I recently received confirmation that the Yi 360 VR will be released in September this year, which is a relief after the camera was removed from the Yi website a few weeks ago. Thankfully the 5.7K Yi 360 VR is back on the website, along with the confirmation of a September release date. So now we know the camera is definetely gonig to be released, I thought it was time for a summary of everything we know about the Yi 360 VR camera, probably one of the most anticipated 360 cameras of the year.
Why should you be excited about the Yi 360 VR?
5.7K 360 resolution for under $400. That’s pretty much it, but let me expand. 360 video has been held back somewhat because of the limit of current technology to produce super-high resolution in small affordable packages. 360 video required very high resolution to look HD; a “normal” video will loo great at a resolution of 1920×1080, but a 360 video needs at least twice that (4K) to look anywhere near decent, but ideally even higher. The Yi 360 VR is the first 360 camera that can shoot 5.7K 360 video and not cost a bomb! The recently released Garmin VIRB 360 can also shoot in 5.7K, but at $800 it’s out of most peoples price range.
Yi 360 VR Specs
|Specs||Yi 360 Vr|
|Field of View||Full 360|
|Livestream||Yes – 4K|
|Sound||360 degree omnidirectional microphone|
Apart from the impressive video resolution, what else is there to get excited about? Well for a start, the camera will be able to livestream in 4K, which is among the best of any 360 camera out now. When Yi 360 was first announced, I believe the livestream feature was limited to 2.5K, but Facebook recently upgraded their 360 livestreaming service to allow for 4K livestreaming, so its no wonder that the livestream feature received a boost as it allows the company to use Facebook branded marketing.
Perhaps this is the reason for the delay in getting the camera released. Remember that the Yi 360 was supposed to be ready to ship by June/July, this was then pushed back to August, now September. Hopefully there are no more delays.
I also note the inclusion of an Accelrometre and Gyroscope which could indicate some time of stabilization upgrade in the future. Stabilization software often uses both of these sensors to keep the horizon on 360 videos straight, although that’s just conjecture on my part.
A note on 5.7K video
WHile 5.7K resolution is the headline feature of the Yi 360 VR, you should be aware that while the camera can shoot 360 video at this resolution, it cannot stitch it together. This means that when you shoot in 5.7K, you’ll be left with two separate video files which you’ll have to stitch together using desktop software like Mettal Skybox of Kolor. This is an extra step in the overall workflow and it can take sometime, however the end result is a much better overall image with less stitching errors. The camera can auto-stitch at 4K resolution.
Yi 360 VR Video Examples
Lets take a look at some of the video shot with the Yi 360 VR that has been released over the past few months. Note that many of these videos were made during the development phase of the camera and do not represent the final quality, in fact you’ll notice the more recent videos are significantly better than the older ones.
Video 1: First Ever 5.7K Sample Video
This was the first ever video shot with the Yi 360 Cam released to the general public. It was shot in the maximum resolution of 5.7K so it really gives us a sense of what this camera can do.
Video 2 – 4K Sample Video
This video, shot with the Yi 360 VR at 4K resolution, demonstrates what the camera can do when it has to stitch video together itself. On first impression the stitching isn’t particularly accurate and the stitching line is pretty visible. The overall video quality seems to be decent, if a bit bland. Let’s just say I’ve seen better video shot with cheaper 360 cameras.
Video 3: 5.7K on a drone
Good to see that the Yi 360 VR is usable with at least one type of drone! The video isn’t actually that interesting because most of the time is spent flying over grass, but the quality of the video (when watched in 5.7K) is pretty good.
csliaw YouTube Channel – Over 15 Videos from the Yi 360 VR
This is a bit of a treasure trove of videos shot with the Yi 360 VR. This person must either work for Yi 360 or be very fortunate to have access to the camera early! I’m going to post just a few of the videos here but check out the full channel to see more videos
Still 5.7K Video
This is the first video I’ve seen shot with the Yi 360 Vr that didn’t involve any movement. This is a good way to see how accurate the stitching is looking without the added complication of movement. The stitching seems to be fairly decent in this video, albeit with some noticeable fading and inaccurate stitching on the bike wheel. The accuracy of the stitching can always be improved with software updates, so I’m not too concerned right now.
5.7K time lapse
I do love a 360 time lapse, and this is one of the best I’ve seen. The lighting and location make for an excellent video and the quality looks stunning even at lower resolutions.
Mounted to a bike helmet
Mounting a 360 camera to a bike or bike helmet is becoming a popular way to record 360 video, so how does the Yi 360 hold up? The lack of stabilization software is apparent, with every turn and bump jolting the camera. The video quality is once again excellent and the stitch line throughout most of this video is almost invisible.
Screenshots of Video
These screenshots are taken from a video by HK resident who managed to order a Yi 360 from taobao.com (not currently available). I chose to grad some screenshots from this video he sent me because it was shot on a very bright, clear day at a high resolution.
This image is a screenshot from a video shot with the Yi 360 VR, and it’s probably the best video I’ve seen from this camera. The colors and brightness in particular are extremely good for a 360 video, with little overexposure or over-saturation common with most other 360 cameras.
Here’s another screenshot from the same video. Looking good still!
And finally a tiny planet to round things off.
Analysis and First Impressions
Having seen a significant amount of footage shot with the Yi 360 and having used MANY other 360 cameras, I can already tell that the Yi 360 VR is going to be one of the better cameras in terms of 360 video quality. The more recent videos in particular indicate the camera handles light well, even direct light. The high resolution really makes a difference with the sharpness of the image and the stitching is mostly invisible with a few exceptions.
I’m now more excited about this camera than ever, however I’m going to withhold final judgement till the camera is actually released. It’s extremely important that the software is easy to use and works with minimal bugs, too many 360 cameras recently released have faced frustrating software issues which have only been resolved months later. I hope that once the camera is released it lives up to the high expectations it’s managed to garner.
You can order the Yi 360 VR from BH Photo Video and it will be shipped to you as soon as it’s released.Order Now
I should be receiving a review unit of the Yi 360 VR before it’s widely released, so if you want to know ASAP when I’ve started testing it out, opt-in to my 360 camera alerts.
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