Nikon Z7 II Memory Card Recommendations

The Nikon Z7 II has two memory cards slots. Here are some practical recommendations on which memory cards are good choices to take advantage of all of the camera’s features.

Nikon D850 Memory Cards XQD CFexpress-B SDXC. Photo by David Coleman " havecamerawilltravel.com
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The Nikon Z7 II has two memory card slots.

And if you just want to cut to the chase, you can find quick recommendations on which cards to get here:

Which Memory Cards to Get for the Nikon Z7 II

Now, for the more detailed version.

The Z7 II has two memory card slots. (The Z7 had only one.)

Memory Card Slot 1: CFexpress Type B or XQD

Slot 1 is for a CFexpress Type B card or an XQD card. 1

There are three flavors of CFexpress cards: A, B, and C. The type you want for the Nikon Z7 II is Type B. They’re sometimes listed as CFexpress Type B or just CFexpress B. (Don’t get a Type A or Type C—those won’t work in the Z7 II. Same with CFast—that’s a different type again.)

B&H Photo has an excellent selection of CFexpress B cards from manufacturers like SanDisk, Lexar, Sony, ProDigital, Angelbird, and Delkin. You can find them here.

Most CFexpress Type B cards on the market today are more than fast enough for the Z7 II’s requirements even using the high-bitrate 4K video recording modes.

But if here are some specific models worth considering.

Memory Card Slot 2: SDXC & SDHC

The second slot is an SD/SDHC/SDXC slot. As a practical matter, SDXC cards make the most sense. That covers cards 64GB and larger. Any smaller than that isn’t very practical with the high-resolution still and video files the Z7 II produces. The largest still images out of the Z7 II (12-bit uncompressed RAW) come out at around 66 MB each.

SD cards have been around much longer and are very widely available. They’re inexpensive, and you can get very large storage capacities with them. The downside is that even the fastest SDXC card is much slower than a CFexpress B card. And it’s for that reason that the Z7 II will only record its 4K video to the CFexpress B/XQD slot.

And many SD cards are too slow for all of the Z7 II’s features. For the best performance, you’ll generally want to use a fast UHS-II SDXC card—aim for at least a V60 rating, but preferably V90. And with the large images and high-bitrate video, larger storage capacities of 128GB+ are much more convenient.

I have some practical recommendations for fast SD cards separately. I’ve bought and tested many SD cards over several years. But for some quick recommendations, these are good bets in the Z7 II for offering a good combination of performance, availability, and value.

ProGrade Digital V90 UHS-II
  • Type: SDXC
  • Video Speed Class: V90
  • UHS Bus Interface Type: UHS-II
  • Storage Capacities: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
Lexar Professional 2000x V90 UHS-II
  • Type: SDXC / SDHC
  • Video Speed Class: V90
  • UHS Bus Interface Type: UHS-II
  • Storage Capacities: 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
Sony TOUGH-G V90 UHS-II
  • Type: SDXC / SDHC
  • Video Speed Class: V90
  • UHS Bus Interface Type: UHS-II
  • Storage Capacities: 32GB, 64GB, 128GB
SanDisk Extreme Pro V90 UHS-II
  • Type: SDXC / SDHC
  • Video Speed Class: V90
  • UHS Bus Interface Type: UHS-II
  • Storage Capacities: 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
Delkin Devices Power V90 UHS-II SD Card
  • Type: SDXC / SDHC
  • Video Speed Class: V90
  • UHS Bus Interface Type: UHS-II
  • Storage Capacities: 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
Canvas React Plus V90 UHS-II
  • Type: SDXC / SDHC
  • Video Speed Class: V90
  • UHS Bus Interface Type: UHS-II
  • Storage Capacities: 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
PNY EliteX-PRO90 V90 UHS-II
  • Type: SDXC
  • Video Speed Class: V90
  • UHS Bus Interface Type: UHS-II
  • Storage Capacities: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
Angelbird AV PRO SD MK2 V90 UHS-II
  • Type: SDXC
  • Video Speed Class: V90
  • UHS Bus Interface Type: UHS-II
  • Storage Capacities: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB

What Not to Get: SDUC or SD Express Cards

This camera is not compatible with SDUC and doesn’t have the interface to take advantage of SD Express. Both of these are emerging standards and require the device hardware to support them. The Z7 II doesn’t support either of them (SD Express cards will work in a backwards compatible kind of way, but you won’t get any benefit of SD Express speeds.)

