What Type of Memory Card Does the Canon EOS M50 Use?

The Canon EOS M50 doesn't come with a memory card as standard (it's a sold separately accessory). Here are some practical recommendations on which SD card to get.
SD Memory Cards
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A memory card is an essential accessory to make the camera work, but the Canon EOS M50 doesn’t come with a memory card as standard. It falls into the “sold separately” category of accessories. Some retailers put together a deal bundle that might include some accessories, including a memory card, but chances are you’ll have to pick up a memory card separately. Or maybe you want something bigger with larger storage capacity—the cards that are included in bundles are often on the small side and might fill up quickly, especially if you’re on a trip.

But what type of memory card should you get for the M50? That’s where this post comes in—hopefully, to help you get out shooting sooner and taking full advantage of all the features of your new camera rather than spending your time searching the web and trying to make sense of cryptic technical codes. I’ve been buying and testing numerous SD cards for several years and have put many of the most popular SD cards on the market through their paces.

Quick Recommendations on SD Cards for the Canon EOS M50

If you just want some quick recommendations, here you go. Any of these will work well in the M50. These SD cards meet the needs of the M50’s feature, have a strong track record of reliability, are readily available, and are usually cost-effective.

SanDisk 256GB Extreme SDXC UHS-I Card - C10, U3, V30, 4K UHD, SD Card -...
  • Shot speeds up to 70MB/s, transfer speeds up to 150MB/s requires compatible devices capable of reaching...
  • Perfect for shooting 4K UHD video(1) and sequential burst mode photography (1)Full HD (1920x1080) and 4K...
Lexar Professional 1667x 128GB SDXC UHS-II Card, Up To 250MB/s Read, for...
  • Get high-speed performance with UHS-II technology (U3) for a read transfer speed up to 250MB/s (1667x)
  • Captures high-quality images and extended lengths of stunning 1080P full-HD, 3D, and 4K video with a DSLR...
PNY 256GB Elite Performance Class 10 U3 SDXC Flash Memory Card - 95MB/s...
  • Sequential read speed of up to 95MB/s
  • Class 10, U3 rating delivers speed and performance for burst mode HD photography and 4K Ultra HD...

Canon EOS M50 SD Card Requirements

The Canon EOS M50 is a compact interchangeable lens camera with a 24.1-megapixel APS-C sensor. It shoots 4K video with a maximum video bitrate of 120Mbps. It has a single UHS-I SD card slot. It’s compatible with SDXC, SDHC, and SD cards.

The video bitrate refers to the amount of data being written to the memory card when shooting video. When using the 4K modes, it’s up to a relatively high 120Mb/s. So you’ll need a card that can keep up with that, but it’s still well below some higher-end models that can shoot at up to 400Mb/s.

So the M50 needs a card that is relatively fast, but it doesn’t need the fastest SD card that money can buy.

Because of the way that cameras interface with memory cards, once you have a card that meets the requirements of the camera, you don’t get any extra benefit by inserting a card with high specs and performance that exceeds the camera’s capabilities.1 You can use a V90 card, for example, but the M50 can’t take advantage of the card’s full capabilities, and you won’t see any extra benefit in the camera. And, naturally, high-performance cards are more expensive. So why pay extra for high performance that your M50 can’t use? By all means, if you already have a fast SD card on hand, you can use it in the M50, but it won’t get you any extra performance in the camera (it might when downloading the photos and videos to a computer).

That said, in the recommendations below, I’m factoring in cost-effectiveness as well. And because memory card manufacturers are coming out with newer, faster models all the time, it’s quite possible that the most cost-effective cards are faster than your camera needs. But that’s a case where it makes sense to go with the cost-effective option even if its performance exceeds the requirements of the camera.

Detailed Version

So which SD card should you get for your Canon EOS M50? Here’s the more detailed version.

So Why Get a Good Memory Card?

A better memory card isn’t going to help you take better photos or improve image quality. But it can let you take advantage of all of the camera’s features. A card that’s not fast enough to keep up with the camera can cause issues like locking up, dropped frames, and overheating.

There’s also the issue of reliability. There are plenty of junk memory cards on the market. Not only do they have flaky performance, but they’re also more likely to fail. And that means the risk of losing your photos and videos.

At the same time, you don’t want to pay extra for a high-performance SD card that’s overkill for the camera.

