Camera Memory Speed
Memory Card Comparison & Performance Tests for Digital Cameras
Nikon D500 XQD card and SD card slots

Nikon D500 XQD and SD Card Comparison

Published: May 4, 2016

The Nikon D500 is the flagship DX DSLR camera as of 2016. The APS-C sensor offers 20.9 megapixel resolution. The D500 is optimized for sports and wildlife photography with a 153-point auto focus system, high ISO capabilities and continuous shooting up to 10fps. It supports both XQD and SD cards. It is the first Nikon camera to support the UHS-II SD interface. UHS-II SD cards can offer speeds up to three times faster than UHS-I SD cards. The fastest performance however is using XQD cards, and the D500 supports the latest XQD 2.0 specification.

The Nikon D500 was tested with 91 memory cards, including XQD 1.0 and 2.0 cards as well as UHS-I and UHS-II SD cards. The write speed comparison shows the average speed during continuous RAW shooting. The continuous shooting results present the number of shots in 30 seconds using different image modes for each card.

D500 Write Speed

Test date: April 26, 2016

Write speed of the D500 was tested using 14-bit uncompressed RAW (.NEF) image format. This setting provides large file sizes and provides the highest average write speed during continuous shooting compared with the other RAW and JPEG modes. To assure consistency the D500 is mounted on a tripod and all settings are set to manual. A manual lens is used to lock the aperture and focus. The target subject is a detailed test scene with controlled lighting. The D500 is set to continuous high and the shutter is actuated using a remote timer. The resulting RAW files are 43.3MB .NEF format. The write speed is calculated by dividing the total size (in bytes) of images written to the card by the write time in seconds. Results are shown in MB/s (1 MB = 1,048,576 bytes).

