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SD memory card problems

Danny1970 Avatar
24 Apr 2020 5:10PM
I am experiencing problems when importing photos from my SD card to lightroom, it is excruciatingly slow, sometimes freezes up as well, it's quite an old SD card which I've had for some years now, could the card be corrupted or a very slow read speed (it's not my pc s I've just installed lightroom on a brand new dell system it's the same problem when inserting the card on pc). do SD cards have different speeds? I have a Nikon D850, can anyone recommend what would be a good make of memory card to get to replace the old one.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you
pink Avatar
pink Plus
20 7.5k 11 England
24 Apr 2020 5:51PM
I always leave my card in my camera and use a lead to read it from there, seems quicker than a card reader or slot om the PC
saltireblue Avatar
saltireblue Plus
13 14.8k 92 Norway
24 Apr 2020 7:09PM

Quote:do SD cards have different speeds?

Absolutely. All cards have read and write speeds, so if you have an older, slower card, your new pc will likely show up the shortcomings of a slower card.
Google SD card speeds to learn about the differences.
saltireblue Avatar
saltireblue Plus
13 14.8k 92 Norway
24 Apr 2020 7:17PM
If you are using a card reader, that could also need updating if it is getting on in years. I recently bought a new one and noticed a huge difference in transfer speed compared to the old one.
RobD Avatar
RobD 3 81 1 Guernsey
25 Apr 2020 12:31AM
TL/DR It seems likely that the card you've got may be getting old, as old cards can slow down when they start having to handle errors. This is not necessarily terminal. There is software that can check depending on the brand. If you want to buy a new card (not a bad idea if you are reliant on one card) your Nikon can handle the fastest cards, but unless you shoot action, you probably don't need the fastest.

The long version.
SD cards do slow down when they start getting harder to read. It can relate to having to handle read errors, and can be a symptom of a card that is ailing, but there may be other reasons. It looks like you've eliminated the reader by testing in 2 machines, so I'd guess the card is getting sick. Depending on the brand, the manufacturer of the card may supply recovery or checking software that can help diagnose or even improve a failing card. One of the recommended tricks I've seen is to format the card in the camera as that allows the card to work around errors in the underlying memory and improve speed again at the cost of potentially losing a little capacity. May be worth a try.

If you decide to buy...
SD cards come in a huge range of speeds. There are a number of possibly confusing sub elements to that. Fortunately most cards are backwardly compatible and so are most readers, so you can pick and choose according to your needs and budget. You also have microSD which can be adapted to SD, often coming with the adaptor. Beware you make sure the adaptor is rated to the same level as the card you're adapting if you go that route. I wouldn't personally because the adapter is an added complexity, and KISS (keep it simple stupid) is a good principle.
For a modern camera system like your Nikon you're interested in SDHC (or even SDXC in micro SD) (high capacity, anything over 8Gb from memory, don't quote me on that), and depending on what you shoot UHS II. UHS I is basically just slower, though needless to say it's more complicated than that in the details.
Within UHS I there are a number of speed classes, from 1 to 10 I think, 10 being quite a wide range though. UHS II has 3 so far as I have seen, plus there are V values which seem to relate to continuous video stream speeds and don't seem necessarily linked directly to outright write speed. I've seen a slower crd rated at a higher V than a similar card from another brand.
Read and write speeds are rarely the same, and read is usually higher.
The fastest write speed card I've seen, and the ones I use for shooting Birds in Flight are the Sony G cards which are 300 MB/s read, 299MB/s write, can't see a V rating but probably V90. I also use the Sony M which varies but the ones I have are new and are 277 MB/s read, 150 MB/s write and V60.
As far as I can see Lexar don't like to advertise their write speeds, and label using a slightly confusing system which seems broadly aligned with class. Sandisk advertise both and their fastest cards are slightly behind the Sony G speeds, but only slightly. I haven't used any other brand myself.
At the high end of speed, the write speed basically impacts buffering. With the fastest cards the camera buffer takes longer to saturate, and so I can hold the shutter button down longer before it slows. If you're not shooting action then write speed is probably academic once you get onto UHS II.
When it comes to reading if you use a card reader make sure your reader is UHS II at least. I'm on a 2019 iMac and the built in reader handles 300MB/s, as does the reader built into the Thunderbolt 3 external HDD enclosure, but your mileage varies, my older mac mini in the lounge is only UHS I. Sandisk and Lexar do relatively cheap USB UHS II readers.
Beware the Thunderbolt 3 readers, the ones I've seen are expensive for no real speed boost that I can imagine. USB 3.0 is more than enough for the fastest cards on paper.
As for camera vs separate reader, either built in or external, I use the card reader because with the Olympus I'm on battery power when transferring. So I use the already powered up reader in the machine rather than switch on and plug in the camera, but that's the only reason. The chances are the camera will have a fast reader if your machine is lacking one.
Price of cards needless to say is not linearly related to either speed or capacity, but rises exponentially with either . The M card I bought recently was a third the price of the equivalent G for half the write speed, and only a little less read. I was recording 4k24p cinema OMLog onto an M card fine earlier today. There are some custom video SD cards out there as well, but unless you're using a specific video camera SD or XQD are probably more than enough for that. Generally I find the prices are fairly consistent between brands for the same speed (give or take a bit) and capacity. Bargains can be had, but it is rare the top end cards are discounted. There was a big price jump a while back due to a capacity shortfall, and the prices have not really come back down on the top end.
One final observation. Sandisk were shipping a limited license to their card recovery software with their high speed cards, I have the license, but not needed it yet. I don't know if it works on other brands, I suspect not because Sony have a card validation software, and that only works on Sony cards. It might be a useful safety net. It may swing you between 2 brands if you find the other factors are all equal.

Hope all that helps you.


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