Nikon D5500 Memory Card Recommendations

It’s not easy to know which is the right SD card for your camera. Here are my practical recommendations on good choices for the Nikon D5500 DSLR.

Text & Photos By David Coleman
Last Revised & Updated:

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Nikon D5500 Memory Card – Quick Recommendations

If you’d like to get right down to business, here are some quick recommendations for good memory cards for the Nikon D5500 DSLR camera.

  1. SanDisk Ultra
  2. Lexar Professional 633x
  3. Kingston Canvas Select Plus
SanDisk Ultra U1 UHS-I
  • Video Speed Class: U1
  • UHS Bus Interface Type: UHS-I
  • Storage Capacities: 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
Lexar 633x V30 UHS-I
  • Video Speed Class: V30
  • UHS Bus Interface Type: UHS-I
  • Storage Capacities: 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
Kingston Canvas Select Plus V30 UHS-I
  • Video Speed Class: V30
  • UHS Bus Interface Type: UHS-I
  • Storage Capacities: 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB

Any of these offers a good combination of compatibility with the D5500 and cost-effectiveness, are quite readily available at major retailers, and are produced by reliable manufacturers. So any of these makes for a good choice.

You can find more detailed explanations and more options below.

Nikon D5500 Memory Card Requirements

The instruction manual for the Nikon D5500 does discuss approved memory cards for the camera, but it’s not especially helpful.

Buried on page 101 of the manual is this:

That’s not especially illuminating if you’re trying to decide which memory card to buy. It’s not all Nikon’s fault–it’s not practical for them to update the manual as memory card manufacturers release new models. The Nikon D5500 was released in February 2015, after all, and memory card manufacturers have come out with numerous new models since then.

So this page is an effort to provide some practical recommendations based on the current slate of memory cards on offer and my having used them in the D5500.

The good news is that the Nikon D5500 isn’t all that demanding on memory cards—it’s even less demanding than the newer Nikon D3400. The upshot is that most of the memory cards on the market today will work nicely. But there are some things to watch out for.

First, here’s the quick version. Below you’ll find some specific cards that I’ve found from personal experience to work well in the Nikon D5500.

  • Size isn’t an issue. Cards from 2GB to 1TB will work.
  • SDHC and SDXC cards will work.
  • SD cards rated as Class 10, U1, U3, UHS-I, and UHS-II will all work (although you won’t get any benefit in using the fancier UHS-II cards in the camera).

Some Recommendations for SD Cards to Use in the Nikon D5500

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

    SanDisk 256GB Ultra SDXC UHS-I Memory...
    • 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.

    Buy at: Amazon | Best Buy

    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 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.

    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.

    What Size Memory Card is Best for the Nikon D5500?

    The D5500 is compatible with SDHC and SDXC cards. That means you can use a card with any amount of storage space that’s currently on the market. The most common sizes, for now, are 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 200GB, 256GB, and 512GB. So if you want to put a 512GB SDXC card in it, knock yourself out. You can even go up to 1TB, but given the price of those for now, it’s probably excessive for this camera.

    One of the great features of the Nikon D5500, of course, is the resolution of its 24.2MP images. But that also means that the files are quite large, especially if you’re shooting in the 14-bit RAW mode. At that highest setting, the files will come out somewhere in the range of 25 to 35 megabytes, depending on the compressibility of the individual photos, and you can expect to get roughly 900 to 1000 photos on a 32GB card. If you’re shooting in JPG, the files are smaller, so you’ll fit more of them.

    In terms of what size to get, if you’re only shooting photos and looking for the sweet spot of practicality and value, 32GB to 64GB is probably it at the moment. But 16GB will work just fine, as will backup your photos, of course).

    But if you plan on shooting any video, it’s worth considering a larger card. In terms of memory card write speed for recording video, the highest quality movie setting in the Nikon D5500–1080p60 on in the high-quality mode–creates video at a bitrate of about 37 Mbps. That’s pretty low–for comparison, many of the action cams like GoPros, for instance, record at up to 100 MBps in their 4K or high framerate modes—which is why you don’t necessarily need a cutting-edge memory card with the fastest write speed in the D5500.

    Here’s a simple calculator that shows the amount of video at the D5500’s maximum video bitrate will fit on SD cards of particular sizes.

    What Do All Those Codes on SD Memory Cards Mean?

    Memory cards have a bunch of codes and acronyms that are used to describe their capabilities. Here are the main ones relevant to memory cards for the Nikon D5500. (I have more details on these ratings and codes on my Fastest SD Cards page.

    SD, SDHC, SDXC. Technically, this refers, at least in part, to the filesystem that they’re formatted in—FAT32 or the related exFAT. Most current cameras, including the D5500, can read and write both, so you don’t need to worry about it much. But the distinction between SDHC and SDXC has a practical use–it’s useful for determining what size card you need. SD refers to cards 4 gigabytes and smaller. SDHC refers to cards from 8 to 32GB. And SDXC refers 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. If you want to put in a 32GB, go ahead. If you want to put in a 512GB card, knock yourself out.

    Recommendation: Both SDHC and SDXC cards are compatible with the D5500. 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: The D5500’s manual says that it’s compatible with UHS-I. 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 D5500.

    Class 6. This is the speed class rating. Class 6 is pretty much superseded now, and most of the cards that are readily available are now Class 10 or U1. The faster cards will work fine–they’re designed to be backward compatible. And, frankly, there’s now a much bigger range of options in Class 10 cards and Class 6 ones are becoming harder to find. If you use a card slower than Class 6 you risk the recording stopping randomly if you’re shooting video.

    Recommendation: Most of the SD cards on the market today are at least U1 or U3 or V30. Any of those will work well.

    Avoiding Fakes

    There are a lot of counterfeit memory cards on the market, so it’s always a good idea to purchase from a reputable retailer. I buy most of mine from Amazon and B&H Photo.

    Basic Precautions

    To minimize the risk of filesystem errors, it’s always a good idea to format the card in the camera, not in your computer, and to format it regularly.

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

    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 for recovering photos from a memory card here.

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    Text & Photos by David Coleman

    I'm a professional photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. I've been shooting for 30+ years, and my my photos and time-lapse videos have appeared in a bunch of different publications from major newspapers to magazines and books, billboards, TV shows, professional sports stadiums, museums, and even massive architectural scrims covering world-famous buildings while they're being renovated. You can see some of my travel photography here and here.