The Sony HX99 compact camera might not seem like the type of camera that would need a fast memory card. But Sony has put in some surprisingly high-end features, and if you want to be able to use all of the camera’s features, you’ll need to make sure you get a card that’s fast enough to keep up.
The primary feature that places demands on the SD card’s speed is when shooting video using the high-end video modes. These throw a lot of data very quickly at the memory card to write and store. If the card is too slow, you can end up with the recording stopping or other errors. If you don’t plan to use the high-end video modes you can get away with a slower card in the HX99–the other features will still working fine–but if you’ve just picked up a new camera, it seems to me sensible to get a card that isn’t going to hobble its features right off the bat.
So here are some recommendations on which SD cards to get for the HX99.
You can find more detailed information below, but here are some quick recommendations. These are all microSD cards that are fast enough to work with all of the camera’s features.
Which SD Card to Choose for the Sony HX99 and Why
For a camera that seems to emphasize stills photography, the HX99 has some surprisingly high-end video modes. In particular, it can shoot 4K30 video and record it with a bitrate of up to 100 Mb/s (you can also choose lower bitrate). For a camera of this type, that’s a remarkably high bitrate–significantly higher than the maximum bitrates of even the top models of the more video-centric GoPro cameras.
What it boils down to is that if you’re willing to forego using some of the top-end features of the HX99, you can get away with a slower card. But it doesn’t make much sense to me to let something like a memory card limit what the camera can do, especially when it’s so easy and relatively inexpensive to get an SD card that is compatible with all of the camera’s features.
Here’s the official advice Sony provides:
This is by no means a comprehensive list of every microSD card that will work well in the HX99. What I’m aiming for is to put together some practical recommendations for cards that work well in the HX99 and are a good combination of performance, value, and availability.
Recommended microSD Cards for the Sony HX99: Details
Here are some more detailed recommendations for specific cards.
SanDisk Extreme V30 UHS-I
Fast, cost-effective, reliable, and widely available, the SanDisk Extreme cards are safe bets for a wide range of cameras. They're readily available at major retailers and quite cost-effective,
The latest version of the SanDisk Extreme comes in 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, and 400GB versions.
As with most of its product names, SanDisk recycles them with newer, faster cards. So you can find "Extreme" cards that are actually several years old. It's therefore worth checking the model number, although in practice even some of the older versions of the Extreme cards will also work well.
SanDisk uses a three-part model numbering system in the format SDSQXA1-064G-AN6MA. In this example, SDSQXA1 is the model number, 064G refers to the amount of memory, and the last 5 characters are used by the marketing department for different parts of the world but the cards are otherwise the same. So the first part is the crucial part if you're looking to see which model the card is, and you don't have to take much notice of the last 5 characters.
Samsung EVO Select U3 UHS-I
Buy at: Amazon
Samsung makes several excellent microSD cards, but they also have a confusing way of naming their cards that doesn't always make clear what the difference between the models is. The Select is one of their better cards, but it's also very good value.
Like SanDisk, Samsung recycles the series names. The latest version of the EVO Select is available in 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB sizes. If you can't find the EVO Select line at your preferred retailer, the EVO Plus line also works well.
SanDisk Extreme PRO V30 UHS-I
Buy at: Amazon
The Extreme Pro line is SanDisk's top-of-the-range line. They're consistently among the fastest microSD cards in my tests. While it's faster and fancier than the camera technically needs, they do work very well. Extreme Pro cards are among my go-tos in all of the memory card formats because of their speed and reliability.
This latest version comes in 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, and 400GB versions. The latest version of the packaging includes both V30 and A2 on them. It gets a little confusing because SanDisk is mixing and matching model numbers even amongst the current cards, but you're looking for model numbers that start with SDSQXCY (for 64GB and 128GB) and SDSQXCZ (for 256GB and 400GB versions).
The standard version of this includes a microSD-to-SD cartridge adapter. You can also find versions that include a USB thumb reader.
SanDisk Extreme PLUS V30 UHS-I
The Extreme PLUS line is a newer addition to SanDisk's product lines and, as you'd expect, this is a step up from the standard Extreme (but a step below the Extreme Pro).
This is the latest version of this card--you can tell it apart by the V30 rating on the card. Older versions didn't have the V30 on the packaging, but in practice even those older versions of the Extreme PLUS cards will also work well; because it's a relatively new line and they've always been among the faster lines, there aren't any older versions that are too slow.
SanDisk Pixtor Advanced U3 UHS-I
SanDisk's Pixtor range is the same as SanDisk's Extreme range--it's simply a rebranded version that's designed as a house brand for Best Buy. But their labeling is not as clear as it could be. The one you want is the SanDisk Pixtor Advanced, which is red and gold, but the card itself doesn't have the "Advanced" part printed on it. There's another version, which is just the SanDisk Pixtor, which is red and gray; that's the equivalent of the SanDisk Ultra and is slower.
Because they're tied to a specific retailer, the Pixtor cards don't tend to be as readily available as some of the others here. And there's really no reason to hunt for them specifically when the Extreme range cards are much easier to find.
Lexar 1000x U3 UHS-II
Lexar has had some corporate upheaval in recent years, including an ownership change, that has disrupted the availability of their products in retail outlets. But that seems to have settled down somewhat now, and many of their cards are readily available again.
Lexar has always to put more emphasis on marketing the read speeds of their cards--in this case, 1000x or up to 150MB/s--but several of their cards have write speeds fast enough for GoPros shooting 4K video. This is one of the newer ones and is rated for a write speed of up to 45MB/s. It comes in 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB versions. It includes a USB thumb drive card reader.
