If you’re using a new Nikon D3400, you might be wondering which memory cards work best in it. If you tried to find the answer in the instruction manual, you will have come across this on page 84:
The camera supports SD, SDHC, and SDXC memory cards, including SDHC and SDXC cards compliant with UHS-I. Cards rated UHS Speed Class 3 or better are recommended for movie recording; using slower cards may result in recording being interrupted. When choosing cards for use in card readers, be sure they are compatible with the device. Contact the manufacturer for information on features, operation, and limitations on use.
Clear as mud, right? Nikon has a habit of doing this when providing memory card guidance for their cameras. It’s not especially helpful when you’re just trying to buy a memory card that works in the camera.
So here are some practical recommendations that meet that guidance, based on my own memory card tests and shooting with the D3400.
I’m focusing here on cards that meet the camera’s requirements, are reliable, are readily available, and are cost effective. You don’t necessarily need to use the fastest cards with bleeding edge technology in the D3400. There’s no problem using those if you want, but you’ll end up paying premium prices and are not going to see any benefit in the camera. Thankfully, there are plenty of excellent memory cards that are reliable and cost-effective.
This list obviously doesn’t include every memory card that works in the Nikon D3400–but if you’re looking for some good options so you can get out and take photos rather than spending more time trying to research online, here are some recommendations.
This is not actually the fastest and fanciest of SanDisk’s SD cards. They also have the Extreme Pro and Extreme Plus lines that are faster, but they’re also more expensive and you won’t get any extra benefit from them in the D3400.
Lexar Professional 633x
Again, this is no longer the top-of-the-line model in Lexar’s range—there are now 1000x and 2000x ranges as well—but it’s fast enough for the D3400 and it’s excellent value. You can also find good deals on double packs.
Transcend TS64GSDU3 / T128GSDU3
It’s available in 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB sizes and has rated speeds of 95 MB/s for reading and 60MB/s for writing.
Available at: Amazon
Sony SF64UZ/TQN / SF32UZ/TQN
It’s available in 16GB through 128GB sizes.
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, but they also might not be all they claim to be.
What Size Memory Card is Best for the Nikon D3400?
The D3400 is compatible with SDHC and SDXC cards. That means you can use a card with any amount of storage space that’s currently on the market. The most common sizes for now are 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 200GB, and 256GB. So if you want to put a 256GB SDXC card in it, knock yourself out.
One of the great features of the Nikon D3400, of course, is the resolution of its 24.2MP images. But that also means that the files are quite large.
The number of photos you can fit on a memory card varies depending on what settings you’re using. If you’re shooting in RAW format, those files are generally between 20 and 24 megabytes each. If you’re shooting in JPG, the files are smaller.
If you’re looking for the sweet spot of practicality and value, 64GB is probably the best bet at the moment. But 32GB will work just fine, as will this 512GB card.
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 Nikon D3400. (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, to the filesystem 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: There’s no harm in using a card that’s rated with UHS-II, but it won’t give you any extra benefit in this camera. All else being equal, UHS-I works just fine in the D3400.
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.
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.
Best Books on the Nikon D3400
If you're looking for a book to help you make the most of the Nikon D3400, these are the ones I consider the best. Both manage to combine good, detailed information, clear explanations, and logical organization.
Despite the series title, The Nikon D3400 For Dummies, by Julie Adair King, is a thorough reference guide that talks you through the process of setting up your camera, shooting photos, and editing the photos in the camera. It includes good illustrations showing where the buttons, dials, and ports are, as well as quite a few before and after photos that show the effect various settings have.
David Busch has created quite a career in writing DSLR how-to guides, and David Busch's Nikon D3400 Guide to Digital SLR Photography is another excellent addition to his library. It is comprehensive, with everything explained clearly, and the writing style reflects his own distinctive voice.