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Memory CardCard
Average Write Speed (MB/s)Price
Lexar Professional 2933x XQD 64GBXQD64297.1$150.00
Sony G-Series 400MB/s XQD 64GBXQD64280.2
Lexar Professional 1400x XQD 64GBXQD64178.9
Sony S-Series 168MB/s XQD 32GBXQD32163.6$129.99
Lexar Professional 2000x UHS-II 64GBSD64163.4$125.50
Lexar Professional 2000x UHS-II 32GBSD32159.6$86.50
Lexar Professional 1800x microSD UHS-II 32GBmicroSD32148.5$29.95
Toshiba Exceria Pro UHS-II 32GBSD32142.6
SanDisk Extreme Pro 280MB/s UHS-II 32GBSD32138.7$69.00
Transcend Ultimate UHS-II U3 32GBSD32135.4
Transcend Ultimate UHS-II U3 64GBSD64130.9
Sony M Series UHS-II 64GBSD6492.0$39.99
SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s 32GBSD3284.3$18.08
SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s 64GBSD6484.2$59.99
SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s microSDHC 32GBmicroSD3283.8$15.23
SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s microSDXC 64GBmicroSD6483.8$14.29
SanDisk Extreme Plus 95/90 MB/s microSD 64GBmicroSD6483.8$47.99
SanDisk Extreme Plus 95/90 MB/s microSD 32GBmicroSD3283.6$13.99
SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s 128GBSD12883.0$99.99
Kingston U3 90/80 MB/s 32GBSD3280.1$69.95
Kingston U3 90/80 MB/s 64GBSD6479.9$59.40
PNY Pro Elite 64GBSD6478.3
Panasonic Gold 95/90 64GBSD6477.5
Kingston U3 (90/80) microSD 32GBmicroSD3276.8$187.76
Gobe Magic 104MB/s 64GBSD6475.8
Kingston U3 (90/80) microSD 64GBmicroSD6475.6$64.66
Transcend R95 W85 U3 64GBSD6475.5$49.99
Transcend 633x microSDHC 32GBmicroSD3275.2$33.91
Gobe Magic 104MB/s 32GBSD3275.2
Transcend Ultimate 633x microSD 64GBmicroSD6474.8$125.99
Sony 95MB/s U3 32GBSD3274.0$15.99
Samsung PRO 64GBSD6473.9$69.50
Samsung PRO 32GBSD3273.4$69.00
Kingston Class 10 UHS-I 64GBSD6472.8$36.38
Lexar Professional 1000x UHS-II 32GBSD3272.7$44.99
Delkin Black 32GBSD3272.3
SanDisk Extreme 80MB/s 128GBSD12872.1$16.99
Lexar Professional 1000x UHS-II 64GBSD6471.9$47.40
SanDisk Extreme 80MB/s 256GBSD25671.7$159.84
Sony 95MB/s U3 64GBSD6471.5$34.99
Delkin Elite 633x 32GBSD3271.0$19.99
SanDisk Extreme 90MB/s U3 128GBSD12870.7$42.99
Lexar Professional 1000x UHS-II 128GBSD12868.8$54.95
Transcend 95/85 MB/s U3 32GBSD3266.7
Sony M-Series XQD 64GBXQD6463.7$50.00
PNY Elite Performance U3 128GBSD12859.4$39.99
Lexar Professional 633x U3 128GBSD12858.9$59.99
Transcend 95/60 MB/s U3 128GBSD12858.9$104.31
Sony 94MB/s 32GBSD3258.2$26.29
PNY Elite Performance U1 64GBSD6457.8$19.99
Transcend 95/60 MB/s U3 64GBSD6456.9$29.95
SanDisk Extreme Plus 80MB/s 32GBSD3255.4$41.00
SanDisk Extreme Plus 80MB/s 64GBSD6455.1$29.99
Transcend 600x 64GBSD6454.5$31.98
Lexar Professional 633x U3 64GBSD6454.3$59.99
Toshiba Exceria UHS-I Class 3 32GBSD3254.1
Toshiba Exceria UHS-I Class 3 64GBSD6453.3
SanDisk Extreme U3 microSD 64GBmicroSD6450.5$38.99
SanDisk Extreme 60MB/s 32GBSD3249.9$17.84
PNY Elite Performance U3 256GBSD25649.3$99.89
SanDisk Extreme 60MB/s 64GBSD6448.2$36.90
PNY Turbo Performance U3 microSD 32GBmicroSD3247.4$17.99
Delkin 1900x UHS-II 32GBSD3246.9
SanDisk Extreme 90MB/s U3 64GBSD6445.6$17.98
SanDisk Extreme 90MB/s U3 32GBSD3245.2$21.19
Panasonic MicroP2 UHS-II 32GBSD3243.9
Kingston Ultimate 32GBSD3242.9
Lexar Professional 633x U3 32GBSD3241.8$39.99
Patriot EP Pro 90MB/s 32GBSD3241.4$31.58
Sony M-Series XQD 32GBXQD3240.5$199.00
Panasonic Gold Series 32GBSD3240.0
Samsung PRO Plus 64GBSD6439.5$118.00
Samsung PRO Plus 32GBSD3238.5
SanDisk Ultra 80MB/s 32GBSD3238.1$8.76
Patriot EP Pro 90MB/s 64GBSD6437.1$24.99
Transcend 600x 32GBSD3236.8$17.99
Patriot EP Pro 128GBSD12836.8$58.57
Samsung PRO U3 32GBSD3236.6
Samsung PRO U3 64GBSD6436.5$89.98
PNY Elite Performance U1 32GBSD3235.1
Lexar Professional 633x microSDXC 200GBmicroSD20033.1$89.99
Samsung EVO microSD 32GBmicroSD3222.9$31.70
Samsung EVO 64GBSD6422.3$49.00
SanDisk Ultra 80MB/s 128GBSD12819.3$19.69
SanDisk Ultra 80MB/s 32GB Card 2SD3219.2$8.76
Samsung EVO 32GBSD3219.1$44.00
SanDisk Ultra 40MB/s 32GB Card 2SD3217.6$8.49
SanDisk Ultra 80MB/s 64GBSD6415.3$9.98
SanDisk Ultra 40MB/s 64GBSD6414.9$13.00
SanDisk Ultra 80MB/s microSD 32GBmicroSD3214.6$8.50
Toshiba NFC 16GBSD1612.4

D500 Continuous Shooting

Continuous shooting of the D500 was tested in three different image modes: RAW+JPEG, RAW, and JPEG. This is a measurement of the number of images that can be taken in 30 seconds (the time does not include buffer clearing). In addition to memory card performance, camera settings and the subject of the photograph affect the number of shots possible. Less detailed subjects create smaller file sizes and provide more shots in 30 seconds. The detailed test scene creates relatively large files. Therefore the number of shots during this test provides a comparison between cards rather than a maximum that may be quoted by a camera manufacturer.

