YI 4K Action Camera

YI 4K Action Camera was introduced in May 2016 and marked the first Action Camera from YI to offer 4K resolution and touch screen. YI 4K marked an extension of the Action Camera product line by YI Technology as YI Action Camera is still produced and sold. In January 2017 YI introduced an upgraded version of YI 4K called YI 4K+. Due to a new sensor used, the upgraded model offers 60fps in 4K resolution and image stabilization up to 4K and 30fps.

In this article I want to show you YI 4K:

  • Comparison with other YI Cameras
  • Camera Specifications
  • Body, Buttons & Ports
  • Functions & Settings
  • Camera Versions
  • Firmware updates / Change logs
  • Conclusion (My 2-cents)
  • Demo Videos & Photos

 

YI Camera Comparison

Here’s a comparison of the current product lineup of YI Action Cameras. On a side note YI Technology also offers a Dash Camera and a mirrorless MFT camera.

* It seems weird that the first & oldest YI camera got the largest sensor (16MP compared to 12MP), but the IMX 206 being used is not capable of 4K resolution. It benefits the photo capabilities tough.
** I currently don’t know if A/V out via USB-C is possible/available for YI 4K+.
*** RAW photo and voice control being upgraded via firmware on YI 4K Action Camera later.

 

 Here you can find my YI 4K vs GoPro Hero5 black hands on comparison I did during my trip to Iceland.

 

YI 4K Action Camera Specs

Sensor:
The camera features a 12,35 MP Sony IMX377 sensor. That’s a 1/2.3″ CMOS image sensor with Exmor R ability. Don’t get irritated as the sensor of the first Yi Action Camera features the larger 16 MP Sony Exmor IMX206 sensor. The IMX377 is faster and enables the new model to shoot native 4K video!

Chip:
YI 4K Action Camera holds an Ambarella A9SE chip – latest version. GoPro Hero 4 black edition also uses an A9 Ambarella chip.

Video Resolution & Frame Rate:
4K – (3840 x 2160) – 30 / 25 fps (60 mbps)
2.7K – (2704 x 1520) – 60 / 30 / 50 / 25 fps
1440p – (1920 x 1440) – 60 / 50 /  30 / 25 fps
1080p – (1920 x 1080) – 120 / 100 / 60 / 50 / 30 / 25 fps
960p – (1280 x 960) – 120 / 100 / 60 / 50 fps
720p – (1280 x 720) – 240 /200 fps
480p – (848 x 480) – 240 / 200 fps

This is an overview, all settings incl. 4:3 options and Ultra mode in the review below.

Video Format:
.mp4 format, .h264 codec.

Photo:
12 MP resolution, so that’s a bit smaller compared to the 16MP photos of YI 1, due to the smaller sensor.

Lens:
7 layer optical glass lens with f2.8 aperture; 155° FOV
Focal length: 2.68mm

Display:
YI 4K Action Camera also features a display: 2,19″ diameter, 640 x 360 pixel with 330PPI resolution. The display is a touch display similar to GoPro Hero 4 silver.

Yi 4K Action Camera 2 - Display

Yi 4K Action Camera 2 – 2″ Touch Display

 

Battery:
Most noteworthy battery was improved as well and now got 1400 mAh capacity. 110 min. of recording are possible in 4K resolution with 30fps.
While the Chinese Version of the YI Action Camera 1 holds a 1010 mAh battery, the International Version uses a rather smaller 990 mAh Sony battery, hence it lasts longer.

Yi 4K Action Camera 2 - 1400 mAh Battery

Yi 4K Action Camera 2 – 1400 mAh Battery

 

Storage:
microSD card support for cards up to 128GB; Class 10 recommended. (U3 recommended for 4K video!)

Connectivity & Ports:
Wifi
YI 4K Action Camera uses a dual band wifi network (2.4 & 5 GHz) to ensure faster download speeds up to 30Mbps download speed.
Bluetooth
The camera features Bluetooth 4.0 for the remote control.
Ports
There is a small opening on the side, for microUSB, there is no microHDMI!
A/V out via USB is possible, not sure about Mic-in
On the bottom of the camera there’s a door for the battery & microSD card
a 1/4″ tripod thread sits next to it for mounting.

