Is Xiaomi Yi Action Camera a travel camera?

Came to me Xiaomi Yi Action Camera. This is my first Chinese action camera ... And indeed the first camera of this format. Prior to that, more and more DSLRs / mirrorless / telephone / soap dishes were filming videos. But there was a need and desire to try action cameras, and I got a lot of things advised in the comments. One such camera was Xiaomi Yi from a famous Chinese brand..

They gave me this camera for a test. To be honest, I asked for the SJ5000 + because the reviews about it were at first glance better, but they were sent by Xiaomi. Hopefully after a while I will have 1-2 more cameras and I can compare which is better. Looking ahead, I will say that I liked the camera from Xiaomi and did not like it..

The content of the article

Where can I buy

The Xiaomi Yi Action camera was provided to me by the Chinese online store Banggood. There you can also find a description, specifications, price and the ability to order. They usually sell it for $ 80-90, in Moscow they are more expensive.

But you can take a camera on Aliexpress. There are a million options with it, for example, this one, sold immediately with a set of mounts, aqua box, or a naked camera, you can choose.

Life hack - when shopping on Aliexpress, you can get cashback up to 11% through the EPN service (they have a browser plugin, an application for phones). I wrote everything in great detail in my instructions, what is it and how to use it.

Pros and cons of the Xiaomi Yi camera

Cons and first acquaintance

I'll start from the very beginning, with an acquaintance. I had to spend a couple of hours before I could start using the camera. It is too long! I'm already used to the fact that I turned it on and without instructions, everything is intuitively clear. I remember bought mirrorless Sony a6000 right before the flight to Poland, and already at the airport, just taking it out of the package, began to use it. Note that the camera is pretty sophisticated, but everything is clear. And here is a small box with a couple of buttons, and first spend 2 hours on the Internet.

Xiaomi Yi Action camera review

Xiaomi Yi Action camera review

  • When you turn on the camera, for some reason it turns out to be in photo mode, although this is a video camera! That is, I press-press the shutter button, and the camera takes pictures. Not logical. Moreover, if I switch to video mode and turn off the camera, then it does not remember it and, when turned on, it again appears in the photo mode. Yes, there is a setting in which mode the camera will turn on, but how to change it is below.
  • The camera settings are changed only through the application in the smartphone, which is not in Google Play. The Android version must be from 4.1 and the phone processor is not Intel (I'm not sure about the processor, but I met such information) .UPDATE. The app is already on Google Play.
  • There is no screen, even if for the menu.
  • Illegal indicators, and I did not immediately understand how everything works.
  • After turning on the camera, the main indicator lights up and a beep sounds. However, this does not mean that the camera is ready for use. We have to wait somewhere else 10-15 seconds. Why was it not possible to indicate this moment with a signal? UPDATE. After updating the firmware, the camera turns on in a few seconds and the indicators now blink more clearly.
  • The camera gets very hot when you transfer pictures and videos from it.
  • The camera is very sensitive to the cable, I only got the 3rd one. UPDATE. You just need to transfer from a flash drive through a card reader.
  • The cover that covers the USB, flash drives and HDMI connectors is rather small and easy to lose. I would make it with attachment to the body.
  • Poor package: only camera, battery, USB cable. The Travel version also has a monopod.
  • Not every third-party monopod will work, because the screw hole is very short, it is impossible to tighten the screw all the way and the camera dangles. The solution is to make a rubber washer and fit it onto the monopod screw. On the other hand, it is convenient that at least the thread is standard.
  • Some specimens have out of focus - sharply only close, a dull sound - as if someone plugged the microphone hole with a finger (and this is without boxing!), And there is a problem of self-discharge in the off state. There is a solution, but they are not trivial, I will talk about them below. I have only a bad sound of these problems.

Camera pros and second impressions

  • Dimensions. I decided to write this point, although all action cameras are very small. It's just that now I don't want to shoot a video with something bulky..
  • Video. He shoots well, I liked the quality. But I have nothing to compare with, only with the Sony a6000 and Canon 7d, with which it is not at all correct to compare. In general, the quality for a blog will be enough for me for sure.
  • Low price. It costs around $ 70-90, plus or minus, green is a little more expensive. And now, as I said, in general for $ 70 you can buy.
  • GoPro accessories can be used via adapter.
  • Working hours. In 1080p mode 25fps will work for about 1 hour 50 minutes.

