The Xiaomi Yi Action Camera is a “GoPro type” sports and action camera which promises good quality at 1/3rd the price of the major brands. It uses top quality components such as a Sony camera chip (sensor) and an Ambarella image processor. Prices vary depending on the vendor, but are generally in the range of $70-$90 without the waterproof casing. Adding the factory (Xiaomi brand) waterproof case adds another $25 or so. 3rd party underwater cases can be purchased for less than $10, however I did not feel comfortable protecting my Yi with anything other than the factory produced case.
I purchased the Yi from Banggood at this link. Banggood ships worldwide and may also have a warehouse in your country. Be sure to look for coupon and discount codes on the Banggood site.
The Yi is also available from Amazon (US and perhaps other countries) – try the link below:
Simple in Design- Simple in Operation
The newer cameras from GoPro and some other vendors are quite complicated in their options and menu structure. Yi takes a different approach. The Camera settings and options are all done via an app (Android or IOS) and the camera itself is a model of simplicity. Operation is as simple as turning the camera on via the large button on the front. This puts the camera into Photo mode. Pressing the top button will then take a single photo or activate interval shooting (and/or whatever mode was set in the app).
To enter Video mode, the front button is pressed once again – after camera is already on. Video can then be stopped and started using the top button.
I found this simple operation to be superior to that of GoPro and various other cameras such as the SJ series. However, users who change modes very often may find that cameras with a built-in LCD screen allow for easier switching without the extra step of pulling out your smartphone and connecting to the camera.
Net weight: 72 g / 2.54 oz (with battery)
Size: 61 x 22 x 42 mm / 2.4 x 0.87 x 1.65 inch
16 MP Camera sensor – Video up to 1080p, 60 FPS
Interval Shooting (0.5s/1s/2s/5s/10s/30s/60s)
Self Timer(3s-15s), motion trail burst shooting(7 shots per second)
Type of Lens – Wide Angle 155 degrees
Discussion of Uses
In size and weight, the Yi is very similar to the standard GoPro series. This type of cameras is a decent “all around” design, however if your only use is with a drone (Aerial Photography), there are some lighter weight and smaller options such as the Mobius or Runcam.
The Yi uses a very wide angle lens – some examples are shown below:
As is true with many action cameras, the Yi seems to shine when used in closeups and when plenty of light is present. This is due to the focus being “fixed” – unlike most cameras which automatically adjust to the distance from camera to subject. Those who intend to use it for longer focus (aerial photography and video) may want to readjust the lens from the factory setting. You can do so by following along with one of the many videos or guides describing the process. Here is one youtube video on adjusting the lens.
Wide angle lenses can display warpage and fisheye – the extent will depend on the angle of the camera as well as the subject matter. Notice the left tent pole in this photo:
There are ways to avoid and/or fix fisheye by post processing with various software packages.
Some samples of the video in different conditions are assembled in the youtube vid below – note – this is downsized to 720p.
Summary – Buy One!
If you are in need of a general purpose sports and action cameras, the Yi represents a great value. In my case, I sold my GoPro 4 as I didn’t want to keep a $400+ camera sitting around for the few times that I end up using it. The Yi gives me everything I want and need in a “beat around” sports and action camera.