A memory card is an essential accessory to make the camera work, but the Olympus OM-1 doesn’t come with a memory card as standard. Some retailers put together a deal bundle that might include some accessories, including a memory card, but chances are you’ll have to pick up a memory card separately. Or maybe you want something bigger with larger storage capacity—the cards that are included in bundles are often on the small side and might fill up quickly, especially if you’re on a trip.
Olympus is now OM System
In 2020-21, the photography business of iconic camera brand Olympus was spun off and sold. The core remaining Olympus brand is focusing on medical and scientific products. The camera and photography side was then rebranded as OM System, with the first cameras and lenses under that brand coming out at the end of 2021.
I’m referring to this camera here as the Olympus OM-1, in part because it carries the Olympus name right there on the front of the camera. But it’s also referred to as the OM System OM-1. As a technical matter, the company that makes it is actually now known as OM System. The Olympus brand is now focused on medical and scientific products, and it seems likely that the OM-1 will be the last new camera to sport the name.
But what type of memory card should you get for the OM-1?
That’s where this post comes in—hopefully, to help you get out shooting sooner and taking full advantage of all the features of your new camera rather than spending your time searching the web and trying to make sense of cryptic technical codes. I’ve been buying and testing numerous SD cards for years and have put many of the most popular SD cards on the market through their paces.
Quick Recommendations on SD Cards for the OM System OM-1
If you just want some quick recommendations, here you go. Any of these will work well in the OM-1. These SD cards meet the needs of the OM-1’s features, have a strong track record of reliability, are readily available, and are usually cost-effective.
And this would also be a good time to mention that the OM-1 has two SD card slots. It’s not required that you fill both of them–the camera will work just fine with only one–but there are advantages to filling both (more on that below).
- Type: SDXC / SDHC
- Video Speed Class: V90
- UHS Bus Interface Type: UHS-II
- Storage Capacities: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
- Type: SDXC
- Video Speed Class: V60
- UHS Bus Interface Type: UHS-II
- Storage Capacities: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
OM System OM-1 SD Card Requirements
The OM System OM-1 is an interchangeable lens mirrorless camera with a 20-megapixel FourThirds sensor. It’s relatively compact and boasts a ruggedized body (as are some of the lenses that are designed to go with it).
Some of the shooting modes of the OM-1 are more demanding of the memory card than others. In particular, the high-bitrate video recording and high-speed burst shooting need a card that can keep up.
The video bitrate refers to the amount of data being written to the memory card when shooting video. The OM-1 has a maximum video bitrate of 202 Mbps (that’s when shooting with the H.264 codec option, one of the 4K resolutions, and the fastest framerates; it’s lower for other combinations). That’s relatively fast, but still not as fast as some other cameras that can shoot at 400Mbps or above. The upshot is that you’ll need a fast SD card, but not necessarily the fastest that money can buy.
Because of the way that cameras interface with memory cards, once you have a card that meets the requirements of the camera, you don’t get any extra benefit by inserting a card with high specs and performance that exceeds the camera’s capabilities. 1
The OM-1 has dual SD card slots. Both are UHS-II. And both are compatible with SDXC, SDHC, and SD cards.
So which SD card should you get for your Olympus OM-1? Here’s the more detailed version.
If you go looking in the manual, you’ll find these recommendations in relation to compatible memory cards:
- The following types of SD memory card (commercially available) can be used with this camera: SD, SDHC, and SDXC.
- When recording movies, use an SD card that supports an SD speed class of 10 or higher.
- A UHS-II or UHS-I card with a UHS speed class of 3 or better is required when: a movie resolution of [4K] or [C4K] is selected . . .
There is an official SD card compatibility table for the OM-1, but it’s quite limited (only SanDisk and Toshiba cards) and hasn’t been updated for the newest cards.
So what I’m aiming to do here is provide some practical recommendations on which SD cards to get for the Olympus OM-1 so you can spend less time searching online and more time out shooting. I’m not trying to list every SD card that works in the OM-1–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 OM-1’s features, are readily available at major retailers, are cost-effective, and come from major manufacturers with track records for good-quality cards. I’m also basing this on my own SD speed tests.
So here’s more detailed information on these cards, along with some others.
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...
Lexar's Silver line is for their V60 cards, and they I've come across them quite often for reasonable prices. Over many years of using Lexar memory cards, I've found them to good, reliable performers.
This card is rated for V60 and is UHS-II. It comes in sizes up to 256GB, and you can often find good deals on 2-packs.
