Nikon Z8 Memory Card Recommendations

Here are some recommendations on which memory cards to get to take full advantage of all of the impressive features available on the new Nikon Z8.

Nikon Z8 Mirrorless Camera. Photo by David Coleman " havecamerawilltravel.com
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Topics: Nikon, Nikon Z8

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The Nikon Z8 has two memory card slots. 

  • Slot 1 is compatible with CFexpress Type B and XQD memory cards
  • Slot 2 is compatible with SD cards

But just putting any old memory cards in there might mean you won’t have access to all of the camera’s impressive features and shooting modes. This is especially important when shooting video with the high-bitrate modes, but it also factors in with the super-fast burst photo modes available on the Z8. Using cards that are too slow can lead to features being unavailable, lockups, or dropped frames. 

So here are some recommendations on which memory cards to use in the Nikon Z8 in order to be able to take advantage of all of the camera’s impressive features. Since I originally posted this, Nikon has come out and added some cards to their list of supported CFexpress Type B cards, and I’ve updated the list accordingly below. 

Quick Recommendations

If you’re after some quick recommendations, here you go:

Slot 1: CFexpress Type B 

SanDisk Extreme Pro (SDCFE) CFexpress Type B
  • Type: CFexpress Type B
  • Write Speed: 1200 MB/s
  • Read Speed: 1700 MB/s
ProGrade Digital Cobalt CFexpress Type B
  • Type: CFexpress Type B
  • Write Speed: 1500 MB/s
  • Read Speed: 1700 MB/s
Delkin Devices Black CFexpress Type B
  • Type: CFexpress Type B
  • Write Speed: 1530 MB/s
  • Read Speed: 1725 MB/s
Lexar Professional Gold Series CFexpress Type B
  • Type: CFexpress Type B
  • Write Speed: 1500 MB/s
  • Read Speed: 1750 MB/s
Nikon 660 GB MC‑CF660G CFexpress Type B
  • Type: CFexpress Type B
  • Write Speed: 1500 MB/s
  • Read Speed: 1700 MB/s
Sony Tough CEB-G CFexpress Type B
  • Type: CFexpress Type B
  • Write Speed: 1480 MB/s
  • Read Speed: 1700 MB/s

These cards are officially recommended by Nikon for the Z8. I’ve been using a ProGrade Digital Cobalt CFexpress B card in my Z8, and it has been working flawlessly for me so far. 

Another card that is likely a good option (although I haven’t personally tried yet), especially if you’re after larger storage capacities, is an Angelbird CFexpress B card. They’re also fast, and they have 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB versions. 1

Angelbird AV Pro MK2 CFexpress Type B
  • Type: CFexpress Type B
  • Write Speed: 1300 MB/s
  • Read Speed: 1785 MB/s

Slot 2: SDXC UHS-II V90

Nikon doesn’t recommend any specific models of SD cards for the Z8, but they do offer some guidance on specs to look for (more on that below).

Based on that guidance, on my own independent speed tests on the fastest SD cards, and to the extent I’ve been able to use and test any of these in my own Z8 so far, any of these is a solid choice:

ProGrade Digital V90 UHS-II SDXC
  • Type: SDXC UHS-II V90
  • Write Speed: Up to 250 MB/s
  • Read Speed: Up to 300 MB/s
SanDisk Extreme Pro V90 UHS-II SDXC
  • Type: SDXC UHS-II V90
  • Write Speed: Up to 260 MB/s
  • Read Speed: Up to 300 MB/s
Lexar Professional 2000x Gold V90 UHS-II SDXC
  • Type: SDXC UHS-II V90
  • Read Speed: Up to 300 MB/s
Delkin Devices Power V90 UHS-II SDXC
  • Type: SDXC UHS-II V90
  • Write Speed: Up to 250 MB/s
  • Read Speed: Up to 300 MB/s
Kingston Canvas React Plus V90 UHS-II SDXC
  • Type: SDXC UHS-II V90
  • Write Speed: Up to 260 MB/s
  • Read Speed: Up to 300 MB/s

In general, SDXC cards that carry the V90 rating are good bets. 

