I got my hands on a very interesting piece of tech from a subsidiary of Xiaomi, the XiaoYi M1, often shortened to just the Yi M1.
The M1 is a mirrorless camera with incredible specs (on paper) and a rock bottom price to match. It uses the same sensor as the much more expensive Panasonic GX8 and is capable of shooting 4K video at 30fps, all for the low low price of $330.
Surprisingly, Yi’s marketing team did not point this in the direction of DSLRs and more expensive mirrorless cameras, but instead at point and shoots. Their spiel was something along these lines: “There is a huge market of people looking for more power than a traditional point and shoot or smartphones, but are not ready for DSLRs just yet”.
Enter the Yi M1, touted as the perfect replacement. Let’s get on with the unboxing.
YI M1 Specifications
|Sensor||Sony IMX269 20MP Sensor|
|Display||3” 2 million dot TFT|
|Kit Lens||12 – 40mm F3.5 – 5.6 lens|
|Optional Lens||42.5mm F1.8 lens|
|Platform||Mirrorless Micro 4/3 Mount|
|Physical Dimensions||0.28kg, 11.35 x 3.36 x 6.43 cm|
Big thanks to Gearbest for providing this review unit.
YI M1 Unboxing
The Yi M1 comes in a very classy black cardboard box that wouldn’t look bad at all on a shelf as decoration.
Open it up and you find the camera body and two lenses sitting in foam (the kit with one lens is cheaper). Take them all out and underneath is the battery, charger, and manual. Nice box, it will definitely look nice on my shelf. I just have to find a bag for this camera now…
YI M1 Hands On
What really surprised me was how tiny the camera body was. The picture below shows three cameras side by side, the Canon Rebel T3, Panasonic G7, and the Yi M1. The T3 looks and feels absolutely gargantuan, the G7 being manageable, and the M1 feeling positively tiny. The M1’s body easily slides into my jeans pocket, but place a lens on it and it gets a lot bulkier.There don’t seem to be a lot of physical controls here, most everything is controlled by the touchscreen.The two lenses are both plastic. The larger one is the kit lens from 12-40 f5.6 and the other being the 40mm prime lens. I found it weird that the prime lens had a physical focus ring, but it didn’t work!At first, I was ready to ask for a replacement under warranty but then after reading other reviews, the focus ring is not supposed to work, it’s just cosmetic.
I also tried fitting my Panasonic G Vario kit lens and my Sigma 40mm Prime lens and both worked.
YI M1 First Impressions
The software on the camera itself runs quite smoothly, not as smoothly as a brand new out-of-the-box Google Pixel or iPhone 7, but close. I know that’s not completely apples to apples, but speaking strictly about fluidity and speed, that should be enough information.
Even though the specifications on the M1 are technically as good or better than my Panasonic G7, I do not expect it to take better photos. I took a few quick shots with the kit lens, check out the sample images below.
YI M1 My First Thoughts
What Xiaoyi has done here is pack in DSLR (or mirrorless in this case) level specifications inside a point and shoot body. The unboxing experience and first impressions of the camera itself have mostly been positive. I’m not one to roam the city looking for cool things to photograph, but that’s exactly what I’ll be doing. My full review will be coming soon.
You can buy the Yi M1 here.