Review: Inexpensive Time Lapse with the YI 4K Action Camera


While this is essentially a review of a small action camera, that produces both stills and video, I’m going to focus on using the little YI 4K Action Camera, to kickstart your love of time lapse photography.

YI Technology – YI 4K Action Camera

Time lapse photography can produce stunning results that can inspire you to travel, to capture behind the scenes of your photographic projects, even as a great way to capture your holidays. Your week at the beach might only last a few minutes as a time lapse (as opposed to a couple of hours of video to make your friends sit through!) However you use it, there’s no denying it’s fun to use, and fun to try.


Gear for time lapse photography

So, time lapse with amazing results requires a bit of gear, right? A camera that allows you to adjust your shutter and aperture. A trigger that allows you to set your camera to capture the time lapse, either indefinitely or for a certain period of time. If you want to take it further, you might look at something that allows you to have movement in your time lapse, rather than a static shot, just to add interest. (more on that, next article)

That being said, can you create a good enough looking time lapse, to start your journey into this fun and creative style of photography with an action camera? That’s the question I set out to find an answer to, with this latest hardware review.

I have a GoPro, it’s great! It’s the Hero4 Black, and it does time lapse, but it’s actually pretty expensive! Expensive enough, with some accessories and a spare battery, that you might actually consider just getting an entry level dSLR!

I also have a very brilliant Sony Action Cam 4K. Again, a spare battery and you’re up over half a grand. So, looking at options, I once again find myself wading into the “not really brand name” manufacturers of the lesser known! Enter YI Technology YI 4K Action Cam. There are a handful of reviews popping up online for this little camera, and most I’ve read or watched are positive. I’m not going to talk about the whole video side of the unit much, though it produces decent quality 4K footage for the price tag. This review is all about the camera’s time lapse ability.


The specs, in brief are as follows:

  • Main Processor – Ambarella A9SE chipset, includes a 800 MHz dual-core. Cortex-A9 ARM CPU and a high-performance digital signal processing (DSP) subsystem with a 32-Mpixel image sensor pipeline (ISP), and an advanced H.264 encoder capable of 4K resolution.
  • Image Sensor – SONY IMX377, 1/2.3″, 12 megapixels CMOS image sensor with Exmor R ability.
  • LCD Screen – 2.19″, 640×360 resolution touch screen, 330PPI, 250cd/m2 brightness, 30FPS, 160° FOV, 16:9.
  • Lens – Lens f/2.8 aperture / 155° wide-angle lens, 7G, f=2.68mm.
  • Wi-Fi – Broadcom BCM43340 Dual-band 5GHz /2.4GHz, built-in (802.11 abgn), offers 30Mbps download speed.
  • Weight – 3.4 ounces camera + battery (96.4 grams).
  • Size – 65 x 42 x 30 mm.

Said to have a Gorilla Glass rear touch screen, and I’ve got to say, that it’s actually useable! Responsive and clear, and also quite good at playing back your Time Lapse sequence on the camera.


What’s it like to work on your time lapse creation with the YI 4K?

It’s actually very simple, there’s a touch screen rear display (as per above) and you simply tap it, select time lapse (either photo or video version of time lapse), dial in some adjustment, and press the go button! Now, the unit saves the time lapse in one of two formats, you may have noticed I said “Photo or Video time lapse” above, which is basically the output you get when you select either. In video time lapse mode, you get a single file at the end of your sequence, with photo time lapse you get the time lapse movie as the individual images.

There are benefits to both. With the video version of the sequence, you get a simple video at the end, that you can directly upload and share with your friends. The downside of this is that if you get a dodgy image (bird flies across, a drastic light change, etc.) in the middle of your time lapse, with the photo version you can simply delete the offending frame and you’re good to go. In video mode, you would need to edit that frame out with a video editor of sorts. Keeping in mind you may lose a little continuity in your time lapse if you delete more than a couple of frames, and you’ll see jumps.

I’ve made a quick example. At 1:03 in this video mode time lapse, someone over my back fence switched on their outside light and the white balance (auto, in video time lapse mode) jumped a gate and ran off into the hills! Take a look, you’ll see what I mean. It’s only 4 frames and I could edit it out, but left it in to show you what I mean. In photo time lapse mode, you can preselect the white balance and this wouldn’t have happened. My sweet darkening purples changed to blue.

Does the YI 4K work as an entry level time lapse camera? Absolutely it does, and with better specs than the current GoPro Hero 4 Black, it’s a decent little all-round package if you want something less expensive to document your photoshoots with too.


I really enjoyed using the YI 4K as I call it. It’s easy to use, produces a good result, and is very well priced for what you get. One other thing I really like is the inclusion of a 1/4 20″ metal tripod mount in the bottom of the camera. So, you can stick a tripod plate on it, or screw it straight onto a light stand for use on set, or just to get your YI4K up high for a time lapse.

