Wondering which memory cards will work best in the Nikon D3400? Here are some practical recommendations.
I go into more detail on this below, but if you just want to cut to the chase, here are some good options that you should have no problem finding at your preferred electronics retailer:
Any of these makes for a good choice for the D3400.
If you’re using a 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 would 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 the 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 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.
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).
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.
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 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 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 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.
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 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.
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 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB. So if you want to put a 512GB SDXC card in it, by all means!
One of the great features of the Nikon D3400, of course, is the resolution of its 24MP 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, 256GB or 128GB is probably the best bet at the moment.
Here are some estimates for the number of still images you can fit on memory cards of varying sizes. You’ll notice that in the filesize column I give ranges. That’s because the images generated on a Nikon D3400 are compressed, and the effectiveness of the image compression varies from photo to photo depending on factors like the colors, tones, and detail of each individual scene. A photo with few colors and tones and little detail can be compressed much more than a photo with many tones and colors and lots of detail. It’s just the way that most image compression algorithms work.
For the columns on the right, which show estimates of the number of images at each setting that will fit on 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB cards, I’ve used the upper end of the range because for something like this it’s better to underestimate than overestimate. So the numbers in this column, in particular, are very much approximations and should be read as rough guides but not absolutes.
|Quality||Size||Filesize / MB||32GB||64GB||128GB||256GB|
And, of course, do be sure to download and backup your photos regularly. Memory cards can and do fail, and putting all your eggs in one basket on a large-capacity memory card can increase the risk of losing everything.
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, 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: 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 U1 or 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. But if that’s not possible or not what you want to do, you can also format cards using a computer. But there are some things to know when formatting SD cards to minimize the risks of your camera having problems with them. 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.
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.
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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