Best XQD/SD memory cards for the Nikon D500 (and the D5)

Lexar published new speed test results for their latest XQD memory cards on a Nikon D500 camera - see the video below for more details:

XQD cards test results on the Nikon D500

Lexar XQD Professional 2933x XQD 2.0 64GB vs. Lexar XQD Professional 1400x XQD 2.0 64GB:


SD cards test results on the Nikon D500

Lexar Professional 2000x SDXS UHS-II 64GB vs. Lexar Professional 633x SDXC UHS-I 512GB:


Nikon D500 XQD and SD memory card speed comparison
The next Nikon D500 XQD and SD memory card speed comparison is by cameramemoryspeed:

The fastest card tested in the D500 was the Lexar Professional 2933x 64GB XQD 2.0. It averaged 297.1 MB/s write speed during continuous shooting. The second fastest card was the Sony G Series 64GB XQD Card which averaged 280.2 MB/s write speed in the D500. Both cards significantly exceed the performance of other XQD and SD cards tested.

UHS-II SD cards offer write speeds above UHS-I cards, but not quite up the faster XQD cards. The fastest SD card tested was the Lexar Professional 2000x UHS-II 64GB which measured 163.4 MB/s average write speed. UHS-II SD cards are capable of higher write speed, but the SD interface implementation in the D500 appears to be the limiting factor. The fastest UHS-I SD cards tested were various SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s cards, measuring around 84 MB/s average write speed for the various capacities tested.

XQD cards test results on the Nikon D5

There is also a new Lexar Professional 2933x XQD 2.0 speed test on the Nikon D5 camera (both CF & XQD versions currently in stock) - see also this post for more D5 memory cards test results):


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  • Robert Slowley

    It’s a shame they did 14 bit uncompressed RAW. Compressed RAW is lossless on the Nikon, so 14 bit compressed RAWs would have been smaller but identical when opened.

    • Patrick O’Connor

      The test was for card speed, not optimal file type. Using the largest files created more differentiation between cards. It doesn’t change the percentages but the gaps between the number of images is larger.

      • Robert Slowley

        If they were testing the cards irrespective of photos they’d just do it with a card reader and post the real world read / write speeds.

        The purpose of the test is to demonstrate how many shots you will get in X camera with Y card before the buffer is full, and how many seconds it will take before the buffer has empted.

        Given that pros are not going to be shooting uncompressed RAW in the D5 it makes the results look poorer than they would be in the real world.

        By way of comparison of the difference: an uncompressed D810 14 bit NEF is about 73.2MB[1], whereas a lossless compressed 14 bit NEF is about 40.7MB. In other words the uncompressed file is 80% bigger than it’s equivalent losslessly compressed file. It is reasonable to consider that the cheaper XQD and CF cards would have performed massively better had they used a more realistic setting, and this matters as the faster cards are significantly more expensive.

        I happen to already have 3 128GB 2933x Lexar XQDs waiting for my D5 (which arrives tomorrow) so I have no horse in the game, but the implication “If you want to take X shots continuously you need this more expensive Lexar XQD card” is totally misleading.


    • jstevez

      My guess is they are testing the cards, not the cameras.

    • Pat Mann

      It may be that using lossless compressed slows down the camera because of the time needed by the processor to compress the data. That could be why Nikon used uncompressed RAW in rating the speed at 10 fps to 200 frames. It may be the camera that sets the throughput limit with lossless compressed, not the card, when using the fastest cards. (I have the card to test, just no camera yet.)

      • Robert Slowley

        I think that is probably not the case as lossless compression like this doesn’t take much processing – but in any case, there’s no similar slowdown on earlier cameras (like the D810) between shooting compressed or uncompressed and the mpix/s is approximately the same between the D5 and the D810 and the D5 has a newer processor.

        Also, even if there is that difference the test is still hugely misleading, we just don’t know how misleading it is.

      • Allen_Wentz

        Like Robert said below, I doubt if compression time is relevant. Read/write i/o operations are usually orders of magnitude slower than processing.

