Nikon D3500 Memory Card Recommendations

Here are some practical recommendations for which SD cards work well in the Nikon D3500 DSLR.

Nikon D3500 DSLR
Nikon D3500 DSLR
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Filed Under: DSLRs, Memory Cards

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Best SD Card for the Nikon D3500 – Quick Recommendations

The Nikon D3500 DSLR camera takes a single SD card. But which one is the best SD memory card to get for this camera? Here are some practical recommendations.

I have much more detail below, but if you just want to cut to the chase with the short version, here are some good options that you should have no problem finding at your preferred electronics or photography store and can represent great value:

  1. SanDisk Ultra
  2. Lexar Professional 633x
  3. Kingston Canvas Select Plus
SanDisk 256GB Ultra SDXC UHS-I Memory Card - 100MB/s, C10, U1, Full HD, SD...
  • Fast for better pictures and Full HD video(2) | (2)Full HD (1920x1080) video support may vary based upon...
  • Great choice for compact to mid-range point-and-shoot cameras
Lexar Professional 633x 256GB SDXC UHS-I Card, Up To 95MB/s Read, for...
  • 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
Kingston 256GB SDXC Canvas Select Plus 100MB/s Read Class 10 UHS-I U1 V30...
  • 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...

If you’ve just picked up one of the new Nikon D3500 DSLs, there’s a good chance it didn’t come with a memory card. Some retailers include accessories, including SD cards, as part of bundles they put together, but by default, the camera doesn’t come with one. So you might be wondering which memory cards work best in it.

It doesn’t come with a memory card as standard. There’s a huge number of different memory cards available for cameras. My objective here is to make it easy to pick good ones for the D3500. These recommendations are based on my own memory card tests as well as shooting with my own Nikon D3500.

Nikon D3500 Memory Card Requirements

The Nikon D3500 is an entry-level DSLR that has a 24MP sensor in the DX format. It’s a great option for those uprgading to DSLRs for more control and better quality, and it’s impressive how good these entry-level DSLRs are now. They might not have all the bells and whistles of the higher, more expensive models, but the quality of the images out of them is excellent.

The D3500 has a single SD card slot. The slot uses the UHS-I speed bus. And it’s compatible with SD, SDHC, and SDXC cards.

I have more details below on what these technical terms mean, but the gist is that you can use just about any SD card currently on the market in this camera and have it work well. The larger risk is paying too much for a card that’s faster that the D3500 can make use of.

So what are the best SD memory cards for the D3500? And which should you buy? Nikon does not make memory cards and doesn’t announce any officially recommended SD memory cards.

If you tried to find the answer in the instruction manual, you would have come across this rather cryptic guidance:

The camera supports SD, SDHC, and SDXC memory cards, including SDHC and SDXC cards compliant with UHS-I. Cards rated SD Speed Class 6 or better are recommended for movie recording; using slower cards may result in recording being interrupted. When choosing cards for use in card readers, be sure they are compatible with the device. Contact the manufacturer for information on features, operation, and limitations on use.

OK, then. That’s not especially helpful. It’s the same kind of vague and broad guidance that Nikon usually includes for their cameras. While it’s accurate, it’s also not very useful if you’re trying to work out which SD card to buy. You’ll have to really go hunting to try to find a card that’s rated as Speed Class 6 these days, and it’s not self-evident how that compares with a U3 speed rating, for example.

So what I’m aiming to do here is translate Nikon’s guidance into something more practical, with some specific recommendations for cards that are a combination of being compatible with the D3500, reliable, easy to find at major retailers, and good value.

What I’m not trying to do is list every single memory card that works with the D3500; there are others not on this list that also work well. But I’m hoping these recommendations will save you some time so you can get out shooting. I spend quite a bit of time testing memory cards, and I’ve put together these recommendations based on those tests and on shooting with my D3500.

The good news is that for the Nikon D3500, you don’t need to buy an expensive card, and the  fastest SD cards with bleeding-edge technology are expensive. I’ve seen some recommendations elsewhere to get cards like the SanDisk Extreme Pro or Kingston Canvas React Plus cards for the D3500. I consider that poor advice. Those are excellent cards–I’ve got them, use them in other cameras, and have tested them myself, and they’re among the fastest SD cards you can buy–but they’re much faster than the D3500 can make use of. And you pay premium prices for those fast cards. You’d be much better off getting an SD card that’s more sensibly matched to the D3500 and putting any spare change toward building your lens collection. In short, you can use a UHS-II card rated for V90 if you like, but it’s overkill for this camera, and you won’t see any extra benefit while you’re shooting. Thankfully, there are plenty of excellent SD cards that are reliable and cost-effective.