Memory Cards for the Nikon Z8: Details

Number of Memory Card Slots. The Nikon Z8 has two memory card slots. Slot 1 takes CFexpress Type B or XQD cards. Slot 2 takes SD cards (UHS-II). While it is not a requirement to fill both slots, there are advantages to doing so (more on that below). 

Approved Memory Cards. Nikon does actually officially recommend two models of CFexpress cards, and those are the ones I’ve included in the quick recommendations above. Those are safe bets; Nikon says, in writing, that they work with all of the Z8’s features, including the high-bitrate video recording modes. 

Nikon is much less specific when it comes to SD cards, but they do provide some guidance. Here’s what they say:

  • 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 (300×), or UHS Speed Class 3 or better SD cards, are recommended for video 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 videos with a high frame size or rate. Slower speeds may result in recording or playback being interrupted. Nikon 660 GB MC‑CF660G Type B CFexpress memory cards or ProGrade Digital COBALT-series CFexpress memory cards are recommended, particularly when [N‑RAW 12-bit (NEV)] or [ProRes RAW HQ 12-bit (MOV)] is selected for [Video file type] in the video recording menu.

It is technically possible to use SDHC cards (i.e., 32GB or smaller), but there are limitations on using those in some video modes that require a memory card formatted with exFAT.  Not to mention, a 32GB card is going to fill up awfully quickly when shooting with the Z8. 

The Advantages of Filling Both Memory Card Slots

The Z8 will work with just one memory card slot, so it’s not technically a requirement to fill both. But there are advantages to doing so. Specifically, it means you can take advantage of features that control how the slots are used.

For instance:

  • You can choose which memory card slot serves as the primary slot.
  • You can assign the second slot to run in sequence, as an overflow slot. That gives you the maximum possible storage space.
  • You can choose Backup mode, which simultaneously copies every image to each of the cards.
  • You can save RAW versions to one card and JPG or HEIF versions to the other.
  • You can specify one card for video and the other for photos.

You can find more details on how these work here.

About CFexpress Type B Memory Cards

If you’re upgrading to the Z8 from an earlier Nikon camera, you might not have come across CFexpress cards before. 

If you have used XQD before in an older model Nikon body, CFexpress B is basically a newer evolution of XQD.

You can use XQD cards in the Z8—Slot 1 is compatible with both types of cards—but there are advantages to using CFexpress B. Crucially, they’re generally much faster than XQD cards. They’re also becoming more widely available, leading to more choices and lower prices. At the time of writing, most of the currently available XQD cards are rated for speeds of around 440 MB/s read and 400 MB/s write. Most of the currently available CFexpress B cards are rated for around 1700 MB/s read and at least 1200 MB/s write (or, in the case of the ones I’ve recommended here, at least 1500 MB/s). CFexpress 2.0 cards are theoretically capable of up to 4GB/sec data transfer. 2

It’s important to note the “B” here. Confusingly, there are currently three types of CFexpress cards, and they’re all different physical sizes (aka form factors), and they’re not interchangeable. Put a different way, a CFexpress A card won’t work—or even fit—in a CFexpress B slot. Even more confusingly, there are also versions within each of these form factors. Those affect compatibility but aren’t related to the physical size of the cards.

CFexpress A is the same physical size as SD cards, and that’s the type used in some cameras, such as the Sony A1. But don’t try to use a CFexpress A card in the Z8’s Slot 2; it won’t work because that slot isn’t set up to be compatible with CFexpress A. 

There’s also another memory card format that sounds confusingly similar: CFast. That’s different again and not the same thing as CFexpress. It’s an older format form factor that was an evolution from CompactFlash (CF). You can’t use a CFast card in the Z8. 

So what you want for the Nikon Z8 is a CFexpress B card. You’ll sometimes see it written as CFexpress (Type B). I’ve also come across it written as CFE-B. 