I will add my impressions after the main issues have been resolved. Shooting action with a camera is very cool! What a delight! It is really convenient that you can put it in a regular pocket and then quickly get it out at any time. In an outstretched hand, it is not felt at all, it's not like holding a DSLR when your hand gets tired after a few minutes. It is convenient that there are few buttons, you won't accidentally press anywhere while you twirl it and shift it from hand to hand while shooting (that's why I don't like to shoot video with my smartphone).

I will not describe the quality of photos and videos. There are a lot of examples on the net, in each review, both in text and on youtube, it is not difficult to find. As I said, the video quality suits me, only the stabilizer is missing, there is a shake when moving. The quality of the photo does not really care, because there is a separate camera and a smartphone. Below are some photos and a short video.


Photo without any processing. The article displays resizes, and by clicking on resize, the original will open in a pop-up Lightbox, from where you can download and view it. Well, or immediately download from the link (each photo refers to the original).

Blurred around the edges

Blurred around the edges

Just a view from the window

Just a view from the window

If you shoot from the floor, you can see very clearly the focus setting.

If you shoot from the floor, you can see very clearly the focus setting.

Against the sun and also from the floor

Against the sun and also from the floor

At night from the floor (blue from the camera indicator)

At night from the floor (blue from the camera indicator)

It is more difficult to remove from hands, it turns out blurry (this is the best photo out of 3)

It is more difficult to remove from hands, it turns out blurry (this is the best photo out of 3)


The first part of the video was shot with a Xiaomi Yi Action camera, the second part with a Sony a6000 camera. I specially inserted a piece of video where I did not do anything with the sound, so that its volume and quality were clear.

Xiaomi Yi Camera Features

The disadvantages I listed can be considered features. And for one it is straight minus or minus, for another nonsense, not worthy of attention. You probably already understood my opinion, so excuse me, I will tell through the prism of my vision. For those who take the camera in hand for the first time, I hope it will be useful, because most of the information from the forums is omitted in reviews.

Camera control

Camera control, as far as I understand, is pretty common. There are two buttons: the first is On / Off and it is also Photo / Video, and the second is the shutter release for video or photos. The camera turns on with a short press, switches to Photo / Video with a second short press on the same button, and turns off with a long one. The shutter button also works in a standard way, for the video mode: one press - Start, the second press - Stop; for photo mode: press = photograph.

Around the camera power button there is a ring light, the color of which indicates the battery level: blue 50-100%, purple 15-49%, red 1-14%.

Front On / Off and Photo / Video, Top Start / Stop

Front On / Off and Photo / Video, Top Start / Stop

But the indication of the modes can be confusing. Near the shutter button there is a red LED responsible for the mode. How do I know the algorithm of the indicator? It is like this: if the indicator is off, then this is a photo mode, if it is on, then a video mode, if it flashes continuously, then a video recording is in progress. It seems nothing complicated, but all my life I believed that the burning of a red light means video recording, so I did not immediately understand how everything worked. Perhaps this is the principle in all action cameras..

Further. The indication of the shooting process is also a little confusing at the beginning, I would only mean the shutter release itself. The Xiaomi camera has a double indication: you press the button (squeak), after a while the shutter is released (squeak + blinking). «For a while» maybe 1-2 sec.

Camera settings can be changed via smartphone

All camera settings can only be changed through applications in the smartphone. Including the same ill-fated regime «Photo» when the camera is turned on. I think this is not a very convenient solution. Not only is it necessary to always have a phone with you, but in general the connection to the phone appears, which is why the camera ceases to be an independent device. And if there is no smartphone, is it broken, discharged? At least switching video modes would be done, just one more button with cyclic switching. In addition, if I want, for example, to give the camera to another person to use, then I will have to install the application on his phone. And if there is no internet?

But okay, this is nit-picking, although I concluded for myself that it would be more convenient for me to have the menu right in the camera. In general, I liked using the application, everything works without problems and the functionality is good. Conveniently, you can put the camera somewhere, connect your phone and see what is in the frame.