And there’s more good news if you happen to be upgrading from the D3400: the same SD card that works well in that will work just as well in the D3500.

What SD Card Should I Get For My Nikon D3500?

Here’s the more detailed version of the cards I mentioned at the top of this post, along with some others.

These aren't necessarily the fastest SD cards on the market, but they're fast enough for this camera. It's also not designed to be a comprehensive list of every SD card that will work.

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; and 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

SanDisk 256GB Ultra SDXC UHS-I Memory...
  • Fast for better pictures and Full HD video(2) | (2)Full HD (1920x1080) video support may vary based upon...
  • Great choice for compact to mid-range point-and-shoot cameras

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. 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 32GB through 256GB.

Buy at: Amazon

Lexar 633x V30 UHS-I

Lexar Professional 633x 256GB SDXC 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

Kingston 256GB 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 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.

Buy at: B&H Photo or Amazon.

PNY Elite-X V30 UHS-I

PNY 256GB Elite-X Class 10 U3 V30 SDXC...
  • 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

Delkin Devices 256GB Advantage SDXC...
  • 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 have been relatively quiet in recent years. But they've refreshed their entire lineup of cards recently to simplify the range and bring the cards up to current specs.

The Advantage card is rated to V30 and has a UHS-I interface. It currently comes in sizes up to 512GB.

Buy at: B&H Photo or Amazon.

Other Brands

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.

Why Does it Matter?

A better memory card won’t help you take better photos. So why get one? It comes down to being able to make full use of all the camera’s features.

It mostly has to do with how quickly the SD card can write the data coming at it from the camera. This is most noticeable when shooting video, because there’s a constant stream of data being thrown at the card. If the card can’t keep up, the recording might stop, or the camera freeze up, and you could end up losing footage.

The Nikon D3500 isn’t especially demanding in those respects compared with some other new cameras. The D3500 doesn’t shoot 4K video. Its highest video mode, which is 1080p60 with the high-quality setting, records at a video bitrate of about 36 Mb/s, which is much lower than some other cameras. But it’s still a large enough data stream that some of the lower-end and older SD cards on the market will struggle with.

You can also notice the speed of the card when it comes to RAW and burst photography, both of which the D3500 can do. When shooting burst-mode photos of fast action activities, and even if shooting time lapse with short intervals, you again need an SD card that’s fast enough to keep up with the data that the camera is trying to write to the card. If the card is too slow, it can lead to errors and problems. So if you want the camera to perform as expected, you need an SD card that’s fast enough.

So you want to focus on cards with write speeds—and specifically, sequential write speeds—that are fast enough for the D3500. Thankfully, that’s pretty easy. If you aim for cards with a speed class U1, U3, or V30, you’ll be all set. You could use SD memory cards with a speed class rating of V60 or even V90, but you won’t get any extra benefit in-camera from those much faster cards. And stick to UHS-I–there’s no need for a UHS-II card in the D3500.

What Size SD Card is Best for the Nikon D3500?

Physical Size / Memory Card Type

Memory cards come in different shapes and sizes, depending on their type. The common ones are microSD, SD, and CompactFlash. Some of the newer ones are known as XQD and CFast. The size you want for the D3500 is SD, and it will be marked as either SDHC or SDXC. (If it said microSDHC or microSDXC, it’s the wrong type.)

Storage Capacity

Once you’ve got the right SD card type, there are some other specs to look at.

The D3500 is compatible with cards that meet the SDHC and SDXC specs, which makes it easy. That’s basically all SD cards on the market right now. What that means in practice is that you can use a card with any amount of storage space that’s currently on the market (providing those cards properly meet the specs, of course, which the big manufacturers do). The most common sizes for now are 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 200GB, and 256GB. So if you want to put a 256GB SDXC card in it, you can. Or a 512GB card, if you really want.

The sweet spot in terms of convenience and price is probably around the 128GB to 256GB range.

One of the great features of the Nikon D3500, of course, is the resolution of its 24-megapixel images. But that high resolution also means that the files are quite large and take up storage space on your card. The number of photos you can fit on a memory card varies depending on what settings you’re using.

