The Yi 360 VR is a 360 camera that I’ve been dying to try out, and for a very good reason. This is one of only two 360 cameras that can shoot 5.7K 360 video, and the other camera is $300 more expensive! The Yi 360 VR could potentially be the best 360 camera for video and it’s actually pretty cheap. It all seems to good to be true, so I’ve spent the past few weeks thoroughly testing the capabilities of the camera and now I’m presenting my findings in this review. Is the Yi 360 VR the affordable 360 camera we’ve been waiting for? One that will shoot very clear, HD 360 video for under $400?
Yi 360 VR Review
Here’s a summary of everything we know about the Yi 360 VR camera:
Yi 360 VR Specs
|Specs||Yi 360 Vr|
|Photo Resolution||5760 x 2880|
|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 can 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.
Stabilization software has also been added to the Yi via an update; using the Accelerometer and Gyrometer the Yi can keep the horizon on 360 videos straight.back to menu ↑
In the Box
Unboxing the Yi 360 VR doesn’t reveal many surprises. As with most 360 cameras the Yi comes packed with a dedicated mini-tripod and a case for carrying the camera, both essential. The build quality of both of these free accessories is pretty decent and the tripod especially is one of the better ones I’ve seen. You’ll also get a USB C charging cable and an instruction manual.back to menu ↑
The Yi 360 VR is one of the larger 360 cameras I’ve tested, but is by no means huge. The rectangular body features one lens at the front back back , with a small LCD screen at the top along with some basic control buttons.
On one side of the camera you’ll find the power/shutter/select button and on the other a door which houses the charging port, battery, SD card and HDMI port.
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The headline feature of the Yi 360 VR is no doubt its ability to shoot 5.7K 360 video, and that’s what most people will use it for. There are a few other video modes however:
- 5.7K @ 25fps
- 5K @ 25fps
- 3840 x 1920 (4K) @ 25fps
- 2560 x 1280 (2.5K) @ 50fps
- 1920 x 960 (2K) @100fps
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 the free desktop software provided by Yi. You can also use dedicated stitching programs like Mettal Skybox for Premiere Pro or Autopano Video Pro. 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.back to menu ↑
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. Some of these are my own videos and a few are from other users around the world. Most are shot at the full 5.7K resolution unless otherwise stated.
Video 1: 5.7K Video Tests around London
This is a compilation of video shot with the Yi 360 VR (by me!) around London. I shot at the maximum 5.7k quality and stitched the footage with the Yi desktop software, which is how most people will use this camera. I shot in different environments to test the cameras capabilities to handle different lighting conditions.
Overall I’m very impressed with thw quality of the video, partiucarly how it captures details even at a distance. There is an issue with overexposure of bright areas, but it isn’t enough to take away from other overall quality. This is certainly a powerful camera capable of shooting very good 360 video.
Video – 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. I think if you are going to get a camera that can shoot at 5.7K, you might as well use that feature.
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.
Video 4: 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.
Video 5: 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. Remember the Yi 360 is one of the only camera capable of shooting a 360 time-lapse at a resolution this high.back to menu ↑
Screenshots of Video
These screenshots are taken from a video shot with the Yi 360. I grabbed some screenshots from this video to take a closer look.
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.back to menu ↑
Comparison with VIRB 360
As mentioned before, the Yi 360 is one of two 360 cameras that can shoot at 5.7K resolution, the other is the Garmin VIRB 360. I have a post featuring a detailed comparison between the Yi 360 VR and the VIRB 360, but here’s a video comparison I created between the two. I shot with both cameras in the same locations and combined the videos together.
The VIRB 360 is a great action camera and has a lot of features that the Yi 360 VR doesn’t have, however I was surprised to discover that the Yi often shoots better quality video despite being much cheaper. The Yi maintains quality at a distance far better than the VIRB and the bit rate is reliably high, where as the VIRB fluctuates. Like I said, the VIRB is still a great camera and one of the best for video, but just looking at the quality I’d say the Yi is slightly better.
The one area where the Yi does NOT work particularly well is in low light environments. I really wouldn’t recommend shooting with the Yi in low light conditions as the camera really struggles, in fact it’s one of the worst performers in low light I’ve seen!back to menu ↑
The Yi 360 can shoot 360 photos at a resolution of 5760 x 2880, which works out to about 16.5 megapixels. Compared to other 360 cameras this isn’t awful, but isn’t particularly great either. The Insta360 One and Xiaomi Mijia Mi Sphere can shoto photos at 24 megapixels and when it comes to 360 photos, every pixel counts.
