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I have a Nikon D5100 and currently use a class 6 SDHC memory card. Since I am still fairly new and use "RAW + JPEG" mode there is a lot of heavy writing to the memory card (not to mention quickly draining the battery).

Does the D5100 write to the memory card enough that I would get faster saving with a class 10 memory card?

As a reference, these are the minimum write speeds (as defined by The SD Association) for the various classes:

Class 2     2 MB/sec
Class 4     4 MB/sec
Class 6     6 MB/sec
Class 10    10 MB/sec
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See this dpreview thread. Consensus seems to be that for the Nikon D5100 class 6 is fine for single shots, but you really need class 10 if you want to do burst shots (Continuous Mode). A class 10 will also allow faster transfers to your PC.

I wouldn't expect switching to class 10 to improve your battery life. Your card has very little battery consumption compared to your LCD and sensor, regardless of speed. If you want more battery life, keep your camera switched off when not in use and carry a spare battery.

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Short answer - Yes. Longer answer - The faster your card (generally speaking), the faster your camera will clear its buffer. Basically, any modern card rated at 30Mb/s (write speed) or higher will give the best performance with your D5100. If you want specific details, have a look on https://www.cameramemoryspeed.com for information on how various cards work with certain cameras. They don't list the D5100, but the D5300 should be good approximation. This is only an issue if you are shooting bursts, or the camera stops responding while writing data (usually the case with P&S compacts). A quick note about battery life. I have found that single shots and long/timed exposures drain the battery (DSLR and m43) much faster than bursts and continuous shooting. Something to keep in mind.

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