If you’re shooting in RAW format, those files are generally between 20 and 24 megabytes each. If you’re shooting in JPG, the files are smaller.

What Do All Those Codes on SD Cards Mean?

SD cards have several different sets of codes and acronyms that are used to describe their capabilities. Here are the main ones relevant to memory cards for the Nikon D3500.

SD, SDHC, SDXC. While these technically distinguish, at least in part, the filesystem type that they’re formatted in, in practice, it’s useful for determining what size card you need. SD applies to cards 4GB and smaller. SDHC applies to cards from 8 to 32GB. And SDXC applies to cards 64GB and larger. In short, you can use any of them in this camera, so you can safely ignore this rating and choose based on the size of the card you want.

Recommendation: Both SDHC and SDXC cards are compatible. There’s no functional difference in speed—just storage space.

UHS-I. This refers to something known as Ultra High-Speed Bus, which is the technology behind how the camera interfaces with the card. So far, there’s UHS-I (sometimes written, incorrectly, as UHS-1) and UHS-II.

Recommendation: There’s no harm in using a card that’s rated with UHS-II, but it won’t give you any extra benefit in this camera. All else being equal, UHS-I works just fine in the D3500, and they’re often less expensive than UHS-II cards.

U1 / U3 / V30 / V60 / V90. This is the speed class rating. It’s a rating system designed primarily to categorize its speed for recording video at various bitrates. And it’s a code that refers to the minimum write speeds of the card (specifically, the minimum sequential write speed). If a card has V30 on it, for example, it guarantees minimum write speeds of at least 30MB/s.

Cards with any of these write speed ratings will work in the D3500, although the fastest ones are overkill for what this camera needs. The most logical ones to get for this camera will have U1, U3, or V30. You’ll also see a Class 10 rating on them, which refers to an older scale. So long as the card has one of the U or V ratings, you can ignore the Class 10 bit.

Very often when you look at the packaging of memory cards, you’ll see the fastest speed mentioning most prominently. That’s usually the read speeds, and that’s not relevant to shooting with the camera with things like video recording, rapid shooting, or continuous shutter bursts.

Recommendation: Cards with a U1, U3, or V30 rating, especially if you plan to record video.

Things Worth Knowing

Does the Nikon D3500 Come with a Memory Card?

A memory card is essential to make use of the camera, but like most camera manufacturers, Nikon does not include a memory card as standard with the Nikon D3500 DSLR camera.

Some retailers, however, will include one as part of a special bundle deal. But unless you’ve bought one of those special bundles, the chances are that you’ll need to pick up a memory card separately.

Get a SDXC or SDHC UHS-I card for best performance in the D3500.

Can You Use a Nikon D3500 Without a Memory Card?

No. While there is an internal memory buffer in the camera, it is for temporarily storing images before they’re written to the memory card. There’s no way to use that buffer to save images. In other words, you need to have a memory card inserted to shoot with the camera.

There is, however, one exception. And that is if you’re using the D3500 for live streaming to a computer. When you’re doing that, you use the camera’s HDMI port to output a video signal that bypasses the memory card.

Basic Precautions

It’s a good idea to format the card in the camera rather than using your computer and to format it regularly. But if that’s not possible or not what you want to do, you can also format cards using a computer. But there are some things to know when formatting SD cards to minimize the risks of your camera having problems with them. 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.

And while memory cards are remarkably resilient, just like any electronic product, they can and do fail. So regular backups are very much recommended—here are some ideas.

Avoiding Fake SD Cards

Memory cards are products that attract counterfeiters. And some of the newer ones can be exceptionally convincing. The best defense against getting caught out with a fake SD card. So it’s always a good idea to purchase from a reputable retailer. While it’s not a perfect guarantee that you won’t get a fake, there is at least some recourse if you do. I buy most of mine from Amazon and B&H Photo. Adorama, NewEgg, and BestBuy are also good options.

What If I Accidentally Delete the Photos on a Memory Card?

It doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t recover them. There are apps available to help you try to recover deleted photos from a memory card. I’ve put together some recommendations here.

Images and product information from Amazon PA-API were last updated on 2021-11-26 at 19:32. 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.

Nikon D3500 Accessories

Looking for replacements or spares? These are some of the core Nikon D3500 accessories.