Special Features:

The camera will feature 3-axis gyroscope and accelerometer.
Yi 4K Action Camera features Electronic Image Stabilization!
To improve sound recording now 2 microphones are built in, and a speaker for playback.

Features:
Photo burst mode will shoot 30 images per second.
Similar to the Yi 1 there will Photo and Video Time-lapse modes.
Loop recording is available as well.
New is a built in Slow Motion setting which doesn’t require editing afterwards!
New compared to YI 1 is a mode where photos are taken during video recording.
There is a manual mode where you can set ISO, Exposure Correction and White Balance.

Colors:
Yi 4K is available in 3 different colors: pearl white, night black, and rose gold.

Yi Action Camera 2 will be available in black, white & rose

YI 4K Action Camera is available in night black, pearl white & rose gold

 

Dimensions & Weight:
Weight: 95g camera + battery
Dimensions: 65 x 42 x 21mm, so it’s a little wider than Yi 1 (60.4 x 42 x 21.2 mm).

Accessories:
In standard packaging only USB cable and battery are included.
A YI Action Camera Kit 2 is sold wich additionally holds a new monopod with a phone holder and the Bluetooth remote control:

YI 4K Action Camera Kit

YI 4K Action Camera Kit

 

  YI 4K Action Camera Accessories
Here you’ll find an overview and reviews of  YI 4K Action Camera accessories including original gear as well as 3rd party accessories.

 

Retailer / Price Comparison:




 

all info from YI technology’s website: yitechnology.com or Facebook site: Yi Camera

or check out the Facebook Group and join the discussion.

 

Body, Buttons & Ports

Yi Action Camera 2 from all sides

YI 4K Action Camera from all sides

 

The camera just has one button on top: To power on / off when long pressing and to start video recording or take a picture when short pressing it. All other settings are done via the touch display. Within the button there is LED indication recording. next to the buttons there are the microphones – 2 of them left and right. Also on top of the camera you can find a speaker, which is used to playback audio when watching the recorded footage on the screen.
Next to the lens on the front side there’s a LED indicating the battery status, similar to the YI 1.
The camera has the same height as the YI Action Camera, but is a little wider. You can’t use the underwater case designed for YI one, but it is possible to use other gear, like the Zhiyun Z1-Evolution gimbal.

Yi Action Camera vs Yi Action Camera 2

YI Action Camera vs YI 4K Action Camera

 

On the bottom there’s a door for battery and microSD card which is not removable like on YI 1, but flip opens like on the GoPro. That’s great as there’s no chance to lose it. On the right side there is an opening for the microUSB port, the door is as well attached to the camera.

Yi Action Camera 2 - Battery

YI 4K Action Camera – Battery

 

Functions & Settings

The photos shown below were taken with an earlier Firmware version. The listed settings & description are constantly updated.

Yi Action Camera 2 - "Home Screen"

YI 4K Action Camera – “Home Screen”

 

When you switch on the camera you’ll see the – let’s call it “home screen” – on the display. You’ll see a live view image and some information: on the top left an icon in which mode you are and info on microSD card. On the top left there is an icon when wifi is on and the battery status bar. These icons are not clickable in contrast to the ones on the bottom: There is a play icon get to the camera roll to playback your recordings, in the middle the current resolution / frame rate settings, where you can change mode of the camera; and on the right a rotary to enter settings in the current mode. A nice feature are the swiping options:

When swiping left/right on the screen you can switch between camera and photo mode.
Swiping down displays a quick menu to switch on/off wifi and bluetooth for remote control; a button to lock the screen and one to turn off the camera.
Swiping up accesses the mode menu, same as when you press them in the bottom center.

