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How to record Axis snapshots to an SD Card

In the past couple of years, IP camera manufacturers have started building SD card slots into their cameras, enabling on-board recording of video and images. The simplicity of this solution has resulted in recording directly to the camera becoming ever more popular. In this how-to, we’re going to show you how to enable hourly snapshot recording on your Axis IP security camera (one of many ways to utilise on-board recording). But first, a bit more about the benefits.

The de-centralised approach has many benefits. Primarily, it takes the strain off networks, as the recordings are stored on the cameras internal memory and never have to leave the camera to be transmitted across the network at all (except during playback). This also takes processing strain off a central server, with all the processing for alarm triggering and storage being done by the camera. This allows for cost savings at the central server level when designing the system.

Axis SD Camera Recording

Most of the new camera models released by Axis over the past year now include an SD card slot, allowing you to record directly on the camera. This is a great addition and something we have looked at before.

We recently had an enquiry for creating a time-lapse movie using an Axis P5534-E HD dome camera. We thought this would be an incredibly simple process – just pop in a 4GB SD card and get the camera to save one image per hour.

The truth is that after a couple of phone calls to Axis (who were as helpful as ever) we found out that it was a bit more complex and that it couldn’t be done using the camera interface (that is geared up for video). However, they did describe an alternative method for recording JPEG snapshots.

A bit of background first. What we are looking to achieve is an hourly JPEG snapshot taken from the camera and saved to the SD card every 24 hours.

We did a rough calculation on this and found, based on an average HD image size of 1280×720 (100 KB), that for 24 hours it would use up 2400 KB or just over 2.3 MB of data per day. Using a 4GB SD card would give us about 4-5 years worth of footage (more than enough).

(The below method does not technically save an image from the camera to the SD card. Instead, it sends a JPEG to the card using FTP.)

Step 1 – creating the FTP server

You need to first set up the FTP server account in the camera. This is done in the same way as if you were setting up for a proper FTP server but the server details we provide below will be addressing the internal SD card.

To add the server, log in to the camera and choose Setup from the top right-hand side of the screen. This will take you to the setup pages for the camera.

From the menu on the left choose Events then Event Server.

Click the Add FTP button to add an FTP server.

To address the camera as the FTP server we use the loopback address and the path /var/spool/storage/SD_DISK.

The port number is the standard port 21 for FTP and the username and password is the same as the admin login for the camera (username will be root).

Step 2 – setting up the event

Now we need to set up the event which will trigger the image to be recorded in the camera every hour.

To set up the event, from the menu on the left choose Events then Event Types.

Click the Add scheduled button to add a scheduled event. This will be where you set your hourly snapshot event.

We used one image per hour but you can change the time period to suit your application.

Step 3 – accessing your images

When it comes to retrieving the images from your SD card you also cannot do this through the camera interface. This has to be done using FTP to connect to the camera in the relevant location so you can browse the contents on the card.

The path you would use to FTP into the camera is as follows:

ftp://[camera ip]/var/spool/storage/SD_DISK/

You will be asked for your login credentials before you can access this directory. When you log in your will be presented with JPEG files (as shown below) and will be able to download them to your hard drive.

Published on July 18th, 2011 by Greg

9 Responses to “How to record Axis snapshots to an SD Card”

  1. yves belaubre says:

    Il have the same problem as you Greg, with an Axis P1357. Did you find the solution please?

  2. Peter says:

    One thing to note is that you have to download the pictures to your pc before you can view them, else it looks like an empty image. Also use the refresh arrows to the right of the address line, else your Pictures will not show (changeing directory is not enugh).
    Using Win 7, 64 bit, and Explorer as ftp client.

  3. Peter says:

    Thanks a lot!
    Even though the menues are a bit different in the new cameras, it still works fine.
    (I tried it on a P1346)

  4. Luciano says:

    Muito Obrigado, utilizei para fazer um video time lapse com a AXIS Q1755 Network Camera.

  5. Greg Decker says:

    I followed the instruction above on an AXIS P1357 but all I get are blank images on the SD card. The Event, Schedule, and Recipient (i.e. SD Card via FTP) are all functioning as expected but the images are all blank. Any ideas why?

  6. terry siepel says:

    we have tried setting several 1755s up this way, they will record fine for a week or so then they just quit storing to the SD DISK. The only one out of 6 that has continued to work has a setting in the recordings section. I have not figured out how it was set up, I can get a recording listing thru the events set up but it looks nothing like what they show in the manual under recordings? Any and all help would be welcomed.

  7. Ryan says:

    Thanks this was really helpful! I have been looking for how to do this for a week.

  8. Ken says:

    I am recording snapshots during 1 year to realize a time lapse with a Axis P1347-E at 15 pictures per hour (one every 4 minutes)
    I set the whole stuff inside and that works like a charm on the SD card.

    Following the same method, I also set a triggered event to send e-mails on two differents accounts.
    But the problem here is that I don't always get an email every 4 min.
    Sometimes I miss pictures and instead of having 15 pics/h I have randomly 7, 11, 10 pics/h.
    The interval between emails is always a multiple of 4.

    I checked the emails accounts and everything.
    Firmaware is up to date (ver. 5.22)
    It seems that the camera did not send some e-mails and I don't know why…
    If someone have an idea about that, that would be welcome.


  9. TV Willie says:

    This was great. I have a BB-HCM547A (Panasonic) and I would like to be directed to a place where I can find instructions like this for my camera. (BB-HCM547A )