Does The Yi 4K+ Fill A Void In The Industry?
I have never had a massive need for an action camera. I am the owner of several large censored hybrid cameras, and these smaller video oriented cameras were simply never on my radar. That, and the fact that GoPros were extremely expensive, made owning one even less of a need.
There is a catch 22 I see in the action camera industry. As a whole, action cameras are selling less and less, probably because of less of a need and also because upgrading as often isn’t necessarily needed as much anymore. At the same time, the cost of cameras from third parties is going down at the same time technology is rising, making these less expensive cameras now packed with tech more accessible to the masses. Because of this last fact I see that this industry can have a resurgence worldwide. Couple that with more and more people becoming YouTube creators, it now seems like they can get interesting use our of action cameras.
These budding YouTube creators can use these cameras in a multitude of ways. They can shoot time lapses, get interesting high and low angles, shoot first person angles much more easily, as well as a variety of other ways. That is how I saw ways in which these cameras can be used, and because of that I reached out to Yi Technology to see if I could review and use a few of their cameras. I wanted to see if these cameras are indeed as useful as I think they could be.
Yi Technology is a Chinese manufacturer who is making not just action cameras, but mirrorless and 360 cameras as well. Their top of the line action camera, the Yi 4K+ action camera, was the item on my radar. With more tech than your top of the line GoPro and a price tag of only $299, the Yi 4K+ was a camera that I was excited to review.
Just a disclaimer, Yi Technology did send me this item, but has not paid me to say anything. I wanted to review it, and reached out to them. With that out of the way, let’s get started with the review.
Feel free to check out the full list of specs on the Yi 4K+, but here are the main specs that I care about.
- 4K @ 60fps. Yes you read that right, 4K at 60fps for $299.
- Electronic image stabilization
- Live streaming ability
- Voice control
- Raw photos
- USB C (Faster charging, can add external mic, etc.)
Yi 4K+ – The Tech
As far as the technological side goes, the Yi 4K+ excels over the competition. With the ability to shoot 4K @ 60fps, the Yi 4K+ beats out the GoPro Hero 6 Black in terms of value for money, and also beat them to market with 4K 60fps. I have no doubt that Yi Technology will continue to push the boundaries of action camera technology in the future as well ahead of GoPro. The other spec of the Yi 4K+ that I enjoy is the 120fps at 1080p, which is buttery smooth. I also love live streaming, and streaming to Facebook is simple and easy. Streaming to your business page requires a little more knowhow, but can be done if you’re willing to figure it out with the help of some online gurus. If you enjoy baked in slow motion, the Yi 4K+ has the ability to shoot in both 1080 and 720. In 1080 it’ll bake in 120fps footage and output it to 30fps. If you downscale to 720p, it’ll do a whopping 240fps, or 8x slow motion.
Another tech piece of the Yi 4K+ is the use of USB type C. This allows for lots of improvements, but one of my favorites is the ability to add an external microphone. If used on a gimbal, adding a wireless microphone is a fun possibility. Pair that with a live stream and you have yourself a winning combination.
The operating system on the Yi 4K+ is intuitive and easy to use. The touch interface separates the features nicely. You can access each feature set easily, and the settings are self-explanatory. I haven’t had to open the manual for a single feature.
The Yi 4K+ can be controlled via a smartphone app as well. I typically don’t use it, but some situations do call for it. My favorite time to use it is when the camera is in a high or remote position. This allows for easy control of BTS shots for example.
Yi 4K+ – Image and Video Quality
Just like most drones and action cameras, the Yi 4K+ uses a 1/2.3: CMOS sensor. The sensor is made by Sony. Because of this small size, a decent amount of light is needed to avoid any bad noise. That’s typically ok though, as you’ll most likely be shooting outside with it.
The 4K image on the Yi 4K+ looks great, and the 4K @ 60fps also looks very nice. Cutting in this footage with other 4K footage is a good option for slow motion. If shot and graded right, it can look very nice.
One thing to consider when shooting video the Yi 4K+ outside during bright sunlight, just as you should consider when using any video camera, is the fact that you’ll significantly over expose your videos if you want to keep your shutter around 1/50 while shooting 24fps. If you want to shoot at 60fps you can manually set the shutter to 1/125, which will help you out quite a bit. While I’m typically not a proponent of using your shutter control exposure, setting your shutter to auto really helps when shooting with action cameras.
Another thing worth noting is the lens distortion correction of the Yi 4K+. Rather than leave you to do it in post, the Yi 4K+ allows for in camera distortion correction, which looks pretty good.
On the photography side of things, the Yi 4K+ will shoot 12MP JPEG or RAW DNG files. Image are about as easy to edit as your typical drone footage.
Yi 4K+: General Use and Thoughts
I’ve been using the Yi 4K+ for a few months of general use, including behind-the-scenes shooting and also a Spartan race. For the Spartan race, I wore the Yi chest mount, which performed very well. I decided to shoot in 1080 at 120fps for the race, and mistakenly left my shutter pretty low, which over exposed much of the footage. Regardless, the camera performed very well aside from my user error, and took the day like a champ.
There aren’t many cons of the Yi 4K+, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a few. Just as with any action camera, battery life is an issue. Shooting at 4K 60fps drains the battery even quicker. The Yi 4K+ also isn’t waterproof. You’ll need an old school housing to make it waterproof. These housings are readily available though, and are fairly inexpensive.
Yi 4K+: Conclusion
I’ve been very impressed the how useful the Yi 4K+ camera has been. Whether shooting in the studio or outdoors, this camera is very nice. The ability to shoot different frame rates, including UHD at 60fps is awesome, and its ability to shoot with other features like time lapses and also the live functionality are awesome. Attaching an external camera is also an awesome feature, and turns the Yi 4K+ into a nice little vlogging camera. You’d be surprised how much nice audio turns even an action camera. At only $299, the Yi 4K+ easily beats other action cameras on the market who shoot at 4K 60fps. If you’re in need of great specs, interesting angles, and another camera in a tiny package, the Yi 4K+ is worth looking into.