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XiaoMi Yi M1 Mirrorless Digital Camera Single Lens set

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Original XiaoMi Yi M1 Mirrorless Digital Camera [Single Lens set: YI 12-40mm F3.5-5.6 Lens]  has 20MP Four Thirds sensor,  3″ 1.04M-dot touchscreen LCD, 81-point Contrast Detect AF system, 5 fps continuous shooting, 4K/30p video recording, built in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth LE

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Product Description

XiaoMi Yi M1 Mirrorless Digital Camera Single Lens set

Phenominal Quality: YI M1 uses 20 effective megapixel SONY IMX269 image sensor, the highest standard in MFT (Micro Four Thirds system), to deliver the most accurate color and finest image detail. 4K/30fps HD video recording is supported.
Minimalist Camera Design: YI M1 Mirrorless Digital Camera keeps the number of buttons to a minimum and let touch functions take the front row seat.
LCD Touch Screen, An Intuitive Experience: 3-inch LCD Touch Screen and easily configure manual parameters such as shutter speed, ISO, focus, and more.
Even Beginners Can Shoot Like a Pro Master Guide, Shoot Like a Pro: Master Guide templates – easy guideline with set up parameters. Make your photos professional.
Real-time BLE Bluetooth Connection, Easy Sharing, Impressive Connectivity: Built-in Wi-Fi and BLE Bluetooth for stable connection and fast sharing in social media. YI M1 App supports automatic Date/Time synchronizing. Quick firmware upgrades through the app to keep your camera and lens up-to-date.
Compatible with 50+ Lenses: MFT Lens Mount

Key Specifications

  • 20MP Four Thirds sensor
  • 3″ 1.04M-dot touchscreen LCD
  • 81-point Contrast Detect AF system
  • Touch-to-focus and one-touch image capture
  • 5 fps continuous shooting
  • 4K/30p video recording capability
  • Built in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth LE

Full Description

YI is a China-based company that has already made its mark in the action cam market. But it clearly has ambitions beyond this and has announced its entry into the consumer-level compact ILC market.

We were lucky enough to get our hands on the YI M1, the company’s first-ever mirrorless camera. YI has attempted to capitalize on an already well-established camera mount, but decided to put a new spin on it in the form of an almost entirely touchscreen-based user interface.

YI tells us its name refers to ‘young innovators,’ so its no surprise its target demographic is a group that is looking to move on from their smart phone based camera, but perhaps isn’t ready or interested in, taking the plunge into the realm of a traditional DSLR or mirrorless platform.

 The YI M1 features an all-metal lens mount and a 20MP CMOS sensor.

The YI M1 is built around a Sony-designed 20MP Four Thirds CMOS sensor that boasts Raw capability in the form of DNG output files and the ability to shoot 4K/30p video. As with its action cameras, YI publicly lists where its key components come from and the Sony IMX269 instantly suggests good things about the camera’s potential.

The big news is the all-touchscreen interface (the body only has two physical buttons), which aims to give a simple, more smartphone-like user experience. However, the company doesn’t treat these users as undemanding, just because they don’t want a conventional camera.

The camera comes with either the 12-40mm zoom, the 42.5mm prime or a kit that features both the prime and the zoom, a camera strap, USB charging brick and a Micro-USB cable. While the camera sports a hot shoe for an external flash, the current kit doesn’t include a flash.

Lenses

The two lens choices that come in the kit were a bit of surprise for us, and in a very good way. It’s not too often that a camera company decides to include a prime lens and a zoom in an ILC starter kit, but that’s just what YI has done. There’s a macro-capable 42.5mm F1.8 prime as well as a more conventional 12-40mm F3.5-5.6 (24-80mm equiv.) zoom in the box, neither of which is equipped with image stabilization.

The 42.5mm F1.8 (85mm equiv.) prime lens can be seen on the left and the 12-40mm F3.5-5.6 (24-80mm equiv.) can be seen on the right. The focus ring on the 42.5mm prime doesn’t actually move – it’s just for show – although the camera does allow for ‘manual focus’ via the touchscreen.

