Best Memory Cards for the Nikon D5300

Trying to decode Nikon's official recommendations for memory cards for the Nikon D5300? Here are some practical recommendations.

The new DSLRs on the market have impressive video and burst photo capabilities. But making the most of them requires having a memory card that can keep up. If you get one that’s too slow for the camera, you can run into trouble with freezing up and recording stopping unexpectedly.

Nikon issues its own guidelines for officially approved memory cards for the Nikon D5300, but it’s pretty hard to make sense of. Buried on page 238 in the technical notes section of the Nikon D5300 reference manual, it looks like this.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t find that especially helpful. So I’ve taken those official recommendations from Nikon and translated them into practical recommendations below that cut through all the confusing jargon that memory card manufacturers use in their marketing.

In general, the Nikon D5300 will accept SD, SDHC, and SDXC cards. All of those types look exactly the same–the difference is in the amount of memory.1 SD refers to cards up to 2GB in size. Now that memory card prices have come down and you can buy very good 32GB cards for $15, there’s no good reason to be buying a 2GB card if you camera supports larger ones. So I’d recommend sticking with SDHC or SDXC for the Nikon D5300. SDHC refers to cards that are 4GB up through 32GB. SDXC refers to cards that are 64GB or above. With the D5300 taking 24.2 MP photos, a card that’s at least 32GB will give you more room, especially if you’re shooting RAW.

If you’re doing video recording, you’ll need a card that’s designated as class 6 or higher. The reason is that when recording video the camera needs to write a lot of data to the card quickly. If your card isn’t able to write data fast enough, the video recording will stop. The current crop of memory cards are all class 10, so you’re better off going with one of them than searching around for an old class 6 card.

As far as brands go, I’d generally stick with the big, well-known ones. Sandisk, Lexar, Delkin, Sony, Samsung, Kingston, Panasonic, Toshiba, and Transcend are some of the main brands that make excellent cards, and you’ll be able to find one from those manufacturers that both meets your needs and is very reasonably priced. The most common brands that pros use are Sandisk and Lexar.

So here’s a mix of recommended memory cards that will work well in the Nikon D5300 and that are reasonably priced, readily available, and good value. (Prices were current at time of writing, but they have a habit of changing.) This list isn’t exhaustive, and there are both faster and slower cards that will also work, as well as smaller and larger ones. Because of the similarities between the two cameras, these recommendations are essentially the same as those for the Nikon D300.

Recommended Memory Cards for the Nikon D5300

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.

Buy at: Amazon | B&H Photo

PNY Elite Performance U3 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.

Buy at: Amazon | B&H Photo.

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. You can also often find them in 2-packs.

Buy at: Amazon

Transcend U3 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.

Buy at: Amazon | B&H Photo

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 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 SD10VG2) 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 | B&H Photo.

Delkin Elite 633x U3 UHS-I

Delkin Devices is another brand that isn't as well known as some of the others but have been making excellent memory cards for a long time. They made their name with industrial and rugged flash memory and storage, and they bring that expertise in making good, reliable memory cards for the consumer market. I regularly use some of their fast memory cards in various cameras and have always found them to work well.

This particular card (model DDSDELITE633) is available in sizes ranging from 8GB up through 512GB.

Buy at: Amazon | B&H Photo.

Other Brands

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 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 Cards

If 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.

Also, I’d recommend trying to buy from a reputable retailer. There are counterfeit cards on the market that often pop up on from shady dealers. It’s also not a bad idea to have a spare on hand. Memory cards are remarkably resilient things but like any electronic device they do fail from time to time.


  1. The difference between SDHC and SDXC is the type of filesystem they use. SDHC cards are formatted with FAT32. SDXC cards are formatted with exFAT. The SD Association established the spec that cards 32GB and smaller use FAT32 and cards 64GB and larger use exFAT. While you can technically format a 32GB or smaller card with exFAT or a card that’s 64GB or larger with FAT32 if you’re doing it in a computer, some camera do a check that the filesystem matches the size and won’t let you get away with it for some operations. So, for the least risk of losing your images or footage, it’s best to stick with the SD Associations specs.