Battery & Charger for Nikon D3500

Spare batteries are very handy in your camera bag. Unlike the old mechanical SLRs that didn't need a battery to keep shooting, with the D3500 and other digital cameras, you're high and dry if your battery runs out of juice.

If you're looking for a replacement or spare battery for your D3500, the model number is EN-EL14a. It's a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that's also used by many other Nikon DSLRs (7.2V, 1230mAh). You can also find very good aftermarket versions, like this one from Watson or these from PowerExtra that provide more cost-effective alternatives.

Powerextra 2 x EN-EL14 EN-EL14a Battery & Dual LCD Charger Compatible with...
  • ✔ Battery Specs:Capacity: 1500mAh / Battery Type: Lithium-ion / Voltage: 7.4V / Come with CE...
  • ✔ Standard Compatible with Nikon EN-EL14 EN-EL14a:Ideal Replacement Battery for Nikon Coolpix P7000,...

You can’t charge the battery while it’s in the camera, so you’ll need a separate charger. The camera comes with one. If you’re after a spare or replacement, the model number is MH-24. It's an AC quick charger that plugs directly into the wall socket. Unlike many other cameras, you can't charge the Nikon D3500's battery in the camera. Some of the aftermarket batteries come with a dock charger, which can be a cheaper way to solve the problem.

Memory Cards

There's no official SD card for the D3500, but some cards will work better than others in this camera. And there's no point splurging on a super-fast SD card when the camera can't take advantage of it.

I've put together more detailed SD card recommendations for the Nikon D3500. But if you're just after some quick recommendations, any of these make for a good choice and are reasonably priced:

Camera Strap for the Nikon D3500

You don't have to stock with the original Nikon strap with the D3500--any camera strap will work. But if you want to replace the original (the black one with the gold/yellow Nikon branding), its model number is AN-DC3.

There's also a huge variety of other good alternatives. My personal favorites are the ones by Peak Design, which come in especially handy if you're going back and forth between multiple cameras because they come with a quick-release system. And they're very strong.

Lenses for Nikon D3500

One of the great things about DSLRs--and especially ones that use a long-standing mounting system like Nikon's F-mount--is that there's a huge variety of lenses that you can use with it. So there's no "right" lens to use--it depends on what you're aiming for and how much you want to spend.

But for the D3500, in general, you want to look for lenses that have Nikon's F-mount system and that are designed for DX camera bodies (that's the cropped sensor size of the D3500). And you'll probably want one that has autofocus. These are not hard-and-fast rules, but sticking to those basics will make things easier if you're looking to expand your lens collection.

The D3500 typically comes with a basic 18-55mm zoom lens. There's nothing wrong with it as an entry-level lens. It works just fine, it's inexpensive, and, most importantly, you can still take great photos with it. But it's very much a starter lens. If you're after some recommendations on lenses to get for the D3500 to step beyond the kit lens, here are some ideas. These are sensibly priced, are logical additions to a D3500, and go beyond what the kit lens can do.

Nikon AF-S DX 18-300mm ƒ/3.5-6.3G ED VR zoom lens. If you had to choose just one lens to take with your traveling, this is a great choice. It has a very wide zoom range. At 18mm (equivalent to 27mm on a full-frame body), it's great for interiors or landscapes. At 300mm (equivalent to 450mm on a full-frame body), there's plenty of reach for wildlife, sports, or dramatic sunsets. It has vibration reduction, is compact and portable, and is competitively priced. Sigma also makes a good version that's a bit cheaper but great quality. They're both high-quality, extremely versatile, and surprisingly affordable.

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens...
  • Maximum magnification of 032x
  • Angle of view from 76 degree to 5 degree 20'. Focal length range: 18 300 millimeter, minimum focus...

