The Nikon D7200 doesn’t come with a memory card as standard. So unless you get one of the bundles that retailers put together that includes some accessories thrown in, chances are you’ll have to pick up an SD card separately.
Here’s a rundown of what to look for in SD cards for the Nikon D7200 along with some practical recommendations.
Best SD Cards for the Nikon D7200: Quick Recommendations
For those who just want to cut to the chase, here are some quick recommendations for SD cards that work well in the Nikon D7200. These are generally readily available at major retailers, come from reliable manufacturers, and are cost-effective.
Recommended Memory Cards for the Nikon D7200: The More Detailed Version
First, the basics. The Nikon D7200 takes SD cards. It has two memory card slots, and you can choose how those slots are used. For example, you can just use them in sequence, so when the card in slot 1 fills up it will automatically roll over to using slot 2. That’s the “overflow” option. You can create backup duplicate copies, one to each card, as you’re shooting (the “backup” option). Or you can designate a JPEG version of the image to save to one card while a RAW version is saved to the other (the “RAW slot 1 – JPEG slot 2” option). You can also designate which slot is used for recording video.
The D7200 is compatible with both SDHC and SDXC memory cards. The technical difference between those two specifications is in the filesystem they’re formatted with–the SDHC specification uses FAT32 formatting, while the SDXC specification uses exFAT–but when it comes to buying memory cards, the practical difference is that cards 32GB and smaller will be labeled SDHC and cards 64GB and larger will be labeled SDXC.1
The D7200’s most demanding activity in terms of memory card speed is when it’s recording video. When shooting photos, the camera will take advantage of its own internal buffer memory. This is a temporary memory space where photos can be stored while they’re waiting in the queue to be written to the memory card. The number of images that the buffer can hold will vary according to the settings you’re using–at the highest resolution using the lossless compressed 14-bit NEF mode you can expect to get up to around 18 images in the buffer at any given time, whereas in the JPEG modes you can get up to 100.2 Once the buffer is full, you’ll notice a slowdown as the camera has to wait for images to be written to the memory card (writing to the memory card is much slower than writing to the internal buffer).
Video works a bit differently. If the internal buffer were to fill up, there’s no way to slow down the shutter speed to wait for the card to catch up. And with bitrates of around 42 Mbps (megabits per second) in the D7200’s top video modes, that creates a large stream of data that needs to be written to the memory card very quickly. And that requires a card with a fast sequential write speed.
Put another way, when shooting still photos, having an SD card that’s fast enough is mostly about convenience. But when it comes to shooting videos, it’s essential.
The good news, though, is that since the D7200 was released, memory card manufacturers have been regularly coming out with newer and faster memory cards. So it’s not hard to find a card these days that’s fast enough, and you don’t need to break the bank to do it. There’s no need to get the latest and greatest (and most expensive card) for the D7200. By all means, use one if you want or if you already have one on hand–there’s no harm in doing so–but you won’t see much meaningful benefit from it in the camera.3
Nikon’s Official Recommendations for Approved Memory Cards for the Nikon D7200
Nikon’s instruction manuals (or those from many camera manufacturers, for that matter) are not especially helpful in suggesting which memory cards work best in the camera. It’s not really their fault–they can’t keep the manual updated constantly as new memory cards come out.
For the D7200, this is their guidance for Approved Memory Cards (from p.379 of the manual:
What that boils down to is that they recommend an SD card that’s class 6 or faster. That’s pretty easy; most cards that you can find in stores these days are at least class 10. In fact, because cards have gotten faster since the D7200 was released, you’re more likely to have trouble finding a class 6 card than a class 10 one.
Recommended Memory Cards for the Nikon D7200
With Nikon’s guidance in mind, combined with the findings from my own real-world speed tests of SD cards, here are some specific, practical recommendations for memory cards to use in the Nikon D7200. I’ve updated this to account for current models of memory cards that you should be able to find pretty easily.
