The Canon EOS M50 doesn’t come with a memory card as standard. Even though it’s essential, 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.
Canon M50 Memory Card – Quick Recommendations
If you just want some quick recommendations on which memory card to get for your new Canon M50, here you go. Any of these will work well in the M50. These SD cards meet the needs of the M50’s features, have a strong track record of reliability, are readily available, and are usually cost-effective.
- SanDisk Extreme V30 UHS-I SD Card
- Lexar Professional 1066x Silver V30 UHS-I SD Card
- Kingston Canvas Go Plus V30 UHS-I SD Card
These are good choices among the best SD memory cards to use in the M50.
Canon M50 Memory 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 takes SD memory cards and has a single SD card slot that uses a UHS-I interface. It’s compatible with SDXC, SDHC, and SD cards.
The video bitrate refers to the amount of data being written to the SD memory cards when shooting video. On the M50, when shooting in 4K, the video bitrate is 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.
Shooting video is the most demanding mode for memory cards, but sequential burst mode photography can also post a challenge. In most cases, though, the consequences of using a card that’s too slow are less dire. The transfer process will take longer, meaning the camera will be unavailable for use for longer.
So the M50 needs a card that is relatively fast, but it doesn’t need the fastest SD card that money can buy. You can use an SD card with super-fast write speeds in the M50 if you like, but you won’t get any extra benefit when shooting. It won’t help you take better photos or videos, and over a certain threshold, the camera won’t do things any more quickly.
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 UHS-II SD 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.
So which SD card should you get for your Canon EOS M50? Here’s the more detailed version.
Canon M50 Memory Card Requirements
So what type of memory card does the Canon M50 need?
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'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.
Lexar Professional 1066x Silver V30 UHS-I
This card from Lexar, one of the leading makers of memory cards, is a fast, reliable option. It's rated for video recording speed rating of V30. It comes in sizes up to 512GB.
Buy at: Amazon
Kingston Canvas Go Plus V30 UHS-I
- Type: SDXC
- Video Speed Class: V30
- UHS Bus Interface Type: UHS-I
- Storage Capacities: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
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 SDG3 Canvas Go 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
PNY Elite-X V30 UHS-I
- Class 10 U3 V30 speed rating with read speeds up to 100MB/s
- Class 10 U3 V30 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. It comes in sizes from 64GB up to 512GB.
Buy at Amazon
Delkin Devices Advantage V30 UHS-I
- Type: SDXC / SDHC
- Video Speed Class: V30
- UHS Bus Interface Type: UHS-I
- Storage Capacities: 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
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.
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.
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.
SDHC and SDXC don’t have anything do with the speed of the card. 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. And it refers to write speeds of the cards–and even more specifically, to sequential write speeds. The rating system guarantees minimum write speeds for the cards.
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. There are various levels designed for shooting HD video, 4K video, 8K video, and so on.
As a practical matter in the Canon EOS M50, cards that have any of these on them should be fast enough:
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.
And you might also notice another number that’s often featured prominently on memory card packaging and marketing. That’s the read transfer speed. The read transfer speed is often higher than the write speeds, which is why marketing materials often emphasize it (often labeled as “transfer speed”).
Read speed refers to the speed at which data can be downloaded from the card. Read speeds are useful if you’re transferring photos and footage to a computer after the shoot, but they’re practically meaningless when shooting with the camera.
What are far more important for use in cameras are the minimum write speeds. That’s how fast you can write data to the card. And a particular kind of write speed–sequential write speed–is important for writing video data and shooting burst mode photos.
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 card data gone.
If you’re having trouble formatting a card, there might be a problem with that particular card. In that case, a first troubleshooting step is to try to format the card in a computer.
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.
Can you use UHS-II cards in the Canon EOS M50 mirrorless camera?
Most cards today are either UHS-I or UHS-II. That doesn’t refer to speed directly, but it’s closely related. It refers to the type of interface between the SD card and the camera. A UHS-II is potentially faster, but only if both the card and the interface are compatible with UHS-II technology.
The Canon M50 has a UHS-I SD card slot, so ideally you’d use a UHS-I card. However, the system is designed to be backwards compatible. What that means in practice is that you can use a UHS-II card in the M50, but it will be treated as though it’s a UHS-I card and you won’t get any extra write speed benefit.
What does it mean that the Canon EOS M50 has a single SD card slot?
It means that you can use one memory card at a time. The reason it’s worth specifying is that some other cameras, particularly higher models, have two memory card slots (sometimes both of the one type; sometimes mixed types).
- 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.
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