YI-M1 system camera Review

After the success of the YI 4K, YI Technology announced in September 2016 the 4K-capable YI-M1 system with interchangeable lenses and touch display. You can find out what the camera is for, in our detailed review.

Specifications: YI-M1

Camera class System Camera (DSLM)
Video resolution 3840 x 2160 (4K) @ 30 fps ; 2048 x 1536 (2K) @ 30 fps; 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) @ 60 fps , 30 fps, 24 fps; 1280 x 720 (HD) @ 60 fps, 30 fps, 24 fps; 640 x 480 (VGA) @ 240 fps
Photo resolution 8160 x 6120 (49.94 MP, interpolated); 5184 x 3888 (20.16 MP) ; 4608 x 3456 (15.93 MP); 3200 x 2400 (7.68 MP); 1920 x 1440 (2.76 MP); 640 x 480 (VGA)
Image sensor / type / format Sony IMX 269 (21.77 MP); NMOS; 4/3 “
Lens mount MFT (Micro Four Thirds)
Microphone / Speaker stereo; mono
Minimum shutter speed 1/4000 s
Maximum shutter speed 60 s
ISO minimal 100
ISO maximum 25600
White balance Car, sun, shadow, clouds, light bulb, Kelvin (2000 – 11500)
HDR Yes
viewfinder no
focus CDAF (Contrast Detection Autofocus), 81 focus points
Video codec H.264 / MPEG-4
Audio codec AAC
Date format (photos) RAW, JPEG
display 3 inch LCD touch screen, 720 x 480 pixel resolution
Image stabilization In the lens
External flash supports
connectivity 2.4GHz wireless LAN; Bluetooth 4.1; Micro HDMI; Micro USB (USB 2.0); 1/4 “tripod thread
App available for Android 4.4 / iOS 9.0 or higher
Storage SD / SDHC / SDXC (up to 512 GB)
Battery / Run Time 900 mAh; 2:03 hours (video recording), 380 pictures (according to CIPA standard)
IP certification No
Body material plastic
Operating temperature -10 ° C to 40 ° C
Dimensions 113.5 x 64.3 x 33.6 mm
Weight 289.6 g
Available in Black silver
Delivery YI-M1 (housing), 12mm f / 3.5-5.6 lens, 42.5mm f / 1.8 lens (dual lens version only), micro USB cable, carrying strap, powerplug (NEMA-1), battery, English manuals And Warranty cards for housing and lens (s)

YI-M1 lenses frontal

Specifications: Lenses

Grade Zoom lens Fixed focal length
Lens mount MFT (Micro Four Thirds) MFT (Micro Four Thirds)
Diagonal angle of view 30.3 ° to 84.1 ° 29 °
Focal length 12-40 mm 42.5 mm
Aperture maximum F / 3.5-5.6 F / 1.8
Minimum opening of the aperture F / 22 F / 22
Diaphragm blades 7 7
Focusing distance minimal 35 cm 25 cm (macro); 50 cm (normal)
Focus adjustment Automatic, manual (focusing ring) Automatic, manual (touch)
Image stabilizer digital digital
FilterSize 49 mm 49 mm
Lens 9 groups, 11 lenses 6 groups, 6 lenses
Dimensions 58.3 x 63 mm 56.5 x 61 mm
measure 172.4 g 118.9 g

Packaging & Delivery

The camera and the accessories come in a simple black box. A 12-40 mm f / 3.5-5.6 zoom lens, a micro-USB cable, a carrying strap, a NEMA-1 powerplug, a 900 mAh battery and an English manual are included in the package. A  2.5 mm f / 1.8 focal length  is also included in the dual lens version. In addition, thanks to the enclosed warranty cards.

YI-M1 packing
As with the YI 4K, a “clean” design is set.
YI-M1 scope of delivery
The delivery of the Dual Lens version.

Design & processing

With an aluminum look, the M1. When the camera is lifted, the low weight of only 289.6 g makes it clear that it is a plastic housing. The Sony Alpha 6000 is similar to the Sony Alpha 6000, but it is not a good idea. There is a small point deduction from me for the on / off switch. This must be operated, rather than slightly from the side, with some pressure from above.

YI M1 from above
Good visibility: The on / off switch closes with the camera housing.

The lenses are made of plastic – with only 118.9g (fixed focal length) and 172.4g (zoom lens) they are also very light.

YI M1 zoom lens and focal length
In the Dual Lens version, a zoom lens and a fixed focal length are included.

On the back is a 3 inch touch screen with a resolution of 720 x 480 pixels. The path, which has already been taken at the YI 4K, is known continued; YI would like to go back to the broadest possible target group, so the operation should be as simple as possible.

YI-M1 display
Intuitive operation thanks to touch display.

For other gadgets, search as smartphones or fitness trackers, at IP67 certification is slowly but surely the standard. Of this are high-quality reflex cameras and system cameras but unfortunately still relatively far away. This is why the M1 and its lenses come without IP certification. Overall is the processing, as one is used by YI, very good. Stay out.

Hardware & connectivity

The camera is a DSLM (digital single lens mirrorless) and therefore, unlike a DSLR (digital single lens reflex), has no mirror inside.

YI-M1 and Canon EOS 600D without lenses
Left without, right with mirror – the difference between a DSLM and a DSLR.

