YI Technology Overview
YI Technology is an imaging startup company that was founded in China in 2014. Unlike some of the cheaper action cameras on the market today, YI develops and innovates their products in house and controls the entire process. After releasing their first action camera (YI Action Camera) in 2014 they have continued to innovate to provide a true alternative to the GoPro dominated market.
When the first YI Action Camera came out, a lot of people complained that it didn’t have a screen. YI has responded and released the YI LITE Action Camera utilizing the same build as both the YI 4K and the YI 4K+ allowing it to incorporate a 2-inch screen while maintaining an attractive price.
YI LITE Action Camera Overview
The YI LITE is a true example of the saying ‘dynamite comes in small packages’. This tiny camera owes its advanced technological abilities to the two previous versions that it’s based on, namely the YI 4K and the YI Action Camera, both of which are earlier products from YI Technology. YI has worked to bring features from the more expensive YI 4k and improve the original YI Action Camera while maintaining a low price.
The YI LITE is operated through a Gorilla Glass touchscreen LCD on the back. The wide angle 150-degree lens is paired with a f/2.8 aperture lens that takes 1080p videos at a 60fps frame rate. For still images the camera is able to take 16-megapixel photos.
While the YI LITE takes a number of features from the YI 4K, the 4K capabilities of this camera are a bit disappointing. The YI LITE is only able to capture 4K video at 20fps whereas the YI 4K features a smoother frame rate at 30fps. That said, if you are shooting slow moving objects or landscapes the 20fps may work but we recommend sticking to 1080p or 1440p for any fast action shots.
The YI LITE features impressive image stabilizing abilities that enable smoother footage capture when shooting in 1080p or 1440p. While not as effective as a separate gimbal, the EIS is worth enabling to get smoother shots.
Some of the main features of the YI LITE Action Camera include:
- 16MP Sony Exmor Sensor
- 4K/20fps & 1080p/60fps video recording
- 16 MP photos
- 2-inch Gorilla Glass touch screen
- Built-in microphone and AAC audio recording
- Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS)
- Dual Band Wi-Fi and BLE Bluetooth
The YI LITE is a small but powerful camera that’s compact and really handy. It’s similar in size to the YI 4K, which means that you can use any accessories that were designed for the YI 4k. Also, it has the capacity for plenty of memory space, thanks to a microSD slot which supports a memory of up to 128 GB. Along the base you’ll find a screw joint to attach your tripod or stabilizer. The button at the top serves the function of a shutter and a switch.
The camera design also features an impressive 2-inch screen that makes it easy to operate the camera while giving you a clear view of what’s going on. You’ll be glad to know that this is no fragile screen, as it’s made from durable Gorilla glass, which is known for its scratch-resistant qualities, and its operation interface is available in multiple languages.
A notable downside of the YI LITE is the fact that it’s not waterproof by itself. The camera depends on a waterproof case for protection underwater. The good news is that the available waterproof case can still use your GoPro accessories even when the case is on, as it still has the standard GoPro attachment.
The YI LITE comes in 3 fun colors allowing you to stand out from the standard grey and black action cameras that dominate the market. It is available in light blue, a green/yellow, and a black color.
Connectivity and App
With the YI LITE, you won’t be scratching your head over which controls to use to access your images. The camera comes with plenty of options, some of which even allow you to access your phone from the camera screen. Apart from downloading images through the USB connector, you can access them through Wi-Fi, which runs at a fairly fast speed of 50MB/s.
As with previous versions, the YI LITE comes with Bluetooth connectivity which allows you to connect with the YI Selfie Stick and Remote, or even access the YI Action app if you need. The remote is really helpful when you want to operate a number of functions ‘remotely’ while the camera is in action.
Pairing the camera with the YI Action app for iOS and Android has a number of benefits, like enabling you to connect to the camera’s Wi-Fi network effortlessly, change the settings, and it even provides you with a real-time viewing of the sensor, which can be very useful when you want to trigger the camera remotely.
Unlike some apps that are available with action cameras, the YI Action app works well and has a number of features besides just controlling the camera. It allows you to do some basic editing and apply filters to your video if you want to share your work directly from your phone.
Video and Image Quality
Ultimately the video and image quality is the most important feature of any action camera. The good news is that the YI LITE captures great video with accurate colors and reasonably good audio quality directly from the camera. The only two issues we noticed with the video quality is the lack of a real usable 4K frame rate and some distortion that can occur when using the EIS feature.
One of the biggest issues with cheaper action cameras tends to be the poor low light performance. Fortunately the YI LITE produces good video even at dawn or dusk, but low light conditions at light or indoors can be challenging to get high quality shots.
- 4K – (3840 x 2160 – 16:9) – 20 fps – EIS Not Available
- 1440p – (1920 x 1440 – 4:3) – 30 fps – EIS Available
- 1080p – (1920 x 1080 – 16:9) – 30 / 60 fps – EIS Available
- 720p – (1280 x 720 – 16:9) – 120 / 60 / 30 fps – EIS Available
You’ll love the YI LITE if your intention is to use it on a casual basis to capture good quality images. The still photos are quite decent. Unfortunately the camera doesn’t shoot RAW, which means that you’ll have to be satisfied with JPEG images only.
On the upside, the electronic image stabilization feature helps to stabilize wobbly images that sometimes happen as a result of shaky camera hands, and it comes with additional settings like Shutter Speed, ISO, Metering Mode, Time Stamp, WB, EV and Sharpness.
- 16MP – (4068 x 3456)
- 10MP – (3648 x 2736)
Video Recording Options
Here’s what you need to know when it comes to the settings:
Distortion – If you’re experiencing visual distortion through the wide lens, you now have the option to change it electronically through ‘lens rectification feature’, which was previously known as ‘lens aberration correction’.
In Housing Mode – The In Housing Mode allows you to effortlessly work the camera even when it’s inside the underwater case. All you have to do is long press the shutter, and the submenu will appear. From there, you’ll be given the option to either turn it off or have it on ‘operating mode’. You can use the same button to switch it on while it’s in the water case.
Video Standard – The available standard is NTSC, which is the equivalent of 30fps and then some, or you can switch it to PAL, which is equal to 25fps plus a multiple of that.
The YI LITE features a 1400mAh removable Li-ion battery. Once the battery is dead it will need about 2 hours to recharge while connected using the standard USB cable. For a faster recharge, plug it into a USB-C, and it’ll be full within an hour. YI claims a 130 minute battery life, but we found it to be closer to 90 – 100 minutes in our usage.
If you plan on using the camera underwater you will need to purchase a waterproof case since YI does not include one in the base package.
Should You Buy the YI LITE Action Camera?
While this camera has made some strides when it comes to 4K in comparison to the YI action camera, it’s still too slow at 20 fps to get good quality action shots. If you are looking to shoot your footage in 4K check out the YI 4K or YI 4K+ action cameras. There are not many action cameras under $100 that can match the build quality, feature list, and video quality you can get with the YI LITE.
This is a great purchase as your first action camera, a gift for someone, or if you are looking to spend considerably less than comparable GoPro cameras while having support from a company that will stand behind their product. YI continues to put out firmware and app upgrades to fix any bugs and ensure you are able to get the most out of your camera.
The YI LITE provides good image and video quality at a price that cannot be beat. The only downside is the lack of an included waterproof case, but a package that includes one is available.
- 1080p/60fps, with 4K support
- Built in EIS for 1080p
- Easy to use companion app
- Lightweight, compact and portable
- Slow 4K filming
- No accessories included
- Image quality good but not great