How Many Pictures Does a Sandisk 8GB Hold for a DSL Camera?

By Editorial Team

Updated September 09, 2022

Digital SLRs use memory cards, rather than film, to store photos.
i Virojt Changyencham/Moment/GettyImages

For consumer-oriented cameras, deciding how large a memory card to buy can be tricky. Image size varies widely, depending on the camera's design and which settings a user chooses. For working professionals or amateur enthusiasts, digital SLR is more predictable. Image sizes still vary, depending on the camera's number of pixels, but they're usually taken at high-quality settings. Major manufacturers such as Sandisk provide charts for photographers, estimating how many pictures can be stored on an inexpensive 8 GB SD card, as well as smaller and larger sizes.

The Impact of File Size and Image Quality

The two main factors that affect a camera's image size are its number of pixels, and the image format chosen for storage. Each individual picture element that makes up the image is one pixel, and higher numbers indicate better images. For comparison, think of the difference between a grainy newspaper photo and a similar image in a glossy magazine.

Resolutions between 16 and 45 megapixels are common in 2022, according to digiDirect, but those numbers will continue to increase. The images are stored on your camera as compressed JPEG or raw files. JPEG files lose some quality, but are useful for websites and low-resolution printing. Raw files are larger, but higher quality.


While most people these days (and official guidance) considers 1 GB to be 1,000 MB, some sources use a binary basis for the calculation and instead put 1 GB at 1,024 MB. This may create some confusion, but through this article we will be using the 1,000 MB per GB standard. So an 8 GB SD card contains 8,000 MB, not 8,192 MB.

How Many JPEGs Can 8GB Hold?

Cameras vary in the size of their images, because some use higher compression ratios or have compression algorithms that are more efficient. Overall, JPEG images are much smaller than RAW images. According to Expert Photography's estimates and those of Capture Guide, a 20 megapixel (MP) camera can be estimated at 10 MB per JPEG image.

At this resolution, an 8GB SD card can hold 800 images, although this will likely be a slight over-estimation because formatting takes up some space (see the last section). A DSLR camera will have roughly 10 MB per JPEG image, but it's worth noting that smartphone cameras tend to use much less space, and you could likely hold twice as many smartphone pictures on the same card.

How Many Raw Images Can 8GB Hold?

Raw images have 24-bit color depth per pixel, which makes the images larger but also crisp and vivid. Expert Photography estimates the size of an average uncompressed raw image as 30 MB in a digital SLR with 20 MP resolution. An 8GB memory card holds 266 of those, although again this is a slight overestimate because of the formatting space.

Of course, if you want to know how many 20 MP pictures can fit on a 32 GB card, you can just multiply these results by 4, leading to 3,200 JPEGs and around 1,066 raw images.

How Many Pictures Can 8GB Hold, Really?

The actual capacity of your memory cards is slightly lower than their stated size, because formatting the card to hold data takes up a small percentage of its capacity. If your computer has a memory-card reader, you can learn its true capacity, and the real size of your photos, by inserting the card into your computer and looking at it in Windows Explorer. Take four or five photos and save them in both JPEG and raw formats. Divide the size of your memory card by the average size of your own photos, to arrive at an accurate estimate for your own camera.