The growing presence of oriental companies (and Chinese in particular) al Mobile World Congress Barcelona has been a fact for many years now. However, among the many Asian stands, we did not have any difficulty in identifying that of YI Technology, a manufacturer that has been operating for some time in the field of action cam and who gave us for one day to try his new one mirrorless YI M1.
The Chinese brand, we remember, is known for its collaboration with Xiaomi, giant that this year has marked one of the weightless absences of the Catalan kermesse. Thanks also to this partnership, in the past we have already had the opportunity to review and appreciate several YI Technology products. This article, however, given the short time we had the product under test, does not intend to be a complete review (we refer you toarticle on the launch for complete specifications) but, rather, one choral collection (from all the editors) of impressions and comparisons about the economy mirrorless m4 / 3.
YI M1 Mirrorless, a day of testing and comparison from the MWC 2017
The first contact with the camera from 20 mega-pixels it was quite positive, and in particular, it struck us the premium appearance of the elegant black packaging given to us by YI Technology's hostesses. Inside the kit we found the mirrorless, the classic equipment of accessories (battery, charger, shoulder strap, manuals ...) e two lenses XIAOYI LENS, not stabilized, produced by the same company. In particular, this is a zoom 12-40 mm f / 3.5-5.6 and a telephoto lens 42.5 mm (85 mm equivalent) f / 1.8.
Taking the camera body in hand, we immediately agreed on the impressive lightness and compactness of the mirrorless. He did not hit the integrated, of fixed type, and the lack of an electronic viewfinder, features that made the camera a bit unpleasant to several staff members. The lenses are also extremely light, but the absence of tropicalization and the abundant use of plastic have prompted us to treat them with great care.
YI M1 and Lumix G7, some comparative shots
The mirrorless is compatible with the m4 / 3 flange fitting, which prompted us to carry out some comparative tests with the Lumix G7 owned by our good Roberto. Taking advantage of the availability of excellent cookies, offered at the MWC 2107 Media Village, we have therefore taken some macro in medium light conditions.
To avoid that the results are spoiled by the skill of the photographer, the machine was used only in automatic mode and entrusted to a hand without the malice of the trade. In all the photos (even those taken with the Lumix G7) we also used the same objectives (those that were provided by the Chinese manufacturer).
As you can see from the pictures, the differences with the much more expensive G7 can be easily noticed. THE contours of the picture taken by the M1 appear less sharp, more colors kneaded e less hot and, on a careful analysis, also the background noise it does not stand comparison.
After a small snack, we then moved to an outdoor area that, given the slightly gloomy sky, allowed us to try the car in a context of strong natural light. So we took some other macro, before finally trying to zoom. Just confirm our initial impressions, this time the M1 is good on white but disappointing on the front of the dynamic range.
Two subjects chosen to test the second optics: the mass of people moving in the open area and a sign that stands out against the blue sky. In the first case, we can immediately notice the light overexposure of the M1 (clearly visible from the "burned" sky), which it also negatively affects details and color. For example, observe the prohibition sign in the center of the photo: the differences are self-explanatory.
The situation is decidedly better in the second case, where overexposure leaves room for one good dynamic range e well-tinted colors, substantially identical to those of the G7. Looking at the details, however, we can see that there is a striking "ladder effect", a sign of how the Jpeg compression M1 does not work perfectly.
The mirrorless has therefore accompanied us during a long walk through the stands of the fair and there are of course the opportunity to make some shots on the fly. Good, at this juncture, the behavior of the Chinese m4 / 3: comparable jeep photos, excellent blacks in the photo of the nubia banner, correct the white of the electric car (ma disappoints once again dynamic range).
YI M1 Mirrorless, use impressions
The YI M1 can count on extremely valid specifications and does well in many ways, but it also gave us some disappointments. Very far from perfection, for example, the management of the focus (AF-S and AF-C to 81 contrast points), which often appears extremely slow and inaccurate. In the case of fixed focal optics, then, the manual focus it is particularly uncomfortable: in fact, the typical physical ring is not present and the least precise must therefore be used touch screen, through two "darts" to manually manage the fire.
These problems become evident in low light conditions and penalize the Chinese mirrorless in video shooting. Our Michele has tried this function and the results, as you can see from the video, are not exciting.
Moving tointerface, we could say that the new M1 in this respect is more similar to a smartphone that to a classic mirrorless. The physical commands, in fact, are reduced to the essentials and even simple actions like the selection of the type of focus (automatic or manual) are not delegated to physical buttons but to actions on the display.
Unfortunately, this choice turned out to be poco appreciated by most of our staff: those accustomed to the use of camera bodies of a certain level will find it uncomfortable, while those more accustomed to the touch world will notice the mediocre reactivity of the screen, not up to what is offered by today's high-end smartphone.
It's time to say goodbye to M1 ...
The time spent in the company of the first mirrorless YI technology did not allow us to try the camera from all points of view, but those few hours have left us with quite clear and definite impressions on the merits and defects of the product. There YI M1in particular, we thought it was a hybrid machine, halfway between a smartphone and a good mirrorless for interface, potentiality and versatility.
Its strengths are the lightness, the excellent Sony sensor and the list price of only 459 € on Amazon (for the telephoto kit, go to 619 € for what also includes zoom). Prices that, of course, are lowered further on well-known international stores.
These are features that would make it ideal as a camera for transition or learning, if not accompanied by some serious shortcomings (electronic viewfinder, physical commands, flash ...) and the biggest weakness of this camera: the focus.
In our comparison with the Lumix G7, mirrorless of higher price range (the only body on Amazon is at 550 Euro) and known to the fans, the YI M1 is defeated but without disfiguring. In short, we could say that the Chinese producer has worked well and, improving few aspects, could give the market a really interesting product. On the other hand we do not feel to recommend this product if not to those who are willing to spend a few seconds more for the focus of the scene and especially want versatility and lightness in your m4 / 3.
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