When it comes to memory cards there are quite a few choices available for the Sony a7R IV but some are definitely more reliable and faster than others.
Since I own the a7R IV myself I wanted to know which memory cards would give me the best performance, especially as I shoot a lot of continuous bursts.
I also wanted to know if I really needed to purchase the most expensive cards on the market or if cheaper SD cards offered similar levels performance.
This article aims to answer these questions and more.
- Top 7 Memory Cards
- In Camera Write Speed & Buffer Test
- Which Memory Cards are Supported?
- Memory Card Slots
- Maximum Memory Card Capacity
- RAW File Size
- What Size Memory Card Do You Need?
- Maximum Still Images by Memory Card Size
- Video Record Times
- Best Memory Cards for 4k Video
- UHS-I vs UHS-II
- Memory Card Readers & Protective Cases
Top 7 Sony a7R IV Memory Cards
Here are my top 7 recommended memory cards for the Sony a7RIV.
1. Sony SF-G Tough UHS-II Memory Cards – 299MB/s
The Sony SF-G Tough Series of UHS-II SD cards are rated V90 for video and have read speeds of up to 300MB/s and write speeds of up to 299MB/s. If you want the best possible memory cards for your a7R IV that take full advantage of the fast UHS-II slots, then these are the ones to choose.
These Tough memory cards are 18 times stronger than standard SD cards, bend proof to 180N, drop-proof to 5 meters, waterproof to a depth of 5 meters for up to 72 hours (IPX8 rating) and dustproof with an IP6X rating. The cards feature a one-piece ribless structure and don’t have the common lock switch, they are also X-ray proof, magnet proof, anti-static and temperature proof.
2. SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-II Memory Cards – 260MB/s
If the Sony SF-G Touch cards are too expensive and you don’t require the additional protection that the Sony Tough Series offers then the SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-II memory cards are normally around 10 percent cheaper.
The SanDisk Extreme Pro cards are U3 rated (30MB/s) and SanDisk has not given them a V rating, so I don’t recommend them for 4k video. Their write speed of 260MB/s is a little slower than the Sony SF-G cards but the read speed of 300MB/s is identical.
3. Sony SF-M Tough UHS-II Memory Cards – 150MB/s
Sony’s SF-M Tough Series are practically identical to the more expensive SF-G Series but their write time has been cut to 150MB/s and the read time to 277MB/s and they are rated V60 for video.
4. Sony SF-M UHS-II Memory Cards – 150MB/s
Sony’s SF-M Series have the same write and read speeds as the Tough version above but cost a little less. They are also rated V60 for video.
5. Lexar Professional 2000X UHS-II – 260MB/s
The Lexar Professional 2000X cards have a claimed read speed of 300MB/s and a write speed of 260MB/s, they are rated V90 for video.
6. ProGrade V90 UHS-II (300/250)
The ProGrade V90 cards have a claimed read speed of 300MB/s and a write speed of 250MB/s, they are rated V90 for video.
7. SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-I Memory Cards – 90MB/s
The a7R IV also supports the use of the slower UHS-I SD Cards in both slots one and two, so if you don’t need the faster UHS-II speeds then you can save yourself some money and purchase UHS-I cards instead. These SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-I memory cards are ideal if you don’t plan on shooting lots of continuous bursts and therefore don’t require the performance of the faster and more expensive UHS-II cards. They are rated V30 for video.
Although there are many more brands of memory card on the market, the cards listed above are the best performing cards that have also received the highest average reviews at stores like Amazon and Adorama.
In Camera Write Speed & Buffer Test
I’m working on a write speed and buffer test using a mix of different recording settings including RAW + JPEG, Compress vs Uncompressed and Sony vs SanDisk.
Which Memory Cards are Supported?
The Sony a7R IV supports SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-I and UHS-II) memory cards in both slot 1 and slot 2. You can also use microSD memory cards with this camera providing you use an appropriate adaptor.
Memory Card Slots
The Sony a7R IV now supports the faster UHS-II memory cards in both memory card slot 1 and 2, this is an improvement over the Sony a7R III which only supported UHS-II cards in slot 1. UHS-I cards are also still supported in both slots, so there’s no need to spend money on the faster UHS-II cards if you don’t need to.
RAW File Size
An uncompressed RAW file from the a7R IV is approximately 123MB in file size. A compressed RAW file is around 62MB.
Maximum Memory Card Capacity
The Sony a7R IV has no documented maximum memory card limit but I’ve used the SanDisk Extreme PRO 512 GB SDXC UHS-II cards myself and they appear to work just fine. I would however recommend not putting all of your eggs into one basket and using smaller cards like 64GB or 128GB if you shoot a lot of continuous bursts.
What Size Memory Card Do You Need?
If you are shooting stills then I would recommend a minimum memory card size of 64 GB.
For each memory card this will give you around 1350 images if you shoot JPEG (Extra Fine) only, 710 images when shooting RAW & JPEG (Compressed RAW), 980 RAW only images (Compressed RAW), 415 RAW & JPEG images (Uncompressed RAW) and 495 images shooting uncompressed RAW.