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View Comments

  • I have just purchased a nikon D5300. Do I need to format Each SD card, If so what are the steps to do that. Please explain
    Thank you
    Marty

    • Yes, it's a good idea to format them in the camera. Many memory cards come pre-formatted, but doing it in the camera makes sure that they're set up the way the camera wants them and reduces the chances of errors.

      Insert the card into the camera and power the camera up. Go into the menu settings on the back of the camera. Move the cursor down until the wrench (spanner) icon at left is highlighted, and then from that submenu choose the "Format memory card" option. That will delete everything on the card, which isn't going to be an issue with new cards, but when reusing cards you'll need to have made sure to download everything off it first.

    • Yes, they make it unnecessarily confusing. There's a shorter "User's Manual" and a more detailed "Reference Manual." I'm referring to the reference manual (I've clarified above). Here's the direct link to the online version [PDF].

  • I am using a Transcend SDXC UHS 3, 64GB. It takes few pictures and stops working suddenly saying the card may be damaged. If i switch the camera off and on again it works for few more photos and then it stops entirely. But it works fine with computers and after a formatting it repeats the cycle. Any hint what might be wrong ?

    • If it's still doing that after formatting the card in the camera (as distinct from formatting in a computer), the first thing that comes to mind is that it might be a faulty card. If you have another card handy, try that. If it's still doing that with another card, it's almost certainly something in the way the camera is writing to the card and will involve contacting Nikon tech support for repair or replacement. Either way, it doesn't sound like anything you're doing wrong.

  • I second Todd B's comment, I've had varying luck with card compatibility in the D5300, especially with microSD cards.
    I've never had issues with Sandisk Ultra ones before so generally use them out of choice, usually going with the micro version so I can use them afterwards in phones etc.
    I started using a 16GB microSD card in the camera with no issues, so thought I'd go for a new bigger card at 64GB (microSD) to allow enough space for RAW images, only to find that it isn't recognised even though the compatibliity table says that the full SD version of the same card is? So much for having standards to comply with!.

    Just in case it helps anyone out there, I've run the majority of my card selection through the camera to test what does and doesn't work.

    These don't work:-
    Sandisk Ultra MicroSD 32GB HC-1 class10
    Sandisk Ultra MicroSD 64GB XC-1 class10

    These apparently do:-
    Sandisk Ultra MicroSD 16GB HC-1 class10
    Sandisk Ultra SD 16GB HC-1 class10
    PNY MicroSD 64GB XC-1 class10 U1
    PNY Performance SD 8GB HC class6
    Philips MicroSD 16GB HC-1 class10

    • An update to this. I've just worked out that with the 64GB microSD card that it may be a format issue rather than compliance. I formatted it as exFAT (not sure what it was before), and now it works.
      Note that this format needs to be done as a full (not quick) format on a computer. I think the 'Format' in the camera menu isn't a proper full format to the extent that a computer would do.

  • My Nikon D5300 will not function with an SD card. When I remove the card, the camera comes to life, but the display screen tells me that there is no SD card inside. When I put the SD card back in, the camera won't work. Any advice?

    • First thing to check is the card itself. That's a fairly classic symptom of a faulty card. So if you have another card handy to try, that would be the first troubleshooting step.

      • Hi David, I tried with a couple of fairly new cards (one came with the camera, which I purchased in a kit), but still no change. I noticed that a small red light at the bottom of the rear right of the camera flashes when I put the card in. I have only used the camera two or three times, so this development is pretty disheartening.

  • This is an excellent resource. Thank you for taking the time to posting this. I recently bought a D5300 and after searching the manual still didn't see the references on page 238 till I came across this. I unknowingly bought some 64 G SDHC micro cards with adapters, class unknown? and they don't work on the camera and now I know why thanks to this post..

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