Basic Specifications
Full model name: YI M1
Resolution: 20.16 Megapixels
Sensor size: 4/3
(17.3mm x 13.0mm)
Kit Lens: 3.33x zoom
12-40mm
(24-80mm eq.)
Viewfinder: No / LCD
Native ISO: 100 - 25,600
Extended ISO: 100 - 25,600
Shutter: 1/4000 - 60 sec
Dimensions: 4.5 x 2.5 x 1.3 in.
(114 x 64 x 34 mm)
Weight: 9.9 oz (280 g)
includes batteries
Availability: 12/2016
Manufacturer: YI
Full specs: YI M1 specifications

Your purchases support this site

Kit with 12-40mm lens (Black)
  • Kit with 12-40mm lens (Black)
  • Kit with 12-40mm & 42.5mm lenses (Silver)
B&H Sweepstake Rules M1 Deals
20.16
Megapixels
Micro Four Thirds 4/3
size sensor
image of YI M1
Front side of YI M1 digital camera Front side of YI M1 digital camera Front side of YI M1 digital camera Front side of YI M1 digital camera Front side of YI M1 digital camera

M1 Summary

The Chinese made-and-designed YI M1 (or YI Camera) offers a quality, name-brand Four Thirds-format Sony Exmor sensor and a broadly-supported Micro Four Thirds lens mount at a jaw-dropping sub-$300 pricetag, and that's with a 12-40mm kit lens. So is there a catch, and if so what is it? You can find the answer to this and plenty else besides in our YI M1 Review!

Pros

Cheap as chips (and with a kit lens!); Quality Sony Exmor Four Thirds sensor; Widely-supported Micro Four Thirds lens mount; Good image quality from raw files; Reasonable burst performance for price; 4K video capture.

Cons

Poor ergonomics; Controls too easily bumped; Frustrating user interface; Mediocre JPEG image quality; Heavy-handed noise reduction; Unreliable white balance; No raw+JPEG; Buffer is almost nonexistent; Focus confirmation beep happens while still focusing; AF is poor in low light; Laggy user interface in playback; Extreme crop for 4K video; Kit lenses feel cheap; No bundled flash.

Price and availability

The YI M1 started shipping in October 2016 in three different kits. The 12-40mm zoom kit had a suggested retail price of around US$500, the 42.5mm prime kit at around US$600, and the twin-lens kit at around US$700. As of this writing (September 2017), street pricing has been slashed by almost half from the list pricing, with the 12-40mm kit now costing around US$300, and the twin-lens kit around US$380. Curiously, the 42.5mm kit is still retailing at US$450, meaning that you actually pay an extra $70 not to have the 12-40mm zoom in the kit. That likely suggests the prime-only kit isn't actually being promoted any more in the US market. Available colors are "Ice Silver" and "Storm Black".

Imaging Resource rating

2.5 out of 5.0

YI M1 Review

by Mike Tomkins
Review posted: 09/18/2017

Updates:
03/21/2017: Gallery posted
03/28/2017: Field Test Part I posted
07/31/2017: Field Test Part II posted
09/18/2017: Conclusion posted

Not familiar with the YI Technology brandname? Fear not, you haven't missed anything: The Chinese company is a newcomer to the interchangeable-lens camera marketplace, and to the Micro Four Thirds mirrorless format in particular. The YI-M1 is YI Tech's first interchangeable-lens model, and offers quite a lot of camera -- including the same image sensor as in the Panasonic GX8 -- for a whole lot less money. What do we think of it? Read on and find out!

YI M1 Field Test Part I

It's amazingly affordable, but are its quirks worth the money you'll save?

by Mike Tomkins |

"Made in China": It's a label which often comes in for derision, but that's largely unfair. Truth be told, China is just as capable of producing a quality product as any other major manufacturing center, if not more so. We've reviewed many excellent Chinese-manufactured cameras over the years. And every day, quality products such as Apple's incredibly popular iPhone series are shipped from Chinese factories, yet nobody suggeststhoseto be somehow subpar.

Truth be told, China's unwelcome reputation for subpar quality has more to do with companies aiming to manufacture their products at a bargain-basement pricetag than it has to do with the factories turning them out. Spend enough on getting the right design and production processes in place, and "Made in China" can be a mark of quality. Skimp and cut corners, and your product would likely have been a disappointment even were it made in a country with a better reputation like Japan, Germany or the United States. (It's just that companies choosing to build products in those countries are already paying more than they would to do so in China, and so cutting corners likely isn't in their nature.)

YI M1 Field Test Part II

Can firmware updates fix the Yi Camera's frustrating user experience?

by Mike Tomkins |

It's been quite a while since I posted my first field test of XiaoYi's eponymously-named Yi M1, also known as the Yi Camera. The initial reason for the delay in returning with my second field test was that I was waiting on the arrival of updated firmware, which the company's booth staff had told me was on the way back at the Consumer Electronics Show in early January. And as time rolled on, other, newer cameras ended up being a higher priority for review, leaving our Yi M1 review awaiting the remainder of its writeup. I don't like to leave things half done, though, and so I'm now returning to wrap up with my second field test!

A quick recap of my first Yi Camera field test
In my first test, I noted that while the fact that it's made in China is not really that unusual these days, the Yi M1 is definitely noteworthy for the fact that it was also designed in China. But while its extremely affordable pricetag impresses -- it can be picked up new and with a zoom lens for under $300, another $50 cheaper than at the time of my last field test -- I wasn't such a fan of its ergonomics and user interface.

The Yi Camera's build is pretty solid, admittedly, and it looks reasonably attractive too. But it's uncomfortable in-hand, and I had concerns with its controls as well. (And I've continued to do so in shooting my second field test, frequently bumping the too-easily-turned exposure compensation dial by mistake, in particular.)

YI M1 Conclusion

Find out if this Chinese newcomer can compete with the big boys

by Mike Tomkins |

The YI M1 is the first Chinese designed-and-made camera we've reviewed...
When I started my review of the YI M1, I really wanted to like this super-affordable, compact little camera. It's the first entirely Chinese-derived standalone camera I've reviewed, being not just manufactured but also designed by XiaoYi, a company that's built quite a reputation in the smartphone space. (You may also know them by their original name, XiaoMi, as well as by their overseas brand, YI Technology.)

And as it happens, XiaoYi's headquarters in Shenzhen is just a stone's throw from my one-time home in Hong Kong, where I was born and spent the first half of my life. With Shenzhen being almost an extension of Hong Kong on the mainland, the Yi Camera felt almost like a home team effort to me.

And I know from experience that Shenzhen can turn out some seriously impressive products. For example, DJI Technologies is now known internationally for its drones and camera stabilization rigs, but it, too, is a Shenzhen-based company. (In fact, DJI stands for "Da-Jiang Innovations".)

 

Buy the YI M1

Your purchases support this site

Kit with 12-40mm lens (Black)
  • Kit with 12-40mm lens (Black)
  • Kit with 12-40mm & 42.5mm lenses (Silver)
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