I will often shoot at 8fps or 10fps when shooting birds in flight and I find that the 64 GB cards do fill very quickly, so if you are shooting a lot of continuous bursts then I would recommend going for 128 GB minimum card size.
For shooting video the size of memory card will depend greatly on the format that you are recording in.
The following two tables should help you to decide which size memory card you will need depending on your record settings for both stills and video.
Maximum Number of Still Images Recorded by Memory Card Size
The table below shows the approximate number of images that can be recorded on a memory card formatted within the a7R IV. The values may vary depending on the shooting conditions and the type of memory card used, so please use these figures as a rough guide only.
|JPEG Quality / File Format||32 GB||64 GB||128 GB||256 GB|
|RAW & JPEG (Compressed RAW):||355||710||1420||2850|
|RAW (Compressed RAW):||490||980||1960||3950|
|RAW & JPEG (Uncompressed RAW):||205||415||830||1650|
|RAW (Uncompressed RAW):||245||495||990||1950|
Video Record Times
The table below shows the approximate total recording times using a memory card formatted within the a7R IV camera. The values may vary depending on the shooting conditions and the type of memory card used.
|32 GB||64 GB||128 GB||256 GB|
|XAVC S 4K 30p 100M/25p 100M||35min||1h 15min||2h 30min||5h 5min|
|XAVC S 4K 30p 60M/25p 60M||55min||2h||4h||8h 5min|
|XAVC S 4K 24p 100M||35min||1h 15min||2h 30min||5h 5min|
|XAVC S 4K 24p 60M||55min||2h||4h||8h 5min|
|XAVC S HD 120p 100M/100p 100M||35min||1h 15min||2h 30min||5h 5min|
|XAVC S HD 120p 60M/100p 60M||55min||2h||4h||8h 5min|
|XAVC S HD 60p 50M/50p 50M||1h 10min||2h 25min||5h||10h|
|XAVC S HD 60p 25M/50p 25M||2h 20min||4h 45min||9h 30min||19h 25m|
|XAVC S HD 30p 50M/25p 50M||1h 10min||2h 25min||5h||10h|
|XAVC S HD 30p 16M/25p 16M||3h 35min||7h 20min||14h 40m||29h 55m|
|XAVC S HD 24p 50M||1h 10min||2h 25min||5h||10h|
|AVCHD 60i 24M(FX)/50i 24M(FX)||2h 55min||6h||12h||24h 15m|
|AVCHD 60i 17M(FH)/50i 17M(FH)||4h 5min||8h 15m||16h 30m||33h 15m|
The duration of time available for movie recording varies depending on the file format/recording settings for movies, memory card, ambient temperature, Wi-Fi network environment, condition of the camera before you start recording, and condition of the charging of the battery.
The maximum continuous recording time for a single movie shooting session is approximately 13 hours (a product specification limit).
Best Memory Cards for 4k Video
The Sony a7R IV supports a maximum of 100Mbps 4k video which is around 12.5 MB/s. Therefore you don’t need the fastest memory cards on the planet for 4k video recording.
Any memory cards that are rated v30, v60, v90 card will work perfectly for shooting 4k video.
Cards that are 32GB and smaller are labelled as SDHC memory cards. These are formatted to 32-bit and video files will be broken-up into 4GB chunks. This means extra work in post to put all of these files together.
Cards that are 64GB and larger in capacity are labelled as SDXC cards, these are formatted with a 64-bit file system and your files will not be broken up into smaller chunks.
For video I’d recommend 64GB or larger SDXC cards. I’d recommend a card like the SanDisk Extreme PRO 128GB SDXC Memory Card.
For video only I’d recommend a card like the SanDisk Extreme PRO 128GB SDXC Memory Card.
UHS-I vs UHS-II
The Sony a7R IV makes use of dual UHS-II card slots which also support the slower UHS-I cards as well.
UHS-I SD cards have write speeds up to around 100MB/s and read speeds of around 170MB/s. UHS-II compatible cards increase this speed by adding a second row of contacts to the card, these cards are now capable of writing and reading up to around 300MB/s.
But this extra speed comes at a cost as UHS-II cards are more expensive then UHS-I cards and I’d only recommend buying them for your a7R IV if you do a lot of shooting in continuous bursts and you want the buffer to clear as fast as possible. Otherwise if you only shoot single shots then you can save a small fortune by purchasing UHS-I cards instead.
Memory Card Readers & Protective Cases
Sony MRW-S1 High Speed UHS-II USB Memory Card Reader/Writer
Sony’s MRW-S1 UHS-II USB SD Card Reader/Writer enables the fast transfer of data via a USB 3.1 interface. It can read/write to UHS-II SD Cards and is backward compatible with UHS-I SD cards. It’s been designed with the Sony UHS-II SF-G series SD cards in mind which have speeds up to 300MB/s read and 299MB/s write. The MRW-S1 together with Sony SF-G cards can transfer files to and from your computer at around 2.6x faster than UHS-I cards.
Beeway Water & Shock Resistant Memory Card Case
I don’t go anywhere without my Beeway SD Card holder. It holds 12 SD/SDHC/SDXC cards and 12 MicroSD cards perfectly in place. The case is water resistant and very strong. It also includes a small bag and a carabiner.