Review: $350 Leica Copy

What could possibly go wrong with a $350 camera that claims to do it all? Kaiman Wong takes it out for a spin and shows us just how much compromise must be made to get that price down.

We talked about this camera a while back, and how it was impossibly cheap for the specs it was promising. I gave it the benefit of the doubt, citing it’s impressive on-paper specs and it’s previous experience taking on GoPro. With this review, however, it looks as though it might have been more hype than reality.

While Wong only took the camera out for what seems like an afternoon, it’s glaring flaws in the software are obvious pretty quickly. The autofocus system might as well not exist, it’s built in stabilization is only digital, and it can’t shoot JPEG images alongside raw. Does this mean that the camera is a dud?

I’m not so certain. If you’re buying a $350 camera you know what you’re in for, nobody’s expecting it to compete with a Sony mirrorless, or even a strikingly similar Leica. In fact, the gripes that Wong has with the camera are largely luxuries we’ve come to love from the DSLR revolution and beyond. Built in 5-Axis IS and vibration control are hard to imagine on such a cheap camera. It’s also nice to see that the US price tag wasn’t as high as Yi first claimed, staying as cheap as it is in China.

[Product photos from Yi when the camera was first announced]

I’m not entirely sure it was reviewed fairly. Wong mentions strobing when shooting 4k video, however it just looks like the cheap lens is stopping down as he zooms in. I’m not certain if he just didn’t get enough time with the camera to realize this, or there’s actually a strange flickering issue. He also didn’t test out it’s supposed companion app, which would have at least been a laugh.

Either way, I’m certain there are some budding photographers and filmmakers who could be in the market for this setup despite his slating review. Hell, it looks like a pseudo fashion accessory – perfect for consumers who like the look of photography but not necessarily photography. I could still see this working.

[via Kaiman Wong]

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6 Comments

Talks just like Jeremey Clarkson. I'll take two in black. 🤣

Dallas Dahms's picture

I've always thought Kai was trying to pass himself off as the Clarkson of the photography world.

That's funny. I noticed it almost right away. 😁

Techmoan did a review of this just before Christmas.
http://www.techmoan.com/blog/2016/12/22/yi-m1-mirrorless-camera-review.html

His channel is worth a look for daschams, hi-if and retro electronics.

I think a used a6000 is the way to go for mirrorless on a budget

Poor compact zoom lens selection though.