77||93||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Toshiba Exceria Pro U3||74||91||X|
|Toshiba Exceria U3||29||91||X|
|Verbatim Pro+ U3||77||91||X||Amazon|
|Verbatim Pro U3||46||90||X||Amazon|
|Amplim 667x A1 V30||50||93||X||X|
|RitzGear Extreme Performance A1 V30||62||93||X||Amazon|
RAW Recording Modes
Lossless Compression – A clean compression of the images, with no information removed.
Files are large, expect about 80 shots or more with the best card rated at 1500-1700MB/s write. As a little reference, I pulled in 180 RAW shots @ 12fps with the Canon R5 memory card tests on the Delkin Power card and Canon rates their buffer at 83 RAW shots at 20fps. Similar to Nikon Z9 Performance on the Z9 with the slightly faster Delkin Black.
High Efficiency * – lossy compressed. There are different ways of doing this type of compression, but the short explanation is information that is not being used from the entire 14-bit color space is just discarded, which is why you generally see no loss in quality. How complicated the scene is, will affect the file sizes and the information, so your buffer performance could vary scene to scene.
Files are much smaller, easily over 1,000 shots with a good card.
High Efficiency – lossy compression, more info reduced. Usually ( I don’t know exactly how Nikon does it ), there are a set of parameters, and any information that is outside of those parameters is clipped. Usually, you won’t notice this unless you do heavy editing.
Unlimited shots in this mode with a good card.
There is no longer an Uncompressed RAW in the Nikon Z9. It is no longer needed since continuous burst speeds can run at full performance with lossless compression. Older cameras, would not perform at full burst speeds with lossless compressions. For example, the Z6 could only shoot 9fps with lossless compression.
Best CFexpress Cards For Video
The Nikon Z9 has some interesting video specs, however, we don’t have all the abilities yet or the full specs since they will be releasing those via firmware next year. I’ll keep this updated as more information is released.
The Nikon Z9 will shoot internally, H.265, ProRes RAW, ProRes HQ (limited to 4k60 10-bit) as well as a new Nikon RAW (which comes as a license from intoPIX).
Here are the RAW video specs we have so far for the intoPix raw from their website.
|1920×1080||125 – 250Mbps||15.6 – 31.25 MBs|
|4096×2160||500 – 1Gbps||62.5 – 125 MBs|
|7680×4320||2 – 4Gbps||250 – 500MBs|
An interesting spec here is the potential to shoot 8k at 30fps or 60fps. If you shoot 8k at 30fps at 500MB/s then each individual frame comes out to around 16MB. Not sure about the bit depth. If it’s even 12-bits that could be really nice to pull stills from.
Best CFExpress Cards Nikon Z9 – Conclusions
For hybrid shooters that need fast cards for both stills and video, Nikon brand cards, Delkin, Angelbird, Lexar, and the Prograde Cobalt are going to be your best options.
Look for Sandisk and Sony to upgrade their cards with better-sustained minimum speeds in the future.
For those buying the Nikon Z9 just for video, you can get a really good value with some of the Angelbird cards like the Pro 1TB MKII card and their SE card.
For photographers that still use XQD cameras and readers, the Lexar Diamond card is a great option.