Take a look at my notes which attempt to answer all of the questions and concerns faced when purchasing a memory card for the Nikon D3200. I'll shed some light on compatible memory cards, specific requirements for HD recording, the number of images you can expect to take, estimated movie recording times and other important info.
The D3200 takes 3 types of memory cards…
SD – Up to 2GB worth of images and video.
SDHC – Up to 32GB worth of images and video.
SDXC – Up to 128GB (currently) worth of images and video.
The information below shows the total number of images that can be recorded based on memory card size…
8GB – 509 images (fine) and 259 images (raw)
16GB – 1,018 images (fine) and 518 images (raw)
32GB – 2,036 images (fine) and 1,036 images (raw)
64GB – 4,072 images (fine) and 2,072 images (raw)
HD Video Requirements
In order to record HD video on the D3200, your memory card will need to have a Class 6 rating or higher. If it doesn’t meet this requirement, video recording may stop unexpectedly.
Each video clip is limited to a maximum 20 minute segment or 4GB worth of data (whichever occurs first). The information below shows the overall recording capabilities based on a movie frame size of 1920×1080, along with the bit rate set to High Quality:
8GB – 45min 30sec (.mov)
16GB – 91min 00sec (.mov)
32GB – 182min 00sec (.mov)
64GB – 364min 00sec (.mov)
If you leave the movie frame size set to 1920×1080 and adjust the bit rate quality to Normal, here’s what you can expect:
8GB – 80min 18sec (.mov)
16GB – 160min 32sec (.mov)
32GB – 321min 04sec (.mov)
64GB – 642min 08sec (.mov)
Speeds & Ratings
Class ratings represent the minimum write speed for a memory card. So a memory card with a class 6 rating will have a minimum write speed of 6 megabytes per second. As mentioned above, Nikon requires a Class 6 rating or higher in order to record and playback HD video with the D3200. I recommend going with a Class 10 card just to be safe.
Speed ratings represent the maximum read/write speeds. If you plan on recording HD video, shooting long bursts of images (10+) in continuous mode or capturing RAW images with your D3200, then I recommend going with a Lexar Professional (133x or higher) or a SanDisk Extreme (30MB/s or higher).
Lexar and SanDisk memory cards are the safest bets when it comes to reliability and performance. I’ve used them for years and trust them with all of my pro work. Recently, I’ve been using Transcend cards for personal use and have been pleasantly surprised. Again, if you plan on utilizing some of the more advanced features on the D3200 (video, RAW, burst) then go with a Lexar Professional (133x or higher) or a SanDisk Extreme (30MB/s or higher). If you just need something for everyday (personal) use, Transcend (class 10) cards are an excellent value.
Here are my memory card picks for the Nikon D3200…
Check out the D3200 homepage for more tips, advice and recommendations. Happy shooting!