  • Gary

    Anyone have insight into why they went with SD for the secondary slot instead of dual XQD slots? I’m not judging the design choice harshly…I’m just curious. Granted, it would likly only ever become an issue if the user needed to continue shooting beyond the buffer, but at that $ for a crop DX body, I can’t imagine preferring the ability to use my existing stash of SD cards over having same write speed to both slots, regardless of whether I was in ‘backup’ or ‘overflow’.

    • Ronan

      #1 Pro-Factor (Dual XQD is more pro, so it goes on the more expensive bodies)
      #2 Money (XQD + SD = cheaper for the manufactuer and customer)
      #3 Marketing

    • Difficult to find XQD cards, even at the point of purchase. High prices retailers are charging for XQD cards.

      I love my XQD-equipped D5 but think that for consumers, it’s best to support at least one card format that’s available everywhere. I bought my D5 at retail but my XQD card from Amazon (B&H didn’t have it in stock but is normally the best place to buy it). Fortunately the free XQD card and reader included with the D5 made it possible for me to use it without my purchasing a card.

  • DanThePhotoMan

    I like having the SD card as a second slot. If you need to find one quickly in an emergency (whether at a store or from another photographer), they are much more common at this point in time than the XQD cards.

    • Eno

      Because who doesn’t want to pay more for the XQD cards than the camera itself, to also have an option. :)-

    • Allen_Wentz

      When it comes to storing image data security and speed are IMO paramount. At today’s densities price has become essentially irrelevant; just buy the best available.

      I paid US$100 for 64 GB Lexar 2933x XQD and US$120 for 64 GB SanDisk Extreme Pro SD UHS-II for the D500. Note that is 20% _more_ for the half-as-fast, half-as-durable, 5x more likely to get lost SD format. Lexar SD would have been cheaper at US$90, but SanDisk Extreme Pro CF cards have tolerated the very low and very high temperature extremes I subject cards to with zero failure rate, so I willingly pay extra for that category of card.

      I really, really, wish that Nikon had not crippled my D500’s operation by forcing me to have a relatively lame SD card in Slot #2.

      Yes, crippled is a little harsh given that half as fast is still pretty fast, but use of the second slot for (IMO important) backup makes a substantial reduction in buffer capacity that would have been less bad with 2 XQD slots. And I would only need to buy/carry/store one card type for that camera instead of two.

      • whisky

        “crippled” would imply this was done intentionally and w/o consideration for their customers. rest assured if Nikon offered only one XQD or two XQD slots, customers would express even greater frustration and disappointment. JMO.

        • Allen_Wentz

          Agreed different customers would always have different preferences, each of us for our own good reasons. But the usage of SD instead of XQD in the 2nd slot does cripple performance. That is a simple fact and yes it was an intentional choice made by Nikon.

          Some like Dan above apparently prefer SD in the 2nd slot; I do not. Just my 0.02.

      • May it is like D4-D4s-D5 transition. Unlike Dx users, D500 customers are at entry point for XQD so they are given a respite from buying all XQD. The next iteration (If they come out with it) could be both XQD.

        • AlphaT

          I agree with the transition period reasoning.
          Unfortunately, can’t make everyone happy.

      • AlphaT

        I just ordered a 128GB Sandisk Extreme Pro UHS-1/U3 SDXC from Amazon for $64.95 the other day, it will arrive next week.
        But right now, it went up to $68.94, go check it out, it might go up again anytime soon.

        Some people upgrading to the D500 probably comes from D300 owners, so getting an SD doesn’t make sense.
        But for those upgrading from recent bodies like the D7xx line, an SD slot is a welcome feature, to lessen the expense of initial ownership.

        And yes, SD cards be bought even from pharmacies and gas stations nowadays. It’s like a double A battery. Easy to get if you need one for emergency.

        • People upgrading from a D300s, however, might have some SD cards already lying around. I prefered to invest in SD, that were cheaper than the equivalent CF, at the time.

          When I upgraded to the D750, I realised that the SD cards I found perfectly fine for use with the D300s were very slow when used on the D750. So I had to upgrade to faster, bigger SD cards anyway.

          Still, from what I see, it’s better to upgrade straight to an quick XQD card, isn’t?

      • The good news is that in years of shooting on the D4, with hundreds of thousands of pictures taken, only once have I ever taken more than 128GB of images (filling both 64GB cards I had on the D4) at a time. This happened when I had three events in a truly packed day, so I would have had ample time to switch cards if needed.

