SD cards

What’s the best SD card for the D7000?

I’ve been asked that question quite a few times now. So I’ve spent a fair bit of time researching this and surfing around for test results. I must admit, I’ve not done testing myself – since I don’t have an array of cards, but found sufficient evidence on the Net to substantiate the below results.

The reason most people ask is that there’s a dazzling array of SD cards on the market from a multitude of suppliers. There are also different types/speeds of SD card, a plethora of terminology surrounding cards and lots of different storage capacities (i.e. Gb). Then there’s the speed rating of the card, and the capabilities of the D7000 to take onboard. And of course things never stay still. So don’t feel bad if you’re unclear what to buy!

First, a few basics:

  1. The D7000 takes “normal/regular” SD cards – not “mini” or “micro”.
  2. The D7000 is compatible with SD (Secure Digital), SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) and SDXC (Secure Digital eXtended Capacity)
  3. Max storage capacities; SD=4Gb, SDHC=32Gb, SDXC=2048Gb (2Tb)
  4. “Class” speed ratings; Class 2 = 2MB/s, Class 4=4MB/s, Class 6=6MB/s and Class 10=10MB/s
  5. Some cards have a UHS (Ultra High Speed) rating; UHS1=max 50MB/s, UHS104=max 104MB/s, UHS-II=312MB/s
  6. The D7000 is rated at UHS1.
  7. The D7000 writes to a buffer before writing to SD card. That buffer can hold eleven 12-bit lossless compressed RAW files (fifteen if compressed – not lossless), ten 14-bit lossless compressed RAW files (twelve if compressed – not lossless) or 31 large JPG-fine images.
  8. The time it takes to clear the buffer depends on the speed of the SD card. Faster cards are therefore better if you shoot RAW in high burst mode (CH mode). Faster speeds are also better for HD-video.
  9. Nikon recommend a minimum of Class 6 for video.

So, what should you buy?

I’d recommend the following cards:

Card Capacity   (GB) fps MB/sec
SanDisk   Extreme Pro 95 MB/s (UK / USA) 16 3.8 29
Delkin 633   SDHC 95 MB/sec  (UK / USA) 8 3.8 27
Lexar 600x   UHS-1 (UK / USA) 16 3.5 28
SanDisk   Extreme Pro SDHC 45 MB/s (UK / USA) 16 3.5 26
Kingston   ultimateXX 233x (UK / USA) 16 3.5 26
SanDisk   Extreme HD Video 30 MB/sec (UK / USA) 8 3.5 25
SanDisk   Extreme III SDHC 30Mb/sec (UK / USA) 16 3.5 23

 

Personally, I’d recommend the SanDisk Extreme Pro 95Mb/s – 16GB. SD cards have come right down in price and therefore there’s no great saving by choosing anything else. I’d buy at least 2 too, since the D7000 has 2 slots. If you’re using the 2nd slot as a backup you’ll want the same speed out of the second slot as the first.

 

If you’re a sports shooter then you’re typically shooting ISO 400 or 800, possibly around 1/1000s and wide open (e.g. f1.4/1.8/2.8). If you’re shooting JPGs then you’ll be fine with most cards, but if shooting RAW then a fast card is a no-brainer. You’ll find you’re typically shooting 10-11 shots and find the D7000 start hesitating – as it empties the buffer to card. The faster cards will get you shooting again quicker. The time differences aren’t huge – but could be the difference between getting that all important shot  – or not!