This is a common question when dealing with the relatively new H.265 IP surveillance cameras. Will an H.265 IP camera show up and work smoothly on a H.264 NVR? Let’s start first by explaining what these technical terms mean.

Usually said as H’dot’265, it is a video compression codec (read this article for a more detailed explanation). Meaning when raw video footage is taken, it goes through a compression process (similar to a zip or rar file) but done on the fly and then processed as a stream to send through to the NVR. The more you can compress, the less storage space you need for the same amount of data and, the less bandwidth it will use on your network. It may seem like a small deal, but as this compression technology gets better you can imagine remotely viewing into your home in 4K quality on your mobile phone. H.265 is also referred to as HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding).

H.265 compressed video is up to half the size if H.264 video (which is an older version). So if your existing cameras do 15 days of recording on 1 Hard Disk, you would be able to now store 30 days on that same space. For H.265 IP cameras however, the main advantage is the image quality. We can stream double the quality in the same bandwidth. Meaning your recordings will be so much clearer. CCTV cameras are used for safety and security so being able to see in high definition will make it easier to recognise people, number plates, etc.

As a rule, H.265 IP cameras won’t work/show up on a H.264 NVR. The reason is simple: H.264 NVRs lack the capability of handling the H.265 compressed files coming from the H.265 cameras. Before buying H.265 cameras for your surveillance security system, make sure that your current NVR supports H.265 compression mode. Usually you can check the manual, the NVR specifications or you can find the compression modes via the NVR’s interface (usually it’s located under the Settings and then Video section).

However, a H.264 IP camera will work on a H.265 NVR. Meaning it’s backward compatible. So if you find cheap H.264 IP cameras, you can add them to your H.265 NVR. Although, we don’t recommend such thing. H.264 cameras take a lot of space on hard drive, consume a lot of power and generally the picture is inferior. If you already have a H.265 NVR than we suggest to go with H.265 IP cameras. Spend a little bite more and have a top-notch surveillance security system. Having a high resolution picture could make the difference in case your property is burglarized. Note: there a certain types of NVR that support only H.265 IP cameras (and not H.264). Before you purchase any IP cameras, double check your NVR’s settings to determine which compression modes are supported.

In conclusion: H.265 IP cameras will not work on a H.264 NVR. However, a H.264 camera will most likely work on a H.265 NVR. Before buying any IP security system, make sure the your planned cameras and the NVR are compatible with each other.