"<yoastmark

 

Operating Modes

The camera has 10 operating modes, accessible :

  • Photo – to take pictures.
  • Timer, where you can set a countdown before a photo is taken.
  • Burst, where you can set a a number of photos taken within a timeframe. Max. is 30 pictures within a minute.
  • Video – for video recording.
  • Time-Lapse Video, where a time-lapse is combined into a video file.
  • Slow Motion, where you can do slow motion recording without editing the footage afterwards.
  • Time-Lapse Photo, where individual photos are taken, which you can combine to a time-lapse afterwards.
  • Loop Recording, where short video sequences are recorded and overwritten once the microSD card is full. e.g. to use the camera as dashboard camera.
  • Video + Photo, where there are photos taken in a set interval while a video is recorded. Note: video resolution and frame rate are limited to 1080p 60fps max.
  • Live Video (e.g. for Facebook Live Streaming) – with Firmware update 1.3.3.
Yi Action Camera 2 - 9 operating modes

YI 4K Action Camera – 10 operating modes (Firmware 0.0.31)

 

Settings

In general there are 2 settings menus: The specific one for the mode you are in (e.g. video or photo – first icon on the left) and a device settings menu (second icon on the left). These menus match the new app where you first see the mode settings and then the option to proceed to the device settings. To enter settings menu, press the rotary icon on the bottom right of the screen.

Yi Action Camera 2 - Video Settings

YI 4K Action Camera – Video Settings (FW 0.3.31)

 

Settings in Video Mode

Resolution
Depending if you set the cam to NTCS or PAL (PAL in brackets)

  • 4K – (3840 x 2160) – 30 fps (25 fps)
  • 4K Ultra – (3840 x 2160) – 24 fps
  • 2.7K – (2704 x 1520) – 60 / 30 fps (50 / 25 fps)
  • 2.7 K Ultra – (2704 x 2032) – 30 fps (25 fps)
  • 2.7K 4:3 – (2704 x 2032) – 30 fps (25 fps)
  • 1440p 4:3 – (1920 x 1440) – 60 / 30 fps (50 / 25 fps)
  • 1080p – (1920 x 1080) – 120 / 60 / 30 fps (100 / 50 / 25 fps)
  • 1080p Ultra – (1920 x 1080) – 90 / 60 / 30 fps (90 / 50 / 25 fps)
  • 960p 4:3 – (1280 x 960) – 120 / 60 fps (100 / 50 fps)
  • 720p – (1280 x 720) – 240 fps (200 fps)
  • 720p Ultra – (1280 x 720) – 120 / 60 fps (100 / 50 fps)
  • 480p – (848 x 480) – 240 fps (200 fps)

In the menu you will first see the resolution to select. After making a selection theAuto Power Off: When the cam powers down when in standby. available frame rates are shown.
Ultra” options are similar to GoPro’s superview where the full sensor (4:3) is used and stretched to 16:9.

Field of View (since FW 1.1.0)
You can narrow the field of view of the camera and select from: Wide, Medium or Narrow. This option is not available in 4K, 2.5K & 1080p 120fps.

Metering Mode
To define the area where the camera is measuring exposure: Center, Spot or Average (since FW 1.0.12)

Auto Low Light
If you switch on the camera will improve low light performance and might increase shutter to get you better recordings at night. This may result in blurry videos.
Auto Low light is not available in 4K & 2.5K; but is available in 1080p 120fps.

Video Quality
You can set high / medium / low which will result in different bit rates (and as a result in file sizes / minute).

WB
You can select predefined settings for color correction based on the given light situation: Auto / Native / Tungsten / Daylight / Cloudy.

Color (since FW 1.0.13)
You can choose YI Color or Flat. Flat color mode will give you a video with lower saturation for color correction in post production, similar to GoPro’s ProTune setting.

ISO
is the sensitivity of the sensor and you can set the signal gain. The higher the ISO the brighter, but noisier, your image will get. You can set a value if you don’t want the camera to automatically change (adjust) during recording. Available settings are Auto / 400 / 1600 / 6400.

Sharpness (since FW 1.1.0)
You can select High, Medium or Low sharpness. If you want to do color grading in post production, you should set it to low.

EV
is the exposure compensation. You can adjust exposure by setting up / down EV in these steps: +- 0.5 / +- 1 / +- 1.5 / +- 2.

Image Stabilization
Switched on the camera will correct shaky images to give you a smooth video. Be aware this works electronically and the image is a little zoomed in. This feature doesn’t work in 4K or 1080p 120fps. (It works in 2.5K resolution mode up to 60fps)

Time Stamp
To Display date and/or time in your video.

