Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Can you use any SD card in your camcorder?

You definitely want to consult your camcorder's user manual to find out what type of SD (secure digital) memory card is best for your camcorder, based on its capabilities and your needs. The good news is that all SD memory card formats, types, and memory sizes are readily available at any electronics or computer shop and at a range of prices, including one that suits you. Many manufacturers also offer adapters that will fit into the SD slot of your device, which expands even further your choices of SD cards you can use. This can be helpful if you want to use the same SD memory card for your mobile phone and/or digital camera, as well as your camcorder. So the short answer is probably "yes," but only if you investigate what type of SD card you really need. You still can't just grab one off the shelf without knowing what's going to work for you.

SD memory cards come in different physical sizes, new technologies that improve performance or memory capacity, and memory size. There are three sizes of SD memory cards: SD, mini-SD, and micro-SD. The mini- and micro-SD cards are usually used in smaller devices, such as a mobile phone. However, you can use one of these smaller SD cards with an adapter. The standard-size SD memory card is the one usually used for camcorders. In addition to the traditional SD technology, newer SD technology includes the SDXC (provides greatest memory capacity and performance) and UHS SDHC (provides improved performance).

When you try to determine the SD memory card specs that will work best for your camcorder, consider the quality of the video you need or want. You'll have to balance overall memory capacity against playback performance. For example, a small SD memory card - say, with only 2 gigs of memory -- will only have fine playback for 20 minutes worth of video. If you're alright with a lower quality of playback, you can record up to 45 minutes of video; while an SD card with 32 gig of memory will give you 320 minutes of quality playback.