        So you should be just fine using a single 128GB card, as I purchased for my D4; there should be no real need for the second slot unless you are afraid your card will fail and need a backup. I have never had such a problem in years of shooting so I have a high level of confidence in just getting a huge card and moving forward.

    • CERO

      I actually wonder. Why they didnt have the “modular” system on the D500 they had with the D5?
      To switch the cards slots by nikon

  • Well, should have used 14bit lossless compressed RAW instead.With my Sandisk SD card 95 mb/s I get 39 images in full speed with my D500.

  • Wade Tregaskis

    I wish they’d also address the numerous issues people are having with Lexar UHS-II cards specifically, including the exact model Lexar used in these tests. It’s no good being “3.1 times faster!” if the card craps out with write errors and stops working mid-shoot.

    • whisky

      as far as i can tell — it’s no deal breaker. i have both Lexar’s installed (XQD + UHS-II) and have so far failed to trigger reported issues whenst shooting under real world conditions.

      from my experience, in recent history, Lexar is just as reliable as Sandisk. both are quick to address issues and resolve problems.

      • Allen_Wentz

        When I did my CF card prepurchase homework a while back only the SanDisk Extreme Pro cards were listed as performing in the temperature extremes that I subject cards to. Not that I have had any Lexar failures, but their card specifications did not list the temperature ranges that SanDisk Extreme Pro did.

        However the point is moot for XQD because SandDisk currently does not make XQD cards. I am using 64 GB and 32 GB Lexar Professional 2933x 440MB/s XQD cards in my D500 and have had zero card issues.

      • TL Robinson

        My 32GB card and 64GB card *both* exhibit this problem. And it’s repeatable. Not a show stopper no, but it’s hard to blame just the card when it happens on two different cards at different sizes. Just annoying.

      • Unless any of you guys own more than 10 of the same exact card, you’re not really a good statistic generator.

        • D700s

          I have all Lexar Cards. 6 x XQD, 10 x CF, 6 x SD. I’ve not had one fail in the 5 years I’ve been using them.

          • That is a much better statement then, to the longevity and quality control. Thanks for posting. Sorry, I jus get annoyed when folks have only ever bought one single card from a brand, and they either rave about it or curse it. As you might imagine, thousands or millions of these cards are going out into the market. 😉

          • CERO

            The talk is about the D500.

  • Patrick O’Connor

    Had the testing been done by anyone other than the manufacturer, I would agree with you. It’s all about marketing. They ARE trying to convince you to buy the more expensive card. :-/

  • I am not getting the performance that others are advertising. D500, Sony G Series XQD card, only getting about 37 shots out before the buffer has to clear. Full size raw and jpeg large high quality, I tested with raw compressed and uncompressed, if I switch to only raw or only jpg then the buffer goes to 200 shots before it needs to clear, but any combination of raw+JPEG s/m/l and I can’t get the 60+ shots others are claiming they are getting from the same body and card.

    • Why shoot RAW + JPG? if you really want the in-camera colors, just cull and proof from Nikon View NX, it’s like having a RAW+JPG file built into the single NEF file. Also, for maximum buffer depth, shoot 12-bit compressed raw.

  • Ned Gerblansky

    The write speed of the D5 and D500 with these new fast cards absolutely smokes my D4 with Sony G series XQD cards! My D4 looks like a pooch compared to these videos.

  • Teodorico Morell

    I always use the second slot as backup (you never know). So the speed will always be limited by the SD card speed; in my case.

    • Christobella

      Same here. Having had a card die once (only once in 10 years granted), I’ll never take that chance again. Thank god it wasn’t a wedding!

  • CATPro

    I’m a SanDisk man. SanDisk has never let me down!!

    • Don’t you mean Scan Disk? 😛

      • CATPro

        You don’t like SanDisk?

        • I love Sandisk, I just find it funny when people say they love Scand Disk.

          • CATPro

            Cool. 🙂

  • MNguy

    Anything comparing Lexar to Sony?

    • AlphaT

      See the above link to the website.

  • Sgt13Echo

    I just sent back two Sony XQD Series M 64Gb cards because they threw the card error half the time when using them…

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