The lenses are constructed of a mostly plastic body and are extremely lightweight. I definitely wouldn’t suggest getting them wet, as they don’t appear to have any sort of weather-sealing. The lens mounts are made of a plastic composite material.

Oddly, the 42.5mm prime (85mm equiv.) doesn’t offer true manual focus – the ‘focus ring’ is purely cosmetic. You are able to adjust the focus with an up and down arrow via the touchscreen interface. In any case offering a prime lens, particularly a portrait-friendly 85mm equivalent one, is a really nice touch and is sure to please folks moving from a fixed-lens smartphone to an ILC platform.

Being that this camera is on the Micro Four Thirds platform, YI claims that it will be compatible with more than 50 other lens options. We’ve tried several Panasonic and Olympus MFT lenses and they all seem to work well, so that’s very promising.

The YI M1 offers five JPEG shooting modes: a high contrast black and white mode, a standard black and white mode, portrait, vivid, and lastly a standard shooting mode. Unfortunately you currently aren’t able to shoot Raw + JPEG, so you will have to decide which format you would like to shoot in before heading out with the camera.

Autofocus

In terms of autofocus the YI M1 has an 81-point contrast-detect AF system with touch-to-focus/shoot. It also offers face detection and both AF-S and AF-C shooting modes. It’s also important to note that the AF also lacks any sort of subject tracking outside of face detection.

Autofocus is possible during video capture, but only in a complete auto mode where you have no ability to specify your subject. Unfortunately, the YI lacks a dedicated AF control switch (there’s no way to switch between manual and auto focus without entering the menu system), which makes switching AF shooting modes a bit difficult. Novices coming to the YI may find they’ll need to pay more attention to their autofocus point placement than they did with their smartphone.

Video

The M1 has several video shooting modes- the highlight of which is its ability to shoot in 4K/30p. It also offers 2K/30p, Full HD 1080p and 720 at 60, 30 and 24p. Autofocus is available while shooting video in the form of complete auto AF-C, but if you’re using the 12-40mm F3.5-5.6 zoom lens you will also have the ability to use manual focus with focus peaking, which can definitely come in handy because the autofocus is fairly slow to lock focus while in video mode.

Body and Handling

The build quality of the YI M1 is quite impressive for an entry-level ILC. It feels very well-built in-hand and the majority of the components of the body itself appear to be constructed of a very sturdy composite material coupled with an all-metal lens mount. It’s not weather-sealed at all, but nor are its rivals at this price.

In hand

The camera features an anti-slip rubber grip, so holding it like this for long periods of time is very easy. The large 3″ LCD screen makes composing images fairly simple. The dial located just to the right of the flash hot-shoe acts as your shooting mode selector. The red video record button can also be found in the center. The button just under the finger is used to adjust shutter speed and aperture.

The grip has an anti-slip rubber coating for easy handling and the mode dial is fairly easy to access and adjust with one hand while holding the camera. The main mode dial offers a variety of shooting modes including a ‘super professional guide’ that works with templates that you will be able to download from the YI app. The company claims that you will be able to ‘create high quality images just as you are having a master by your side.’ The video recording button can be found in the center of the mode dial.

The camera’s Micro-USB and Micro-HDMI ports can be accessed via the memory card slot door, and the camera utilizes SD/SDHC/SDXC storage cards.

The Micro-USB and HDMI ports can be found in the same location as the memory card slot. This can be a bit cumbersome for charging the camera and leaves the memory card slot exposed. The YI M1 can utilize SD/SDHC/SDXC format storage cards. The camera comes with a built in hot shoe for a flash but YI has made no mention of a flash on their website and the current kit doesn’t include one.

User Interface

The concept of using a touchscreen almost exclusively isn’t necessarily a new idea. That being said, it would have been nice to include a few more buttons to make accessing frequently used functions such as AF modes and the ISO settings a bit easier. The 3″ LCD touchscreen is large and fairly responsive, but often feels laggy next to better implementations (like your smartphone).

