Round Up: Picking the Right SD Card

Not all memory is created equal.

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SD cards may all look alike, but they vary. Fast versions of the latest standard, SDXC, are the priciest, but you’ll still pay for speed in high-end SDHCs. The higher the class—the highest being 10—the faster the card. No listed class or max speed? Beware—no telling what you’ll get. Click through the gallery and find out exactly why some cards are more or less expensive than their counterparts.
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$9 PNY Technologies 2GB SD Though PNY sells SDs, it doesn’t make its own flash memory chips. Often, chips not up to the standards of their original makers get sold to other companies. Sometimes this leads to card failure, and since there’s no guaranteed class speed, your bursts and offload times may be slow.
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**$39 Kingston 16GB SDHC Video ** Is there a difference between SD cards labeled “video” and others? Not really. Class 4 cards like this provide the minimum speed you need for HD clips. The video appellation is just packaging, but keep your eyes open—sometimes cards branded for video are slightly less expensive.
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$95 Lexar Platinum II 32GB SDHC Don’t need speed? This card’s 15 MB/s offload times won’t be as quick as with top-of-the-line 30 MB/s cards. But if you’re willing to accept slower offloads, or your camera can’t make use of a faster card (think most compacts and older DSLRs), you can get greater capacity for less buck.
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$130 Eye-Fi Pro 8GB X2 SDHC Unique among SD cards are Eye-Fi’s Wi-Fi-enabled ones. The Pro version automatically geotags your images, wirelessly uploads photos (including RAW files) and videos to your computer, and allows for an ad hoc connection to a computer for wireless transfer while shooting.
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$213 Sandisk 32GB Extreme SDHC Sandisk’s top SD cards, the Extreme series guarantees functionality from –13 to 185 degrees F at up to 30 MB/s. Speed is key if your camera shoots fast bursts (our tests of the Nikon D90 proved it shot more images per burst with this card). But you’ll really notice the speed on offload.
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$480 Panasonic 64GB SDXC This SDXC (extended capacity) card has today’s max: 64 GB. With speeds up to 22 MB/s, it’s also the fastest 64GB SDXC you can get. But you can’t use these cards in every device. You need an XC-compatible camera and reader, and a computer OS such as Windows 7 that can handle the exFAT file system.