B&H Photo has an excellent selection of CFexpress B cards from manufacturers like Delkin, SanDisk, Lexar, Sony, ProGrade Digital, and Angelbird. You can find them here. In practice, several of the faster models will probably work well in the Z8 with all of the camera’s features, but I’ve not yet had a chance to test those cards out in this camera. I’ve primarily been using a ProGrade Digital Cobalt CFexpress B card in my Z8—one of the cards that Nikon officially recommends—and I’ve not run into any issues with it. I’ll try to test out some of these other models as opportunities arise.

Something to watch with CFexpress B cards, though, is that the speed ratings aren’t well standardized. For instance, some cards might include a figure like 1500 MB/s as a maximum. Others might include the number as a minimum sustained speed. So it’s important to check which it is, because it can make quite a difference in practical terms when you’re shooting.  

XQD. The Nikon Z8 can also use an XQD card instead of a CFexpress card. XQD is an older format, and 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 and you already have XQD cards on hand. 

Things Worth Knowing

Memory Card Readers

Don’t forget that you’ll need a compatible card reader to download 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...

How to Format Memory Cards in the Nikon Z8

It’s a pretty straightforward process to format memory cards in the Nikon Z8. The simplest method is to just go to the menu item, which you can find under:

Setup Menu > Format memory card

But there are also some shortcuts that you can take advantage of that can speed things up. I have a more detailed guide on how to format memory cards in the Nikon Z8 separately.

Nikon Z8 Price & Availability

The Nikon Z8 was released in May 2023. For good reason, it has been highly sought after, so it might be worth getting on a waitlist sooner rather than later. 

The Z8 It packs many of the features of the flagship Z9 into a smaller form factor and is touted by Nikon as the true successor to the Nikon D850 DSLR (and also as “the ultimate hybrid camera”). 

It’s sold in various configurations, including:

Check the current availability and price at:

Nikon Z8 Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera / Body Only
  • 45.7MP FX-Format Stacked CMOS Sensor
  • 8.3K 60p N-RAW, 4.1K 60p ProRes RAW
  • Lightweight Design, 30% Smaller than Z9
  • Up to 20 fps Raw, 30 fps JPEG Shooting
  • 493-Point AF, AI-Based Subject Detection
Nikon Z8 with NIKKOR Z 24-120mm ƒ/4 S Zoom Lens
  • with NIKKOR Z 24-120mm f/4 S Zoom Lens
  • 45.7MP FX-Format Stacked CMOS Sensor
  • 8.3K 60p N-RAW, 4.1K 60p ProRes RAW
  • Lightweight Design, 30% Smaller than Z9
  • Up to 20 fps Raw, 30 fps JPEG Shooting
  • 493-Point AF, AI-Based Subject Detection

Essential Accessories for the Nikon Z8

Some accessories are optional, but these are pretty much essential. And they don’t come with the camera as standard.

FTZ II Lens Mount Adapter

If you’re upgrading from a Nikon DSLR and have F-mount lenses you want to use on the Z8, don’t forget to pick up an FTZ II lens mount adapter. This lets you use Nikon / NIKKOR F-mount lenses on a Nikon Z mirrorless camera bodies while retaining autofocus, stabilization, and other features. And because there’s no glass, there’s no impact on image quality or light loss.

Nikon FTZ II Mount Adapter
Allows use of Nikon F-mount lenses on Nikon Z mirrorless cameras with no loss of image quality.

Nikon Z8 Memory Card FAQs

What type of memory card does the Nikon Z8 use?

The Nikon Z8 mirrorless camera is compatible with CFexpress B, XQD, and SDXC (UHS-I/UHS-II) memory cards.

How many memory cards does the Nikon Z8 take?

The Nikon Z8 has two memory card slots. Slot 1 is compatible with CFexpress B and XQD cards. Slot 2 is compatible with SD cards (SDXC/SDHC, UHS-II/UHS-I).

  1. One wrinkle with Angelbird cards is that they have the capability to update the card’s firmware. But for that, you’ll need to use an Angelbird CFexpress B card reader.[]
  2. Another issue is that XQD is a Sony trademark, which imposes complications (and potentially expense) for other manufacturers.[]

Images and product information from Amazon PA-API were last updated on 2023-09-30 at 23:10. 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.

David Coleman / Photographer

David Coleman

I'm a professional freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my travel photography here. More »