In this screen capture you can see the various exposure controls on the left side of the M1’s touchscreen. The ‘F’ stands for Aperture, the ‘S’ for shutter and ‘EV’ displays the real time metering for exposure control.

Exposure parameters are changed via a combination of the top dial and touchscreen. In P mode, the dial controls exposure compensation, which frankly makes more sense than the ‘Program Shift’ behavior of the main dial on most cameras. In A/S/M modes the top dial controls the main exposure parameter (F-number in M mode), while the remaining parameters (exposure comp. in A/S modes, exposure comp. and S in M mode) are controlled by first tapping the associated on-screen icon. This can be a bit cumbersome, as you have to very deliberately and precisely press the associated icon on-screen so the camera doesn’t accidentally interpret your touch as an attempt to move the AF point. If you want to change the ISO you will need to navigate to the menu to do so, as there isn’t a dedicated ISO button.

Since there are only 3 buttons and two dials on this camera, the menu layout and behavior is extremely important to its overall usability. There are two menus that you are able to navigate to by simply swiping your finger left or right on the main live view screen. If you swipe to the left you will have access to the five main JPEG color modes mentioned earlier and the various ‘Scene’ modes should be in that shooting mode. If you swipe to the right of the live view screen you will enter the main menu screen. The swipes need to be somewhat deliberate, so you may find yourself repeatedly swiping from time to time, especially if you happen to change your focus point while doing so.

The menu items are actually laid out nicely and are really quite easy to navigate (if a little reminiscent of another primarily touchscreen-operated camera). They almost look like App icons, similar to what you would see in a smartphone. The menu items that can be accessed are illuminated in white while the menu items that cannot be accessed are greyed-out. If you plan to shoot in Raw and or in ‘Auto’ mode, be aware that the HDR and Exposure Bracketing menus will all be inaccessible. The ‘Time Lapse’ mode can be used In Raw provided that the camera is set to ‘Program Mode’, ‘Aperture Priority’, ‘Shutter Priority’ and ‘Manual’ modes. Switching to JPEG shooting mode will allow you to utilize all three of these shooting modes in addition to the others in the main menu.

Navigating the sub-menus within the main menu items is very straightforward. The whole experience is similar to navigating the settings menus and Apps in your phone – which is exactly what YI has set out to do.

Connectivity and the YI App

The YI M1 comes with built in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1 LE, which when paired with the YI app, allows for firmware updates, photo sharing and the use of the ‘Super Professional Guide.’ Connecting with the app took a few tries, but once it was connected transferring the full-res JPEGs was a fairly quick process.

The M1 will first pair to the camera’s Bluetooth LE. The screen shot taken here depicts that the camera was successfully paired with the App on my iPhone. The YI App will then pair your phones with the camera’s built in Wi-Fi. After this screen appears you have to go to your Wi-Fi settings and paste the password in the field to connect.

To transfer photos you will first need to generate the JPEG previews on your phone via the app and select the photos which you wish to download. If you hold down the photo selection button with a long press you are able to bulk select photos and download them together.

To transfer a photo simply tap on the JPEG preview and a large preview will appear. Once the preview appears, select download, in either full-res or 1920×1440 JPEG, and the download process will begin.

If a firmware update is available for your camera the app will prompt you to upload the update to your camera once the app has established a secure connection. It takes about 30 seconds for the camera to complete the update via the app, which is really quite convenient.

You can choose from a variety of poses that you can upload to your camera via the YI App. This is what the ‘Super Professional Guide’ looks like when it’s used on the M1. In theory you would line up your subject with this template and take your photo.

The ‘Super Professional Guide’ feature is based around downloadable templates that act as a guide for composing photos. The templates available so far offer several guides for taking portraits in a variety of settings and we would really like to see YI expand the guides to other forms of shooting such as landscapes and cityscapes. After downloading, these templates will become available on the camera once you switch to the ‘Guide’ shooting mode on the main control dial.

