Nikon D5000 Memory Card Compatibility & Recommendations

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: August 5, 2019
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Nikon SD Memory Cards Compatibility

The Nikon D5000 uses SD cards and has a single memory card slot. It can work with cards up to 32GB in capacity.

Using an SD card that is 64GB or larger will cause the Nikon D5000 to display an error code. You will need to buy multiple SD cards if you require increased storage space. The read and write speeds of cards are the primary specifications to look at.

If your camera is going to be getting lots of use. A feature that is important to have is UHS-I as it allows for faster transfer speeds with a compatible SD card reader.

Getting a pro-level SD memory card also will help to future proof the memory card for use in another camera. This will help avoid a situation where you are unable to use a feature on a device, such as recording 4k video, because the memory card's write speed is not fast enough.

Here's my recommendation for the best memory card for the Nikon D5000:

SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-I SDHC Memory Card

SanDisk Extreme Pro 32GB

  • Best SD card available
  • Largest compatible storage capacity.
  • Read speeds of up to 95MB/s.
  • Write speeds of up to 90MB/s.
  • Shock-proof, temperature-proof, waterproof, and x-ray proof.

Best SD Cards

Since the Nikon D5000 was introduced, memory card prices have dropped and storage capacities have become larger. The price difference between the fastest card and a mediocre option is surprisingly little. Price is related to storage capacity, with the larger memory cards having a higher price.

Purchasing the highest capacity cards makes sense if you are going to capture a huge amount of RAW files for action, sports, events, or wildlife photography. Another consideration could be if you are going to upgrade your camera or use the sd card in other devices.

In my opinion, the SanDisk Extreme Pro line of SD memory cards are generally the best option for most situations. They have very fast read and write speeds, which gives them the best chance of working in future digital cameras or devices that use SD cards.

I have had good experiences with Lexar Professional and PNY Elite Performance cards. I have not had data or files become corrupted or unrecoverable on these brands. If that did occur, all of the manufacturers have image recovery software available.

Issues I have experienced have been with generic SD memory cards. Being a bundled accessory or a low price are the selling points. Unfortunately, this is also the most commonly encountered kind of SD card to be misrepresented.

A sticker that promises Class 10 speed is easy to put on a Class 4 card. When the camera image processor starts writing data there is going to be an error or unreadable photos if the card's write speed is not fast enough.

One of the largest controls over cost you have is the card capacity. You will be better off by purchasing a card with a smaller storage capacity to lower cost as an alternative to choosing a relabeled brand. Read and write speeds are important factors that will affect your satisfaction with the Nikon D5000.

Recommended SD Cards

Lexar 633x 23GB UHS-I SDHC Memory Card

Lexar Professional 633X 32GB

  • High-speed, Class 10 performance.
  • UHS-I technology for a read transfer speeds up to 633x (95MB/s).
  • High-speed file transfer from card to computer to dramatically accelerate workflow.

The Lexar Professional has similar performance to the SanDisk Extreme Pro card when used in the Nikon D5000. The key difference is that the Lexar SD card features a slower write speed.

Sometimes there can be a big difference in price between the Lexar and SanDisk cards. I would not spend more for the Lexar, but also would not have a problem picking it if it was more affordable.

SanDisk Ultra UHS-I SDHC Memory Card

SanDisk Ultra 32GB

  • Good value to save some money.
  • Quick transfer read up to 80MB/s.
  • Class 10 rating for Full HD video (1080p).
  • Waterproof, temperature proof, X-ray Proof, magnet-Proof, and shockproof.

The SanDisk Ultra is a step down from the Extreme Pro with respect to performance. The benefit from that is that it is less expensive.

You will not see a difference in performance unless you need to write data that will take up a significant percentage of the memory card's capacity. This isn't the ideal selection if you plan to use the card to record 4k video at some point.

SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-I SDHC Memory Card

SanDisk Extreme Pro 32GB

  • Read speeds of up to 95MB/s; write speeds of up to 90MB/s.
  • Shock-proof, temperature-proof, waterproof, and x-ray proof.

Memory Card Reader

UGreen 4-in-1 Card Reader
There's a bright blue LED that bothered me. It is now covered in gaff tape.

The UGreen 4-in-1 memory card reader supports four common types of memory cards. These include all memory cart formats camera manufacturers make use of in all but the most recent professional-level cameras.

The UGREEN memory card reader has a USB 3.0 connection. Transfer speeds over USB 3.0 will have faster transfer rates than what the Nikon D5000 can achieve transferring files with the USB mode.

There are lots of positive customer reviews for the reader, which I agree with. I think it's a good product because the reader has worked with all the computers (Windows, Mac, and Linux) I have used with it.

