The Nikon D5600 doesn’t come with a memory card as standard. Some retailers do bundle them with various accessories, sometimes including a memory card, but if you haven’t purchased one of those bundles, chances are you’ll need to pick up an SD card separately. So what I’m trying to do here is provide some practical recommendations for good SD cards to use in the Nikon D5600.
If you’ve already looked in the reference manual, you’ll have come across some rather vague advice. It does discuss approved memory cards for the Nikon D5600, but it’s not especially helpful. Buried on page 324 of the manual is this:
That’s not especially helpful if you’re trying to decide which memory card to buy. It’s not really Nikon’s fault–it’s not practical for them to update the manual as memory card manufacturers release new models. But what I’m hoping will be helpful are some real-world, practical recommendations.
The good news is that the D5600 isn’t all that demanding on memory cards, and if you’re upgrading from the D5500, the same SD cards will work just fine in both. It also means that many of the memory cards on the market today will work nicely and you don’t need to go hunting for them. But there are still some things to watch out for, because if you get an SD card that’s too slow, you might run into issues with video recording and burst mode shooting. So ideally you want a card that meets the requirements of the camera so that you can use all of the camera’s features, including video recording and burst mode, without going overboard with cutting-edge speeds and the prices that come with them.
First, here’s the quick version of what specs to look for on the SD card. A little further down the page you’ll find some specific models that will work well in the Nikon D5600.
- SD, SDHC, and SDXC cards will work. In practice, you’ll be wanting SDHC (8GB – 32GB) or SDXC (64GB and above). Put another way, cards from 2GB to 512GB will work.
- Cards with the markings for Class 10, U1, U3, V30, and UHS-I, and UHS-II will all work (although you might not get any benefit in using the fancier ones in the camera).
Recommendations for SD cards for the Nikon D5600
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What Size Memory Card is Best for the Nikon D5600?
The D5600 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, 256GB, and 512GB. So if you want to put a 512GB SDXC card in it, knock yourself out (just be sure to keep backups as usual!)
One of the great features of the Nikon D5600, of course, is the resolution of its 24.2MP images. But that also means that the files are quite large, especially if you’re shooting in the 14-bit RAW mode. At that highest setting, the files will come out somewhere in the range of 26 megabytes on average, depending on the compressibility of the individual photos, and you can expect to get roughly 850 photos or so on a 32GB card. If you’re shooting in JPG, the files are smaller, so you’ll fit more of them.
In terms of what size to get, if you’re looking for the sweet spot of practicality and value, 32GB to 128GB is probably it at the moment. Larger memory cards mean you can fit more photos and videos on it, of course, but also means that if something goes wrong with the card there’s potential to lose more (all the more reason to backup your photos, of course).
Here are some rough guidelines on how many photos taken with a D5600 you can expect to fit on a given size of memory card. These are only estimates (based on Nikon’s own guidance), and in practice your results are likely to vary a bit because the compression that the D5600, whether in RAW or JPG modes, varies from photo to photo depending on the information in the image.
|Image Quality Setting||Size Setting||File Size MB (approx)||16GB||32GB||64GB||128GB||256GB||512GB|
|NEF (RAW), Compressed, 14-bit||26.3||428||856||1,712||3,424||6,848||13,696|
|NEF (RAW), Compressed, 12-bit||21.3||511||1,022||2,044||4,088||8,176||16,352|
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 D5600. (I have more details on these ratings and codes on my Fastest SD Cards page.
SD, SDHC, SDXC. Technically, this refers, at least in part, to the filesystem that they’re formatted in—FAT32 or the related exFAT. Most current cameras, including the D5600, can read and write both, so you don’t need to worry about it much. But the distinction between SDHC and SDXC has a practical use–it’s useful for determining what size card you need. SD refers to cards 4 gigabytes 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 512GB card, knock yourself out.
Recommendation: Both SDHC and SDXC cards are compatible with the D5600. 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: The D5600’s manual says that it’s compatible with UHS-I. 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 D5600.
Class 6. This is the speed class rating. Class 6 is pretty much superseded now, and most of the cards that are readily available are now Class 10 or U1. The faster cards will work fine–they’re designed to be backward compatible. And, frankly, there’s now a much bigger range of options in Class 10 cards and Class 6 ones are becoming harder to find. If you use a card slower than Class 6 you risk the recording stopping randomly if you’re shooting video.
Recommendation: At the moment, cards with a Class 10 or U1 rating are the most common and offer the best combination of speed and price.
To minimize the risk of filesystem errors, it’s always 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.
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 for recovering photos from a memory card here.
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