Xiaoyi surprised with M1 camera – A camera system with 4k for 295 euros




The biggest surprise at Photokina 2016 is perhaps the M1 camera Xiaoyi. Of course, the announcements GH5 Panasonic, Fujifilm GFX, Olympus E-M1 II and the Sony A99 II should there be, but that all models in a very early stage which not long in stores. And besides, the price level – where already released – pretty spicy, so they do not actually play for the amateur photographer and filmmaker.

How different is that with the Xiaoyi M1 that we could try out on the show floor at Photokina. This is a compact system camera with a Sony-made micro four third sensor of 20 megapixels, a 4k30p video mode, touch sensitive screen, wifi and bluetooth and a burst speed of five frames per second. The price? Roughly 300 euros.

Xiaoyi M1

Xiaoyi is not a well known name in camera land. Fans of action cameras have perhaps the Yi Sports Camera . Indeed, Yi Xiaoyi or affiliated with Xiaomi, the Chinese manufacturer that has become quite popular with its smartphones in Europe. The company makes all kinds of electronic equipment, from vacuum cleaners to smartphones, and distinguishes itself with its prices. Often involves extremely affordable products with neat details, such as the aforementioned action camera that you can bring from China for $ 80.

For 295 euros you would probably expect an older sensor is used in the M1 camera, but nothing is less true. The M1 is equipped with the Sony IMX269, which is also used by other recent MFT cameras. That bodes well for the picture quality, but equally striking is the ability to record videos in 4k with 30fps. There are more cameras that can do that, but certainly not at this price.

Xiaoyi M1 black bodyXiaoyi M1 black bodyXiaoyi M1 black bodyXiaoyi M1 black body
Xiaoyi M1 camera

Xiaoyi seems to target a different audience than regular photographers. It mainly has the smartphone user in sight, who have little technical knowledge and experience with photography, but will continue to grow without complex options and camera menus. The body is deliberately kept very simple and contains at the back just two buttons. You control the camera like a smartphone; via the touch-sensitive screen. Characteristic of the target group is a built-in portrait mode where various poses are displayed as an overlay on the screen. Thus, you know as inexperienced photographer how to position someone and you give the model concrete instructions to adopt a certain attitude.

Xiaoyi M1 portrait modeXiaoyi M1 portrait mode
Yet there is at the top PASM rotary wheel, allowing the more experienced photographer can switch quickly. In the middle is the video button cleverly concealed so that it is well within reach, but you do not accidentally press it. In addition, there is a rotary wheel to quickly change settings. The on-off button is a small tab that you find in the release. That slide we did work less pleasant because it is what cleared cramped. For further operation, use the touch-sensitive screen. That works reasonably intuitive for someone photographing a lot with a smartphone already is the interface very bare and simple about it.

Xiaoyi M1 screen

Xiaoyi has not only released a camera, but also two lenses. The 12-40mm f / 3.5-5.6 is an affordable kit lens with an equivalent angle of view of 24-80mm. Although the lens is collapsible, it is not very compact – the kit lenses from Olympus and Panasonic are a lot smaller. In retracting otherwise be considered good; although there is a switch on the side, but you do not need to extend to lens, so you can quickly switch. You only need to use the slider lens when you want to put in the off position.

There is also a 42.5mm f / 1.8 prime intended specifically for the 85mm angle for portraits. Oddly enough, this includes a focus ring purely cosmetic – you can not turn it. The switch from automatic to manual focusing is on the screen. Both lenses are mostly made of plastic, including the mount and both camera lenses feel very light. The camera mount is incidentally or of metal. How the quality of the lenses is we could not test well within the limited time and resources.


The M1 uses contrast detection to focus and has 81 focus areas which are spread across virtually the entire image. Both off-s and off-C modes are present, though he only supports off tracking in conjunction with Face Detection. The autofocus works in off-s pretty good, though it takes more time than we are accustomed. In a time where most manufacturers have resigned on phase detection AF-diodes on the sensor that is not strange. MF you can actually use focus peaking.

Xiaoyi M1 Photokina

And further

An EVF is missing, allowing you to make your choice are reliant entirely on the screen. In this price range is quite common. Less pleasing is that no flash is included, although the camera does feature a hot foot. Further protects the manufacturer also with a 50-megapixel mode where images are shot at a resolution of 8160×6120 pixels, but thereby simply seems to interpolation, so the usefulness of this feature is not clear to us. The camera is equipped with a quad-core ISP which also can produce HDR images and also supports Raw. In burst mode, it can produce 5 pictures per second.

As mentioned, the camera can record videos in 4k30p and that we have not seen before in this price range. Panasonic also provides 4K video on its recent cameras, but usually we see this feature only in the price segment above 1,000. Further, the M1 also shoots 1080p at 60fps, which is interesting for capturing action. Because the camera uses the MFT mount you all Panasonic and Olympus lenses used on the M1 and the same applies to almost all other lenses via adapters. The latter is especially interesting for filmmakers, for example, using mechanical lens with manual focus and a built-in aperture ring.

The sensor is adjustable from 100 to 25,600 ISO, and the camera offers a minimum and maximum shutter speed or 1 / 4000th to 60 seconds. The touch screen has 720×480 pixels. It is also equipped with WiFi and Bluetooth, so you can connect it with a smartphone.

Xiaoyi M1 silverXiaoyi M1 silver
Preliminary conclusion

The M1 comes Friday in the market and will be sold including through the Chinese joybuy.com , though we also expect him later to see through, for example Bang Good and AliExpress. According to representatives of Xiaoyi at Photokina, the camera in October also to Europe and he would therefore simply can pop into the store. The suggested retail price amounts to 295 euros for the body with kit lens and 400 euros for a kit with two lenses. It was not clear whether this is including or excluding VAT. Who imports products from China should consider an import duty plus VAT.

The Xiaoyi M1 design is refreshing, with the operation of a touch screen as a starting point, and we can imagine that this will primarily appeal to smartphone users. Give that after all, a regular camera in hands and they drown quickly in the many buttons and illogical menus with hundreds of options – especially from a smartphone perspective that is not intuitive.

Nevertheless, we expect that this camera will appeal to existing amateur photographers and videographers. Indeed, it is a very affordable camera – for this price – extended features that you would normally only encounter in the upper segment. An ideal camera so as a potential upgrade to experiment with film lenses with manual or to get acquainted with system cameras. With modern Sony sensor on board, we have high expectations, though we could not accurately test the image quality at the fair. We hope the camera sometime soon to welcome in our test lab, because we are curious to see how it performs in practice.



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