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How Many Photos Can a 128GB Card Hold (32, 64, and 256GB)?

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So how many pictures can a 128GB card hold? How about 32, 64, and 256GB memory cards? Today, I’m here to answer that.

A memory card is your loyal companion because it stores your photographs. CF, SD, and MicroSD cards are the most common among DSLRs, mirrorless, and other cameras.

A pile of different size and type memory cards on a white background - best memory card

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How Many Pictures Can a 128GB Card Hold (32, 64, and 256GB)?

To answer this question properly, we need to look at the two different shooting settings and how they affect the file size.

The two file settings are JPEG and RAW.

JPEG vs Brand-Specific RAW vs DNG

JPEG compression is used in several image file formats. JPEG is the most common image format used by digital cameras and other photographic image capture devices.

These images are “compressed” and only keep the data the camera deems worth keeping if you’re uploading your images to social media or directly to your archive, good. But because of this, they don’t offer much play in post-processing.

A RAW image contains all the “raw” data of the scene you’re capturing. This means you have the full dynamic and color range for every pixel your camera can capture.

RAW image files are way bigger than JPEG files. They give you more room to change exposure values, adjust white balance, and tweak colors using post-processing software.

Manufacturers usually have their own RAW file formats. Canon uses CR2 and CR3, Nikon uses NEF, and so on.

A DNG is a digital negative. It is a RAW format not specific to a camera brand. It is the same as a normal RAW file for all intents and purposes. My Canon EOS 7D shoots in JPEG or CR2 FAW. But my Ricoh GR II uses DNG.Overhead still life photography shot of a camera, notebook, pen, coffee cup and memory card

Size Differences between JPEG and RAW

There is a considerable difference between the two file types.

JPEGs are compressed. They fit perfectly in the 8-bit boundary used for web images. They are usually the result of RAW conversions, too.

Because of the various amounts of compression, JPEG file sizes vary. On a 20MP digital camera, they are between 5 and 10MB.

On the other hand, RAW files contain all the data your camera captures. RAW files are perfect for extensive post-processing.

Most RAW formats are uncompressed. This means that every RAW file (at the same settings) has roughly the same size, no matter what’s in the photo. They are usually around 30MB each on a 20MP camera.

RAW vs JPEG Photos on Memory Cards

So, if a RAW file takes 30MB of space, it can fit in the memory cards as follows:

  • 32GB = 1,092 photos
  • 64GB = 2,184 photos
  • 128GB = 4,368 photos
  • 256GB = 8,732 photos

JPEG files are almost too much to count at 7 MB each:

  • 32GB = 4,700 photos
  • 64GB = 9400 photos
  • 128GB = 18,800 photos
  • 256GB = 37,600 photos

Remember that1,024 bytes is 1MB, and 1,024MB is 1GB.

Types of Memory Cards You Can Use

Choosing a memory card depends on your camera. You can choose the memory card’s brand, size, and speed.

The bigger the size, the more photographs you can take. This is a great way to store more images. But it’s a great way to lose or damage them all too.

The speed relates to how fast the memory card can deal with the data. A faster memory card is more expensive. And it allows you to use continuous shooting or burst modes. But your camera may not even be able to utilize the card’s full writing speed.

If you want to know more about picking the best memory card, check out our article on how to choose your memory card.

CF (CompactFlash) cards are one of the two most common memory cards for digital cameras. They are the largest in physical size.
They are used in many mid- to larger-sized digital cameras and digital SLRs.

SD (Secure Digital) cards are being used more and more due to their small size.

Most laptops even have a small opening specifically for these memory cards. They are a safe bet for manufacturer support in case something goes wrong.

They even have a tab on the side of the memory card that protects your images when depressed.

A SanDisk Secure Digital SD 32gb memory card

MicroSD cards are smaller than their bigger brother. They were designed for smaller cameras and devices such as Go Pros, drones, and cell phones.

Smaller memory cards have a higher chance of being lost. They will work as an SD card when accompanied by an adapter.

A SanDisk Micro Secure Digital SD 128gb memory card.

Size Matters

At the time of this article (March 2018), these are the highest capacities for these memory card systems:

  • CF = 512GB
  • SD = 1TB
  • MicroSD = 1TB

Speed Does Too!

At the time of writing this article, these are the fastest memory card systems:

  • CF = 155MB/s (read/write)
  • SD = 300MB/s (read/write)
  • MicroSD = 100MB/s (read/write)

As you can see, the SD card is already outstripping the CF. There are other, even faster card types, but you won’t find them in consumer-oriented cameras.

Image of a camera and memory card on a white background.
Before you go, check out this video.

Conclusion

So how many pictures can a 128GB card hold? Well, it depends on what you’re shooting—JPEG or RAW. 4,368 RAW photos vs 18,800 JPEGs. Now, you can fit even more on 1TB memory cards!

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