by Alex W.
I get this question a lot, so I thought the most sensible thing to do would be to just write an article on it. Basically, a quick-stop guide to answer the question: "How many pictures can 16GB / 32GB / 64GB hold?"
Unfortunately it's not quite as simple as just telling you the answer.
The actual amount of photos you can store on a SD card (or hard drive, for that matter) can vary wildly depending on your camera and your settings.
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RAW files are much bigger than JPEG files, and some photographers (like me) store both JPEGs and RAWs so that pushes the file size up even further. Then there's the different settings with RAW and JPEG themselves to consider.
Many cameras give you the option to shoot RAW Compressed or RAW Uncompressed, while most cameras allow different quality JPEG settings.
So, to avoid making this article into something resembling a very boring textbook I'm going to make some assumptions:
Got it? Okay, now I'm going to provide some average file sizes for a number of popular DSLR cameras and mirrorless cameras.
The only way to truly pinpoint how many pictures your 32GB SD card can hold is by knowing your specific camera's file sizes, but this will at least put you in the right ball park:
That should give you a rough idea for how big your camera's file sizes are, and we'll use these ballpark figures in the table below.
Very roughly speaking, we're looking at about 1 MP per megapixel for RAW files and between 0.3 and 0.5 MB per megapixel for JPEG Fine files.
As you can see, results can vary wildly depending on your camera and settings so it's a crucial factor when deciding what SD card to buy.
In fact, with some Uncompressed RAW files topping 100MB, it becomes a deciding factor when deciding on everything from your next camera to your next external hard drive.
There are a few key things to think about when choosing a SD card:
With that in mind, I tend to stick to 32GB plus SD cards from tried and trusted brands like SanDisk and Lexar. I don't often shoot in burst mode, but when I do I make sure to take either a SanDisk Extreme PRO card or a Lexar SDXC UHS one.
You can also find my personal choice, the SanDisk 64GB Extreme PRO, here on Adorama.
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About Alex W.
Alex is the owner and lead writer for Click and Learn Photography. An avid landscape, equine, and pet photographer living and working in the beautiful Lake District, UK, Alex has had his work featured in a number of high profile publications, including the Take a View Landscape Photographer of the Year, Outdoor Photographer of the Year, and Amateur Photographer Magazine.