 

Settings in Photo Mode

Yi Action Camera 2 - Photo Settings

YI 4K Action Camera – Photo Settings (FW 0.3.31)

 

Resolution

  • 12 MP (4000 x 3000)
  • 8 MP (3840 x 2160)
  • 7 MP W (3008 x 2256)
  • 7 MP M (3008 x 2256)
  • 5 MP (2560 x 1920)

Shutter
to manually control shutter, which is a great new option especially for foots at night: 2s / 5s / 10s / 20s / 30s.

Metering Mode
To define the area where the camera is measuring exposure: Center, Spot or Average (since FW 1.0.12)

WB
Same as in video mode: Auto / Native / Tungsten / Daylight / Cloudy.

Color (since FW 1.0.13)
You can choose a flat color option, when you plan to edit the photos afterwards.

ISO
Different than in video mode! Settings are: Auto / 100 / 200 / 400 / 800.

Sharpness (since FW 1.1.0)
Here you can choose High, Medium or Low Sharpness.

EV
Same as in video mode: +- 0.5 / +- 1 / +- 1.5 / +- 2.

Time Stamp
To Display date and/or time in your video.

 

Settings in other Modes:

Basically they are the same as mentioned above, matching either video or photo mode, depending on the output. For each mode there is one line added:

Timer
Countdown: 3s / 5s / 10s / 15s

Burst
Frequency: 3p/s – 5p/s – 10p/s – 10p/2s – 10p/3s – 30p/s – 30p/2s – 30p/3s – 30p/6s.

Time Lapse Video
Interval: 0.5s / 1s / 2s / 5s / 10s / 30 / 60s.
Video Length: Off / 6s / 8s / 10s / 20s / 30s / 60s / 120s.
Video time-lapse is currently only available in 2.5K & 4K.

Slow Motion
Slow Rate: 8 / 4 / 2

Time Lapse Photo
Interval: 0.5s / 1s / 2s / 5s / 10s / 30 / 60s.

Loop
Video Length: 5min / 20min / 60min / 120min / max

Photo+Video
Interval: 5s / 10s / 30s / 60s

 

Device Settings

Yi Action Camera 2 - Device Settings

Yi Action Camera 2 – Device Settings (FW o.3.31)

 

Adjust Lens distortion
If you don’t like the fish eye effect you can electronically correct it. Previously it was labelled Lens aberration correction or lens rectification. Lens distortion adjustment does not work in 4K video mode.

WiFi
Where you can set switch wifi on and off, display the settings and switch between 2.4G and 5G. Standard password is 1234567890.

SD Card
To see info how much space is used/free and to format your microSD Card.

Camera Default Mode
You can set one of the 9 modes in which the camera powers up and additionally set it to “last mode used”.

Bluetooth Pairing
To pair with a bluetooth device e.g. the remote control.

Brightness
Which is related to the brightness of the LCD screen: Hight / Middle / Low. Higher brightness requires more energy which will result in shorter battery life.

Beeps (earlier called Volume)
Which is the volume for the buzzer sound when hitting the button: High / Low / Mute.

Video Mute

LEDs (new with firmware 1.0.8)
You can choose all on, only status – front LED is turned off, record LED on top will light up during recording – and all off.

In Housing Mode (new with firmware 1.0.7 – adapted with firmware 1.2.0)
In House mode was adapted with the latest firmware version and changes the function of the shutter button when you long press it. If activated you now have a new menu where you can access all operation modes and turn off the camera. Of course when long pressing the button you can turn on the camera again.

New "in-housing mode" menu

New “in-housing mode” menu

 

Video Standard (was moved to device settings with Firmware 1.0.9)
You can switch between NTCS (= 30 fps and a multiple of that) or PAL (=25 fps and a multiple of that). As as side note: 24 fps and a multiple of that are not available which was offered on YI 1.

Advanced
Screen Auto Lock: when the screen turns off to save battery.
Auto Power Off: When the cam powers down when in standby.
Video Rotation: to flip the image.
A/V Out: for video output via USB.
Set Date & Time.

Device Info
To display firmware version and serial number.

Camera reset
with 3 options: Reset Settings, Reset Wi-Fi and Reset Bluetooth.

