YI Enters Mirrorless Market with the M1

Written by Andrew Maxwell

Action camera enthusiasts will most probably be familiar with the YI brand, thanks to the positive reviews accumulated by the Chinese company’s products in that market. Now, it seems, a whole other group of consumers are about to learn about YI, as it attempts to break into the consumer-level ILC market.

YI’s first-ever mirror-free camera is called the YI M1. Its user interface is almost completely based on its touchscreen capabilities. This adds a new dimension to a product which already builds on the success of YI’s popular action cameras.

The company is aiming the YI M1 at young, creative types who aren’t satisfied with the limited capabilities of smartphone cameras. This group might not be ready to dive into the world of mirrorless platforms or DSLR yet, meaning that the YI M1 suits their needs perfectly. In fact, the company’s name – YI – may sound very Chinese, but it is actually an English acronym for ‘young innovators’ – precisely the company’s target demographic.

With this product, you’ll find a 20MP Four Thirds sensor, a three-inch 1.04M-dot touchscreen LCD and an 81-point Contrast Detect AF System. It has one-touch image capture and one-touch focus, and maximum video resolution is 4K at 30fps. The Sony IMX269 has a good name for itself, and the 20MP CMOS sensor outputs DNG files.

The interface looks a lot like a smartphone, with only two external buttons and a touchscreen. It is clearly not, however, when you consider that the camera comes with the 12-40mm zoom, the 42.5mm prime or as a dual-lens kit. This dual-lens kit features both the zoom and prime lens, in addition to a USB charging brick, micro USB cable and camera strap. The kit doesn’t include a flash, but the camera has a hot shoe for external flash.

YI’s ILC starter kit contains both a prime lens and a zoom – another indicator of the company’s intention to make waves in this new market. One prime is a macro-capable 42.5mm F1.8 prime, in addition to a 12-40mm F3.5-5.6 zoom. Both of these have image stabilization. The lenses are lightweight and have plastic bodies, whereas the lens mounts are made of a plastic composite.
You can adjust the focus through the interface, by pressing an up or down arrow. You can’t actually adjust the focus manually with it. You do have other lens options, being that the M1 uses the Micro Four Thirds platform, which should give you access to around 50 other lens types.

YI 12 – 40mm F3.5 – 5.6 lens
  • Focal lens: 12 – 40mm
  • Maximum Aperture: F3.5 – 5.6
  • FOV: 84.1 degree – 30.3 degree
  • Lens Structure: 9 group 11pcs
  • Aperture Range: F3.5 – 22
  • Shooting Distance: 0.35m and more
  • Focal Mode: AF / MF
  • Diameter: 58.3mm x 63mm
  • Filter Diameter: 49mm
YI 42.5mm F1.8 lens
  • Focal lens: 42.5mm
  • Maximum Aperture: F1.8
  • FOV: 29 degree
  • Lens Structure: 6 group 6pcs
  • Aperture Range: F1.8 – 22
  • Shooting Distance: 0.5m and more ( normal ) / 0.25m and more ( macro )
  • Focal Mode: AF
  • Diameter: 56.5mm x 61mm
  • Filter Diameter: 49mm

The shooting modes available are:

  • black and white
  • high contrast
  • black and white standard
  • vivid
  • standard shooting

It also has face detection and AF-S and AF-C shooting modes. You can use autofocus when shooting video, although this is fully automatic, so you have no opportunity to guide the lens. Apart from 4K/30fps, you can also shoot in 2K/30fps, Full HD 1080p and 720p at 60fps, 30fps and 24fps.

The YI M1 is available in Strom Black and Ice Silver. The standard 12-40mm zoom lens kit costs approximately $499 and is available at both Banggood and GearBest while the dual lens kit (12-40mm f3.5 – 5.6 with 42.5mm f1.8) costs $582.

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Andrew Maxwell

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