A lot is currently going on in the world of Action Camera’s. GoPro just announced the highly anticipated GoPro Hero 5 and Karma drone and at the same time Nikon announced their KeyMission 170 action camera. However, if you’re on a budget and still want to create good quality footage with an action camera, the Yi 4K is probably a better pick for you.

Why did I get the Yi 4K?

Last year I sold my GoPro Hero 3+, after spending tons of money upgrading it with the LCD screen and loads of different accessoires. I must say I’ve had tons of fun with the camera, but at the end of the day I felt like it didn’t really fit in if I’d combine it with let’s say footage from a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera or Canon 5D. Next to that, the battery life bothered me, so I sold all of it.

GoPro Gear

Then it became summer again and I started to miss, having a small action camera, as it’s always nice to have a small camera with you when traveling and want to have something in your pocket that can handle a little water or action. Then I found out about the Yi 4K Action Camera with build in touchscreen, 4K mode, image stabilization, slow motion (240FPS) for a very low price.

Price and specs.

My Yi 4K (with Waterproof Case) was €265 euros. I had to pay €28 import duties and spent another €17.00 on 2 extra batteries, a (dual) charger and a floating handgrip. So in total it cost me €310 euros.

The Yi 4K basically has the same lens as the GoPro Hero 4. However, the processor on the Yi is a little newer (Ambarella A9SE vs Ambarella A9). Same goes for the sensor (Sony IMX377 12MP 1/2.3″ vs Sony IMX117 12MP 1/2.3″). It also has a dual microphone, a nice touchscreen and a larger battery, giving you around 2 hours to film. It really is a lot better, I’ve been able to shoot a FULL DAY with one battery. Obviously, I turned it on/off when I wasn’t using it.

I’m not going to cover all specs in this article, as they can easily be found online. Click here to see a comparison of specs between the Yi 4K and GoPro Hero 4. And here is a page showing all the different resolutions, FPS-modes etc on the official Yi Technology website. These specs have already changed a bit during their last Firmware update so I’m not going to post all of it here, as they might change over time.

You can also just watch the video below where we made an overview of the different specs, as well as unboxing the Yi 4K, waterproof case and showing some sample footage!

Update:

My Yi 4K died. I was in Portugal when my Yi 4K suddenly wouldn’t power up anymore. I’m pretty sure the battery wasn’t empty and I had only used the original battery and charging cable. When connecting it to my computer all I got was a red light turning on at the front. After removing the MicroSD card and battery multiple times it did turn on again (it would do this 1 out of 10 times), but when turning it off a light at the front would stay on and the camera would get super hot. So obviously something was wrong.

I’ve talked with Yi Technology and must admit they have been super friendly about it. Right now I’ve sent back my Yi 4K and once they’ve received it I will get a new one. Hopefully I won’t have any problems with my next Yi 4K…

Anyway, here’s some more Yi 4K sample footage of a trip where my camera was still working:

Conclusion:

I’ve been using the Yi 4K for 30 days straight (filmed something every day) and I must say I really love carrying it around and shooting nice footage with it! The display and user interface is so much better than what I can remember of my GoPro (Hero 3+) LCD screen. This really makes filming a lot more fun, since I hate using an App for my camera (so sorry, no real opinion on the app, but it seems to be working just fine). Next to that, not having to worry about your battery life too much is really refreshing.

This is probably the best ‘cheap’ action camera out there right now and something I can definitely recommend. It’s practically a GoPro Hero 4 with better features.Because of it’s price, you will probably not worry as much about it getting stolen or broken.

Something I am a little worried about though, is the build-quality. Like I said above, my camera Yi 4K already died after a month while I never dropped it or did anything (really) rough with it. Maybe I was just unlucky with my version, but in my opinion, if you use it properly, your gear just shouldn’t spontaneously break during the first two years.

Pros:

  • The Price
  • The Image Quality
  • Built in touchscreen (quality is crisp!)
  • Great and very user-friendly interface.
  • Different modes (4K 30fps / 720p slowmotion 240fps / timelapse interval 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30, 60s)
  • Mount on the bottom of the camera itself (1/4 tripod thread).
  • Can be used with GoPro accessories.

Downsides:

  •  Waterproof case not standard!
  •  Touchscreen can’t be used with Waterproof case.
  • Build quality. It feels a little ‘plasticy’ – you don’t want to drop it.
  • Everything is very tight – it’s hard to get the cam out of the case, it’s hard to get the battery out, it’s hard to plug out the USB cable.