Practical Recommendations

If you go looking in the M50’s instruction manual, you’ll find it’s not very helpful (it’s on page 24). It says to use SD, SDHC, or SDXC cards and that UHS-I memory cards are also supported. And that’s it. Which clears up nothing, really.

So what I’m aiming to do here is provide some practical recommendations on which SD cards to get for the Canon EOS M50 so you can spend less time searching online and more time out shooting. I’m not trying to list every SD card that works in the M50–there are others that will work just fine as well. I’m focusing here on ones that offer a good combination of meeting the requirements of all of the M50’s features, are readily available at major retailers, are cost-effective, and come from major manufacturers with track records for good-quality cards. I’m also basing this on my own SD speed tests.

So here’s more detailed information on these cards, along with some others.

SanDisk Extreme V30 UHS-I

SanDisk 256GB Extreme SDXC UHS-I Card -...
  • Shot speeds up to 70MB/s, transfer speeds up to 150MB/s requires compatible devices capable of reaching...
  • Perfect for shooting 4K UHD video(1) and sequential burst mode photography (1)Full HD (1920x1080) and 4K...

SanDisk's Extreme range are good bets for many cameras, and that's true here too. SanDisk has faster ranges like the Plus and Pro lines, but the Extreme line is both quick enough for most cameras and usually less expensive than those faster lines.

One thing to note with SanDisk cards is that they recycle their model names. So you can find Extreme cards that are older and slower. You'll probably find those older versions work just fine--it really depends how far back you go--but you can tell the latest version because it's labeled with both U3 and V30, both of which are speed ratings specifically related to recording video. These cards are often good value, and you can sometimes find them sold in 2-packs.

Buy at Amazon or B&H Photo

Lexar Professional 1667x V60 UHS-II

Lexar Professional 1667x 256GB SDXC...
  • Get high-speed performance with UHS-II technology (U3) for a read transfer speed up to 250MB/s (1667x)
  • Captures high-quality images and extended lengths of stunning 1080P full-HD, 3D, and 4K video with a DSLR...

Like the SanDisk Extreme Pro, this one actually has UHS-II, which you don't need with this camera, but it's still a very good, reliable option. It's rated for video recording speed rating of V60. It comes in sizes up to 256GB.

Buy at Amazon or B&H Photo

PNY Elite Performance U3 UHS-I

PNY 256GB Elite Performance Class 10 U3...
  • Sequential read speed of up to 95MB/s
  • Class 10, U3 rating delivers speed and performance for burst mode HD photography and 4K Ultra HD...

PNY aren't as well known as some of the other brands, but they've been around for quite some time and make reliable, cost-effective memory cards. The packaging on this card hasn't been refreshed to include the newer V30/V60/V90 video speed rating system, but the real-world performance of the card is very good. It comes in sizes from 32GB up to 512GB.

Buy at Amazon

Delkin Devices Advantage V30 UHS-I

Delkin Devices 256GB Advantage SDXC...
  • Supports 4K & Full HD 1080p Video Recording at High Frame Rates
  • RAW Continuous-Shooting Approved

Delkin Devices have recently come out with a range of new SD cards of varying speeds and specs. This is one of their mid-range cards that is rated for V30 video recording speeds.

Find them at Amazon and B&H Photo

Canvas Select Plus V30 UHS-I

Kingston 128GB SDXC Canvas Select Plus...
  • Faster speeds — Class 10 UHS-I speeds up to 100MB/s. *
  • Capture in full HD & 4K UHD video (1080P) — the advanced UHS-I interface makes the card ideal for...

Kingston is another brand that isn't as well known as some of the others, but they've been making reliable memory cards for a very long time. As a brand, they don't tend to focus on the cutting edge speeds but rather on reliable and good-value memory cards.

This particular card (model SDS2 Canvas Select Plus) isn't the fastest in Kingston's range, but it's fast enough to work well in this camera. It's available in sizes from 16GB through 512GB.

Buy at Amazon

Sony U3 UHS-I

Sony 64GB High Performance Class 10...
  • Up to 95 MBs transfer speed and up to 90 MBs write speed
  • File Rescue downloadable software helps recover photos and videos that have been accidentally damaged or...

These Sony cards are quick, reliable, and fairly widely available. Sony also now has another much faster model that works well but is a bit overkill for this use.