I’m not about to bin my GoPro or Sony Action Cam, but there is rumoured to be a GoPro 5 dropping sometime very soon – we shall see how they stack up.


What I like about the YI 4K Action Camera:

  • Simple iOS app to change all settings on the YI 4K.
  • Good quality images from an Action Cam.
  • Multiple options for time lapse (Video / Stills).
  • Fantastic touchscreen included in device by default.
  • Good battery life.
  • Tripod mount on the camera.

What I’d like to see improved:

  • More standard accessories

I’m not really thinking I should give this a star rating as I’ve really only used it for time lapse, but if I were to give it a rating, it’d have to be a 4.5 out of 5 I think! Good job, YI Technology.

Review Date
Reviewed Item
YI Technology YI 4K Action Camera
Author Rating

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category

Sime (aka #gtvone) is the customer support manager for dPS, and lead blogger in our Cameras and Gear Blog. He's a Melbourne based photographer, and please feel free to follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

  • Paul Krueger

    I don’t see where you mention the “inexpensive” price – I google it at US$250. In general support of this manufacturer, I’ve had the (basic, initial) Yi camera for about a year now and like it a lot. Battery life is really the one issue. I did a every-30-seconds time lapse on Saturday and it made it 80 minutes. Good enough for a lot of things. I paid about US$80 for that camera plus another US$30 or so for waterproof case, suction mount, handlebar mount, etc.

  • gtvone

    Hi Paul, thanks for your reply – I’ve not tried the basic one, though have heard good things.
    My ‘inexpensive’ is ‘when compared with this’ –Cheers, Simon

  • jessica.austin.94

    Get paid 90 dollars every day for working on the net from your home office for few hrs /day… Get paid once a week… You’ll need a laptop or computer, connection to the web, as well as a little spare-time…

  • brittany.pulver

    Get paid 90 bucks each day for working on the net from your own home for several hr’s /day… Get regular payment every week… You’ll need a laptop, connection to the web, along with some free-time…

  • dorinda.johnson

    Get 90 dollars /day for working on the net from your own home for few hr’s each day… Get regular payment weekly… Everything you need is a personal computer, internet access, along with a little spare time…

  • anita-barton

    Start Earning 90 bucks a day for working an online job from comfort of your own home for few h everyday… Get paid once a week… Everything you need is a personal computer, connection to the internet, as well as a little free-time…

  • carla.johnson

    I’m making over $7k every month working parttime . I kept hearing some people advise me the amount of money these people can make over the web hence I agreed to check into it . Very well , it turned out all truthful so has modernized my living . This is where i started>>>

  • Steve Barret

    As they say, it’s a gopro killer. One of the best cameras for photography around today.

  • ozfoto

    Check out my Xiaomi Yi 4k cinematic video sample

  • nerys

    Will it do 4k timelapse video? Or just 1080p?

  • With the photos you get in the time lapse photo mode, yes, you can do 4K easily. The video mode might be the same way.

  • deevid

    A few questions:

    1) Can you shoose settings, e.g. aperture priority or shutter priority, fixed manual exposure etc or is it all auto?

    2) Can you choose any time interval or is it another camera with the curse of the mysteriously crippled limited range of fixed time interval choices?

    3) Can you shoot RAW in timelapse mode for post processing flexibility?

  • gtvone


    1. Supports manual setting for shutter/ISO/EV/WB
    2. Built-in support for 0.5/1/2/5/10/30/60s intervals
    3. It will produce RAW (DNG) files, yep.

    Happy reading over here…

    Great cam.

  • deevid

    Thanks for the reply, sounds good except for the fixed intervals. I have never understood why almost all camera manufacturers do this, it would be no more difficult to let the user choose the interval rather than give a menu of arbitrarily chosen intervals.

  • Noa Gana

    1. is there any way to see in LIVE what the camera is shooting? like a security camera?
    2. for how long can the battery last? hours? days? in stills timelaps mode
    3. what is the maximum memory ?


  • gtvone

    Hey Noa, you can connect to it via wifi while shooting, but I don’t recall if it cuts off the view while shooting – I don’t have it with me at the moment to check, sorry. High capacity 1400mAh battery enables long-lasing shooting, it can use for up to 120 min under 4K mode. It will take a 128gb card. Cheers.

  • Elton East

    For how long can you set the camera to take time lapse photos without making adjustments or pressing any buttons?

    I’m looking for a camera that I can set to take photos once per second or more for a period of 5 minutes or more without having to do anything once I’ve turned it on.

    Can this camera do that? Can any other action cam? I’m new to this.

Join Our Email Newsletter

Thanks for subscribing!

DPS offers a free weekly newsletter with: 
1. new photography tutorials and tips
2. latest photography assignments
3. photo competitions and prizes

Enter your email below to subscribe.
Get DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS feed