How to Choose an SD Card

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SD cards (or secure digital cards) are what you find in a variety of equipment including smartphones and tablets, digital cameras and some laptops. They are mostly used for storage. However, before you rush out to buy one, be aware that there are lots of different types.  You need to consider speed, the actual physical size of the SD required and its capacity capability.  As an example, a digital camera will likely use its SD card for storage but your smartphone SD might be used to increase your phone’s existing storage.  So, there are varying reasons why you might need a particular SD card.  We’ll go through what they are to help you to choose an SD card that’s right for you.

1

Speed Class

As mentioned, some SD cards have different speeds.  It makes a difference if you’re a photographer for example, and you want to be able to take a number of photographs in quick succession on your professional digital camera.  You’ll also want to save them as high resolution images so you need a very fast SD card.  A fast SD card is also required for high resolution videos that need saving directly onto the card.  However, you don’t need a particularly fast SD if you just take a few photographs every now and again or to store video or photo images on your smartphone. Here are the different speeds available:

  • 10
  • 6
  • 4
  • 2

Ten is the fastest SD you can buy and is suitable for HD video.  The slowest is 2 which is perfectly fine for saving standard video.  You can use 4 and 6 for high definition recording too.

To confuse the issue, there are two additional speeds known as UHS (Ultra High Speed) and they’re rated 1 and 3.  They are far more expensive and are really only for professional use.

You’ll find the speed class marked on the SD card itself in the middle of a C-shape.  As a guideline, for a digital camera of average use, you should get a speed 4 or 6.  If you shoot high resolution videos or RAW photographs, choose a 10.  Class 2 is so slow; it’s worth avoiding altogether.

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2

The Size of SD Card

Not all SD cards are created equally!  They vary in size, from standard to mini to micro.  The standard size is the largest at 32 x 24 x 2.1 mm and weighs 2g.  The corners of the cards are “cut off”.  Minis are smaller and measure 21.5 x 20 x 1.4mm and weigh 0.8g.  They aren’t that common nowadays.  More common are the micro cards which are the smallest of all measuring 15 x 11 x 1mm and weighing .25g.  They’re usually used in smartphones and tablets.

3

Capacity Capability

Different SD cards offer varying storage, standard ranges from 1MB to 2GB.  SD high capacity standard size allows cards from 2GB to 32GB.   Then there is the SD Extended capacity card which allows between 32GB to 2TB in capacity.  To use the latter two, you need to make sure the equipment you want to use the card for supports the capacity.  As a guide, the SDHC (high capacity) is most common.

So, hopefully when buying your next SD card, all the above points will help you to choose the right one for your device.

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