Thoughts on D500 Memory Cards

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by Mary Doo, Apr 4, 2018.

  1. The D500 has been out for a while now. May I pick your brain for ideas on memory cards? - What cards strike the best balance in term of price, speed, and effect? Any to recommend? Thanks.
  2. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Do you shoot “machine gun” style?

    If you use the fastest Sony or Lexar XQD cards (any one of the 6 XQD cards in the image below), essentially you cannot fill the D500's buffer at 10fps shooting 14-bit, lossless compressed RAW.

    The speed limitation is in the SD slot on the D500.

    If you don’t need an automatic backup in the SD slot, I would just get a 32, 64, or 128G XQD card. Sony maybe the only available option at the moment.

    On the other hand, if you don’t shoot machine gun style and don’t mind the fragile SD, maybe a 95MB/sec SD card is all you need. You must have a bunch of those already.

    I pretty much always use the backup mode to put one RAW file in each slot. To get the fastest SD speed, I use a 280 or 300MB/sec SanDisk UHS-II SD card in the SD slot. In other words, I pick one XQD and one SD from the image shown below and use them inside my D500. However, UHS-II SD cards are expensive and they are still fragile.

    I am a strong advocate of XQD cards. The are fast and are quite robust without any vulnerable pins. They should be compatible with future CFexpress cards. However, currently only Nikon uses XQD in three higher-end DSLRs and Sony uses them in a few camcorders. Even though the D4 has been using them since 2012, they are still not all that popular after 6 years.

    Last edited: Apr 4, 2018
    Mary Doo likes this.
  3. It seems there are XQD (Sony) and then XQD 2.0 (Sony and Lexar) at higher price. Does it matter?
  4. Shun, thanks for the samples. I shoot "machine gun" only when I think it would be necessary, such as a bird doing something cute and taking flight, etc.

    I have other Sandisk Extreme Pro cards that seem very fast on my Olympus M43 system - had not reached burst limit in my experience. Hwvr, since you highly recommend XQD, I would like to give it a try. Are you using Version II or it doesn't matter?
  5. Mary Doo likes this.
  6. OK, dropping this one. This leaves the 32G Lexar in the Cart. Sony G series seems out of stock now. Will continue to check.
  7. Unlike Shun, I have only the Lexar 2933x XQD cards (no Sony) in all three sizes (32GB, 64GB and 128GB). So far, I have refused to purchase SD UHS-II cards which means that if I make use of the 2nd card slot in the D500, the camera does slow down significantly (but still has sufficient buffer capacity for most situations): Nikon D500 XQD and SD UHS-II Card Performance comparison test for continuous shooting, buffer and write speed - Camera Memory Speed Comparison & Performance tests for SD and CF cards
  8. Reviews of D850 cards seem similar - Lexar seem to make the (marginally) better XQD card option, but unfortunately they're almost unavailable: the 32GB Lexar (which is on the small side for a D850) seems pretty much the only option, and if I were to get one, I'd have to order from the US. I don't quite have the disposable income to justify buying one pre-emptively before I get myself a D850. Irrespective of the price hike, I kind of wish Sony had managed to produce a speed bump to catch up.
  9. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I started buying XQD cards two years ago in 2016 as I bought Nikon DSLRs that use them. All I have are either Sony type G 400MB/sec or Lexar 2933x 440MB/sec. Their performances are quite similar, and there hasn't been any new XQD cards introduced since then.

    I have pointed out a number of times on this forum that I dislike both CF cards and SD cards. CF has those vulnerable pins and their speed is limited by the underlying technology. SD are physically too small (although storage capacity is not necessarily small) and fragile; early on I had lost several SD cards and have also cracked a few of them. That little dip switch to make the card read only is also fragile. I think SD is a good solution for smaller cameras such as Micro 4/3, but XQD is the best card format for now, and it should be compatible with future CFexpress cards. The problem is that adaptation to XQD has been much slower than what I had expected 2, 3 years ago.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2018
  10. I have two Lexar XQD cards on order from adorama since Mar 12 - I hope that they will get delivered soon and at the price I ordered them for (which at the time had been lower than B&H's but since has been increased on their website). Apparently, B&H no longer offers the Lexar cards - it says "discontinued".
  11. Found and ordered Sony 32G G series at B&H. Thanks!
  12. How do you come to this conclusion?