RAW: 14-bit uncompressed (average 43.3MB .NEF file size)
JPEG: Large, fine quality (average 10.5MB .JPG file size)

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Memory CardCard
Continuous Shooting – Images in 30 SecondsLowest
Lexar Professional 2933x XQD 64GBXQD64166231261$150.00
Sony G-Series 400MB/s XQD 64GBXQD64158217261
Lexar Professional 1400x XQD 64GBXQD64112151261
Lexar Professional 2000x UHS-II 64GBSD64108140261$125.50
Lexar Professional 2000x UHS-II 32GBSD32108137261$86.50
Sony S-Series 168MB/s XQD 32GBXQD32106140261$129.99
Lexar Professional 1800x microSD UHS-II 32GBmicroSD32104129261$29.95
SanDisk Extreme Pro 280MB/s UHS-II 32GBSD3298123261$69.00
Toshiba Exceria Pro UHS-II 32GBSD3297126261
Transcend Ultimate UHS-II U3 32GBSD3296120261
Transcend Ultimate UHS-II U3 64GBSD6492118261
Sony M Series UHS-II 64GBSD647091261$39.99
SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s microSDXC 64GBmicroSD646986261$14.29
SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s microSDHC 32GBmicroSD326986261$15.23
SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s 64GBSD646986261$59.99
SanDisk Extreme Plus 95/90 MB/s microSD 64GBmicroSD646986261$47.99
SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s 128GBSD1286985261$99.99
SanDisk Extreme Plus 95/90 MB/s microSD 32GBmicroSD326985261$13.99
SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s 32GBSD326886261$18.08
Kingston U3 90/80 MB/s 64GBSD646783260$59.40
Kingston U3 90/80 MB/s 32GBSD326783260$69.95
PNY Pro Elite 64GBSD646682256
Samsung PRO Plus 64GBSD646656240$118.00
Kingston U3 (90/80) microSD 32GBmicroSD326581254$187.76
Panasonic Gold 95/90 64GBSD646581254
Transcend 633x microSDHC 32GBmicroSD326579247$33.91
Gobe Magic 104MB/s 32GBSD326579245
Transcend 95/85 MB/s U3 32GBSD326570244
Gobe Magic 104MB/s 64GBSD646480242
Transcend R95 W85 U3 64GBSD646480232$49.99
Kingston U3 (90/80) microSD 64GBmicroSD646479252$64.66
Samsung PRO 64GBSD646479245$69.50
Samsung PRO 32GBSD326479244$69.00
Transcend Ultimate 633x microSD 64GBmicroSD646479239$125.99
Lexar Professional 1000x UHS-II 32GBSD326477247$44.99
SanDisk Extreme 80MB/s 128GBSD1286378239$16.99
Delkin Elite 633x 32GBSD326377242$19.99
SanDisk Extreme 80MB/s 256GBSD2566377240$159.84
Samsung PRO U3 64GBSD646354233$89.98
Kingston Class 10 UHS-I 64GBSD646279244$36.38
Sony 95MB/s U3 32GBSD326279234$15.99
Delkin Black 32GBSD326278244
Sony 95MB/s U3 64GBSD646278234$34.99
SanDisk Extreme 90MB/s U3 128GBSD1286277237$42.99
Lexar Professional 1000x UHS-II 64GBSD646178239$47.40
Lexar Professional 1000x UHS-II 128GBSD1286074223$54.95
Samsung PRO Plus 32GBSD325755249
Lexar Professional 633x U3 128GBSD1285669206$59.99
PNY Elite Performance U3 128GBSD1285669200$39.99
Samsung PRO U3 32GBSD325654236
Sony 94MB/s 32GBSD325568207$26.29
PNY Elite Performance U1 64GBSD645568203$19.99
SanDisk Extreme Plus 80MB/s 32GBSD325466203$41.00
SanDisk Extreme Plus 80MB/s 64GBSD645466202$29.99
Transcend 600x 64GBSD645464197$31.98
Lexar Professional 633x U3 64GBSD645463177$59.99
Transcend 95/60 MB/s U3 128GBSD1285369207$104.31
Toshiba Exceria UHS-I Class 3 32GBSD325366199
Transcend 95/60 MB/s U3 64GBSD645266205$29.95
Toshiba Exceria UHS-I Class 3 64GBSD645265196
SanDisk Extreme 60MB/s 32GBSD325263193$17.84
SanDisk Extreme U3 microSD 64GBmicroSD645263191$38.99
SanDisk Extreme 60MB/s 64GBSD645161188$36.90
PNY Turbo Performance U3 microSD 32GBmicroSD325161178$17.99
Sony M-Series XQD 64GBXQD645073209$50.00
PNY Elite Performance U3 256GBSD2565062185$99.89
Delkin 1900x UHS-II 32GBSD324960184
SanDisk Extreme 90MB/s U3 64GBSD644960182$17.98
SanDisk Extreme 90MB/s U3 32GBSD324959181$21.19
Panasonic MicroP2 UHS-II 32GBSD324859174
Kingston Ultimate 32GBSD324858176
Patriot EP Pro 90MB/s 32GBSD324856177$31.58
Lexar Professional 633x U3 32GBSD324756174$39.99
Panasonic Gold Series 32GBSD324756158
SanDisk Ultra 80MB/s 32GBSD324655162$8.76
Transcend 600x 32GBSD324452147$17.99
Patriot EP Pro 90MB/s 64GBSD644353139$24.99
PNY Elite Performance U1 32GBSD324352154
Sony M-Series XQD 32GBXQD324256158$199.00
Patriot EP Pro 128GBSD1284252161$58.57
Lexar Professional 633x microSDXC 200GBmicroSD2004151147$89.99
Samsung EVO microSD 32GBmicroSD323744124$31.70
Samsung EVO 64GBSD643644129$49.00
SanDisk Ultra 80MB/s 128GBSD1283542118$19.69
SanDisk Ultra 80MB/s 32GB Card 2SD323542114$8.76
Samsung EVO 32GBSD323441121$44.00
SanDisk Ultra 40MB/s 32GB Card 2SD323440112$8.49
SanDisk Ultra 80MB/s 64GBSD643339104$9.98
SanDisk Ultra 40MB/s 64GBSD643239103$13.00
SanDisk Ultra 80MB/s microSD 32GBmicroSD323238102$8.50
Toshiba NFC 16GBSD16313795

