Image Quality

This is a portrait sample taken with the 42.5mm F1.8 prime kit lens that is available to purchase with the YI. Edited to taste in ACR. Photo by Chris Williams

42.5mm lens (85mm equiv.), 1/250, F1.8, ISO 200

Raw Performance

The M1 delivers some fairly impressive Raw results for a Four Thirds CMOS sensor. The camera offers a nice amount of latitude in terms of Raw processing which enables you to recover shadow detail from the DNG files that the camera produces.

This is an un-edited JPEG conversion of the original Raw file. As you can see the photo was exposed for the highlights, leaving the shadows fairly dark. YI12-40mm F3.5-5.6

Photo by Chris Williams

40mm (80mm equiv.), 1/640, F5.6, ISO 200

Through ACR I was able to push the shadows +73 to recover much of the shadow detail from the original Raw.

The latitude found in the M1 DNG files allows you to push shadows to (we found around 2EV was often possible) with minimal cost to detail and limited additional noise in base ISO shots. The Raw files also handled higher ISOs fairly well, up to an ISO of around 6400.

Edited to taste in ACR. As you can see a lot of the detail is still evident in this painting and the file is still very useable even though it was shot at ISO 6400. YI 42.5mm F1.8 Prime

Photo by Chris Williams

42.5mm (85mm equiv.), 1/100, F1.8, ISO 6400


JPEG Performance

The JPEG engine in the M1 produces JPEGs that are full of detail, but lack vibrant color and contrast. I found that leaving the camera in 'Auto' mode often clipped some of the highlights in an effort to expose shadows and mid-tones in the photo correctly. That works fine if you're planning to shoot the camera in Raw full time (remember that you can't shoot in Raw + JPEG), since you can recover shadow detail through post processing, but if you're planning to shoot in JPEG only this can become problematic, especially in high contrast scenes.

This is a straight-out-of-camera JPEG shot in the 'Vivid' color mode and the 'Auto' settings. As you can see here the colors are very 'natural' with the majority of the reds and yellows fairly muted. The 'Auto' mode tends to produce brighter images that can sometimes leave the highlights blown out. YI 12-40mm F3.5-5.6

Photo by Chris Williams

25mm, 1/500, F5.4, ISO 200

The colors that the JPEG engine produces in the 'Standard' profile mode are fairly flat and they don't seem to change much at all when changing the shooting mode to 'Vivid', but the reds and yellows do see a slight increase in saturation. Since most shooters using this camera will primarily be shooting in JPEG, they may be underwhelmed by the colors in the images.

This is a straight-out-of-camera JPEG shot in the 'Vivid' color mode and the 'Auto' settings. Reds seem to fair a bit better with respect to vibrance and saturation. The scene here wasn't quite as contrasty is the above example and the M1 did a much better job of handling the exposure. YI 12-40mm F3.5-5.6

Photo by Chris Williams

40mm (80mm equiv.), 1/1000, F5.6, ISO 200

The camera also doesn't offer any control over in-camera Raw processing (you can just convert a DNG to a default JPEG), which can be an issue if you're someone with limited post processing experience. There are, however, several JPEG-only 'Scene' modes such as 'Sunset', 'Snow' and 'Sport'. The scene mode that offered the most colorful and punchy JPEGs was the 'Sunset' mode in which the saturation of the reds, yellows and other colors in the scene saw a very pleasing increase. Unfortunately, this mode is only available in the 'Scene' shooting mode, which means that it isn't available for other JPEG shooting modes like HDR, Time-lapse and Exposure Bracketing.

This is a straight-out-of-camera JPEG taken at an ISO of 3200. YI 42.5mm F1.8 Prime

Photo by Chris Williams

42.5mm (85mm equiv.), 1/100, F3.5, ISO 3200

In terms of high ISO performance, at sensitivities beyond 1600 the JPEG engine takes a fairly aggressive approach to noise reduction, yielding fairly muddled details. There is an additional 50MP JPEG 'Interpolation mode' which uses in-camera software to digitally increase the resolution of the image. I would suggest staying away from this mode as you lose a lot of detail in the resulting image.

Color modes

This is a straight-out-of-camera JPEG shot in the High Contrast Black and White Mode. YI 42.5mm F1.8 Prime

Photo by Chris Williams

42.5mm (85mm equiv.), 1/640, F4.1, ISO 200

The YI M1 offers five JPEG color modes: a high contrast black and white mode, a standard black and white mode, portrait, vivid, and lastly a standard shooting mode.