    The cameramemoryspeed test site at least for D500 links to the earlier 400 MB/s / 350MB/s Sony G product whereas the current Sony G XQD cards are 440MB/s / 400MB/s. Lexar's 2933x card gave 297.1 MB/s write speed on the D500 whereas the earlier Sony G gave 280.2MB/s. I would think the 10% increase in nominal speed in the newest G types would rather precisely make the Sony the equivalent of the Lexar in speed, but of course it would need to be tested to verify.

    I am a little unclear about which card they tested, maybe one should contact them and ask. Also the D850 hasn't been tested, did they stop making updates?
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2018
  13. I was looking, IIRC, at this summary. As I said (and Shun confirms), the remaining difference is quite small - but still, Lexar seemed to have the edge. I'm prepared to believe differently from other reviews, although I guess right now nothing is pushing Sony to improve their technology. Not that it should matter so much for the D500, since it shouldn't be able to max out the XQD anyway.

    Dieter: Good luck. I don't know where Adorama might think they're back-ordering them from!
  14. 0.6% difference shooting uncompressed, 5% difference with compressed. I wonder what the error limits are (the file size varies with content in compressed mode, was the lens cap on to prevent this from affecting the result?). Anyway this seems quite a small difference in write speed in practical terms.
  15. Yes, I concede that, looking at it again, the difference seems smaller than I thought. Were I shooting with a D5 or D500, I'd certainly not be worried with either. With the pixel count of the D850, especially at 9fps, I'd quite like all the performance I can get - but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. Were I to buy a D850 today, all I'd have to run it with would be a UHS-I SD card, so changes are going to happen!
  16. This thread XQD availability? had given me hope - B&H had given a 7-14 day delivery date on Lexar XQD cards. As mentioned above, B&H currently lists them as "discontinued". Not the first time that happened though - and then apparently cards did appear again. Adorama currently states that the 64GB card is expected 06/18/2018, no such info on the 32GB and 128GB though. I am not hurting for XQD cards; if I get the ones I ordered - fine. If not, not harm, no foul.
  17. Adorama has pulled this same stunt with other discontinued items.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2018
  18. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Since I have been searching for XQD cards due to the various discussions on this forum, Adorama, Amazon, and B&H are somehow under the impression that I am shopping for them. Therefore, regardless of which web pages I visit (various news web sites, Facebook, etc.), I see Adorama and other ads about Lexar XQD cards as well as Sony XQD very often. I would like to think that Adorama wouldn't be spending that kind of ad money if they will never receive any more Lexar cards, but you never know.

    However, the ad money on me is definitely wasted. In 2016 I had already bought a bunch of XQD cards, as shown above. Last year when I first heard the news that Micron was shutting down the entire Lexar brand, I bought another 64G and 128G Lexar cards just in case, such that I now have far more cards than I really need. But I am glad that I have stocked up.

    There are various discussion that some companies will bypass XQD and go straight to introducing CFExpress cards, e.g. ProGrade that is formed by ex-Lexar management:
    CFexpress vs XQD | What Format Will Win? ProGrade Digital Has An Opinion

    Even though CFExpress has the same form factor as XQD, i.e. same physical size with compatible pin connections, whether they will be backward compatible on Nikon DSLRs' XQD slots remains as a question. And most likely CFExpress will be more expensive and I wonder what kind of applications can take advantage of the extra speed to justify the cost.

    But back to Mary's question. At this point I would get 1 to 2 XQD cards just to try things out. CFExpress could be replacing XQD in the not-too-distant future and there is no point to stock up on XQD as I did.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2018
  19. Can't wait to try it out. B&H is having some holiday, so will need to wait for a few more days...

    Thanks for your research. I knew I could get some good info here. :)
  20. I think the guys at Longsys who took over when Micron stopped making LEXAR cards must have done something seriously wrong or deliberate.

    LEXAR XQD are unavailable in the UK and most of Europe.

    If you head over to Petapixel, there's an anecdote about a RMA customer return that is eye-opening with regards to Longsys and the new management.

    Someone big aught to step in very soon or it's going to be Sony only for XQD.

    Or maybe XQD in the current format is on the slide and Longsys is tooling up for the new CFExpress.....??

    I got a 128GB and a 32GB LEXAR pretty soon after I got my D500 and have been very happy with them.

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