Oft overlooked, your memory card could be holding your videos back but our advice will help clear up the picture

The humble SD card, usually an afterthought for many videographers, photographer and cinematographers but it is a tool that could be the difference between a project running smoothly or causing you to pull your hair out.

We pulled out the best SD cards and explain what makes them so great, be sure to delve deeper into what makes memory cards tick.

Five of the best SD and CF cards

SanDisk Extreme PRO 64GB Class 10 U3 SD Card, £34.99

If you’re looking for a memory card to get you started, a good shout would be the Extreme PRO. We’ve picked the 64GB card for our choice just because of the value it represents for those who are new to video and is great for making short HD videos.

The 64GB card lies in a sweet spot, nearly half the price of the 128GB yet less than £15 more expensive than the entry 32GB iteration. With a Class 10 U3 rating, this card boasts a 95mb/s read and write speed which is more than enough for HD 1080p video that records around 15mb/s and can store up to 7:30 of footage.

Buy now for £34.99

SanDisk Extreme 128GB SDXC Class 10 U3 SD Card, £53.99

best sd cards

If you’re on a bit of a budget, the Extreme SDXC card is a good choice. The slight drop down in speed (90mb/s) does a lot to help a decent saving on what is a decent size SD card.

While the speed drop is only minimal, the card will do a great job at managing 2k or 4k footage, recording over 14 minutes before you need to swap out.

Buy now for £53.99

Lexar SDXC Card 256GB SD Card, £108.79

best sd cards

Designed with professional videographers and photographers in mind, the Lexar Professional range combine high class speeds (95mb/s) with large storage making it perfect for those of you who want to tackle meatier projects.

The card also includes a downloadable Image Rescue software to help recover most photos and select video files should the worse happen.

Buy now for £108.79

SanDisk Extreme Pro 256GB Compact Flash card, £274.99

best sd cards

If you’re looking for a more robust and quicker memory card you may want to move from an SD card to a more robust Compact Flash card. Still created by the same company, SanDisk, Compact Flash memory cards are slightly bigger in physical appearance.

They also posses a greater read and writing speed, specifically designed to handle more labour intensive projects. The 160mb/s dwarfs the 95mb/s seen in most high end SD cards, the card also boasts a 65mb/s recording speed when recording 4k making it a solid choice for videographers on a budget.

Be sure to check your camcorder can accept Compact Flash cards before purchasing. While this is standard for high end videography equipment, any amateur looking to turn professional may be surprised when their new Compact Flash card doesn’t fit into the camcorder they dig out of the boxes from the attic.

Buy now for £274.99

Lexar Professional 256GB 1066x CompactFlash card, £260.11

best sd cards

Lexar also have a range of professional cards as CompactFlash card too. This offering matches the SanDisk Extreme PRO for speed, but is slightly cheaper mainly. There’s no obvious reason why this is but if you’re looking to save a few quid then this is a great choice.

Included in the card alongside the Image Rescue Software is a VPG-65 or Video Performance Guarantee of 65mb/s meaning that the card’s ability to write high end video at that speed is consistent.

Buy now for £260.11

Lexar Professional 256GB 800x CompactFlash Card, £181.88

best sd cards

Utilising a lesser speed (800x) this iteration of the Lexar Professional CompactFlash card is a good stepping stone for any videographer who wants wants a solid CompactFlash card but doens’t want to fork out £200+ for one.

With a recording speed of 20mb/s this card can still record full HD with ease but may be pushed a bit when tackling 2k or 4k footage.

Buy now for £181.88

How do SD cards rank?

All SD cards are born equal but some are more equal than others. Apart from the clear distinction of storage capacity, SD cards differ in how they record data and transfer it. These are called read and write speeds.

The read speed of a card determines how quickly you can access video from an SD card. Typical when you’re looking at your videos through a DSLR or whether you are popping them on your laptop. The faster a card’s read speed, the faster you can start editing all that footage.

A card’s write speed tells you how fast the card can record data. So for high intensity recording like 4k video you will notice your device of choice struggle as your card’s write speed drops.

best sd card

Credit: SD Card Association

As you can see, the higher the class, the higher the card’s speed. Class 2 to Class 6 cards are regarded as ‘normal’ speed cards with Class 10 being high speed. UHS, or Ultra High Speed cards are just that, very fast.

When shooting full HD or 4k footage it’s imperative you pick a card that is compatible, if you start to shooting with a card of a lower class (not to sound like a fan of the caste system) you will struggle to meet the demand that 4k provides.