This is my typical non-technical approach to subjects. No math, no graphs just the bottom line on my take on what memory cards work best with the Nikon D810. Keep reading.
I always try to buy the best memory cards I can afford for my Nikon D810. I have been a fan of Lexar memory cards in particular. This goes all the way back to my Nikon D800 when I had a run of bad luck with data corruption on Sandisk cards. I have never had a single issue with Lexar. Of course I understand that there are folks with the exact opposite experience. That’s just how this stuff works sometimes. Unfortunately in 2017 Lexar announced that it’s exiting the highly competitive memory card business with the exception of the CF Express and XQD memory cards. This leaves Sandisk as realistically the only game in town though Lexar cards are still widely available.
I have also learned a few thing along the way with memory cards because I have been doing this a long time. i figure I will share this before moving on to the “Best Memory Cards for the Nikon D810”
- Avoid the no name, off brand and inexpensive memory cards. You get what you pay for. Also keep in mind that excellent marketing of the no name and cheap memory cards does not make them good memory cards. Pictures are memories, don’t miss a single one because you have a really expensive camera and lens and bought cheap memory cards.
- Be wary of the transfer rates listed for memory cards even on manufacturers websites. Think of the listed speeds as levels of performance versus other memory cards in the manufacturers line-up as well as compared to their competitors.
- Good memory cards are expensive.
- The fastest Compact Flash Cards (CF) are still faster than any Secure Digital (SD) cards that can be used in most DSLR’s and the Nikon D810.
- CF cards are more durable than SD cards. I have countless failures with SD cards where the fingers in the contact area wear out and/or break
- If you need faster read/write speeds you need a camera like the Nikon D850 that uses the XQD memory card available from Sony and Lexar. The XQD is the successor to the CF card. It’s exponentially faster ans more durable
- Only buy memory cards from reputable sources. There is a tremendous amount of counterfeiting going on in the memory card area. If you buy from Amazon make certain Amazon is the actual seller or the marketplace seller is a real camera store like Adorama or B&H. Big name retailers are also a safe bet if your buying retail packaging off the shelf. Avoid ebay memory cards like the plague. It’s too risky.
What’s Best Memory Cards for the Nikon D810?
The best memory card is actually a misleading question. The best memory card for one photographer may not be the same for another. If best was based on quality of course it would be a tossup between the brand mentioned above Sandisk and Lexar. Recently I learned a valuable lesson. I ran out the door quickly with just my Nikon D810 to photograph my beautiful niece at a local park before she headed home. When I got to the park I realized my memory cards were still in the card reader. Fortunately my Black Rapid strap carries spare cards. They are older and lower capacity but saved my butt none the less. This shoot was basically my niece and her hyper dog and a hyper dog means a lot of pictures and fast frame rates. That’s when things got ugly. Quite simply the D810 buffer would fill and the writing process to the memory cards was painfully slow. The result was a camera that could not take pictures for a few seconds. If that wasn’t bad enough I had also switched to making the SD card slot as primary. The CF slot according to reports is the faster slot. This brings us to the heart of this post. The Nikon D810 works best when the performance of the memory cards being used meets or exceeds the performance of the camera. The three cards below are my current choices. It’s important to note that I record Large Raw and Fine jpeg which equates to over 100 megabytes of data for each press of the shutter.
Lexar 1066x is the best CF Card for the Nikon D810 – MFR# LCF64GCRBNA1066
SanDisk 64GB Extreme PRO UHS-II SDXC Memory Card for the Nikon D810 – MFR# SDSDXPK-064G-ANCIN
SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s is the Mimimum Best SD Card for the Nikon D810 – MFR# SDSDXXG-064G-GN4IN
The Lexar $75 160/MBs 1066x 64GB CF is still pretty much the gold standard for D810 CF Cards. Sandisk has improved the performance of the SD cards greatly but the improvement comes with a hefty price tag. The $118 300/MBs SanDisk 64GB Extreme PRO UHS-II SDXC Memory Card is probably the best SD card for the Nikon D810 available today. The $35 95/MBs SanDisk 64GB Extreme PRO SDXC UHS-I Memory Card was the standard for years.