Auto ISO Behavior

The M1 offers an Auto ISO range of 200 to 25600. Unfortunately, the ‘Auto’, ‘Scene’ and ‘Panoramic’ shooting modes, likely to be used by many novice users, caps Auto ISO to 3200 and there isn’t currently a way to change that in the settings.

Auto ISO automatically raises ISO once the shutter speed falls at or below 1/100th of a second. Unfortunately, there is no way to change or bias this minimum shutter speed setting. Manual mode doesn’t offer Auto ISO, which means that you will have to manually adjust the ISO in the menu since there isn’t a dedicated ISO button on the camera. This is unfortunately cumbersome.

The Auto ISO settings and behavior make shooting in low-light, or adapting to moving subjects, fairly difficult; the default behavior almost always forced shutter speeds to be fairly slow while in ‘Auto’ mode, which could cause motion blur at times if your hand wasn’t steady enough or if your subject moved. Inability to adjust the minimum shutter speed threshold also means you can’t adapt Auto ISO to deal with fast moving subjects.

Autofocus

The YI M1 has an 81-point contrast-detect AF system with touch-to-focus/shoot. The ‘touch’ features make choosing your focus point fairly easy, but if you swipe to access either of the main control menus you can end up moving your focus point by accident in the process. It’s also worth mentioning that the M1 lacks a dedicated AF control switch, which makes switching AF shooting modes a bit difficult. You can switch from single point AF to continuous AF by pressing the ‘O’ button in the bottom right corner of the camera, but you are unable to switch between manual and auto focus without navigating to the AF menu.

The M1 also offers face detection and both AF-S and AF-C shooting modes. The face detection works fairly well: once a face has been detected the camera does a fairly good job at following the face throughout the frame, although getting the face in focus could be a bit problematic at times. It’s important to note that the AF lacks any sort of subject tracking outside of face detection.

AF performance

We found the AF to be fairly accurate in good light, but it would occasionally fail to focus on the desired target. While in AF-S, the M1 sometimes resorted to focusing on a target in the distance or just wouldn’t refocus at all, which made capturing subjects exhibiting any sort of movement fairly difficult. As expected with a contrast detect system, locking focus on low-contrast subjects proved to be somewhat difficult for the M1, although this has seen considerable improvement with progressive firmware updates. In terms of AF-C performance, we found it to be very unpredictable and mostly unusable due to slow and inconsistent focusing. In fact, the camera completely failed every iteration of our bike test, so we’ve chosen not to include a rollover of (very) unfocused shots here. We would recommend sticking to AF-S.

It’s worth noting that the AF indicator light would sometimes blink ‘green’ for focus confirmation even when the desired target was still slightly out of focus while shooting static or moving subjects. This resulted in capturing out of focus shots that you had assumed were actually in focus at the time of capture.

Manual Focus

Magnifying while in live view to determine if your subject is in focus isn’t currently possible while shooting with autofocus enabled, which can be frustrating if you want to make sure that your subject is in focus before taking a photo. If you’re shooting in manual focus mode the camera offers 2x and 4x magnification, which unfortunately is fairly low in resolution, so it’s quite hard to tell if you’re actually in focus, even with peaking enabled.

The 42.5mm F1.8 prime kit lens doesn’t have a true manual focus ring as the ring is there purely for cosmetic purposes. As a work-around YI developed an interesting way of ‘manually’ focusing the lens via the touchscreen which features an ‘Up-arrow’ and a ‘Down-arrow’ when the prime lens is attached to the camera and you are shooting with manual focus enabled. Using these arrows you are able to adjust your focus point by making small, or very large adjustment in focus via a short or long press of the button, respectively. This feature can also be used while using the 2x and 4x magnification mode via a press of the ‘O’ button on the back of the camera. Unfortunately these features are not available during video capture.

Low-light Autofocus

Focusing in low light proved to be fairly difficult for the M1, as the AF often struggled to acquire focus and would sometimes miss its mark. The AF started to fail between 1 and 2EV, which is slightly worse than we would expect from a contrast detect AF system. It often took more than one try to acquire focus in low light and sometimes the AF would just give up all together. Occasionally the camera would even confirm focus when an object was still clearly out of focus in the resulting image.

