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I have a question related to memory cards, buffers, and FPS settings. I am in the process of selecting accessories for a Nikon D850 that I am ordering. It allows for both SD cards and XQD memory cards.
What are the recommendations from you all as far as speed of card (i.e.: 320, 410 MBps write speed), versus the 7 FPS rating of the camera (no battery pack) and the buffer size to allow continuous shooting. I plan on shooting raw 8256 x 5504 which I anticipate will yield files in excess of 20 MB each. At 7 fps logic dictates at least a 150 MBps write speed card to keep pace and not overrun the buffer. Is my logic correct?

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  • The D850 doesn't use CF, it uses XQD.
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 9, 2017 at 16:04
  • Tetsujin - Thanks for the info. Any help on the question?
    – Popeye
    Sep 9, 2017 at 16:09
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    New XQDs are pretty much all the same speed at the moment, 350/400MBs - nikonusa.com/en/learn-and-explore/a/products-and-innovation/…
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 9, 2017 at 16:13
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    Possible duplicate of How can compute write speed and capacity requirements for memory card?
    – mattdm
    Sep 9, 2017 at 16:25
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    My advice would be to not worry to much about it until there is an actual problem based on your shooting experience because you can spend the same money on a better card later...unless the plan is "spray and pray" for extended periods. But if your not doing that now, odds are you won't the moment a new camera arrives. And at 45mp at seven frames per second for thirty seconds where to put all those images and the computer to process them might (or might not) be a more critical bottleneck in the pixel pipeline.
    – user50888
    Sep 9, 2017 at 16:57

2 Answers 2

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Nikon uses the same configuration for the D500. You will achieve the best performance using an XQD memory card. The maximum FPS (Continuous High) remains exactly the same with both cards. What changes is the speed at which the internal buffer gets cleared. This can give you a few more frames if you use an XQD instead of SDHC or SDXC but the difference is not that much when using one of the fastest ones.

Since you are buying new memory, there is no reason to not choose XQD for your new camera. XQD cards are all very fast since they are designed for performance while SDHC/SDXC ones vary greatly in speed but none of them claim so far to exceed XQD speeds.

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When shooting 14bit RAW, an XQD at 400MBps will offer a slight performance advantage over an SD card of 299MBps when shooting at 7fps. Here's a test comparison showing number of shots before filling the buffer:

14 bit RAW 7fps:

  • XQD- 39 shots
  • SD- 24 shots

Compare this with shooting at 12bit RAW:

12 bit RAW 7fps

  • XQD- 149 shots
  • SD- 39 shots

In my opinion, 24 shots is plenty for a burst, that's about 4 seconds worth of action, ideal for shooting birds in flight for example. I'd say shooting really long bursts is best avoided anyway, better to shoot short bursts to capture the action at different phases, plus it frees up the buffer so you maintain the frame rate. Plus you'll save time processing- less images to trawl through. Regarding bit depth, the difference between 12 and 14 is negligable, I usually use 12 when birding with a D850.

If you purchase a battery grip and use 9fps regularly for say sports or birding, get a fast XQD.

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