Canon R6 Memory Card Quick Recommendations
Here are some quick recommendations, if you just want to cut to the chase.
- ProGrade Digital V60 UHS-II
- SanDisk Extreme Pro
- Lexar Professional 1667x Silver V60 UHS-II
- Sony TOUGH-G V90 UHS-II
- Type: SDXC / SDHC
- Video Speed Class: V90
- UHS Speed Class: UHS-II
- Storage Capacities: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
- Type: SDXC / SDHC
- Video Speed Class: V90
- UHS Speed Class: UHS-II
- Storage Capacities: 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
- Type: SDXC
- Video Speed Class: V60
- UHS Speed Class: UHS-II
- Storage Capacities: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
Any of these makes for a good choice for use in the Canon EOS R6.
These SD cards are fast enough to let you use all of the R6’s features, have a strong track record of reliability, are readily available, and are usually cost-effective.
And don’t forget that the Canon R6 has dual SD slots, so you can use two memory cards (it’s not a requirement to use two, but there are benefits; more on this below).
Canon EOS R6 SD Card Requirements
The Canon EOS R6 is a full-frame mirrorless camera that shoots 20-megapixel photos and 4K60 video, and at its highest settings (4K60, HEVC, IPB Standard, Canon Log ON, HDR PQ ON), it records at a video bitrate of up to 340 Mbps. 1
The Canon R6 has two SD card slots that take SDXC and SDHC memory cards. And, notably, those SD card slots are UHS-II compatible, which means it can take advantage of the extra speed benefits that UHS-II can bring.
How Many SD Cards Do You Need for the Canon R6?
The Canon R6 has dual SD card slots, so you can use two SD cards.
But it’s not a requirement that both slots be filled. The camera will work normally with a single SD card in slot 1.
That said, there are advantages to filling both memory card slots. That’s because the second slot gives you extra options. You can use it for overflow storage, so that when the first card fills up, it moves on automatically to the next one. Or you can use it in various ways for creating a real-time backup copy or designate one card for photos (or RAW) and another for video (or JPG). You can also copy between the cards.
Something else worth noting is that the memory cards do not have to be identical. If you’ve ever worked with external hard drive storage with multiple drives, you might have run into systems that require that the storage drives be identical in capacity and type. That is not the case here: you can use different types of SD cards in the Canon R6. So you can use one very fast card for recording video, for instance, and have the second card as a slower and cheaper card that has much more storage capacity. A combination like that can be especially useful if you’re using the second memory card slot for overflow storage or as a backup.
So the ideal situation is to use two memory cards and fill both slots, but the camera will still work normally with only one SD card.
Canon’s SD Card Guidance for the R6
The R6’s instruction manual is actually more helpful than many other manuals when it comes to providing guidance on which SD cards will work in this camera.
The most detailed guidance is buried all the way back on page 863. There it lays out various speed requirements in the different video settings combinations.
The gist is that, as with other cameras, you can use slower SD cards if you’re willing to limit which of the camera’s features are available to you. For instance, if you only want to shoot 1080p video, you can use a slower SD card than if you want to shoot 4K. And you can use slower cards if you choose H.264 video rather than the newer (and better) HEVC (H.265).
But that doesn’t make much sense to me. If you’ve chosen to get an impressive camera like the R6, you want to be able to use all of the camera’s features. And it’s pretty easy to get SD cards that are fast enough to let you use all of the camera’s features so long as you know what to look for.
So what I’m aiming to do here is provide some practical recommendations on which SD cards to get for the Canon R6 so you can use the camera to its full potential.
I’m not trying to list every SD card that works in the R6–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 R6’s features, are readily available at major retailers, are cost-effective, and come from major manufacturers with track records for making good-quality cards. I’m also basing this on my own SD speed tests.
Canon R6 Memory Card Detailed Recommendations
Here’s more information on the cards mentioned above, along with some other good alternatives.
SanDisk Extreme Pro V90 UHS-II
- Tap into pro performance designed for professional and advanced photographers and videographers.
- Super-fast write speeds of up to 260MB/s* help rapidly clear buffer time to support continuous burst mode...
SanDisk's Extreme Pro range is their top model.
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. And, even more confusingly, you can also find another version of this card widely available—there are Extreme Pro UHS-I and UHS-II versions. The one I'm listing here is the one is the UHS-II version that is rated for 300 MB/s and V90. There are also UHS-I Extreme Pro cards that are rated for 170 MB/s and 200 MB/s.
Lexar Professional 1667x Silver V60 UHS-II
- 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. It's rated for video recording speed rating of V60. It comes in sizes up to 256GB.
Kingston Canvas React Plus V90 UHS-II
- Ultimate speeds to support professional camera use — Transfer speeds up to 300MB/s and recording speeds...
- UHS-II standard for reliable high-resolution photography and video recording — Capture 4K and 8K...
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.
But this card is an exception to that. It's Kingston's fastest model in their SD card lineup, and it's very quick indeed. It's available in sizes from 16GB through 512GB.
Delkin Devices Power V90 UHS-II
- Uninterrupted 8K, 4K, 3D, HDR, 360º & High-Speed Recording
- Specialized for Simultaneous Recording
Delkin Devices have actually been around for years, but not too long ago they refreshed their SD card lineup to make it both clearer and more competitive. The Power range is their fastest line. This card is rated at V90 with UHS-II.
Sony TOUGH-G V90 UHS-II
- Tough specs: world's first one-piece molded construction with high hardness materials have resulted in...