D500 Performance Analysis

The Nikon D500 supports both XQD and SD cards. XQD cards can provide the highest performance, up to nearly 300 MB/s. The camera also supports UHS-II SD cards, but only reached 163.4 MB/s average write speed. Both XQD and UHS-II SD cards surpass CompactFlash and UHS-I SD card performance. While the faster XQD 2.0 cards provide the highest write speed, not all XQD 2.0 cards are created equal. The Sony M-Series XQD 2.0 cards have rather low write speeds, and mid-range UHS-I SD cards can offer superior performance in the D500.

Writing to both XQD and SD Cards

The D500 dual card slots can be set to record the same images to both cards, or write RAW to the XQD card and JPEG to the SD card. In backup mode where the same images are written to both cards, there were slightly fewer shots compared to writing to a single card (145 vs 166). When RAW and JPEG images are written to separate cards, the result was fewer images than when both were written to the XQD card alone.

Lexar Professional 2933x XQD 64GB166231261
Lexar 2000x UHS-II 64GB108140261
Mode: Backup Card 1 & Card 2RAW + JPEGRAWJPEG
Lexar Professional 2933x XQD 64GB (Card 1)
Lexar 2000x UHS-II 64GB (Card 2)
Mode: RAW Card 1 / JPEG Card 2RAW + JPEG
Lexar Professional 2933x XQD 64GB (RAW)
Lexar 2000x UHS-II 64GB (JPEG)

Recommended XQD and SD Cards for the Nikon D500

Lexar 2933x XQD CardThe fastest card tested in the D500 was the Lexar Professional 2933x 64GB XQD 2.0. It averaged 297.1 MB/s write speed during continuous shooting. The second fastest card was the Sony G Series 64GB XQD Card which averaged 280.2 MB/s write speed in the D500. Both cards significantly exceed the performance of other XQD and SD cards tested.

UHS-II SD cards offer write speeds above UHS-I cards, but not quite up the faster XQD cards. The fastest SD card tested was the Lexar Professional 2000x UHS-II 64GB which measured 163.4 MB/s average write speed. UHS-II SD cards are capable of higher write speed, but the SD interface implementation in the D500 appears to be the limiting factor. The fastest UHS-I SD cards tested were various SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s cards, measuring around 84 MB/s average write speed for the various capacities tested.

Nikon D500 USB 3.0 transfer

Downloading images from the D500: USB 3.0 cable vs card reader

The D500 has a USB 3.0 port that can be used to download images from the camera. The transfer speed was measured using the fastest XQD, UHS-II SD and UHS-I cards. RAW images were downloaded from the camera using a USB 3.0 cable connected to a computer with an SSD drive. The fastest card, the Lexar Professional 2933x 64GB XQD averaged 90.0 MB/s when transferring 200 RAW files (about 9 GB). The Lexar Professional 2000x UHS-II 64GB averaged 83.0 MB/s transferring 200 RAW files, and the SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-I 95MB/s 64GB card averaged 61.3 MB/s. The faster XQD and UHS-II cards can provide transfer speeds of about 250MB/s when used in a fast card reader. See the Card Reader Reviews for card reader tests and benchmarks.