The Nikon D3100 is an entry-level camera in Nikon’s DSLR lineup. It has a cropped APS-C sensor in Nikon’s DX range.
It’s several generations back now, and by the standards of the newer models, it’s not especially demanding of the memory card. That makes it easy to find an SD card that will work well in the D3100.
But buying SD cards can be confusing. There’s a bunch of different specs and jargon and even types. And there’s no point overpaying for a card that’s fancier than you need. So here are some practical recommendations on which SD cards to get for the Nikon D3100 DSLR so you can get out shooting.
Nikon D3100 Memory Card – Quick Recommendations
Here are some quick recommendations for good memory cards for the Nikon D3100. These offer a good mix of speed, reliability, cost-effectiveness, and broad availability. Any of these makes for a good choice for the D3100.
- Video Speed Class: U1
- UHS Bus Interface Type: UHS-I
- Storage Capacities: 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
- Video Speed Class: V30
- UHS Bus Interface Type: UHS-I
- Storage Capacities: 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
Nikon D3100 Memory Card Requirements
Nikon issues its own guidelines for officially approved memory cards for the Nikon D3100, but it’s pretty hard to make sense of. They’re buried on page 177 in the technical notes section of the Nikon D3100 instruction manual. They look like this.
There’s then a note: “Other cards have not been tested. For more details on the above cards, please contact the manufacturer.”
I don’t find that especially helpful. So I’ve taken those official recommendations from Nikon and translated them into practical recommendations below that cut through all the confusing jargon that memory card manufacturers use in their marketing.
In general, the Nikon D3100 will accept SD, SDHC, and SDXC cards. All of those types look exactly the same–the difference is in the amount of memory. SD refers to cards up to 2GB in size. Now that memory card prices have come down and you can buy very good 32GB cards for $15, there’s no good reason to be buying a 2GB card if your camera supports larger ones. So I’d recommend sticking with SDHC or SDXC for the Nikon D3100. SDHC refers to cards that are 4GB up through 32GB. SDXC refers to cards that are 64GB or above.
If you’re doing video recording, you’ll need a card that’s designated as class 6 or higher. The reason is that when recording video the camera needs to write a lot of data to the card quickly. If your card isn’t able to write data fast enough, the video recording will stop. The current crop of memory cards are all class 10, so you’re better off going with one of them than searching around for an old class 6 card.
So here’s a mix of recommended memory cards that will work well in the Nikon D3100 and that are reasonably priced, readily available, and good value. This list isn’t exhaustive, and there are both faster and slower SD cards that will also work, as well as smaller and larger ones. Because of the similarities between the two cameras, these are essentially the same memory card recommendations for the Nikon D5300 as well.
Recommended Memory Cards for the Nikon D3100 – In Detail
These aren't necessarily the fastest SD cards on the market, but they're fast enough for this camera. This isn't necessarily a comprehensive list of every SD card that will work in this camera—there are also others that might work well, too.
My emphasis here is on cards that meet these criteria:
- fast enough for all the features of this camera
- from a reputable and reliable brand
- readily available at retailers
- good value for money
If you want to use a faster, fancier card you can, but you won't see any extra benefit in doing so while you're operating the camera (but you might see some faster speeds when downloading the photos to a computer, depending on your computer and memory card reader combination).
SanDisk Ultra U1 UHS-I
- Great choice for compact to mid-range point-and-shoot cameras
- Quick transfer speeds up to 150MB/s (Up to 150MB/s read speed engineered with proprietary technology to...
The SanDisk Ultra line is their cost-effective mid-range option. The latest versions of the Ultra cards are much faster than older versions, and it's a good basic option for cameras that don't demand too much of their SD card. The next level up—the Extreme cards—are also a good option, but the Ultra cards are often priced slightly lower. They're usually very easy to find in stores, too.
SanDisk recycles its model names, and you can still find older, slower versions with the Ultra name. This latest version of the Ultra card is rated for U1 for video recording and uses a UHS-I interface.
It comes in sizes ranging from 64GB up to 512GB.
Lexar 633x V30 UHS-I
- High-speed, Class 10 performance leverages UHS-I (U1 or U3 depends on capacity) technology for a read...
- Capture high quality images of stunning 1080p full-HD, 3D, and 4K video
The Lexar 633x range has been one of the mainstays of Lexar's SD cards for a while now. There are now faster cards available, but this one is again fast enough for this camera while also representing good value for money.
One distinctive thing about this range is that they're available from 32GB up through `TB.
Buy at: Amazon.
Kingston Canvas Select Plus V30 UHS-I
- 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 a 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 128GB.
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 is another brand that isn't as well known as some others, but they've been around a long time and make very good memory cards that are usually very competitively priced and good value.
This particular model is available in sizes ranging from 64GB to 512GB.
Buy at: Amazon
Delkin Devices Advantage V30 UHS-I
- Supports 4K & Full HD 1080p Video Recording at High Frame Rates
- RAW Continuous-Shooting Approved
Delkin Devices have been around for a long time, but they've had something of a resurgence in recent years after simplifying their product lineup and updating the performance of their cards up to current specs.
This card is on the lower end of their range, but it works well in this camera without the higher price point of the faster cards. The Advantage card is rated to V30 and has a UHS-I interface. It currently comes in sizes up to 512GB.
There are also a lot of smaller, mostly unknown brands. In general, I'd recommend sticking to a brand you know and trust or one of the brands I've mentioned on this page because they have well-established reputations for putting out high-quality cards. Some of the other lesser-known brands might work, but they also might not be all they claim to be. The ones above should give a good selection of ones you can find fairly easily at retailers near you.
Faster SD Cards
If you're looking to use a faster card, take a look at the ones that I've subjected to my independent SD card speed tests.
Images and product information from Amazon PA-API were last updated on 2023-12-04 at 00:56. 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.