Most trail cameras require an SD card to record images of your target. The good news about this is that you are more than likely familiar with SD cards, as they are also often used with digital cameras and other small electronic devices.
If you have been looking at the SD cards which are available, you may have noticed that there is an overwhelming choice.
Not only are there hundreds of different brands and makes available, but there are also so many different options and choices.
Today, we will sort through those options and explain how to choose the best SD card for your trail camera.
What to look for when choosing the best SD card for your trail camera
To do so, we will take a look at what the most common and important options are.
|Product Name||Capacity||Write Speed Class||Write Speed (mb/s)|
|#1. Sandisk Ultra|
Our Best Pick
|16 – 126 GB||10||80 mb/s|
|#2. Sandisk Extreme Pro|
|16 – 512 GB||10||95 mb/s|
|8 – 126 GB||10||18 – 20 mb/s|
Type of SD card
The most commonly recognised SD card is the 32 x 24 mm standard sized card. This card can fit in most trail cameras, as well as digital cameras and also laptops and desktop computers. However, there are also smaller cards which are often used in smaller devices such as phones and tablets. These include mini SD cards and micro SD cards.
After the type of card, the first thing you might notice about your SD card is the brand name. Some popular brands for SD cards include big names such as Sony and Sandisk.
These established brands are well-known and respected, and you can be confident that their products will be of excellent quality. This is great as you can be confident that you won’t find out later that the card malfunctioned, meaning no pictures were recorded.
That said, these brand names are often more expensive than the more generic, other options. Although some of the cheaper brands can be less reliable, there are still some good quality options that offer great products, at a budget price.
The next most obvious criteria for determining what SD card to buy for your trail camera, is the size of the card. Some cards may be as small as 512 mb (although these are increasingly rare), whereas nowadays you can find cards up to 2TB. Most often, however, 32 GB is considered a large but affordable size.
This means that you can take more photographs or video without having to change over the card. This is particularly important when talking about trail cameras, because you do not want to change the SD card regularly. Doing so disturbs the wildlife around the area and can even scare off the animals that you are targeting.
One feature of SD cards that is often overlooked is the write speed. If you look closely at SD cards, you will notice a number such as 2, 4, 6 or 10 written on it.
This denotes the write speed, and the higher the number, the better. This essentially refers to how fast the card can read photos from your camera, and store them.
This is very important for all photography, but especially if you are using a trail camera to track animals.
This is because many trail cameras take a burst of still images or video, which both require the SD card to store the data quickly. If the SD card cannot keep up with the camera, it might freeze or malfunction, meaning you lose valuable footage or images.
Often the manufacturer will recommend what speed you should buy. Make sure that you buy this as a minimum – however you may even like to buy a faster card, to get even better results.
SD v SDHC v SDHX
While there used to really only be standard SD cards available on the market, today you may see other options such as SDHC or SDHX, and wonder what this means. Generally, SDHC and SDHX have higher internal storage – all the way up to 2 TB.
However, you need to be careful as not all devices work with these newer formats. As a general rule, new devices will, however if your trail camera is old, you should check with manufacturer to find out if these newer formats will work in it.
It might sound like those options are overwhelming, however, in reality they are fairly straightforward and will make a big difference in making sure you get the best results from your trail camera.
We advise that you have a look at the recommendations from the manufacturer of your trail camera, as this will give you the best insight into what SD card to choose, and especially what speed it will require.
In general, however, a good quality standard SD card from a brand such as Sandisk is a good idea. 32 GB will generally be sufficient for most trail cameras, and give you plenty of storage space so you don’t need to be checking the camera constantly.
The best SD cards for your trail camera
Still not sure? Don’t worry, we’ve analysed what’s currently available and chosen some of the best SD cards on the market. Let’s take a look.
#1. Sandisk Ultra SDXC Cards
Sandisk is the most well-known manufacturer of memory cards, and has an excellent reputation for good reason. Their SD cards are well-known to be extremely reliable, and resistant to damage from moisture or impacts.
This is great for having peace of mind knowing that you won’t lose all of your photographs or footage should your trail camera be bumped or dropped.
These SDHC/SDXC cards have a large capacity and can be bought in 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB sizes.
We recommend the 32GB size as ideal for trail cameras, although there is never any harm in having a larger and more flexible capacity.
The class rating for these cards is 10, which is the highest you can get. They can write an impressive 80 megabytes of data every second, meaning they are very unlikely to freeze or malfunction. Despite all of their great features, they are still quite affordable.
If you are looking for a high-quality SD card, we highly recommend this option. Just make sure that you check with your trail camera’s manufacturer to make sure that they take SDHC and SDXC cards.
#2. Sandisk Extreme Pro SD Card
If you are looking for the absolute best quality SD card available, then you should consider the Extreme Pro from Sandisk. As mentioned above, Sandisk is the most well-respected name in SD cards, respected and used by professional photographers all over the world.
Although this card is a little more expensive, it is worth it. This SDXC card comes in a 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB and 512GB capacity. This means that even if you want to store a huge quantity of images on the card, you will find the ideal size.
The speed class rating is 10, and this is the aspect where its particular card shines. It can write up to 95 megabytes of data per second, making it idea for professional and personal use. You can be absolutely confident that this card will not lock up or freeze on you, and will instead give you perfect results.
#3. Transcend SD Card
If you are looking to save some money on an SD card and are willing to try out a more generic brand, then this offering from Transcend will keep more money in your pocket, yet produce great results. This SDHC card comes in sized 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, 64 GB or 128GB.
For best results in a trail camera, we recommend using the 32GB card. The write speed is classed as a 10, with a transfer rate of 18 – 20 megabytes per second.
As you can see, that is quite a lot slower than the Sandisk option, but should be sufficient unless you are recording long periods of HD video.
One thing we like about this SD card is it comes with free recovery software. We’ve all experienced the panic that comes with an SD card that won’t read – with this technology, you’ll (usually) be able to restore all of those files with a few clicks.
And the winner is…
For the best overall SD card to use in a trail camera, we recommend the Sandisk Ultra. This card strikes the right balance between cost and features, offering you a great product at a reasonable cost.
We appreciate the fast write speed of 80 mb/s, which should be more than enough for nearly all trail cameras.
In addition, there are many different size capacities available, which means you’ll have some flexibility in determining which is best for you.
While the Extreme Pro may be a bit faster, the average user is unlikely to need this extra speed for the price. We also appreciate the peace of mind that comes with the Sandisk name.