Yi’s action cameras have been making waves in the industry mainly with their ability to offer appealing GoPro-like footage at a fraction of the cost. With near-matching spec sheets and drastically different price points, its no wonder that filmmakers struggle to choose between the acclaimed GoPro’s and the aggressively priced rivals from Yi.
Therefore, it’s reasonable to ask whether GoPro can indeed justify the higher value of their action cameras when put up against the more attractive low-priced Yi’s products. To answer the question, established YouTube filmmaker Dave Dougdale decided to make a comprehensive comparison between the recently introduced GoPro HERO6 Black and Yi’s 4K+ Action Camera.
From an overall image standpoint, each camera outperforms the other in specific areas and falls behind in others. For instance, Dave has found out that the Yi 4K+ camera provides more detail and less noise in the image across the board and even surpasses the quality of the higher priced GoPro HERO6, especially when shooting indoors.
Nevertheless, the Yi 4K+’s default sharpening seems to be a bit too aggressive, meaning that you’ll most likely want to turn the setting down before you start shooting. It is also worth noting that both cameras produce the same degree of banding and aliasing artifacts due to the heavily compressed codecs utilized on board.
The GoPro counterpart, however, takes the lead when it comes to electronic image stabilization. Throughout the recent years, GoPro has been trying to perfect this aspect of their cameras, especially with the last two iterations of the HERO line. With the HERO6, the EIS has been finely-tuned to the point that convinces many users to take the leap as the feature puts merely the Yi 4K+ to shame.
Meanwhile, the GoPro HERO6 also prevails when it comes to exposure and dynamic range. The camera tends to balance contrast well when hit by a bright light source, whereas the Yi 4K+ struggles with nailing exposure in the same lighting conditions. Furthermore, the GoPro HERO6 seems to provide a higher dynamic range with a visually balanced image, compared to the Yi 4K+ which tends to crush shadows or overexpose highlights at certain points.
Color-wise, the Yi 4K+ manages to deliver some decent results, yet with some caveats. Although the Yi camera may handle color saturation better than its rival, the footage has an odd greenish tint that’s quite prominent, especially when shooting outdoors. On the other hand, while the GoPro HERO6 may have a few over-saturation issues, its auto white balance is much more accurate than the Yi 4K+.
While image quality is a primary concern when choosing a camera, it is also important to evaluate the rest of the available features such as codecs, build quality, battery life, screen brightness, etc. Regarding codecs, the GoPro HERO6 offers two options using either the standard H.264 (AVCHD) codec or the new, more efficient H.265 (HEVC).
The files that are recorded with HEVC maintain image quality while reducing file sizes and maximizing processor efficiency when compared to the H.264 footage. This allows playback and file management to run more smoothly compared to the Yi 4K+ which only offers H.264 recording.
In line with the overall functionality, the GoPro HERO6 is also stated to have a better build quality than the Yi 4K+. Beyond that, the screen quality on the GoPro surpassed the one on the camera made by Yi with its brighter display and excellent touchscreen sensitivity. For battery life, both cameras lasted the same amount of time although Dave still considers the GoPro to be the winner in this category.
So, which one should you choose – Yi or GoPro? If you have the money and you are looking for the ultimate action camera, GoPro may be your best bet, especially with its outstanding electronic image stabilization. If you’re on a budget and seek something that provides fantastic images at a reasonable price, the Yi 4K+ action camera is a compelling offer that is very hard to overlook. Either way, both units are powerful action cameras that will serve you well in documenting your adventurous endeavors while delivering an impressive set of features and fantastic performance that put them at the top of the list.