The Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600D doesn’t, by default, come with a memory card. So unless you’ve picked up a retailer bundle that does include the card, you’ll have to buy one separately.
The good news is that because the T3i is an older camera and memory card technology has been progressing in leaps and bounds since it was release, you don’t need a particularly fast or fancy memory card by current standards. That means you don’t need to fork out the big bucks for the latest and greatest and fastest memory cards out there. But you still need to get a good one. Some are more reliable than others, and there’s a surprising number of counterfeits around.
Here are some quick recommendations for those who just want to cut to the chase.
Top 4 SD Cards for the Canon Rebel T3i
Detailed Recommendations for SD Cards for the Canon T3i
The Rebel T3i’s manual isn’t particularly helpful in giving information on what kind of memory card works best. I only includes a few scattered references to the memory card, mentioning that it will work with SD, SDHC, and SDXC memory cards. But that’s not especially illuminating.
So what I’m trying to do here is cut through the jargon and provide some practical recommendations for what memory card to get so you can get out taking photos and shooting video with your T3i. My priorities here are cards that not only work well in the T3i but are a combination of being reliable, readily available, have a good selection of memory sizes, and are good value. There’s no point buying a high-end, super-fast, and expensive memory card because the T3i can’t take advantage of those–so I’m not including them here. I’m also not including every single card that will work in the camera.
Memory card manufacturers release new models of memory cards all the time. And because of the way the market works, sometimes these newer and faster cards can be cheaper and more readily available than the older, slower versions. That’s why some of the ones I’ve included here can end up being quite a lot faster than the minimum requirements of what the camera needs–but they’re likely also a good combination of value and availability. I’ll do my best to keep this list updated.
A natural question is what size to get. Many of these come in memory sizes from 8GB up to 128GB. They’ll all work in the T3i, and choosing between them basically comes down to the convenience of not running out of space to take new photos or shoot new video. For most users, the 32GB and 64GB are likely to be good choices in terms of cost and convenience.
So here are some recommendations for SD cards for the Canon Rebel T3i.
These aren't necessarily the fastest SD cards on the market, but they're fast enough for this camera. It's also not designed to be a comprehensive list of every SD card that will work.
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; and 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 Extreme U3 UHS-I
The SanDisk Extreme line is a good option when the emphasis is on video recording. They have faster write speeds than SanDisk's Ultra line but still make for good value without getting in the faster (and more expensive) Extreme Plus and Extreme Pro models.
SanDisk recycles its model names. This latest version of the Extreme card is rated for V30/U3 for video recording and uses a UHS-I interface. It's faster than this camera technically needs, but because the Extreme line is so popular, they're generally easy to find and competitively priced.
It comes in sizes ranging from 16GB through 256GB.
Lexar 633x U1 UHS-I
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 16GB up through a whopping 512GB.
Buy at Amazon.
PNY Elite Performance V30 UHS-I
PNY as a brand 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 32GB through 512GB.
Delkin Devices Advantage V30 UHS-I
Delkin Devices have been around for a long time but have been relatively quiet in recent years. But they're freshed their entire lineup of cards recently to simplify the range and bring the cards up to current specs.
The Advantage card is rated to V30 and has a UHS-I interface. It currently comes in sizes up to 512GB.
Transcend V30 UHS-I
Transcend isn't as well known as SanDisk or Lexar, but they've been making solid, reliable memory cards for a long while now and their SD cards are often competitively priced.
This particular card is faster than this camera needs, but it is still a good option. It's available in sizes from 64GB up through 256GB.
Buy at Amazon.
Sony U3 UHS-I
Though not always as readily available as some other brands, Sony memory cards are very good, which won't come as much of a surprise.
This particular card is available in sizes from 16GB through 256GB.
Kingston U1 UHS-I
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.
This particular card (model SDS2 Canvas Select) 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 Amazon.
Other BrandsThere 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 CardsIf 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.
Some of the other brands that make very good memory cards are Toshiba, Kingston, and PNY. 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 high-quality cards. Some of the other lesser-known brands might work perfectly well, but they also might not be all they claim to be.
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 Canon Rebel T3i. (I have more details on these ratings and codes on my Fastest SD Cards page.
SD, SDHC, SDXC. While these technically distinguish, at least in part, the filesystem type that they’re formatted in, in practice it’s useful for determining what size card you need. SD refers to cards 4GB 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 card you want. If you want to put in a 32GB, go ahead. If you want to put in a 256GB card, knock yourself out.
Recommendation: Both SDHC and SDXC cards are compatible. 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: As the instruction manual says, there’s no harm in using a card that’s rated with UHS-I (or even UHS-II), but it won’t give you any extra benefit in this camera.
U3. This is the speed class rating. U3 is designed to support 4K video recording at a sustained video capture rate of 30MB/s. The other video ratings you’ll see on cards are C10 (Class 10) and U1.
Recommendation: Cards with a U3 rating are the safest bet, especially if you plan to record video, because they’re designed to handle a constant stream of data being written to the card. If you’re solely doing still photos, U1 will work fine too.
There are a lot of counterfeit memory cards out there, so it’s always a good idea to purchase from a reputable retailer. I buy most of mine from Amazon and B&H Photo. Best Buy, Target, and Adorama are also good options
It’s 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–here are some ideas.
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 here.
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