Welcome to the forum!

As an adjunct to the Tangents blog, the intention with this forum is to answer any questions, and allow a diverse discussion of topics related photography. With that, see it as an open invitation to just climb in and start threads and to respond to any threads.

Memory Cards for D800

photos2photos2 Member
edited February 2014 in Nikon
Please help me choose (as affordable as possible) Memory Cards for Nikon D800. How many images in RAW do these various cards deliver? What are the consequences when shooting at either 12 or 14 bit RAW - regarding editing time?


  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited February 2014

    There is no advantage in choosing 14-bit over 12-bit in my opinion, anyone would be extremely hard pressed to spot the difference, same as editing in 8-bit to 16-bit unless you have lots of sky, editing in 16-bit will stop 'banding' in the sky, then you have to convert back to 8-bit to print anyway.

    Now, the cards and sizes.

    I am too lazy nor am I inclined to work it out,

    but here is a graph,
    you do the math!

    (hey, I am a poet....)

    Graph is worked based on an 8G card, there is also FX (full frame) and DX (cropped) 12-bit, 14-bit size comparisons which also gives a massive difference in file size between them.


    As for the different card brands, I have always personally used SanDisk. Never had a failure in 10 years of shooting, in fact I still have old 2G cards from them and I use them on small jobs, but, I do have my cards marked on the back with the purchase date, and I try to always put 2 cards in, same size, from different dates, "just in case" a failure from a 'batch set' occurs.

    I use 16G cards currently, no need for me to go any higher as I have D3s bodies at 12.1Mp, which give me around 11-12Mb files compared to 32+Mb on the D800.

    As to which file size to choose on the D800, I'd go for the RAW Lossless compressed 12-bit around 32.4Mb.

    Any other size is redundant, (IMO) and don't even go near a TIFF Large, those puppies run out at 108+Mb, crazy.

  • Thank you, Trev - excellent info!
  • The more I do research, the more I realize that I don't understand the memory card situation with the D800!

    1. Does one need to use exactly the same size and speed cards in the two slots - I am going to use the SD as backup.
    I want to buy a 32 GB 90 MB/s for CF, but it seems as if the 32 GB SB cards come only in 95 MB/s.

    Many thanks
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited February 2014
    Close enough, does not matter, the camera will adjust to writing on one or the other.

    I have mixed old 30Mb/Sec with 90Mb/Sec, but only on small jobs and the old cards I use, *never* for a wedding, but I do take 2 CF cards which is a bonus instead of fiddling with those tiny SD cards.

    Try to get as close as possible especially with the D800 and the file sizes on that will make a difference but not what you are stating 90Mbs Vs 95Mbs.

    The important thing is that both cards have the same amount of memory (different to 'transfer' rate) as in both should be 8G or 16G, etc. otherwise if a card gets full, the camera may stop working even though there will be space on the other card.

  • Personally, 16Gb is a minimum with my D800, wether it is in CF or SD. But I also have a SD 32Gb, 8Gb, 4Gb ,2Gb…accumulated over time in different other cameras.
    As I do not write on 2 cards at the same time (copy) I do put 2 cards of different sizes in the camera… and everything works well. Same as Trev, only SanDisk or Lexar cards for reliability.
    In terms of speed it all depends on your type of shooting. When I do a portrait and I have time a "slow" card is OK. But when I follow a client's event (or do a video), I need a fast card. So, even if it is a little more expensive I would suggest you purchase the fastest card you can in 16Gb. Usually SD cards are cheaper. But if you can buy 32Gb great!

    For your info some cards are labeled 100x or 200x and some others with the speed transfer such as 95Mb/s. The speed conversion is 1X = 150 Kb/s. If I am correct 200X = 30Mb/s. So in your case you should look for at least a 600x to be able to shoot whatever you want whenever you want without thinking of the type of card you use.

    I shoot in full RAW for portraits and in L or M jpeg for company events. I have never used a full 16Gb in one session. The only thing you really need after the shooting is computer space and speed, and a fast (fire 800) card reader. Since I got the D800 I continually upgrade my old but so reliable Mac Pro 1.1 to keep a smooth and acceptable treatment time process.

    Finally, 12 or 14-bit won't make any difference most of the time (unless you intend to print a large street poster and even so). But 14-bit will allow you to go deeper when you treat a picture with less alterations produced by your modifications. It is subtle but a little better with 14-bit.

    Good luck with your choice.
Sign In or Register to comment.