GoPro was once the king of action cams, but these days there are lots of top-notch competitors out there worth considering.
Once such competitor with a product you may just end up buying is Yi.
They have created the 4K+ which is giving the Hero5 a run for its money (and in some cases is even better).
Above is a detailed spec comparison, and then below is a deeper dive into the important areas so you can make a quick and easy decision on which one is right for you.
Let’s get started…
It’s a tough choice, but if you take a look at the main areas the decision should become clearer.
Both produce 4K video and 12MP images in both Jpeg and RAW formats.
The only notable difference is that the Yi 4K+ has up to 60 frames per second in 4K, giving you a bit more leeway for slow-mo footage.
If time-lapse is your thing, both cameras can do intervals (0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30, 60s) creating video from these stills. They also offer a wide range of burst shots too.
Both manufacturers also offer various widths of shot as well as a linear correction so that you can take some “normal” photos as well. The wide-angle look is cool and useful but is not for everyone.
Another thing to think about is that ultimately you are buying a GoPro-style camera for its portability and attachment options. If image or video quality is super-important to you, then you might want to compare a GoPro with a DLSR instead.
Without a physical gimbal, there was always some shake when shooting action shots.
But now both the GoPro and Yi action cams have built-in stabilization. That means significantly less shake and better video all around. In comparisons online I have seen they are both pretty darn good, so there is not much to compare here. Just keep in mind that when they are used, the video is cropped to remove the shake – so you don’t get the resolution you record in (GoPro say they remove about 10% of the shot).
Note that at higher video resolution and rates (Yi 4K 60fps, there is no stabilization). Check this in the specs if it is important to you.
The Yi has stereo mics on the front of the camera which is quite good. However, if you add the case just be aware you will capture far less audio.
The GoPro takes audio to the next level. It has 3 mics. Two on the front and one on the back. It switches between them depending on the wind so you will usually get the best audio possible depending on what kind of wind/movement is involved.
They also offer the ability to capture audio in a separate file (as well as keeping that on the video) which can make it far easier in post-production if you want to tweak the audio.
But, if you really want to take your audio to the next level, the best way to do so is with an external mic.
Both these cameras are pretty close in terms of size and weight. The Yi 4K+ is perhaps a little wider but slightly lighter.
Overall they are both very solid in terms of materials and design with the GoPro being waterproof out of the box (more on that below).
The GoPro has the same old three buttons for power, mode changes, and settings, while the Yi uses just one. Which is perhaps easier once you get used to it. They also both allow the screen to do everything if you can access it (without case).
The GoPro created the simple mount and system that we all know and love, and the Hero5 has that – of course!
Yi has decided to use the standard 1/4″ tripod mount you will find on most cameras.
That does not mean you can’t use your GoPro accessories as there is either a case for the Yi 4K+ with the GoPro mount or an adapter. So, if you have invested in earlier GoPro models heavily you won’t have to repurchase all those accessories again :>
Yi has kept it simple with just one connector – the USB type-C with a sweet download speed of 40 Mb/s. It is also the way you charge the device.
You can use this connector for other things as long as you get the right adapter. You can add an external mic (3.5mm) or plug it into your AV (TV etc) with a 3.5mm jack.
GoPro has added two connectors to the Hero5
– a USB Type-C for charging, data transfer, and external mic (via adapter).
– a mini HDMI for connection to an external monitor/TV etc.
Both cameras have an app you can use with them. This means shooting, viewing, and sharing your images or videos. However, the Yi 4K+ also has live streaming to Facebook and Youtube which is something that may be important to some of you.
It used to be the case that you had to click the button on your GoPro and then quickly frame the shot or use a timer (if your model has one).
Now both these cameras have Voice Control.
You can start and stop camera video shooting, take photos, or change modes. Pretty cool huh! Some reviewers say it is a bit hit and miss when you move around quite fast, perhaps due to proximity or wind noise. So, although this is a cool feature, it might not always work as you expect.
Note: the GoPro also takes note of times you shout or swear (in many cases) as this is usually a notable time in the video (like an accident or sick jump!).
Only the GoPro has GPS included. So if tagging your location in your images is important, then this is the action camera for you.
I don’t like to give exact prices in a review as it varies from shop to shop, but the GoPro Hero usually goes for around 400, while the Yi 4K+ is about 50-60 bucks cheaper. You can also get the Yi with the case (if waterproof is important) in some packages for around that same lower price.
The GoPro Hero5 is still top of the action camera world in almost every way – audio, waterproof without a case, apps, and GPS. However, the Yi 4K+ does beat it on the top end of 4K video with 60 frames per second. Although without stabilization.
And although the Yi is not waterproof out of the box, you can get a case for almost nothing. And for the 50-60 dollar saving it might just be the better buy for most people.
For the rest, they are almost identical cameras and great buys for anyone wanting to shoot video or stills of their next action adventure!