Location
You can choose a state. I think it is somehow linked to the wifi settings, but I’m not sure.

About
Which will show you the internet domains of Yi Technology.

 

YI 4K Action Camera Versions

YI 4K Chinese Version vs International Version - Packaging

YI 4K Chinese Version vs International Version

 

Be careful! Similar to the YI 1, there is a Chinese and an International Version of the YI 4K Action Camera! This is important, because you can’t change the language on your Chinese Version, which means you will have a Chinese Menu on the display! Here’s a comparison between Chinese & International Version.

Besides that there is a Z16V12L and a Z16V13L revision of the camera. If you are looking for the Firmware on YI Technology’s website, you’ll find these two versions to select from. Currently I don’t know what’s the difference.

 

YI 4K Action Camera Firmware Updates

My camera was delivered with firmware version 0.3.31. The latest firmware version is 1.1.0, which you can download via app or YI’s support site.
Des settings and description above are constantly updated, I’ll updated the photos at a later point. Following is a summary of the changes made to the Firmware, focussing on the added features – main features highlighted.

Firmware 1.0.7 Change Log:
I haven’t found a change log so far, as 1.0.8 was available when the download popped up; one option I noticed:

  • Added In Housing Mode
  • (+ improvements & bug fixes)

Firmware 1.0.8 Change Log:

  • Added Settings for LED
  • Added beep sound for mode switch
  • Added EIS for 2.5K, 1440p30 & 1440p60
  • Added LCD display auto rotation
  • (+ improvements & bug fixes)

Firmware 1.0.9 Change Log:

  • Added shutter beeps when taking time-lapse photos
  • Added flashing LED light before taking photos / videos
  • (+ improvements & bug fixes)

Firmware 1.0.12 Change Log:

  • Added “Average” metering mode
  • Added “Reset Wi-Fi” and “Reset Bluetooth”
  • (+ improvements & bug fixes)

Firmware 1.0.13 Change Log:

  • Added Wi-Fi countries selection option;
  • Added Flat Color option;
  • Added Video Mute option;
  • (+ improvements & bug fixes)

Firmware 1.1.0 Change Log:

  • Added FOV option;
  • Added Sharpness Adjustment Function;
  • Added Video Time Info;
  • (+ improvements & bug fixes)

Firmware 1.2.0 Change Log:

  • Added 2.7K resolution and removed 2.5K resolution
  • Added manual adjustment function for timelapse video, like ISO, WB, EV etc
  • Added long exposure option for timelapse photo mode, supports more time interval etc
  • Optimized “In housing mode”, more simple to switch
  • (+improvements)

Firmware 1.2.3 Change Log:

  • Added “Open LOG” (Settings-About, when on “About” interface, fast tap 3 times will activate LOG)
  • Changed “1080 Ultra 120 FPS” to “1080 Ultra 90 FPS” and supports Auto Low Light 
  • Changed “4K Ultra 25FPS/30FPS” to “4K Ultra 24FPS”
  • (+improvements)

Firmware 1.3.3 Change Log:

  • Added Live Streaming Feature
  • Added district/Wi-Fi frequency options
  • (+improvements)

Firmware 1.4.0 Change Log:

  • During software update, it is now possible to see progress bar and update info.
  • When Wifi is enabled, a blinking notification will now appear
  • Added live stream codec settings
  • Optimized video stream naming convention (from _thm.MP4 to .SEC)
  • Optimized power consumption during sleep mode for longer battery life
  • Optimized flat-color effect & EV effect

1.4.0 Beta Version can be found here: YI Camera User Group (Facebook)
Firmware Versions are available on YI’s website

 

Conclusion

The common perception seems to be the YI 4K Action Camera is a replacement of the YI Action Camera. To my understanding the new camera is an addition to the product line on the top end. It is comparable with the GoPro Hero 4 black which also holds an A9 chip and a 12MP Sony Sensor (but different models). In addition YI 4K Action Camera offers a touch screen, so does the silver edition. But the Hero 4’s silver editions is not recording 4K 30fps!
Compared to the retail price of the GoPro Hero 4 black 499.99 USD, the currently displayed price for 249.99 USD still seems to be a very cheap alternative. Remember the Yi Action Camera is a native 4K camera, whereas competitors like Git2, SJCAM M20 or EKEN H8 offer interpolated (not real) 4K. I’m not aware of a cheaper native 4K camera.