So while the Yi 360 VR is definitely much more of a video camera than a photography one, the images are decent enough to share on social media and in the right envirnment do turn out pretty well.
The photos shot with the Yi 360 are essentially screen shots of the video (hence the same resolution) so the images retain the same issue with overexposure, but on the other hand the detailing is very good as is the stitching accuracy.
There is some obviously blurriness around the edges and if you zoom in too far, but this is true of most 360 cameras right now.
The Yi does have an intriguing photo feature which allows you to disappear from your own 360 photo. It involves taking 4 separate photos and in between each one the Yi app will tell you to move to a different area, the app with then combine the images and attempt to mask you out of it. This is a great idea as many people ask me how they can make sure they keep out of their own 360 photos, and I usually tell them they need to find somewhere to hide. With this feature they don’t need to do so.
You won’t spot me in this image taken with the hidden person masking feature
In reality it only works some of the time, but it’s a good start none the less and no other 360 camera has this feature.back to menu ↑
In ever camera I review I always make sure to highlight whether the app that controls the camera is good or bad, as I think this can be a deal breaker. Too many times has a camera been awesome but the app that controls it barely functions, in these circumstances I just can’t recommend it. Thankfully this is not one of those occasions, as the official Yi 360 VR app is a breeze to use and mostly stable.
Once you connect your camera wirelessly for the first time the app will remember your camera and connect with the push of a button every time after that. Once connected you’ll have a live preview, access to manual controls and the ability to livestream. It’s all very user friendly and obvious.
The main settings you’re going to want to check is the video resolution and exposure settings. I always try and put the exposure down a little because the cameras naturally over exposes and I always select the highest resolution. The camera will remember your settings next time you use it, so don’t worry about setting this up every time.
The app has never crashed on me and is generally fast, the only exception being when stitching a 4K video which can take a while.back to menu ↑
The Yi 360 Studio is the desltop software required to stitch 5.7K 360 video shot with the Yi 360 VR. The software is available to download here. My experience with the desktop studio has been mostly good, however there is one big issue, and that’s how long it takes to stitch 5.7K video.
A single minute of video can take 20 minutes or more to stitch, and that’s with my fairly powerful laptop. I guess this is the price to pay for super high quality 120mbps 360 video! Otherwise there isn’t much more to say out the desktop studio other than it does have some editing features that allow you to cut and re-frame your 360 video into a flat 1080p video, similar to the GoPro Fusion Overcapture, but far more basic.
The Yi 360 Studio is also where you can apply stabilization to your 360 video, however you’ll need the latest camera firmware for this to work. You should see the option on the right hand side of the stitch tab.back to menu ↑
Analysis and Overview
Having used the Yi 360 for the past few weeks and having had a lot of experience in 360 cameras, I can already tell you that this is one of the best cameras for 360 video. The level of detail is extremely high, probably due to the fact that it can shoot at 120mbps. There are other cameras which have more advanced features and better stabilization, but just for pure video quality and attractiveness the Yi 360 is without doubt top 3, and by far the cheapest.
The software is very easy to use and the 4K livestream is one of the easiest to set up. It’s refreshing to have a cameras that nails both hardware and software. The photography capabilities are not as good and the camera lacks some of the extra features found in some other cameras (such as HDR or raw images).back to menu ↑
Should you buy the Yi 360 VR
If you want a camera for shooting 360 video this is certainly an excellent option. You won’t find many cameras that can shoot video better than this, certainly none as cheap. The camera sucks at low light video, so consider another camera if you plan on shooting video in darker conditions. Stabilization isn’t the best either, so the Yi works best when either not moving or moving smoothly.
You’ll also find the livestream feature to be one of the easiest to set up and very high quality, although you’ll need a strong connection to get the best out of it. Overall I would highly recommend the Yi 360 VR as a 360 video camera, and I’m fairly sure it’s now going to be my camera of choice when I need to shoot still 360 video.back to menu ↑
Where to buy
The Yi 360 VR is available from Amazon where you can also find plenty of user reviews (most of which are positive).
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