Novices coming to the YI may find they’ll need to pay more attention generally to autofocus than they did with their smartphone, checking to ensure focus or selecting high-contrast targets for the camera to more easily focus on.

Video

 The M1 has several video shooting modes, the highlight of which is its ability to shoot in 4K/30p, albeit with a severe crop. It also offers 2K/30p, Full HD 1080 and 720 at 60, 30 and 24p. Unfortunately, the M1 doesn’t offer any video stabilization while in 4K mode but it does offer a very rudimentary form of digital image stabilization (sensor stabilization is not available) while shooting in Full HD mode that seems to be very inconsistent. If you hold the video record button down you are able to preview the crop mode in each of the video recording formats. Once you begin recording, you can start and stop the video by pressing the record button a second time. The video doesn’t feature any menu settings outside of choosing your recording format and the video itself is shot in full-auto mode.

In terms of video quality the 1080/60p video looks quite good and keeps up with the competitors in the market. The sharpening isn’t quite as aggressive as some of the competitors, but the footage does look fairly nice. The 4K video footage shot with the YI 42.5mm F1.8 prime is really nice: the lens exhibits some ghosting but, overall, the 4K footage keeps up with the competition in terms of detail. Ultimately, though, it still falls behind the industry leading Sony a6300.

It’s also worth noting that the M1 has difficulty controlling the white balance while in 4K recording mode. The fluctuation of the white balance causes flickering in the video that is not evident in the 1080/60p footage.

It’s important to mention that the 4K video is automatically shot with the lens set to the maximum aperture, meaning the quality ends up being defined by how good the lens you use is when it’s shot wide open. This is fine with either of YI’s own-brand lenses but may not be with all the lenses you mount, since you don’t have the control to stop down for a better result. The additional demands on the lens brought by the aggressive crop only exacerbate the issue.

Video Autofocus

Autofocus is available while shooting video in the form of full-auto AF. You can choose your focus point prior to entering video mode, but the M1 takes control thereafter giving the user no ability to choose or modify the focus point while recording. Generally speaking, the AF tends to hunt a fair bit before locking focus and this becomes even more apparent in low-light, which can give your footage a distracting, wobbly appearance. The AF point isn’t visible during video capture, which makes determining what you’re actually focusing on impossible. If you’re using the 12-40mm F3.5-5.6 zoom kit lens, you have the ability to use manual focus with focus peaking, which can definitely come in handy. The M1 only offers red focus peaking, which can be a problem if it matches the subject you’re trying to focus on.

 

Overall Conclusion

For YI’s first attempt at a Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera they got a lot of things right, but there’s still room for improvement. The biggest problem at this point is the autofocus. It’s an area where the camera really struggled, especially in low-light or when it came to low contrast subjects, which made shooting in dim or challenging light difficult at times. The M1 can produce some impressive Raw files, but its target audience is going to be geared more toward shooting JPEG with the ‘Auto’ settings that the camera offers. This is another area where unfortunately the camera falls a bit short. The JPEGs that the camera produces are full of detail, but are underwhelming with respect to color and contrast, and the camera offers no in-camera Raw processing to make use of that excellent Raw performance.