Here’s a comparison chart of native 4K Action Cameras

I think YI 4K Action Camera is an awesome camera which comes close to the GoPro Hero 4 black edition, but comes with a 2″ touch screen included. Here are my pros and cons:

Image Quality – As you can seen in my comparison with the GoPro Hero 4 black shot in 4K and with Yi Action Camera 1 in 1080p with 60 fps and turned on image stabilization, the image quality is really great.

Interface – Touchscreen navigation works really smooth and the structure of the menu is very logical. I like the “quick menu” when swiping down to get quick access to turn on/off wifi and bluetooth. You can quickly turn them on when needed or off to save battery life without browsing the whole menu. The interface of the camera is really amazing, the best I’ve seen so far on action cameras! Settings you need all the time (resolution, frame rate,…) can be accessed very fast. Camera settings (PAL/NTSC, LED settings,…) are in a separate menu one step further, so you don’t get distracted by them.

Battery life – YI 4K offers great battery life when shooting 4K resolution. Superb performance compared with other action cameras!

Sound – There were some issues with YI 1 having a dull sound, so I was curious about the Yi 2 and it got way better. YI 4K Action Camera holds a dual mic and there are no major issues with sound. It’s not perfect, but for an action camera great results. I have to do some more test inside and outside to case to get a better feeling how it compares to the GoPro Hero 4, which has an amazing song filter I think.

ProTune – With Firmware 1.0.13 there was a new mode introduced – flat color, which seems to be like ProTunes on the GoPro. Since FW 1.0.13 is still in beta, I’m waiting for the final release to review it.

App – If you are using your Action Camera with your smartphone, the app is definitely an important part of it. And the Yi App works great! You can not only change all settings of the camera (which is probably not that important since the on screen menu is great), you can also transfer your photos and videos easily to your smartphone, edit them and share them online!

 Image stabilization – A great feature to get smooth shots and it works just great. Only disadvantage that it is not available in 4K, that’s because additional “image space” on the sensor is needed to stabilize the video. EIS in 4K is available with YI 4K+ Action Camera!

Case – When placing the camera inside the underwater case you can’t easily change between photo / video mode as you can’t access the screen. You can’t change modes using buttons, as there is only one. This issue was fixed with Firmware version 1.0.7 and you now have the described “In housing mode”, but it is not the best solution.

Videos

YI 4K Action Camera vs YI Action Camera 1 – recorded in 1080p 60fps – YI 2’s image stabilization is turned on:

YI 4K Action Camera vs GoPro Hero 5 black – recorded in 4K 30fps:

 

Photo

These are photos with YI 4K – unedited! You can click on them for full resolution:

XIAOYI

Long exposure: ISO 100 – Shutter 5s

 

XIAOYI

 

Retailer / Price Comparison:




 

In my other article you’ll find an overview and reviews of all YI 4K Action Camera accessories including original gear (like leather case and water sports kit) as well as 3rd party accessories: YI 4K Action Camera Accessories

 

Here are the YI 1 prices to compare:

YI 1 – Retailers / Price Comparison:

Chinese Version:

Seems like the Chinese Version is disappearing. More and more retailers deleted them from their stores.

International Version:

  • Banggood: 86.99 USD
  • Gearbest: 69.99 USD – Coupon Code: YIAC5 (official retailer)
  • Honorbuy: 99.99 USD (EU Warehouse)
  • Geekbuying: 92.99 USD (official retailer)
  • Aliexpress: 99.99 USD (official store)
  • Amazon (official YI Store):



 

 

Newsletter

Get the latest News right to your inbox, I’d be happy if you subscribe to my newsletter:

 

Share this post:
Related Posts

YI just announced it’s first 360° camera: YI 360 VR! 2016 marked already the start of 360° action...

EKEN V8s is their first action camera to feature image stabilization in real 4K video resolution at...

YI Sale -- YI 4K 186 USD -- YI 4K+ 299 USD -- YI Gimbal 176 USD -- Case 29 USD -- Monopod & Remote...