Which Recorder to choose? Should I use an IP camera with SD recording capability?

To begin with, let us think why a surveillance system needs a recorder. In theory, the answer is obvious: a CCTV system only makes sense if it records an image. Otherwise it will be impossible to view a potential occurrence. Another thing is that even if we order someone to sit in front of the screen to watch it and catch any undesired events, such a solution is unreliable. The guard may miss something, get distracted or simply fall asleep. In addition, most systems are not supervised or are only supervised during a working day. Thanks to recorders, it is possible to detect motions, create restricted zones or notify that a specific object is missing. In consequence, a surveillance system not only supports the guards but is also largely autonomous. Another feature of the recorders is that they can gather images from multiple cameras and view them together in a uniform way. Of course, you can quickly and easily switch to the camera selected by the user.

Let us then pass on to the second question: which recorder to choose? When choosing a recorder, you should consider the following:

  • The chosen system – an AHD recorder cannot be linked to IP cameras and, vice versa, an IP recorder cannot be linked with AHD cameras. However, there are hybrid recorders which combine both these technologies.
  • The number of supported channels – you have to decide how many cameras will be used to view and register the image. You should also take into account a possible future extension of the system.
  • Supported resolution – your recorder should not restrict the cameras, neither in terms of resolution nor frames. It does not make sense to buy very good cameras if the recorder is unable to register the video without compromising on quality. You should read the recorder specifications with a great care; mostly the resolution and frames per channel vary based on the number of cameras connected.
  • Expectations from the video analytics - most recorders can detect a motion (or interpret motion detection signals sent by cameras) and mask certain sections of a video image so that they are not recorded. If you need a more advanced analysis, such as counting the persons entering/leaving, face recognition or detection of objects in restricted zones, you should choose a device adequate for these functionalities.

Many people ask themselves whether they need a recorder to build a small monitoring system composed of only one or two cameras. Some IP cameras can be supplied with SD cards, where they can record the video image.

In some cases, such a camera may be configured in a way to receive the image from another camera and also save it. In theory, this will provide the functionality of a mini-recorder. What are the pros and cons of that solution?

SD card installation


  1. You don’t need a recorder – no costs of purchasing the recorder and disks.
  2. You don’t have to provide any extra space.
  3. You save on electricity.


  1. The records are at the risk of theft – you cannot hide the camera in an inaccessible place as it must record the image.
  2. SD cards have a small memory compared to hard disks, which makes for a correspondingly shorter recording time.
  3. Normally the functionality of built-in recorders is limited.
  4. If we want to view the camera image on a large screen, we need a PC.

The question whether a camera with an SD card can substitute a recorder should be answered individually by considering the pros and cons. In our opinion, these solutions can only serve in small home systems and only indoors. They can rather be used to view what is happening at home rather than serve as a real security system.