Nikon Z7 II Memory Card Requirements

Number of Memory Card Slots. The Nikon Z7 II has two memory card slots. One takes CFexpress Type B or XQD memory cards. The other takes UHS-II SD cards.

The manual is unusually specific about the speed requirements for the various modes of video recording but stops short of recommending specific models of memory cards.

It says this:

  • The camera can be used with CFexpress (Type B), XQD, SD, SDHC, and SDXC memory cards.
  • UHS-I and UHS-II SD cards are supported.
  • CFexpress or XQD cards with a maximum data transfer rate of at least 45 MB/s (300x), or UHS Speed Class 3 or better SD cards, are recommended for movie recording and playback. CFexpress or XQD cards with a maximum data transfer rate of at least 250 MB/s, or UHS Speed Class 3 or better SD cards with a maximum data transfer rate of at least 250 MB/s, are recommended for recording and playback of movies at a frame size/rate of 3840 x 2160; 60p or 3840 x 2160; 50p. Slower speeds may result in recording or playback being interrupted.

XQD. XQD is an older format, and the reason I’m not focusing on them here is that, while these cards are quick, they’re not nearly as quick as CFexpress B cards. And since the price of CFexpress B cards has come down considerably, there’s not much practical advantage in choosing XQD over CFexpress B unless other parts of your workflow are geared towards XQD. But if you happen to already have XQD cards on hand, by all means, use them.

B&H has a good selection of XQD cards. You can find them here.

Nikon XQD Memory Card
  • 64GB XQD Storage Capacity
  • Supports PCIe 2.0 and USB 3.0

Things Worth Knowing

Memory Card Readers. Don’t forget that you’ll need a compatible card reader for downloading the images to your computer. A CFexpress B card will physically fit in an XQD card reader, but just as with the camera, the hardware needs to be compatible. There are some cross-compatible readers available, like this one, but you can’t assume your old XQD reader will work with CFexpress B cards.

I personally use Prograde Digital Readers these days and have had excellent results. They’re high-end readers, but I’ve found them to be very fast and reliable. They make an XQD/CFexpress B reader with a Thunderbolt 3 connection and CFexpress B readers, but not dedicated XQD-only readers.

Sony also makes one that works with both XQD and CFexpress B cards.

ProGrade Digital CFexpress Type-B & XQD Single-Slot Memory Card Reader |...
  • DO MORE OF WHAT YOU LOVE: Because the ProGrade Digital Thunderbolt 3 Single-Slot CFexpress Type-B & XQD...
  • DESIGNED FOR LIFE ON THE ROAD: Wherever you go, your included adhesive metal plate attaches the magnetic...
Sony XQD/CFExpress Type B Memory Card Reader
  • For XQD and CFexpress Type B cards
  • USB 3.1 Gen 2 Interface

You can also find cheaper options from third-party manufacturers.

You don’t run into the same issues with SD readers–they’re very widely available. That said, speed and performance vary widely. If you’re using a UHS-II card, you get better performance from a UHS-II-compatible memory card reader. Prograde Digital makes some good ones, including a dual-slot card that has both CFexpress B and UHS-II SDXC slots (this is the one I use).

CFexpress Type B and SD UHS-II Dual-Slot Memory Card Reader by ProGrade...
  • DO MORE OF WHAT YOU LOVE:​ ​Because the ​ProGrade Digital™​ USB 3.2 Gen 2 ​CFexpress™​...
  • DESIGNED FOR LIFE ON THE ROAD:​ ​Wherever you go, your included adhesive metal plate attaches the...

When you go to format the memory cards using the camera’s menu system, it will still refer to the XQD card even after the firmware upgrade and regardless of whether you’re using an XQD or CFexpress B card.

There’s also a CFast memory card format. That’s different again. It’s an older format form factor that was an evolution from CompactFlash (CF). It’s not compatible with CFexpress.

Nikon Z7 II Memory Card FAQs

What type of memory card does the Nikon Z7 II use?

The Nikon Z7 II mirrorless camera is compatible with XQD and CFexpress B memory cards and SD UHS-II cards.

How many memory cards does the Nikon Z7 II take?

The Nikon Z7 II has two memory card slots. One is an XQD/CFexpress B memory card slot. The other is for SD cards (UHS-II compatible).

  1. The previous model, the Z7, required a firmware update before it could use CFexpress Type cards; when it was released, it could only use XQD cards in slot 1. But a firmware update after the camera’s release added the CFexpress Type B compatibility.[]

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Profile photo of David Coleman | Have Camera Will Travel | Washington DC-based Professional Photographer

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.

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