Lexar has also recently reintroduced Gold series 1800x. They're a bit faster, but in practical terms, it's not a difference that you'll really notice in this camera. They're also V60 UHS-II cards, and they perform well. They do tend to be priced a bit higher, too. But a reason they might make a good alternative is that they come in larger storage capacities, up to 512GB.
- TURN YOUR PASSION INTO PROFIT – CALLING ALL VLOGGERS, INFLUENCERS, FILMMAKERS, PHOTOGRAPHERS &...
- LIGHTING FAST 130MB/s WRITE SPEED – INSTANTLY SAVE high resolution recordings to your device, ALL WHILE...
ProGrade Digital was born out of some corporate upheaval at Lexar a while back. While the brand might not yet have the same kind of name recognition yet, I can speak from personal experience that they make very good memory cards (and other accessories). I routinely use ProGrade CFexpress and SD cards in several of my cameras, as well as their top-notch memory card readers. I've been impressed.
This is their V60 line (they also a V90 card). It's available up to 512GB, and you can often find good deals on 2-packs.
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. It's technically faster than this camera needs, but it's still a good, solid choice.
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. They'll work fine in this camera, although they won't take full advantage of UHS-II.
Delkin Devices PRIME V60 UHS-II
- Optimized for 8K, 4K & RAW Burst
- 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 PRIME is their V60 line, which is a good fit for this camera. This card is rated at V60 and has UHS-II.
It's available in versions up to 1TB, and you can also find good deals on multi-packs.
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.
Decoding SD Card Jargon
SDHC vs SDXC
Most of the cards you’ll see available have either SDHC or SDXC printed on them.
As a practical matter, the Olympus OM-1 is compatible with both SDXC and SDHC, so you don’t need to worry much about this.
These are categories assigned by the SD Association, which is the organization that oversees and develops the standards for SD and microSD cards.
Technically, SDHC and SDXC refer to the type of filesystem used on the SD cards. SDHC cards used FAT32. SDXC cards use exFAT.
In practice, though, it also helps distinguish cards by their storage capacity, at least broadly. The SD Association determined that cards up to 32GB would be SDHC, while cards 64GB and above are SDXC.
UHS-I vs UHS-II
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.
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 the device is also UHS-II. But the spec is designed to be backward compatible, so you can use UHS-II cards in UHS-I devices, but you will only get the speed of UHS-I.
Both SD card slots on the OM-1 are UHS-II, so it makes good sense to use UHS-II cards in them (and those are the ones I’m focusing on here).
Video Speed Classes
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.
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 Olympus OM-1, cards that have any of these on them should be fast enough:
The cards with those speed ratings are generally UHS-II cards.
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.
Do You Need Two SD Cards in the Olympus OM-1?
The Olympus OM-1 has two SD card slots. It’s not required that you fill both of them–the camera will work with only one SD card.
But there are advantages to using two SD cards. Specifically, it gives you flexibility on how the slots are used. You can:
- Record only to a specific card
- Record in sequence, starting on one card and them automatically moving onto the next one when the first one is full
- Save two versions of each image with different sizes and compression ratios, one type to each card
- Save duplicate versions of each image as a real-time backup
You can find these settings under:
Camera icon > Card Slot Settings
And you can find more details in the manual.
What Size SD Card to Use in the Olympus OM-1
The OM-1 is compatible with SDHC and SDXC cards. That means you can use cards from 4GB all the way to the largest cards currently available, which are 512GB and 1TB cards.
The current sweet spot for a combination of convenience, being readily available, and being cost-effective is probably around the 128GB to 512GB range. But you can use larger or smaller ones if you prefer–it’s mostly a matter of convenience of how much video footage or photo data you can store on the card before it fills up, and you have to download to a computer or some other device.
So Why Get a Good Memory Card?
A better memory card isn’t 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.
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.
At the same time, you don’t want to pay extra for a high-performance SD card that’s overkill for the camera.
How to Format SD Cards
When you buy a new SD card, you should format it before use (and then regularly after that). Here’s some information on how to do that.
How to Format Memory Cards in the Olympus OM-1
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.
I’ve put together a more detailed guide separately, including screenshots, on how to format memory cards on the Olympus OM-1.
But here’s the quick version:
- You’ll find the format function under:
Menu > Wrench/Spanner Icon > 1. Card/Folder/File > Card Formatting
If you have two SD cards in, you’ll get a screen to select which card to format.
How to Format SD Cards with a Computer
Having said that, 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.
- Depending on your computer and memory card reader setup, you might get some speed benefit when putting a faster memory card into your card reader and downloading images to your computer.
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