The Olympus TG-5 doesn’t come with a memory card as standard. Some retailers sometimes put together bundles that might include one, but chances are you’ll have to pick up a memory card separately. So which one should you get?
If you want to make sure you get an SD card that can take full advantage of all the Olympus TG-5’s features, the most important criteria to be looking for is one that’s fast enough. Specifically, you want one with a sequential write speed that’s fast enough to handle the TG-5’s high-bitrate video recording mode (Super Fine) and its high-speed burst photo modes. If the card isn’t fast enough to keep up with those, you can end up with recordings that stop prematurely, missed photos, and maybe even camera lockups or other errors. So it’s worth getting the right card from the get-go.
If you just want some quick recommendations, here you go:
- SanDisk Extreme U3 – Amazon | B&H Photo
- Lexar 1000x – Amazon | B&H Photo
- Sony U3 – Amazon | B&H Photo
- PNY Elite Performance – B&H Photo | Amazon
So which SD card should you get for your TG-5? If you go looking for the answer in the manual, you’ll come up pretty empty-handed. On page 5, you’ll find this:
Cards compatible with this camera: SD/SDHC/SDXC/Eye-Fi (with Wireless LAN function) card (commercially available) (for compatibility card details, visit the Olympus website.)
OK, then…. If you go to the website, you’ll find a compatibility table that includes some SanDisk and Toshiba cards, but it hasn’t been updated since mid-2017 and doesn’t take into consideration the newer models that are actually available today.
So what I’m aiming to do here is provide some practical recommendations on which SD cards to get for the TG-5 so you can spend less time searching online and more time out shooting. I’m not trying to list every SD card that works in the TG-5–there are others that will work just fine as well. I’m focusing here on ones that offer a good combination of meeting the requirements of all of the TG-5’s features, are readily available at major retailers, are cost-effective, and come from major manufacturers with track records for good-quality cards. And in putting these recommendations together, I’m combining Olympus’s guidance (such as it is), my testing of a large number of SD cards, and my own shooting with my TG-5.
The good news is that SD cards that work well in the TG-5 are readily available and relatively inexpensive. The two functions on the TG-5 that are most demanding of the memory card are the burst photo modes and high-bitrate video recording. And while the TG-5’s Super Fine video mode produces videos with a bitrate of 50 Mb/s, which is quite high, it’s nowhere near as demanding as some other cameras like the Panasonic GH5 or FujiFilm X-T3 that shoot up to 400 Mb/s and require the very fastest SD cards available.
So here are some more specific recommendations:
SanDisk Extreme U3 V30 UHS-I
SanDisk's Extreme range are good bets for many cameras, and that's true here too. SanDisk has faster ranges like the Plus and Pro lines, but the Extreme line is both quick enough for most cameras and usually less expensive than those faster lines.
One thing to note with SanDisk cards is that they recycle their model names. So you can find Extreme cards that are older and slower. You'll probably find those older versions work just fine--it really depends how far back you go--but you can tell the latest version because it's labeled with both U3 and V30, both of which are speed ratings specifically related to recording video. These cards are often good value, and you can sometimes find them sold in 2-packs.
Lexar Professional 1000x U3 UHS-II
Like the SanDisk Extreme Pro, this one actually has UHS-II, which you don't need with this camera, but it's still a very good, reliable option. They come in sizes up to 256GB, and you can sometimes find them in 2-packs.Buy at: Amazon or B&H Photo.
Sony U3 UHS-I
These Sony cards are quick, reliable, and fairly widely available. Sony also now has another much faster model that works well but is a bit overkill for this use.
Toshiba Exceria Pro U3 UHS-II
These aren't always as easy to find as some of the other brands, but they're very good cards indeed. Toshiba has been a big player in hard drives and flash memory for a long time, and this range builds on that expertise and reputation.
SanDisk Extreme Pro U3 UHS-II
This is SanDisk's top-of-the-line range, and they work well in this camera. This latest version is somewhat overkill however, because they use UHS-II, which most cameras can't fully take advantage of. Older versions of the Extreme Pro cards are UHS-I and will still work well (ideally, stick to ones with the U3 rating on them).
Delkin Devices Advantage V30 UHS-I
Delkin Devices have recently come out with a range of new SD cards of varying speeds and specs. This is one of their mid-range cards that is rated for V30 video recording speeds.
What Size SD Card to Use in the Olympus TG-5
The TG-5 is compatible with SDHC and SDXC cards. That means you can use cards from 4GB all the way to the largest cards currently available, which are 256GB or even 512GB cards. The current sweet spot for a combination of convenience, being readily available, and being cost-effective is probably around the 64GB to 128GB cards. But you can use larger or smaller ones if you prefer–it’s mostly a matter of convenience of how much video footage or photo data you can store on the card before it fills up and you have to download to a computer or some other device.
How to Format Memory Cards in the Olympus TG-5
This is something I’ve covered in detail separately here. The TG-5 has both an “All Erase” and a “Format” function. If you’re completely wiping a memory card for use, you want the “Format” option. The “All Erase” function deletes everything except for photos and video clips that you’ve tagged as protected.
How to Format SD Cards with a Computer
It’s always best practice to format memory cards in the camera you’re planning to use them in, but if that’s not practical or not what you want to do, it is possible to format them with a computer. But there are some things to watch out for, particularly when it comes to choosing which filesystem to use. 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.
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