Yi have been making waves in the action camera market since they launched the Yi Action Camera. This small and garishly coloured camera packed in features and image quality that could only be rivalled by GoPro.
Now the Yi 4K Action Camera joins the line-up and again what you get for the money is incredible. The camera retails at just £240 / $240. It may no longer sit in the ultra budget end of the market like the Yi Action Camera, which can be purchased for less than £50 / $60, but it’s still cheap for what it is.
As with the Yi Action Camera, the box that contains the camera is well presented and in stark contrast to what you initially think is going to be a budget camera. The Yi 4K is far from budget, both in price and quality.
The two images on the front and back of the box showing off the camera are enough to get you interested, giving a sneak peak of the clean stylish front profile and large screen on the rear.
Checking the spec’s on the side also shows that within is an extremely exciting camera capable of shooting 4K resolution footage (3840 x 2160) at 30fps, the small screen is just under 2.2 inches, it has a two hour battery life, 2.4GHz/5GHz Wifi and contains an impressive Ambarella chip set.
The Ambarella image processor is the most exciting part of the short list of specification for action camera nuts, as predecessors to this board have a proven track record, and far out strip the quality of other boards when it comes to outputting incredible image quality from the cameras small image sensors.
The image sensor is equally impressive: a Sony IMX377 Image Sensor, so a complete match made in heaven. The previous generation of this sensor and processor featured in the GoPro Hero 4 Black, which really shows it’s pedigree.
Removing the camera from the box and the leap in build quality is instantly apparent, with a good solid body that is made to last. It’s also very minimalistic when it comes to exterior features such as buttons.
On the front is the lens which offers a 155 degree field of view and is all glass construction, to the side is a small LED light that shows the camera’s status. Blue shows power on and then when you start recording it extinguishes and a red flashing light appears on the shutter button on top.
On the side next to the lens is the USB port. The base features a standard tripod mount and access to the battery and MicroSD card slot through a hinged door.
The small battery has been designed to give the maximum usable time for the camera and is a rechargeable 1400mAh high-voltage 4.4V lithium-ion battery that comes from Amperext Technology.
YI have quoted that the 4K is able to remain in stand by mode for up to 8 hours and when shooting at 4K at 30 frames per second (FPS) you’ll be able to shoot 120 minutes on a single charge, drop the resolution to 1080p at 30 fps and you can extend the recording time to 2 hours.
The back of the camera features the large LCD retina screen which is touch enabled. This makes navigating settings and modes exceptionally easy and the size really isn’t an issue.
The small screen is a 330ppi high resolution and retina touchscreen that measures 2.19 inches. It also features Gorilla Glass that will help it to resist scratches and knocks that are inevitable for and action camera.
The screen itself is clear and bright and is viewable from a 160° angle. The touch screen and 640 x 360, 16:9 aspect ratio widescreen are ideal for both previewing what you’re about to film or for reviewing the footage.
Placing the Yi 4K next to the GoPro Hero 4 Black you can see that the Yi is just slightly larger, and with the release of the GoPro Hero5 Black at Photokina 2016 the size and weight of the GoPro has once again dropped.
The GoPro Hero4 out of the waterproof housing weighs in at 85g compared with the Yi 4K at 95g.
As with the Yi Action Camera the Yi 4K ships with out a waterproof housing which will need to be bought in addition to the camera.
The Yi 4K also feature the latest Wifi technology to ensure ultra fast connection speeds between the camera and app on your mobile device. The communication is handled by the latest BCM43340 chip and supports 802.11a/b/g/n 2.4G/5GHz, this enables incredible download speeds of up to 30Mbps, leaving you less time to wait before you preview or download your footage.
The initial impression of the Yi 4K Action Camera is outstanding. If GoPro hadn’t released such a major update to the Hero camera then the Yi would on specifications alone been well out in front. Having used the Yi Action Camera extensively and seen the quality of footage I’m sure that this camera will far surpass that quality, but I’ll find out soon.
In the next part of the review I’ll check out how easy the camera is to set-up, connect and use.