Specification

Body type
Body type Rangefinder-style mirrorless
Body material Composite and Metal
Sensor
Max resolution 5184 x 3888
Image ratio w:h 1:1, 4:3, 3:2, 16:9
Effective pixels 20 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors 22 megapixels
Sensor size Four Thirds (17.3 x 13 mm)
Sensor type CMOS
Color space sRGB, Adobe RGB
Color filter array Primary color filter
Image
ISO Auto, 100-25600
White balance presets 4
Custom white balance No
Image stabilization No
Uncompressed format RAW
JPEG quality levels Superfine, fine, normal
File format
  • JPEG (Exif v2.3)
  • DNG
Optics & Focus
Autofocus
  • Contrast Detect (sensor)
  • Multi-area
  • Center
  • Selective single-point
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Touch
  • Face Detection
  • Live View
Autofocus assist lamp Yes
Manual focus Yes
Number of focus points 81
Lens mount Micro Four Thirds
Focal length multiplier 2×
Screen / viewfinder
Articulated LCD Fixed
Screen size 3
Screen dots 1,040,000
Touch screen Yes
Screen type TFT LCD
Live view Yes
Viewfinder type None
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed 60 sec
Maximum shutter speed 1/4000 sec
Exposure modes
  • Panorama
  • Program
  • Shutter Priority
  • Aperture Priority
  • Manual
  • Scene
  • Super Professional Guide (used w/ app)
Scene modes
  • Portrait
  • Landscape
  • Sport
  • Night Scene
  • Candle
  • Sunset
  • Fireworks
  • Beach & Snow
Built-in flash No
External flash Yes (Hot-Shoe)
Flash modes Auto, On, Off, Slow Sync, Red-Eye Slow
Flash X sync speed 1/125 sec
Drive modes
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Self-timer
Continuous drive 5.0 fps
Self-timer Yes (2 or 10 secs)
Metering modes
  • Multi
  • Center-weighted
  • Spot
Exposure compensation ±5 (at 1/3 EV steps)
AE Bracketing (3 frames at 1/3 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV steps)
WB Bracketing Yes (3 frames up to 6 shots)
Videography features
Format MPEG-4, H.264
Modes
  • 3840 x 2160 @ 30p / 75 Mbps, MOV, H.264, AAC
  • 1920 x 1080 @ 60p / 30 Mbps, MOV, H.264, AAC
  • 1920 x 1080 @ 30p / 15 Mbps, MOV, H.264, AAC
  • 1920 x 1080 @ 24p / 15 Mbps, MOV, H.264, AAC
  • 1280 x 720 @ 60p / 15 Mbps, MOV, H.264, AAC
  • 1280 x 720 @ 30p / 10 Mbps, MOV, H.264, AAC
  • 1280 x 720 @ 24p / 10 Mbps, MOV, H.264, AAC
Microphone Stereo
Speaker Mono
Storage
Storage types SD/SDHC/SDXC card
Connectivity
USB USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
HDMI Yes (Micro HDMI)
Microphone port No
Headphone port No
Wireless Built-In
Wireless notes 801.11b/g/n with Bluetooth LE
Remote control Yes (via smartphone)
Physical
Environmentally sealed No
Battery Battery Pack
Battery description BXM-10 lithium-ion battery & charger
Battery Life (CIPA) 450
Weight (inc. batteries) 281 g (0.62 lb / 9.91 oz)
Dimensions 114 x 64 x 34 mm (4.49 x 2.52 x 1.34)
Other features
Orientation sensor Yes
Timelapse recording Yes (MP4)
GPS None

Lens Specifications:

Lens YI 12-40mm F3.5-5.6 Lens YI 42.5mm F1.8 Lens
Lens Mount Micro Four Thirds Mount Micro Four Thirds Mount
Focus Length 12-40mm
(35mm equivalent focal length
with 24-80mm range)
42.5mm
(35mm equivalent focal length
with 85mm range)
Maximum Aperture F3.5-5.6 F1.8
Angle 84.1°-30.3° 29°
Form 9 sets of 11 optical glasses 6 sets of 6 optical glasses
Aperture Range F3.5-22 F1.8-22
Shooting Range 0.35m-∞ 0.5m-∞ (Normal)
0.25m-∞ (Macro)
Focus Mode AF, MF AF
Diameter x Length Ø58.3mm x 63mm Ø56.5mm x 61mm
Lens Hood Installation Mount (lens hood sold separately) Twist (lens hood sold separatel)
Filter Caliber 49mm 49mm

Package included:

1 x Yi M1 Mirrorless Digital Camera
1 x Yi 12-40mm F3.5-5.6 Lens
1 x USB Cable
1 x Strap
1 x Body Cap
1 x Lens Cap
1 x Power Adapter(US)(a Plug Converter will be delivered for free depend on your shipping country)
1 x Battery
1 x User Manual

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