Delkin V60 UHS-II
These cards by Delkin are one of the few currently available that come with the new V60 rating for recording 4K and 8K video. It's also a UHS-II card and comes with a UHS-II SD adapter cartridge (most other adapter cartridges are UHS-I).
Delkin as a brand isn't as well known as some of the other brands with bigger marketing budgets, but they've actually been around a long time and I've always had good experiences with them. I use this particular model often in my GoPros and have found them to be fast and reliable.
ProGrade Digital V60 UHS-II
Find them at: B&H Photo
ProGrade Digital is a new brand, but they're not just another no-name rebrand that has sprung up from nowhere. They're an American company with a very experienced team. They're focusing on high-end memory cards, and they have no-frills packaging and minimal marketing so far. But I've been impressed with what I've seen so far--their SD cards are among the fastest I've tested and have become a fixture in my primary camera. This brand-new microSD version, the first microSD they've released, isn't the fastest card I've tested, but it's comfortably fast enough.
It's rated for V60 (or sustained minimum write speeds of 60MB/s) and is UHS-II.
What Size SD Card to Use in the Sony HX99
The most common sizes available for microSD cards these days is between 32GB and 256GB. The Sony HX99 can work with any of those, and is compatible with both microSHDC and microSDXC cards (and, for that matter, basic microSD, but using one of those smaller, older cards doesn’t make much sense anymore).
The current sweet spot in terms of storage capacity, convenience, price, and availability is probably in the 128GB or 64GB cards. Of those, I’d be more inclined toward the 128GB size, mainly for the convenience of the extra filming and shooting you can fit on it.
To give you an idea of how much you can fit on a card of a certain size, here are some estimates. These numbers are based on Sony’s own, and they’re by no means absolute. There are variables that come into play that might cause you to get more or less than these, including the results of how JPG compression works (scenes of fewer tones and details compress more than scenes with many tones and a lot of detail), and if you’re shooting in one of the JPG modes and set the aspect ratio to something other than the full 4:3, it’s cropping the image and will result in smaller files so that you can fit more images on the card.
|JPG Quality / File Format||16GB||32GB||64GB||128GB||256GB|
|RAW (.arw) & JPG||575||1150||2350||4700||9400|
And here are some estimates of how much video recording time you can fit on SD cards using the various settings available. These numbers are taken directly from the ones Sony provides, and again there are variables such as compression efficiency that will affect how closely your real-world mileage matches these estimates.1
|32 GB||64 GB||128 GB|
|XAVC S 4K 30p 100M/25p 100M||35 min||1 h 15 min||2 h 35 min|
|XAVC S 4K 30p 60M/25p 60M||1 h||2 h 5 min||4 h 15 min|
|XAVC S 4K 24p 100M/–||35 min||1 h 15 min||2 h 35 min|
|XAVC S 4K 24p 60M/–||1 h||2 h 5 min||4 h 15 min|
|XAVC S HD 120p 100M/100p 100M||35 min||1 h 15 min||2 h 35 min|
|XAVC S HD 120p 60M/100p 60M||1 h||2 h 5 min||4 h 15 min|
|XAVC S HD 60p 50M/50p 50M||1 h 15 min||2 h 35 min||5 h 10 min|
|XAVC S HD 60p 25M/50p 25M||2 h 25 min||5 h||10 h 05 min|
|XAVC S HD 30p 50M/25p 50M||1 h 15 min||2 h 35 min||5 h 10 min|
|XAVC S HD 30p 16M/25p 16M||3 h 50 min||7 h 45 min||15 h 40 min|
|XAVC S HD 24p 50M/–||1 h 15 min||2 h 35 min||5 h 10 min|
|AVCHD 60i 24M(FX)/50i 24M(FX)||2 h 55 min||6 h||12 h 05 min|
|AVCHD 60i 17M(FH)/50i 17M(FH)||4 h 5 min||8 h 15 min||16 h 35 min|
Things to Watch For
One odd thing about the HX99 is that it’s possible to insert the memory card back to front. It seems to click in normally. But when you go to turn the camera on, you’ll get an error message: “Unable to read memory card. Reinsert memory card.” So if you get that error, the first thing to try is flipping the card over.
I’ve had at least one instance of taking a memory card from the HX99, inserting it into a computer’s memory card reader, and getting an error that the card isn’t readable. I solved it by putting the memory card back into the camera, confirming that I can play back the images on that, taking one more photo, powering the camera off, and then trying again. It worked for me. I suspect it might have something to do with the camera powering off before the separate image database that the camera writes had completed doing its thing, but I haven’t confirmed that.
How to Format SD Cards in the Sony HX99
It’s not complicated to format memory cards in the HX99, but the option is a little buried in the settings menus.
You want to move across to the tab with the toolbox icon. Then you need to scroll through to page 5 of 6. The Format function is on that page.
Once you start that, you get the obligatory warning that you’re about to wipe everything from the card.
When you confirm, it will do its thing and show you a progress bar. It does what’s sometimes known as a quick format, which basically deletes the references to the directories and files but doesn’t drill down to initialize the files at a granular level, so the process should only take a few seconds even for large-capacity microSD cards.
How to Format microSD 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.
- These are not continuous recording times. There are some hardwired limits to how much continuous recording you can do. In most modes, the maximum is about 29 minutes in normal conditions. But if you’re shooting XAVC S 4K/XAVC S HD 120p/100p formats, the limit is about 5 minutes. ↩
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