I flew my new XiaoMi Yi action camera on my ZMR250 quadcopter and I wanted to share some initial impressions. Overall, it seemed to do pretty well, but it’s not perfect. Please watch the video at the end of this post.
First things first, I used some InstaMorph to make a mount for the XiaoMi Yi that would let it sit on the top of my ZMR250’s camera mount. The camera sits tilted about 30 degrees back and is held on with the wad of InstaMorph and a zip tie.
I haven’t done any scientific studies on it, so take this with a grain of salt. After shooting some video recently with a Mobius B, GoPro 3 Black, GoPro 4 Black and the XiaoMi Yi, my impression is the Yi gives video that’s better than the Mobius, but not as good as either the GoPro 3 Black or 4 Black. The Yi doesn’t blow out the sun as much as the Mobius and its color looks at least as good as the Mobius. I should mention that my Mobius is set up with manual settings to optimize it for daytime/sunny weather. I’m currently using the Yi in the default settings.
The Yi’s 1080p/60fps beats the Mobius’ 30fps, so that’s also something to consider when you’re looking for a camera.
There was talk (hype?) of the XiaoMi Yi being a GoPro killer. I don’t see that. My impression is that the GoPro has better sharpness and color. The Yi looks great for it’s price though. Unless you need the exact GoPro size or better picture, the sub-$100 price of the XiaoMi Yi is tough to pass up.
There’s a modified version of the XiaoMi Yi firmware that increases the bitrate of the recorded video. That may increase its quality some more.
One thing I noticed was my Taranis 2.4GHz transmitter complained about low signal a lot more than usual. I have the Yi mounted very close to my D4R-II’s antennas, so that’s less than ideal. However, it seems the camera puts out more RF noise around 2.4GHz than the Mobius B.
I asked around today and heard that people have similar issues with their GoPro cameras. Mounting the antenna further away might solve my problem with the Yi and D4R-II reception, since that seems to help pilots with similar setups and GoPro cameras. Tough to tell.
That said, I got a bunch of warnings, but the reception held on during my flights with the Yi.
One thing I haven’t tested is survivability of the Yi. I’ve put my Mobius through a bunch of crashes without any issue. I’ve heard that GoPro cameras hold up well to crashes (although lens protectors do help). It’s hard to tell how the Yi will survive crashes without pancaking it in a few times. The Yi feels slightly less well built than the GoPro though, so I wouldn’t expect it to best the GoPro in crash survivability. For the price, you could go through 3 to 5 XiaoMi Yi cameras for the price of a GoPro.
It’s still early in my testing, but so far I’d say if you need to be in the sub-$100 area, pick a Mobius (B or C) or the XiaoMi Yi based on what form factor works best for your application. If you want 1080p at 60fps, then the Yi is where I’d lean. If you have the extra cash and/or want an overall better camera, pick a GoPro.
Here’s some video from my initial outing with the XiaoMi Yi on my miniquad…