PC connection

The next nuance, which I have already listed in the minuses, is the sensitivity to the quality of the USB cable. And so much so that the native cord from the kit can be thrown away. It's funny, I checked 3 cables and only one liked the camera (every other time), but they are all working and through them I easily transfer something to my smartphone. With the rest, when connected to a MacBook, the camera either did not see at all, or it hung tightly so that it was necessary to pull out the battery. Judging by the forum, on Windows everything is the same, but it all depends on the specific instance, someone does not have such problems. What's on Windows, what's on Mac OX, the camera is detected as a USB flash drive.

Thus, you need a microSD card reader or an SD card reader and a microSD to SD adapter. It is this option that I now use. You can also see photos and videos by transferring them to your smartphone using the application.


The firmware can be downloaded from the official website or installed via the app. But you need to know your serial number, which is located under the battery on the camera. The fact is that the camera has 6 revisions, and depending on them, the firmware is different. If the firmware is from a different revision, then you can get a bricked camera. That is why it is better to download on the site only by serial.

Problem solving

I will not dwell in detail, but you and I are lucky, the solution to many problems has already been found, since the camera has been on sale for several months and the craftsmen are not asleep. As I understand, the components in the camera (microphone, lens) are from different manufacturers, and therefore everything depends on a specific instance, some are lucky, some are not. It also happens that the focus is out of order, but the sound is good, or the focus is excellent, and the sound is dull.

  • Bad focus. The most common problem occurs with black lenses. It is necessary to disassemble the camera and turn the lens (instructions one and two). It may not work out all at once.
  • Quiet sound. To improve it a little, you need to disassemble the camera and remove the cloth from the microphone. But in any case, you should not expect anything special from the sound, only if the microphone is soldered at all. Search YouTube for instructional videos.
  • Self-discharge when off. It is necessary to disassemble and tuck the dielectric under the board (video instruction).
  • The camera writes video in chunks of 15-30 seconds, interrupting and losing part of the video. The solution is to replace the USB flash drive with a better and faster one. I have such a problem, but it appears at the end of the flash drive (when it is almost over), so I scored.


Xiaomi Yi did not make a very good impression because of its jambs: I went through USB cables to connect to a computer, downloaded different versions of applications from the forum, googled about the work of indicators, made an elastic band for a monopod. In general, I spent the whole evening on all these ordeals, instead of going out and starting to shoot. In principle, you can get used to almost all the shortcomings (considering the price of the device), they are not critical. Even binding the camera to a smartphone does not bother you later, because you often do not need to change the settings, set the mode (for example, 1080p 30fps) and use it in most cases.

Therefore, the main disadvantage is the technical problems of the camera (focus, sound, self-discharge). Yes, they are also sometimes solvable, but getting into the camera is not quite a civilized approach, it seems to me. My copy has a bad sound (the focus is ok), but I don't have a screwdriver at hand in China now and I have no time to look for it, so I can't fix it, I'll do it only when I return to Moscow.

As long as I have a Xiaomi Yi camera, I will use it for a while, I will just understand whether I need an action camera and what I need from it (while I know for sure, I need a louder sound, but maybe the level will be enough after fixing the bug). Then I can buy myself something like Sony HDR-AS100V, it is also inexpensive, and everything is in order with sound and focus, there is a screen for changing settings, and there is a stabilizer, albeit an electronic one..

Which camera to choose for travel?

I still have a question. Are there cameras of similar size but better quality? Let it be more, even if only with moisture protection (just from rain, not for diving), albeit with fewer mounts, albeit with an electronic stub, but writing normal sound and video?

There is a difference, really, what to carry with you?

There is a difference, however, what to carry with you?

Many people appeal to the fact that there is not much to demand from the Action Camera format, because why do you need to record normal sound, when you are snowboarding down a mountain, you still put music on it. Why do you need a super duper video if it's mostly selfies, not professional landscape photography or Timelaps. I agree, that's right. An action camera is needed, first of all, for extreme people.

But how to be NOT extreme travelers who do not want to carry a DSLR / mirrorless camera with them, and who would be more convenient to shoot themselves and everything around in a small box, commenting on everything that happens during the trip?