The image sensor is a Sony IMX 269 with 21.77 megapixels (NMOS, 4/3 “), which captures images with an effective 20.16 megapixels. Since the MFT (Micro Four Thirds) connection is the right choice for your project, you can choose from a variety of options; Amazon leads nearly 200 MFT lenses. In addition, various accessories can be connected to the flash shoe.

YI-M1 lightning shoe
An external flash can be connected to the flash shoe, for example.

In addition, Bluetooth 4.1 and WLAN (2.4 GHz) are  supported, as well as SD / SDHC / SDXC memory cards with up to 512 GB . In addition to the Micro USB (USB 2.0) port, there is also a Micro HDMI port.

Operation: Camera modes

The YI-M1 has 8 camera modes , which I would like to briefly explain to you:

  • Manual Exposure Control (M):  The aperture, shutter speed, and ISO value can be selected freely. Further options, such as the white balance or the measurement method, are also available. Exposure compensation is automatically set.
  • Fully automatic (camera symbol):  The camera interprets the image and automatically selects the different values. Further options are available only to a limited extent.
  • Auto Shutter (S):  The shutter speed, exposure compensation and ISO value can be adjusted manually. In addition, the white balance and the measuring method are also available. The aperture is automatically set.
  • Time control (A):  The automatic time function works like the automatic shutter, but here the aperture is set manually and the shutter speed is automatically adjusted.
  • Program  automatic (P): In addition to the exposure correction, the white balance and the measuring method can be selected. The shutter speed and the shutter speed are set automatically.
  • Panorama:  All settings are selected automatically. Only the focus mode and the file format can be changed.
  • Scene (framed S):  The scene mode works similar to the fully automatic mode. Different scenes (portrait, landscape, sports, etc.) can be selected and the camera interprets the image based on these settings. The various values ​​are then automatically set. The white balance can not be adjusted manually.
  • Super Professional Guide (C):  The Super Professional Guide mode offers different motifs and poses to choose from and displays the corresponding outlines on the screen. The aperture and the shutter speed are set automatically, apart from that all other settings can be made manually.
YI-M1 Super Professional Guide
The Super Professional Guide mode is designed to help you adjust certain poses.

The app:  YI Mirrorless – AI-Art Edition

The YI Mirrorless – AI-Art Edition app can be used to complement the traditional operation  . Available for Android 4.4 / iOS 9.0 or higher. The setup is identical to the menu of the camera, but fewer settings are available. The connection to the app is built up over the camera-like 2.4 GHz WLAN network. To what extent the Bluetooth connection is used, however, is to me however veilful, for it has apparently no use.

YI-M1 App Overview
Same construction with stripped down possibilities.
YI-M1 App Settings
Among other things, the camera mode, the measurement method and the picture format can be set.

Photos, videos & features

Let’s get to the point that ultimately really matters: How well do the images of the YI-M1 look like? In itself the camera makes great photos with up to 20,16 MP and delivers, depending on the settings, also very nice colors. In direct comparison to my Sony Alpha 6000, however, it is noticeable that the edges of the motif at the M1 are not quite as sharp. Still, the recordings do not have to hide!

YI-M1 and Sony Alpha 6000 in comparison Löwenzahn photo
With the setting “Lively”, the pictures of the YI-M1 have beautiful strong colors.
YI-M1 and Sony Alpha 6000 in comparison Bonsai photo
Sometimes the YI-M1’s autofocus fails a bit, but it works even better than the Sony Alpha 6000!
YI-M1 Panoramic City Gallery Leverkusen
The YI-M1 can also shoot Panoramabilder.

Also the videos with up to 4K at 30 frames per second can be seen. However, there are a few hooks. The recordings are limited to a length of 7:29 minutes due to the relatively high heat development (at 1080p it is almost 20 minutes). Another drawback is the audible on the videos, and relatively slow, partly also inaccurate, autofocus. In addition, digital image stabilization will automatically start and not turn off. Only for 4K recordings the image stabilization is not supported. With regard to professional videos, however, these points can be averted, because a long take is no longer than four minutes on average, the sound is recorded with external microphones and for steady camera rides is usually a Steadycam used.

Other features include facial recognition, HDR recordings and timelapse videos.

Battery & Runtime

The YI-M1 has a  900 mAh battery , which is enough for 2 hours of video recording or 380 pictures (without flash). If the power is scarce, the camera is recharged within just 3 hours using the included micro-USB cable. On the way there is also the possibility to access a Powerbank. What I like is that the M1 can also be used during the charging process. However, whether the cable is connected to a socket, a USB port or a Powerbank, without inserted battery, the camera is not to use. Replacement battery and an external charger are already announced, but unfortunately not yet available.

YI-M1 Battery and Accu
The battery of the YI-M1 can also be replaced.

Conclusion: Entry-level camera for amateur photographers

In the test, the YI-M1 is a great camera for beginners: Easy handling thanks to touch screen, nice pictures, 4K recordings and a decent battery life. The regular updates are also noticeable. For semiprofessional or hardcore photographers / filmmakers, however, the camera will not be the truth due to the lack of freedoms. For a debut in the competitive DSLR market, YI Technology delivers a clean performance.

  • Touch screen
  • Good image sensor
  • 4K (Ultra HD) recording
  • Proper recharge time
  • Operation possible during charging
  • Regular firmware updates for housings & lenses
  • No searcher
  • Accuracy / speed of the autofocus
  • Limited video length
  • Autofocus on videos audible
  • Fixed flame range does not have a focusing ring

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