Nikon AF-S 50mm ƒ/1.8G lens. It's hard to go past a 50mm prime lens for versatility, fun, and learning the fundamentals of photography. They're fast, which means they're good in low-light as well as give you that nice blurry background while keeping the subject sharp. They're inexpensive. They're often very sharp. And they're small and highly portable. This is the ƒ/1.8 version. Nikon also makes a B&H Photofaster ƒ/1.4 version, but it's about double the price. because the D3500 has a cropped DX sensor, the 50mm lens will become a slight telephoto perspective, equivalent to a 75mm lens on a full-frame camera (i.e., 35mm equivalent). Which makes it all the more useful as a portrait lens, whether you're taking formal portraits or candids of the family. And if you want a more traditional "true" 50mm perspective, you can put the 35mm ƒ/1.8G on the D3500 instead.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G Lens
  • Fast, upgraded f/1.8, compact FX format prime lens. The picture angle with 35 millimeter (135) format is...
  • Focal length 50 millimeter, minimum focus distance 1.48 feet (0.45 meter)

Nikon D3500 Body Cap

If you're storing or transporting your D3500 camera body without a lens attached, you'll want to put on a body cap. It goes over the opening where the lens goes and prevents dust and moisture from getting inside and wreaking havoc (and pesky dust bunnies on your photos).

The camera comes with one, but they're easy to misplace. The model number for the replacement part is BF-1B. It's the same cap used for all Nikon F-mount camera bodies. And this is a great opportunity to save a few dollars with an aftermarket version--it's just a piece of plastic, after all. They're often sold paired with a rear lens cap, since you often need both of those things when removing a lens.

Nikon D3500 Rubber Eyecup

If the rubber eyecup has been knocked off the viewfinder when you take out of your camera bag, the replacement part model number is DK-25. There are also slightly cheaper aftermarket versions, such as the ones by Vello or JJC.

2 Pack JJC Eyecup Eyepiece Eye Cup Viewfinder for Nikon D3400 D3500 D3200...
  • Made from soft and durable silicone + high quality ABS
  • Provide cushioning around the camera's eyepiece, and are especially useful to eyeglass wearers

Battery Dummy for Nikon D3500

A battery dummy is used for longer-term power supply to the camera. They're especially useful for things like time lapse photography, astrophotography, or using your D3500 as a webcam.

It's an accessory that fits into your camera's battery compartment. By itself, it doesn't provide any power, but it's attached to a cable that you can then attach to different power sources such as AC power or a larger battery pack.

Nikon's official model is EP-5A. You can also pick up aftermarket versions. Some include only the dummy battery part; others come bundled with AC adapters.

TKDY EH-5 AC Adapter EP-5A DC Coupler Power Supply EN-EL14A Dummy Battery...
  • [COMPATIBLE WITH MODEL:] EP-5A DC coupler (Connector) replace EN-EL14/EN-EL14a Battery, work for Nikon...
  • [STEPS FOR USAGE:] Remove the original battery, Replace with virtual battery, and cover the battery...

FAQs & Tips

I've put together a number of resources related to the Nikon D3500.

Good places to start are with the Nikon D3500 Q&As and recommended SD cards for the Nikon D3500.

Where Can I Find the Nikon D3500 Manual?

You can find the Nikon D3500 manuals here. There are several different versions. The Reference Manual is the most detailed and most complete. The User Manual is basically a quick start guide. There are also versions designed for different parts of the world.

The Reference Manual is available as both a downloadable PDF and as on online HTML version.

Where Can I Find the Nikon D3500 Latest Firmware?

Nikon releases firmware updates on their website.

So far, there haven't been any firmware updates issued for the D3500.

Where to Buy a Nikon D3500 DSLR

The D3500 is an excellent entry-point camera for getting started with DSLR photography.

You can find them at Amazon and B&H Photo.

You can also find them used at major used camera gear sellers such as KEH (which is where I often buy when I'm looking for used gear).

Nikon D3500 FAQs

Is Nikon D3500 full frame?

The Nikon D3500 is in Nikon's DX format series of DSLRs, which means it has an APS-C sensor. These sensors are sized smaller than a full-frame sensor but larger than most smartphone and compact camera sensors.

The Nikon D3500's sensor measures 23.5 mm x 15.6 mm and produces images that are up to 24 megapixels (6000 x 4000 pixels). The sensor has a native ISO sensitivity of ISO 100 to ISO 25,600.

What year was the Nikon D3500 released?

The Nikon D3500 was released in 2018. It replaced the Nikon D3400.

What is the weight of the Nikon D3500?

The camera body itself (i.e., without a lens attached) weighs approximately 12.9 oz. (365 g).

Does the Nikon D3500 have a built-in flash?

Yes, the Nikon D3500 has a built-in flash that uses i-TTL.

Does the Nikon D3500 have wireless connectivity?

Yes, the D3500 has Bluetooth connectivity, although that connectivity is limited to use with Nikon's SnapBridge app.