Buy at Amazon or B&H Photo

SanDisk Extreme Pro U3 UHS-II

SanDisk SDSDXPK-064G-ANCIN Sandisk...
  • Designed for professionals
  • High read and write speeds

This is SanDisk's top-of-the-line range, and they work well in this camera. This latest version is somewhat overkill however, because they use UHS-II, which most cameras can't fully take advantage of. Older versions of the Extreme Pro cards are UHS-I and will still work well (ideally, stick to ones with the U3 rating on them).

Find them at Amazon and B&H Photo

Decoding the SD Card Codes

SDHC vs SDXC

Most of the cards you’ll see available have either SDHC or SDXC printed on them.

As a practical matter, the Canon EOS M50 is compatible with both SDXC and SDHC, so you don’t need to worry much about this.

These are categories assigned by the SD Association, which is the organization that oversees and develops the standards for SD and microSD cards.

Technically, SDHC and SDXC refer to the type of filesystem used on the SD cards. SDHC cards used FAT32. SDXC cards use exFAT.

In practice, though, it also helps distinguish cards by their storage capacity, at least broadly. The SD Association determined that cards up to 32GB would be SDHC, while cards 64GB and above are SDXC.

UHS-I vs UHS-II

SD cards also have UHS-I or UHS-II on them (or often just an I or II). This refers to the type of interface that’s used to connect to the cards. It stands for ultra-high-speed bus.

UHS-I is the older, simpler bus interface. UHS-II is newer and potentially faster. The catch is that you only get the extra benefit of UHS-II if the device is also UHS-II. But the spec is designed to be backward compatible, so you can use UHS-II cards in UHS-I devices, but you will only get the speed of UHS-I.

The Canon EOS M50 has a UHS-I interface, so, as a practical matter, there’s no benefit to using UHS-II cards in it (but it’s perfectly fine to do so).

Video Speed Classes

The SD Association has come out with various rating systems over the years to help buyers choose a card that’s suitable for use in cameras. Because recording high-resolution video (or, more specifically, high-bitrate video) is often the most demanding operation in terms of a camera and its memory card, it’s known as a video speed class rating system.

Most cards available now have a mix of old and new speed class codes printed on them. And while it’s helpful, it’s still an imperfect system for judging the speed of an SD card.

As a practical matter in the Canon EOS M50, cards that have any of these on them should be fast enough:

  • V30
  • V60
  • U3

V90 is also fine, but it’s overkill for the M50.

There’s a separate rating system that you might also see on some cards. They might have an A1 or A2 on them. You can ignore that when choosing an SD card for a camera. It’s designed for the kinds of operations that gaming devices and smartphones do.

What Size SD Card to Use in the Canon EOS M50

The M50 is compatible with SDHC and SDXC cards. That means you can use cards from 4GB all the way to the largest cards currently available, which are 256GB or even 512GB and 1TB cards.

The current sweet spot for a combination of convenience, being readily available, and being cost-effective is probably around the 128GB to 512GB cards. But you can use larger or smaller ones if you prefer–it’s mostly a matter of convenience of how much video footage or photo data you can store on the card before it fills up, and you have to download to a computer or some other device.

How to Format SD Cards

When you buy a new SD card, you should format it before use (and then regularly after that). Here’s some information on how to do that.

How to Format Memory Cards in the Canon EOS M50

It is best practice to always format memory cards in the camera that you’ll be using them in. That sets the card up with the filesystem, folder hierarchy, and, in some cameras, a database file, so that the card is just how the camera expects. That greatly reduces the risk of unexpected errors and unpleasant surprises.

On the Canon EOS M50, you can find the format function under:

Menu (the wrench/spanner icon) > Format Card > OK

Unusually, the M50 also has a low-level formatting function. That’s a much more thorough operation. It also takes longer. For day-to-day formatting operations, you can leave the low-level format box unchecked. Low-level formatting is best used for troubleshooting a misbehaving memory card or if you really want the data gone.

How to Format SD Cards with a Computer

Having said that, it is still possible to format memory cards using a card reader and computer. You get a lot more flexibility that way, but also some extra risk if things aren’t set up just how the camera wants them. It’s also sometimes a good troubleshooting step if you’re having issues with a memory card.

There are some things to watch out for, particularly when it comes to choosing which filesystem to use. So I’ve put together guides on how to format SD cards on Mac and how to use the free SD Card Formatter app for Windows or Mac.


  1. Depending on your computer and memory card reader setup, you might get some speed benefit when putting a faster memory card into your card reader and downloading images to your computer. 

Images and product information from Amazon PA-API were last updated on 2021-09-22 at 11:39. Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon Site at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

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