Camera Memory Speed
Memory Card Comparison & Performance Tests for Digital Cameras
Nikon Z6 with XQD card in slot

Nikon Z6 XQD Card Comparison

Published: December 6, 2018

The Nikon Z6 the 24-megapixel version of Nikon's new Z-series mirrorless full frame digital cameras. The Z6 was released in November, 2018, just two months after the flagship Z7. While the Z6 has a slightly lower resolution, the 24.5 MP BSI-CMOS sensor has outstanding low light performance and offers up to 12 fps with autofocus. The camera has in-body 5-axis sensor stabilization for smooth video and sharp photos. The hybrid autofocus system has 273-point phase detect points on the sensor combined with contrast detect and covers 90-percent of the frame. The 3.7-million dot organic LED viewfinder provides sharp previews while the 3.2-inch tilting rear LCD screen provides touch control. The camera incorporates the new Nikon Z mount, with a short 16mm flange focal distance. It can use a variety of legacy F-mount lenses via the Nikon FTZ Adapter. The Z6 has a single XQD card slot that supports XQD 2.0 and 1.0 cards.

Write Speed Test

Test date: November 28, 2018

The write speed test uses 14-bit uncompressed RAW (.NEF) images which provide the highest average write speed compared with other image modes. Write speed is calculated during continuous shooting after the buffer has reached capacity. Camera settings are outlined below and reduce the amount of image processing and overhead. The shutter mode is set to Continuous High+ and an adapted manual lens is mounted using the FTZ adapter. The image subject is a detailed static scene illuminated by controlled lighting. The Z6 is fixed to a tripod for the duration of the test and controlled by a remote timer. The test setup produces 47.2MB RAW (.NEF) image files. Each card is tested multiple times and the speed is averaged. Each test runs for the duration of time needed to capture 200 images; images taken during buffering are not counted. Results are in MB/s where 1 MB = 1,048,576 bytes. Higher numbers represent faster cards.

Nikon Z6 XQD Card Speed Test Details

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Memory CardAverage Write Speed (MB/s)Price
Sony G-Series 440MB/s XQD 64GB240.1$120.00
Lexar Professional 2933x XQD 64GB239.5$499.99
Nikon XQD 64GB239.1$9223372036854775808.00
Sony G-Series 400MB/s XQD 64GB237.5$217.33
Delkin Premium XQD 120GB237.0$229.95
Sony G-Series 440MB/s XQD 120GB236.1$147.39
Lexar Professional 1400x XQD 64GB167.4$107.23
Sony S-Series 168MB/s XQD 32GB149.9$456.59
Sony M-Series XQD 64GB62.5$131.75
Sony M-Series XQD 32GB40.0$250.00

Continuous Shooting Test

The continuous shooting test uses a 30 second interval and measured the number of images the Z6 can take using each XQD card. The time does not include buffer clearing. Three image modes are used: RAW+JPEG, RAW, and JPEG. In addition to image type and camera settings, the subject of the photograph can affect the number of shots. Less detailed subjects create smaller file sizes and write faster. The detailed test scene creates relatively large files. Each card is tested twice and the results are averaged and rounded to the nearest whole number.

RAW: 14-bit uncompressed (average 47.2MB NEF file size)
JPEG: Large, fine* quality (average 18.9 MB JPG file size)

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Memory CardContinuous Shooting – Images in 30 SecondsLowest
Lexar Professional 2933x XQD 64GB126166223$499.99
Sony G-Series 440MB/s XQD 64GB125167223$120.00
Nikon XQD 64GB125165223$9223372036854775808.00
Sony G-Series 440MB/s XQD 120GB125164224$147.39
Delkin Premium XQD 120GB125163224$229.95
Sony G-Series 400MB/s XQD 64GB122163224$217.33
Lexar Professional 1400x XQD 64GB89123218$107.23
Sony S-Series 168MB/s XQD 32GB86112221$456.59
Sony M-Series XQD 64GB4660103$131.75
Sony M-Series XQD 32GB364786$250.00

Nikon Z6 Performance Analysis

The write speeds during continuous shooting averaged up to 240.1 MB/s. This is slightly below the 244.7 MB/s average write speed of the Nikon Z7, however the Z6 file size is smaller so the additional overhead in writing separate, smaller files may account for the difference.

When shooting uncompressed 14-bit RAW the Z6 was able to capture between 23-38 at full frame rate before the buffer was full. Slower cards like the Sony M Series got as few as 23 shots, while the fastest cards reached up to 38 shots. The frame rate with the buffer full averaged up to 5 fps with the fastest cards. The slowest card provided only 0.8fps with the buffer full.

When shooting lossless compressed .NEF the average file size was 36.1 MB. Buffer capacity ranged from 23-45 shots. The average write speed was up to 209.2 MB/s using the fastest cards and 39.9 MB/s with the slowest card (Sony M-Series 32GB). The six fastest cards provided write speeds averaging at least 200MB/s. The frame rate with the buffer full was 5.8 fps with the fastest cards while the slow card had a 1.1fps with the buffer full.

In JPEG shooting (large, fine quality) the Z6 averaged up to 148.2 MB/s with the fastest cards and 46.1MB/s with the slowest card. Several cards achieved nearly the same results, indicating that camera processing of JPEG images is a limiting factor. Average JPEG file size for this test was 18.9MB. The camera shot up to 48 shots at full frame rate using the fast XQD cards in JPEG mode, while slower cards were down to 38 shots. The frame rate with the buffer full ranged from 7.8fps with fast cards down to 2.4fps with the slowest cards.

Recommended XQD Cards for the Nikon Z6

Delkin XQD 120GB Card Sony G-Series XQD Card 120GB Sony G-Series XQD Card 64GB Nikon XQD Card 64GB Lexar 2933X XQD Card 64GB

The best performing cards in the Nikon Z6 were the Sony G Series XQD, Delkin Premium XQD, Lexar 2933X XQD cards, and Nikon XQD cards. The performance difference between these cards in the Z6 was slight. All of these cards offered nearly the same buffer capacity and write speed during continuous shooting. The 64GB Nikon XQD and Sony G-Series 440MB/s cards in particular behave similarly, while the Delkin 120GB card also performed nearly the same as its 120GB counterpart from Sony.

The remaining XQD cards in this test reduced the Z6's performance. The cards include Lexar 1400x, Sony M-Series and older Sony S-Series cards. If shooting less than the buffer capacity these cards may be adequate, however the effective buffer capacity is less with these cards; it takes longer to clear the buffer and when the buffer is full these cards significantly reduce the frame rate of continuous shooting.