Best Action Cameras

What better way is there to capture all the Summer action, than having a sweet action camera?

The best-known names among cameras made by Chinese manufacturers are, without a doubt, SJCAM, SOOCOO and Xiaomi. Their cameras account for 90% of all cameras sold on AliExpress. Unfortunately, both SJCAM and SOOCOO have been dropping the ball a lot recently, and the majority of the market has gone to Xiaomi. But that's not really a problem, because Xiaomi have been killing it with their products.

In this post we are going to talk about the best bang for buck action camera models that you can get on AliExpress.

Yi 4K+

 

The YI 4K+ Action Camera is an outstanding camera considering the price (and the price of competitor cameras with similar specs). It offers great features and performance, and it is easy and intuitive enough to start using it to its full potential right away. It comes with a built-in touchscreen display (something you can't say about the top-of-the-line Hero4 Black), does 4K at 6oFPS, has a longer battery life, and costs half the price of a Hero4. Intrigued? Keep reading, there is more.

First of all, it includes an Ambarella A9SE75 chipset, a Sony IMX377 image sensor and a high-speed Broadcom BCM43340 dual-band Wi-Fi module – all the tech found in Hero4.

The famous Hero4 Black takes around 1 hour and 40 minutes to run out of juice. The Yi – close to 2 hours 45 minutes!

As we already said, Yi 4K+ can be controlled with the touchscreen. It already gives you full control of the camera, and you also get an option to utilize the high speed Wifi connection to pair it with your smartphone (there is a native app for both Android and iOS). The app handles shooting, editing and sharing. The best part is that Yi (Xiaomi's camera division) still continues to add features through firmware updates.

Here is an example of footage comparison of Yi 4K (previous version of Yi 4K+) and Yi Lite side-by-side:

The con's to buying this camera are the 1. absence of included accessories (they can be purchased for $12+, depending on what you need), and… that's it. It's hard to say that Hero4 is twice as good for the same price. It really isn't.

Xiaomi Yi Lite

Yi Lite is Xiaomi's budget 4K camera. The higher end models from Yi like the 4K and Yi 4K+ are a lot better suited to 4K video, but the Lite has a few nice upgrades from the other “4K” cameras on AliExpress for not a lot more money.

Main improvements of the Yi Lite over the Yi 1 are:

  • A 2″ screen (made of scratch resistant Gorilla glass)
  • 4K video (only at 15fps, but the $70 Yi 1 can not do it at all)
  • A larger battery (nearly 200mAh more than Yi 1)
  • Photo burst modes (3P/s,5P/s,10P/s,10P/2s,10P/3s,20P/2s,30P/3s,30P/6s)

 

Other important features include:

  • 16MP photos
  • Electronic video stabilization (EIS)
  • Video modes: 4K @ 15FPS, 2K @ 30FPS & 1080p Full HD @ 60FPS
  • Wifi & Bluetooth support

 

On the bottom of the Yi is a standard tripod screw hole, which is a great advantage over the GoPro, which requires a special case for it – big hassle for something you would normally expect from a camera in 2018.

There are lots of options for accessing your images and controlling the camera with your smartphone. Yi Lite comes with a micro USB connector for downloading, and you can also access images over Wifi at 50MB/s, which is pretty fast.

This camera comes in 3 different color options.

If you just want a simple camera that does 1080p with a decent amount of FPS and that can take high quality images, then Yi Lite is a great option.

If you need pro level images (or RAW format) or acceptable 4K video, then you will be better off with the Yi 4K+ or Mijia Action cam.

XIAOMI MIJIA 4K ACTION CAMERA

Xiaomi Mijia is another action camera option. Spec and price-wise it is quite similar to the Yi Lite to the point that it might seem that they are very similar, but when you dig a bit deeper it becomes understandable why Xiaomi have decided to release them as separate models.

The fundamental differences are:

  1. Frames Per Second // 4K: Yi Lite does 20FPS, Mijia can do 30FPS
    1080P: Yi Lite does 60FPS, Mijia can do 120FPS
    720P: Yi Lite does 120FPS, Mijia can do 240FPS
  2. Still images // Due to the sensor, Yi Lite has a 16MP camera that takes pictures in 4:3 aspect ratio, but only in JPG format.
    Mijia has 8MP and images are cropped to a wider and shorter 16:9, and they can be either in JPG or RAW format.
  3. Battery // Yi Lite has a 1200 mAh battery, Mijia has 1450 mAh. though they are interchangeable, so it's not that important and Yi Lite can be upgraded for $15 to a larger capacity battery.
  4. Lens width // Yi Lite has a 150-degree lens, Mijia has 145. It might not seem like a big difference, but on practice Mijia looks narrower and less fish eye-y.

Other than that, both cameras have WiFi, Bluetooth, tripod mount at the bottom, electronic image stabilization, touchscreen displays and other smaller corks and features.

EKEN H9

EKEN H9 is a great camera for a price tag of around $37. Let’s take a look at the specs:

  • The OmniVision OV4689 4MP sensor – the same sensor used in the SJ4000+ by SJCAM.
  • Sunplus 6330M chipset – same as many other budget action cameras.
  • Frame Rates:

– “4K” – 10-25FPS, depending on firmware. Not real 4K, it is interpolated (e.g. digitally stretched)
– 2,7K – 15fps
– 1080p – 60/30 fps
– 720p – 120/60fps, also depending on firmware)

  • Connectivity & Ports:
    – Wifi is built in to connect with the app (Android & iOS)
    – HDMI and a micro USB port.
  • 1050 mAh battery
  • 2” screen (320×240 resolution)

An example of footage shot on Eken H9 (1080p in 60FPS):

Overall, it is a very decent starter camera, and a good option if you don't want to spend a lot of money and if your expectations are not too demanding. It has all the basic features that you would expect from an action camera, and the only caveat really is the absence of true 4K, which you can't really expect at this price point anyway.

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