The cable keeps card slots from getting in the way of other devices or accessories that are plugged in.

When I looked for a card reader that would be better for travel, I had to go through the return process with multiple orders. I experienced the most frequently found problem in customer reviews, the memory card readers would not work with my computer.

The UGREEN card reader can use the following memory cards:

  • CompactFlash Cards
  • SD, SDHC, & SDXC Cards (UHS-I supported)
  • Memory Stick (MS), MS Pro, MS PRO-HG, & MS XC DUO
  • MicroSD, Micro SDHC, & Micro SDXC Cards

Nikon D5000 SD Card Compatibility

The D5000 uses SD memory cards. Secure Digital (SD) cards come in 3 different formats, with each newer format supporting higher storage capacities. They are all forward and backward compatible with each other.

  • Secure Digital (SD) - Up to 2GB cards will work.
  • Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) - Up to 32GB cards will work.
  • Secure Digital eXtended Capacity (SDXC) - The D5000 cannot use these cards as they are 64GB or larger.

Nikon D5000 Memory Card Full

Using a memory card that is larger than 32GB will cause the Nikon D5000 to say that the card is full.

In order to fix that problem, you need to use an SD card with a smaller capacity.

If you are having issues with a card that is 32GB or smaller, try formatting the card in the D5000.

Image Capacity

Nikon SD Memory Card Contacts

Image quality options on the Nikon D5000 will determine the number of image files that can be stored at once. Higher image quality settings will result in larger image sizes.

If you are going to shoot loads of RAW files, it can make sense to get a larger capacity card.

If you shoot JPEGs, you'd likely be better off buying another battery in place of a larger SD card. 32GB would be ample capacity to save more than a couple of days of photos.

The limiting factor to how many pictures you can take will likely be your camera batteries. Understand that, any time the camera is powered on, even if you're just navigating through menu settings or using the live view, that will still reduce the battery life.

In low light environments, like indoors or at night, the flash built-in to the camera can be helpful. Shutter speeds will not be fast enough without the flash to prevent motion blur. Utilizing the built-in flash is going to quickly deplete the camera batteries. These settings are when you'll need to have at least a couple of Nikon EN-EL9 rechargeable batteries.

The following is an approximation of how many high-quality JPG images you should be able to store on a card for the listed storage capacity:

  • 4GB - 1,160 images
  • 8GB - 2,320 images
  • 16GB - 4,640 images
  • 32GB - 9,280 images

Speed, Class, & UHS Ratings

SD Card Speed

SD card speed is rated by sequential read and/or write speed. Sequential performance is important when large amounts of data needs to be written or read from the card. Cards that are slow will have difficulty handling continuous shooting and recording video.

Speed Class Rating

Example of where to find SD Card Speed Class
10 inside of a C showing that the card is Class 10.

Speed Class ratings of 2, 4, 6, and mean a card is able to sustain a 2MB, 4MB, 6MB, or 8MB sustained write speed. Class 10 is for cards that have a minimum write speed of 10MB/s.

Almost all SD cards that have been made in the last few years will have a class 10 rating. You can tell what class a card is by looking at the number inside a 'C' on the label.

Ultra High Speed (UHS)

Example of an SD memory card with a UHS-I rating.
This card has a UHS-I rating. UHS-II and UHS-III cards will have II or III, respectively.

The Ultra High Speed (UHS) bus is a feature that allows for faster data transfer. There are 3 different standards, UHS-I, UHS-II, and UHS-III, that can be found on some SDHC and SDXC cards.

You can tell the UHS rating of a card by looking for a I, II, or III next to the SD logo. Or there will be a 1, 2, or 3 inside of a U, similar to how the class rating looks.

Maximum transfer rates for the standards are:

  • UHS-I - 104 MB/s
  • UHS-II - 312 MB/s
  • UHS-III - 624 MB/s

2 comments on “Nikon D5000 Memory Card Compatibility & Recommendations”

  1. To start recording video in live view you need to press the 'ok' button. However, I think you might be running into compatibility issues with the SDXC card you are trying to use.

    Check to see if you have the latest firmware installed.

    Another option is that you may have gotten a counterfeit SD card. Check to see if you can completely fill the card up with files. If you can't, the card could be a fake.

  2. Hello,
    I would like to ask you if you had ever have problem with the compatibility of the sd card with the Nikon.
    You said: the D5000 cannot use SDXC as they are 64GB or larger. And here I am with this SDXC card Lexar Proffesional 64 GB and it works perfect for the photos BUT the problem begins when I want to record a video (that is why I bought this card) and in live mode there is no option of recording. Do you know why it happens? With other card 4GB it works..

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