My emphasis here is on cards that meet the requirements to use all of the camera’s features, are readily available at major retailers, and are cost-effective. But these are by no means the only SD cards that will work in the D7200. My objective here, after all, is to help choose a good card that works so you can get on with the fun stuff, not to document every possible card that works in this camera. I have, however, tried to include a few different brands in case you have your own preferences for brands or some are easier to find in some locations than others.
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 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.
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.
What Size Memory Card Works Best in the Nikon D7200?
You can use cards from 4GB up in the D7200, including some of the larger SDXC cards available these days in the 256GB+ range. Which size you choose to use comes down to convenience, your budget, and your own preferences. The larger the card, obviously, the more you can shoot before filling it up. That is one area where the dual slots of the D7200 come in handy, especially if you’re using the overflow setting. You can quite often find that two smaller cards are less expensive than one larger one.
The size of the photo and video files created by the D7200 depends on what settings you’re using. For instance, if you’re shooting photos in the JPEG Normal setting, the files will be much, much smaller than if you’re shooting in the 14-bit NEF mode.
The same goes for video. The top-end 1080p video modes are recorded at higher bitrates than lower-resolution modes, so those files will be much larger for a corresponding duration of footage.
Here are some estimates. These are based on Nikon’s own figures, but bear in mind that they’re only estimates. Any compressed formats will vary slightly from file to file–that’s the nature of how these types of image compression work. So it’s possible you might get a few more or a few less, and it’s always a good idea to leave yourself some wiggle room. These figures refer to using the DX crop mode, the larger of the two crop modes available on the D7200; the files when using the 1.3x crop mode are significantly smaller.
|Quality Setting||Size Setting||File Size MB (approx)||16GB||32GB||64GB||128GB||256GB||Buffer Capacity|
|NEF (RAW), Lossless compressed, 12-bit||22.2||379||758||1516||3032||6064||27|
|NEF (RAW), Lossless compressed, 14-bit||28||294||588||1176||2352||4704||18|
|NEF (RAW), Compressed, 12-bit||20.6||511||1022||2044||4088||8176||35|
|NEF (RAW), Compressed, 14-bit||25.4||428||856||1712||3424||6848||26|
Do You Need to Fill Both Memory Card Slots in the D7200?
No. The camera will work well with only a single card in, although obviously some features that require two cards won’t work (such as the setting for saving JPEG to one and RAW to another, or the overflow feature).
Do the Memory Cards Have to be the Same?
No, you can mix and match sizes and brands of the SD cards in each slot.
How to Format the SD Card in a Nikon D7200
While it’s possible to format SD cards in a computer, it’s much better practice to format them in the camera. That way the camera can set the card up exactly how it wants it, and it greatly reduces the risk of something going wrong.
There are two ways to format the memory cards in the D7200. The basic way is to use the menu system (Setup / Camera Setup > Format Memory Card).
There’s also a two-button shortcut. I’ve outlined that method in detail for the D7500 here. The process is the same for the D7200, with the exception that you can choose which slot to format on the D7200 because it has two slots to the D7500’s one.
How to Recover Photos if You’ve Accidentally Deleted Them
If you format the card before you’ve backed up the photos from it, it might still be possible to recover them. To do that you’ll need to fire up the computer–it’s not something that you can do in the camera. I’ve put together an overview on how to recover deleted photos from a memory card here.
Is it Normal for the Memory Cards to Get Hot?
Yes, it’s quite normal for the SD cards to get hot after some intensive writing, such as when happens when shooting photos rapidly or recording video.
Popular Accessories for the Nikon D7200
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- It is technically possible, using a computer, to format a card that’s 32GB or smaller with exFAT or a card 64GB or larger with FAT32, but that goes against the specifications set by the SD Association. It can cause problems with some cameras, though, and you can end up with inconsistent results. And when you format the card in the camera, the camera reverts to the “correct” filesystem for the card. ↩
- These buffer capacity figures come from page 381 of Nikon’s instruction manual for the D7200. ↩
- The one place you might see some benefit is in saving photos from the in-camera buffer to the memory card more quickly. Depending on your setup, it is also possible that you might see faster download speeds from faster cards when you’re downloading from the memory card to your computer using a fast memory card reader. ↩
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