Ears perked up, and eyes were wide open throughout the photography world late last year when Yongnuo announced that they would be making a hybrid camera that ran on Google’s Android software, and would feature a Canon EF Mount for lenses. The camera sounded pretty good; it promised easy connectivity to popular social media sites, and a user friendly interface that tens of millions of people around the world are familiar with. But between the announcement and now, you know what has really hit the fan. A recent report on Canon Watch, and a video from Cinema5D has shed some light on the new device, and honestly, it’s not pretty. The Yongnuo YN450 is essentially a smartphone that has a Canon EF mount slapped on the front. We have seen Android based cameras before in the guise of the Samsung Galaxy Camera, the Galaxy Camera 2, and the Galaxy NX, so the concept is nothing new. The idea that Samsung had was great, but the execution was poor, and the price of the devices was astronomical. The Yongnuo YN450 will be much cheaper, but it seems destined to flop. The Yongnuo YN450 runs Android 7.1 (yep two generations behind current Android software), and it features 4G Cell connectivity so that you can share your images straight to Facebook and Instagram right from the device. The back of the camera is dominated by a 5-inch 1080p touchscreen which really looks quite nice. It will certainly make framing pictures easy. The YN450 features a Canon EF mount which makes sense as the company makes very cheap Canon EF mount lenses, but oddly it has a 16MP Micro Four Thirds sensor, just 32GB of internal storage, an 8MP selfie camera which will please the vain people out there, it can record 4K video at 30FPS, and you can use an external SD card to increase the internal storage by another 32GB.
Okay, and breathe. What in the world is going on here? Yongnuo has really taken this device in a direction nobody saw coming. Last year we knew the camera would run Android, and that it would have the EF Mount, but the 16MP Micro Four Thirds sensor has thrown everyone through a loop. It quite honestly doesn’t make much sense. The decision to not support SDXC memory cards means you’re limited to a maximum of 64GB of storage. That may not sound too bad, but for 4K video that’s a fail. Then, when you take into account you’ll need to download apps, and of course save your DNG files (no RAW, just DNG), you see why the lack of storage will quickly become a problem.
The mount and the lenses that camera will use are going to make this camera incredibly bulky too. It certainly won’t be pocket friendly which is what people who would look to this device would probably like, so that’s a major misstep. Battery life has been rated at four hours of continuous use which doesn’t really tell us a whole lot either. On the plus side, Yongnuo say that autofocus will work with Canon lenses. Personally, I was looking forward to this quirky camera when I heard about it last year. I love the concept, and I think there are things being done here that many major camera manufacturers should seriously look at. Features like 4G connectivity, and a familiar Android based user interface which would allow a user to download and install applications like Snapseed, Lightroom Mobile, Facebook, Instagram, and so on are great.
I love the innovation and the idea, but why not design the camera to use smaller Micro Four Thirds lenses, especially seeing as it has a M4/3 sensor? Why have they limited storage space? Why not include higher capacity batteries? I think Yongnuo had a chance to make this one of the best pocket cameras around, but unfortunately I think they have blown it. The Price point of around $500 will mean that the Yongnuo will surely shift units, but the Yongnuo YN450 could have been so much more. It could have been a cult classic in the making, but now I can only see the Yongnuo YN450 joining the Samsung Galaxy and NX cameras in the deep, dark camera abyss. That’s a real shame. The Yongnuo YN450 will hit the Chinese market this April. What do you think about the Yongnuo YN450? Has Yongnuo missed their chance to create something truly special? Let us know in the comment section below.