Which XQD Card For Nikon D5/D500?

Spring is in the air and the new camera smell of the Nikon D5/D500 cameras is starting to waft into my consciousness…it won’t be long before these pre-ordered cameras will be unboxed and I can’t wait to see how all the new features will move my photography forward.

In anticipation of their arrivals, I’m  ordering some new XQD cards to take full advantage of the speed these race cars are capable of. But my question has been: Which XQD cards should I get?

Sony has announced the new “M” series cards to coincide with the new D5/D500 coming out. Or maybe the announcement is just coincidence.

The older “G” series XQD Version 2 cards have equivalent maximum read speeds to the new M series (up to 440MB/s) but their write-to-card speed of 350MB/s– is significantly faster than the newly minted M series cards which clock-in @150MB/s. (The 32GB “M” card writes at a slower 80MB/s).



The Dilemma

That said, the slower-writing Sony M series XQD cards are less than half the price of the G series in most cases.

Will there be a practical difference for those of us in the field? Can we save money?

I have it from a reliable Nikon source that sadly (for our bank accounts) the difference between the M and G series cards will be noticeable – with regards to frame rate, buffering capability, download speeds or a combination of the three.

In other words it can have an impact on our workflow in the field.

Of course it depends how you use the new cameras. Landscape shooters probably will not notice a difference. Sports or Street Photographers like myself? We shall see.

Is the “noticeable” difference worth the higher price tag?

I will get back to you in this space after doing an extensive, subjective, non-scientific test– when I clutch the new cameras in my white-gloved hands. In the meantime, do what you must.

As a proud SanDisk Extreme Team member I was hoping SanDisk would join Sony & Lexar and manufacture these memory cards, but not yet. Here are affiliate links to the fast/expensive  Sony G card’s, a good case for them, and the new Sony XQD/SD Card Reader


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  1. says: Christos

    The card speed is important but always compared with the writing speed of the camera. What is the writing capabilities of the d500 does anybody know?

  2. says: Koshy

    The situation has slightly changed since this post. Sony has come out with a new M series which writes and reads faster @440 mb/s and writes 150 mb/s. While you are at it, it might be useful to include the M series also in the study. The good thing is, M series are much cheaper than the G series. Sony claims that they made the M series specially for Nikon D5 and D500

    1. says: Steve Simon

      thanks, I will take a look and update! It’s not clear from first glance what the difference is with the new cards…