Xiaomi Yi 4K Action Camera Review

The choice of action camera as a solution to capture not only sports performance, but also memories of the holidays, or as a main means of capture, is increasingly a cultural phenomenon. Xiaomi Yi 4K Action Camera is here to fulfill your photography needs. If the infamous GoPro offer a balance between always appreciated among users, there are so many alternatives that have made inroads in recent years.

After the moderate success of the first version, Xiaomi this year presented the new Yi 4K Action Camera , introducing a number of innovations and features that we wanted to test in our usual video test. As always, we start talking about technical features and particularities of this device, before delving into the use of tests.

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Technical Features

The Xiaomi solution has dimensions similar to those of Go Pro, however, differs just enough to not make it compatible with most of the accessories used, so to have an underwater housing or a frame for use with a drone, we must rely on the official accessories or DIY solutions, as occurred in our tests.

It ‘still presents inferiorly the thread classical 1/4 for the use of accessories such as a standard tripod, for bicycles media and other solutions normally commercially. Xiaomu YI 4K Action Camera measuring 6.2 cm X 4.1 cm X x 2.1 cm thick, while in the section where there is the goal we get to 3 cm thick. About 95 grams of weight without battery, and a particularly attractive design for our trial version, the black, thanks to the presence of from 2.19-inch touchscreen display with 640 X 360 resolution and 330 ppi, positioned at the rear.

In the upper portion is housed the power button and capture start / snap pictures, while the micro USB input side for connection to an external PC, useful both to load a new firmware, which for uploading content. Like the first version, then we find a convenient LED on the front portion useful for indicating the battery status, while a second LED on the power button will show us the current recording.

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The 1400 mAh battery is placed at the bottom, along with the entrance for the Micro SD, necessary for saving our movies, since it is not equipped with an internal proprietary storage memory. A note on the package even if there is not much to say if we consider that it is quite sparse and minimal, offering only a micro-USB cable for connection to a PC and for charging.

At the hardware level we find the presence of Ambarella chipset A9SE75, assisted by the sensor Sony IMX377 , offering a maximum resolution of 4K footage and photos until 12:35 MP. Then there is a Wi-Fi dual band chip, 3-axis gyroscope, two microphones and support the Bluetooth Low Power standard for the use of optional accessories.

Capture modes and advanced features

So many offers selectable settings menu mode, we can, in fact, continuous shooting up to 240 FPS at 720p, to get to 4K (3840 x 2160) at 30 fps native (and not interpolated). The Ambarella chip is based on the solution A9 dual core 1 GHz and therefore allows excellent performance, offering a complete choice of video modes, saved in MP4 format with H.264 codec. The optical focal aperture F / 2.8 allows a ‘width of 155 °, we can still disable the fish-eye effect directly from the settings menu, get natively shoot without the classic angular deformation of action-cam, thus avoiding the uncomfortable passage of the amendments retrospectively via software.

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A speed dial menu of capture modes, allows us to quickly switch between photos, videos, timers, time-lapse, burst and slow-motion 120 fps. As for the electronic stabilization, it will be used only in certain capture modes and up to 1080p at 60 FPS, so when shooting in 4K or those with a frame rate of 90 FPS or more we will not use them. Even in the Ultra capture mode with the full sensor, similar to Superview of GoPro, we can not use the electronic image stabilization, one of the most obvious limitations to YI camera 4K.

The Wi-Fi module used allows connection to a smartphone in both 2.4 GHz to 5.8 GHz, with the second mode finally working after the latest firmware updates. We also can not fail to mention the proprietary application available for Android and iOS , really well done and useful to start our action cam remotely, using all the features available in the settings menu. Not only useful for the remote control but also to enjoy a better preview of videos or to upload content directly to our smartphone.

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Really complete the settings menu for this YI Cam 4K, although it is only available in English, with the latest international firmware (1.2.3). Here are the mode selected with standard NTSC or PAL.

  • 4K – (3840 x 2160) – 30 fps (25 fps)
  • 2.7K – (2560 x 1920) – 60/30 fps (50/25 fps)
  • 1440p – (1920 x 1440) – 60/30 fps (50/25 fps)
  • 1080p – (1920 x 1080) – 120/60/30 fps (100/50/25 fps)
  • 960p – (1280 x 960) – 120/60 fps (100/50 fps)
  • 720p – (1280 x 720) – 240 fps (200 fps)
  • 480p – (848 x 480) – 240 fps (200 fps)

Among the options offered in the intuitive menu YI 4K Action Camera, we can change the bit rate in the Video Quality section of three different settings, high / medium / low, set the Auto Low Light in low light conditions, select Automatic color correction based on the type of illumination. We can then tweak other parameters such as ISO, sharpness, color correction, the date and time display in the clip, and shutter speed for photos (2s / 5s / 10s / 20s / 30s), very useful for shooting at night.

To give you an idea of the goodness of shots achievable, here are some sample pictures made in different light conditions. In taking pictures with the default settings, the best results are obtained with the panoramic, less precise pictures at close range, in which YI cam does not offer the best in you.

Now we offer a brief aerial video clip 4K resolution at 30 fps, built with the help of a drone.

Final Thoughts

Xiaomi YI Cam 4K is an absolutely balanced cam which gives excellent results when used in both amateurs and in the sport. I was particularly struck by the low-noise shooting obtainable in many types of use, but in racing (such as cycling) over uneven surfaces, the electronic stabilizer shows some limitations and noise increases, as you can see in the video review.

The user interface and touch display are some of its strengths, such as to make it preferable to the GoPro Hero 4. It will be interesting to compare it with the new GoPro 5 to conclusively determine what the best solution. A quality level we could say that the two solutions are equivalent, although YI cam offers, in my opinion, a more natural color rendering (compared with GoPro 4), and less noisy shots in low light conditions.

Another strong point is the battery, which in effect has no trouble getting two hours of capture continues in full HD , surpassing many other competitors in this parameter. We should also consider another very important aspect, in this price range, YI cam is the only one to offer native 4K . Even from an audio point of view no disappointment, the dual microphone mounted able to record a very clean sound as you can see in the intro video review. However, it looks very directional, capturing the most of the front audio. In conclusion, an excellent action cam in relation to the price, which we feel to recommend if you want a viable alternative to more famous names.

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