- Ribless, no write protection switch design: world's first ribless, no write protection switch design6...
These Sony cards are quick, reliable, and fairly widely available. Sony also has SF-E and SF-M models. The SF-G is the fastest (it has a red "G" on the card next to the storage capacity).
Making Sense of SD Card Specifications
There are several types of SD card, and you’ll find a range of different acronyms and codes on them. Here’s a quick overview of what to look for.
SDHC vs. SDXC
Recommendation: Use SDXC cards for both the larger storage capacities and the extra convenience of not having to deal with chaptered video files (more on that below).
Most of the cards you’ll see available now have either SDHC or SDXC printed on them. The Canon R6 will work with both SDHC and SDXC cards (and, for that matter, just plain SD cards, but they’re hard to find these days and have impractically small storage capacities).
These aren’t performance categories, as such. An SDXC card isn’t necessarily any faster than an SDHC card, and vice versa. But they’re important for compatibility with the camera and also in terms of storage capacity.
They’re categories assigned by the SD Association, which is the organization that oversees and develops the standards for SD and microSD cards. The difference between those two specifications is in the filesystem they’re formatted with–the SDHC specification uses FAT32 formatting, while the SDXC specification uses exFAT–but when it comes to buying memory cards, the practical difference is that cards 32GB and smaller will be labeled SDHC and cards 64GB and larger will be labeled SDXC.
There is a practical reason to choose SDXC cards for the R6. Well, actually, there are two. The most obvious is that SDXC cards have higher storage capacities, which means more space to save data before you have to switch out the card. But a less obvious reason is that the R6 detects which kind of filesystem the SD card uses. For SDHC cards (which use the FAT32), it will break up videos into segments with a maximum file size of 4GB. It’s a process called chaptering, and the segments can be reassembled in post-production. But for SDXC cards, which don’t have that filesize limitation, the video files will be saved as a single, large file, therefore avoiding the need for reassembly in post-production.
UHS-I vs. UHS-II
Recommendation: The Canon EOS R6 has UHS-II SD card slots. To take full advantage of all of the camera’s features, it’s best to use UHS-II SD cards.
The current generations of 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.
Aside from whatever is printed on the card or packaging, you can tell UHS-I and UHS-II cards apart just by looking at them. UHS-I cards have a single row of contacts on the back. UHS-II cards have a second row of contacts.
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 both the device (host) and the SD card are UHS-II. But the spec is designed to be backward compatible, so you can use UHS-I cards in UHS-II devices, but you will only get the speed of UHS-I.
Video Speed Classes
Recommendation: To be able to use all of the Canon R6’s features, stick to UHS-II SD cards that are rated at V60 or V90.
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.
As a technical matter, the first system was known as Speed Classes (these were Class 2, 4, 6, and 10). The second system was known as UHS Speed Classes (U1 and U3). The third system is known as Video Speed Classes (V6, V10, V30, V60, and V90).
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 R6, the safest option is to stick with cards that are rated V60 or V90. These are designed to work with the requirements of even the highest video modes of the R6.
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.
So Why Get a Good Memory Card for the Canon EOS R6?
A better memory card is not 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.
Canon’s own caution note on this issue says:
– If you use a slow-writing card when recording movies, the movie may not be recorded properly. Also, if you play back a movie on a card with a slow reading speed, the movie may not be played back properly.
– When recording movies, use high-performance cards with a writing speed sufficiently higher than the bit rate.
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.
How to Format SD Cards
When you buy a new SD card, you should format it before use and then regularly after that. If you’re formatting a card that you’ve already been using, make sure that you’ve downloaded any photos and videos you want to keep, because formatting deletes everything on the card.
Here’s some information on how to format the memory card.
How to Format SD Cards in the Canon R6
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.
Always be sure you’ve backed up everything you want from the card, because formatting it will wipe everything. (If you’ve formatted accidentally, it still might be possible to recover data from the memory card, but it’s not always guaranteed, and it can incur the expense of buying recovery software; more on that below.)
On the Canon R6, you can find the format function under:
Wrench Icon > Format card
From that menu, you can choose which memory card to format (you can only do one at a time).
The Canon R6 also has the option for a low-level format. The regular format is quick, but all it’s really doing is wiping the file allocation table, which works much like an index. It doesn’t actually wipe the data from the card, and it’s probably still possible to recover the data from the card using data recovery software.
But the low-level format option is a much more thorough process. It does take a bit longer, but it more securely wipes the data from the memory card. You access the low-level format option on the same screen–it’s a checkbox option that you’ll see on the screen.
Canon recommends that you use the low-level format the first time you use a new SD card in the camera as a precaution to reduce the risk of problems.
How to Format SD Cards with a Computer
It’s best practice to format the SD cards in the camera, but 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.
FAQs About Canon R6 Memory Cards
What type of memory card does the Canon R6 take?
The Canon R6 takes SDXC and SDHC cards. It has two memory card slots. Both are UHS-II compatible.
Is the Canon R6 compatible with UHS-II SD cards?
Yes, the Canon R6 is compatible with UHS-II SD cards in both of its memory card slots.
How many memory card slots does the Canon R6 have?
The Canon R6 has dual memory card slots, which means you can use two SDXC/SDHC memory cards (it will also work with one, but there are advantages to using both).
- There is actually one mode that saves video that has an even higher bitrate. The 4K30 timelapse mode saves video that has a bitrate of up to 470 Mbps, but that’s the bitrate of the end product. Because timelapse footage is captured differently from regular video, it’s not actually capturing the video at that bitrate in real-time.
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