The Ultimate Guide to SD, Compact Flash, CF Express, and XQD Camera Memory Cards: Everything You Need to Know

February 8, 2023

The Ultimate Guide to SD, Compact Flash, CF Express, and XQD Camera Memory Cards: Everything You Need to Know

The Ultimate Guide to SD, Compact Flash, CF Express, and XQD Camera Memory Cards: Everything You Need to Know

Are you getting started in photography but have no idea where to start.  I have a website called, "John Whitehead Images" that I created for my college students as a learning resource.  I have videos on how to use your camera, Adobe Bridge, Adobe Lightroom Classic, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Camera Raw, Photo Mechanic and more.  

In one of my miscellaneous articles, I explain the difference between camera memory cards.  I explain size, read/write speeds, classes, types, and video class speeds. ​

Here is a little peak at this article. 

When it comes to storing your photos and videos, the type of memory card you use can have a big impact on the overall quality and speed of your camera. There are several types of camera memory cards available, including SD cards, Compact Flash (CF) cards, CF Express cards, and XQD cards. In this article, we'll take a closer look at each type of card and compare the pros and cons, including read and write speeds.

SD Cards:

Secure Digital (SD) cards are one of the most common types of memory cards used in cameras. They come in various sizes, from tiny microSD cards to larger SDXC cards. SD cards are widely available and are often used in consumer-level cameras and smartphones.


  • Wide compatibility: SD cards are compatible with a wide range of devices, making them a popular choice for photographers and videographers.
  • Affordable: SD cards are typically less expensive than other types of memory cards.


  • Limited speed: Some older SD cards may have slower read and write speeds, which can affect the overall speed and performance of your camera.

Compact Flash (CF) Cards:

Compact Flash (CF) cards are another type of memory card that have been around for many years. They are larger in size than SD cards and typically offer faster read and write speeds. CF cards are often used in professional-level cameras and other high-end devices.


  • Fast speeds: CF cards offer faster read and write speeds compared to SD cards, making them a popular choice for high-end cameras and other demanding devices.
  • Durable: CF cards are built to withstand harsh conditions, making them a reliable choice for photographers who shoot in tough environments.


  • Larger size: CF cards are larger than SD cards, which can be a problem in devices with limited space.
  • More expensive: CF cards are typically more expensive than SD cards.

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