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The Nikon D3400 and its successor the D3500 have been Nikon’s most popular entry level cameras for some years.
While it’s fairly easy to get advice on which camera and lens to buy, it can be quite hard to get good information on what is the best memory card to select for your new camera, especially if you’re a new photographer. But you need to be aware that choosing the wrong memory card can undermine the performance of your brand new camera.
So, which is the best memory card for Nikon d3400 and d3500 cameras?
Based on my experience, I recommend the following SD memory card for Nikon 3400 and Nikon 3500 models.
- SanDisk Extreme Pro SDXC UHS-I Memory Card
- SanDisk Extreme SDXC UHS-I Memory Card
- Kingston Canvas React SDXC UHS-I Memory Card
If you’re interested in understanding my reasons for selecting these particular cards, I will be giving a full, detailed breakdown below.
Common mistakes when selecting memory cards
There are generally three common mistakes people make when selecting an SD card for their Nikon d3400 or d3500 cameras.
- They buy slow memory cards that compromise the camera’s performance.
- Other people buy the latest, most expensive memory card types which Nikon cameras do not support and as the result, they waste money.
- By chasing a “good deal” some photographers tricked into buying counterfeit memory cards which result in poor performance and ultimately complete failure.
Whether you are buying an SD card specifically for your Nikon d3400 / d3500 or any other type of camera; these are the things you need to be looking at:
- You’ll need the right type of SD card
- The SD card has to be fast enough to match your camera’s requirements
- It needs to be big enough to store the right amount of images
- Most importantly it needs to be reliable
Selecting the right SD card type
Both the Nikon d3400 and d3500 utilize the same SD card types. According to the Nikon website, they both accept the following SD card types: SD/SDHC/SDXC.
What are the differences between these three different card types?
- SD (Secure Digital) has a maximum storage capacity of 2GB
- SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) has a maximum storage capacity of 32GB
- SDXC (Secure Digital
eXtendedCapacity) has a maximum storage capacity of 2TB
Since it does not make much sense to buy memory cards with the storage capacity of 32GB or lower, the most memory cards sold today have SDXC label.
What is the right speed for a memory card?
Choosing the right speed memory card is both the most important part of the process and unfortunately the most confusing too.
While you’re taking your photos with your Nikon the speed at which the camera transfers the data from the camera on to the card is of utmost importance. It is called theWrite Speed.
The speed at which the SD card transfers the images from the camera to a computer or similar device is called the Read Speed which is less important for the majority of photographers.
However, most manufacturers will specify the Read Speed and ignore the Write Speed on a cards packaging. Why is this? Well, quite simply the read speed is ALWAYS much faster.
In order to get a true indication of an SD cards Write Speed, we need to look at which Speed Class Rating the card has.
Speed Class Ratings
There are a number of Speed Class Ratings which will give you an indication of a cards Write Speed. The most common Speed Class Ratings are:
- Class 4: Minimum Write Speed 4 MB/s
- Class 6: Minimum Write Speed 6 MB/s
- Class 10: Minimum Write Speed 10 MB/s
- U1: Minimum Write Speed 10 MB/s
- U3: Minimum Write Speed 30 MB/s
We saw in the Nikon Specification, the Nikon d3400 / 3500 require a UHS Speed Class 3 (U3) cardwhich is rated at 30MB/s a second.
However, if you decide to buy a faster card than your camera needs, you would definitely be wasting your money as the Nikon d3400 / 3500 will not be able to take advantage of the higher Write Speed.
UHS-I vs UHS-II
Around 2 years ago there was a new format of SDXC cards introduced that had a much faster internal bus speed. In order to utilize this increase in bus speed the second row of pins was added to the card.
Currently, there are only two types of SDXC cards available, these are called UHS-I and UHS-II. It is quite simple to differentiate the cards. While UHS-I card has a single row of pins, the UHS-II card will have a second row of pins.
Important: The Nikon d3400 and d3500 can only write at the slower UHS-I speed, it is not compatible with the UHS-II cards. While you can still use a UHS-II card in your camera, it will revert to a UHS-I speed and you will not be taking advantage of the higher speed.
So, we can now see that the best card for our Nikon d3400 and d3500 camera is an SDXC card, type UHS-I with a U3 speed class rating.
What is the Optimum Volume Capacity for your card?
As a travel photographer, it is inconvenient for me to keep changing cards, so I want a card that is of a large enough capacity for me to shoot all day long.
Both the Nikon d3400 and d3500 produce RAW files that are around 25MB in size. The JPG files vary in size between 5MB and 13MB depending on the camera settings that are used.
Therefore, if I were to use a 32GB memory card and shot solely in RAW, I should get roughly 1000 RAW files on the card.
It would seem that a 32GB card would be more than enough for my shooting needs, but this is not the case…
In virtually all circumstances I shoot both RAW and JPG. This means I can quickly download the JPEG version for a very quick edit on my phone or tablet. Quite often I also bracket my shots, taking between 3 and 7 shots, especially for HDR photography.
Under these circumstances, I am able to store around 280 bracketed images on the 32GB SD card. I need way more storage for my personal style of photography.
With this in mind, I choose cards that are between 64GB and 128GB.
To summarize our selection: SDXC card, type UHS-I with U3 speed class rating and a 64BG or 128GB capacity.
This is actually the easiest part of this article to advise you on! Always buy reputable brands of SD memory cards. I would recommend SanDisk, Lexar, Sony, Kingston, Transcend, PNY, Fujifilm.
You need to make sure you buy your cards from a reputable retailer… Be very, very wary of counterfeit cards, this is currently rife and it’s difficult to tell the difference on looks alone.
If you buy from Amazon, make sure the cards are sold and fulfilled by Amazon. Try to avoid buying from eBay or suspect online stores.
Best SD Memory Cards for Nikon D3400, D3500
The SD Cards to Consider:
UHS-I SD Cards
UHS-I SD memory cards compatible with Nikon D3400, D4500