YI 4K Action Camera

Review of Yi 4K Action Camera

YI 4K Action Camera ReviewWith the constant rise of social media and sharing, action cameras continue to sell and manufacturers are pulling every move they can to make sure that their version is better than the rest. With the 4K Action Camera, Yi aims to provide a comprehensive, gimmick-free experience within a compact build at a reasonable price point that can be a GoPro alternative. With an impressive set of connectivity tech and a sizable sensor, the 4K is a noteworthy competitor to higher priced GoPro models.

In the box you’ll get everything you need to get started, including a single rechargeable battery, a USB charging and data transfer cable and the unit itself, as well as some literature. You’ll want to pick up some extra accessories if you’re looking to mount the camera on a vehicle or helmet though.

Starting with the build, what you will immediately notice about the Yi 4K is it’s clean, compact body. The front features only the camera and flash with a bit of branding stuck cleanly between the afore and latter mentioned components. Flip it over and you’ll find the display. On the bottom is the mount port and the battery enclosure slide. On top is a control button and a speaker, as well as a pair of microphones. Overall, the unit is very minimal in terms of design, but still provides all the components you need as opposed to becoming an inconvenience. The Yi 4K comes in three color variants, namely black, white and a rather unique pink, all in a clean matte finish.

YI 4K CameraThe camera on the Yi 4K is powered by a Sony IMX377 sensor, which is essentially as powerful as modern action cameras can get. It is capable of supporting up to 3840 x 2160 resolution, which essentially boils down to, as you can probably guess, 4K video. The sensor can also capture 12 megapixel photos. Lowering the resolution a little can get you frame rates up to 240 fps, which is more than adequate to create smooth slo-motion scenes.

Thanks to the 3-axis gyroscope and accelerometer, the Electronic Image Stabilization ensures smooth videos. This is made possible by what Yi calls “algorithm powered cross-border compensation.” It essentially uses the sensors on the camera to stabilize videos, where this is normally done with Optic Image Stabilization, Yi opted for a software-powered version instead. But it works just as well, if not better, and provides the smooth video that is so important to action camera users who want to film their sports or hobbies without worrying about shaky videos.

Yi didn’t stop there with the camera though and decided to partner up with Microsoft and implement their Hyperlapse Pro technology. This allows you to create 4K time-lapses by using video frames to recreate 3D space and resample those frames to make the time-lapses smoother. Given the time-lapse ability, one would expect the camera to be capable of recording through the night and Yi made sure that this was possible.

The IPS processor adjusts the frame rate and parameters of videos during lower light conditions to ensure that the quality is still adequate and worthy of being called 4K. The sensor is capable of capturing a field of view of up to 150 degrees, which is more than adequate for wide highways and coastal waves.

There are a multitude of other advanced processing capabilities on the Yi 4K that professionals may find more useful than the average consumer. Things like Lens Distortion Correction, Manual IQ parameters such as Shutter, Exposure Value Compensation, White Balance and a whole lot more come standard. It is clear that Yi went all-out with the camera on this model and the end result is an extremely powerful and comprehensive sensor that is perfect for any type of filming.

YI Action Camera 4K VideoEverything is powered by an Ambarella chipset, which is quite common for cameras as they are known for their high-performance, low power usage capabilities. The 800MHz dual core ARM processor is more than adequate at providing efficient storage management and encoding, as well as powering all the manual and automatic image adjustment software mentioned above.
The chipset also powers the 2.19” display on the rear of the device. The LCD panel is a touchscreen, which alleviates the need for any buttons on the front. It is capable of playing back recordings and providing a basic interface to check your battery life, camera settings and connectivity status, as well as numerous other useful statistics. It remains clean and consistent throughout the small user interface.

The Yi 4K has a smartphone app (iPhone APP -- Android APP) which you can use to adjust the camera settings and playback transferred videos, which can be done via WiFi or Bluetooth. The app has a clean and attractive UI and provides all the features you need to get going. The unit is powered by a removable 1400 mAh battery which is capable of recording up to 2 hours of 4K footage before requiring a recharge.

Overall, the Yi 4K provides a full-fledged, comprehensive feature set in an attractive and compact build. Video quality is top of the line and the interface is easy to navigate. Pair that with the comprehensive manual settings and impressive feature-set and you have a serious GoPro alternative.

Full Specs

Processor: Ambarella A9SE
Sensor: Sony IMX377 12MP 1/2.3″
Screen: 2.19-inch retina widescreen with touch. 640-by-360 pixels at 330 ppi
Video: 4K 30fps and 720p 240fps
Photo: 12 megapixel
Burst Mode: 30 photos per second
Time Lapse Video: 0.5/1/2/5/10/30/60s intervals
Loop Recording: Yes
Battery Life: 120 minutes
Wi-Fi: Yes
Battery: 3.85V 1400mAh 5.39Wh
Storage: microSD card
Gyroscope/Accelerometer: Yes
Microphone: Dual microphone
Remote Control: Bluetooth remote control
Power on Speed: 3 seconds
Timer: Countdown 3, 5, 10, and 15 seconds
Slow Motion: 1/8, 1/4 and 1/2 speed slow motion
Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS):    Yes
Lens angle:  155 degrees
Auto Low Light: Automatic low light detection & frame rate adjustment
Manual Mode: Manual setting for shutter/ISO/EV/WB
Waterproof: With additional case
Model: 4K Action Camera

Firmware

You can download the latest YI 4K Firmware Here

What’s in the box

YI 4K Camera Box

  • YI 4K Action Camera
  • USB cable
  • 1400mAh battery
  • Mount
  • Waterproof case (optional)
  • YI Handheld Gimbal (optional)
  • User Manual

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Sample Videos

Raw video footage around New York with the YI 4K

Video comparing GoPro Hero4 with YI 4K Action Camera

Promo video for the YI 4K