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Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Really Mixed Bag, 4 Mar. 2011
This review is from: Yongnuo YN - 560 Flash Standard (Camera)
I'm starting to get into strobist stuff so I bought this flash to use off-camera in conjunction with a Canon EOS 7D. Originally I had an EOS 40D and so bought a 580EX II as a master flash; having upgraded to a 7D with the built-in Speedlite Transmitter I now only need use the 580 as a master when I want functions that the 7D can't transmit via the wireless flash system. I therefore use the 580 off-camera as a key or fill.

With this YN560 I was hoping to find a low-priced generic manual flash that would be triggered by the 7D's Speedlite Transmitter, which I could use for a rim light, hair light, etc. The YN560 has two slave modes, S1 and S2: from what I can work out from the gibberish instructions, S1 is a "fire when you detect a flash" slave mode and S2 means "ignore TTL pre-flashes then fire".

S1 should be used when the master flash is in manual mode, and whenever it flashes the YN560 will flash too. S2 should be used when the master flash is using TTL (which fires a pre-flash to evaluate how much power is needed a fraction of a second before firing the flash that actually illuminates the scene).

The 7D (and now the 60D too) uses very rapid sequences of light from the built-in flash to control slave flash units. I was hoping that these commands would be ignored by the YN560 under slave mode 2. Unfortunately it doesn't ignore them; I think it ignores the very first flash then fires on the second one. The upshot of this is that IT FIRES BEFORE THE SHUTTER OPENS. I ran a number of tests in both slave modes, using either the 7D transmitter or the 580EX II in master mode, trying main flash disabled and enabled for each test. The YN560 fires but it is always too early and contributes NO LIGHT to the scene. The manual says to avoid "order mode" with Nikon when using S2, which I presume means that the slave mode is not compatible with Nikon's Speedlite control system either.

Using the 580EX II or the 7D's built-in flash in full manual mode with wireless turned off, the YN560 does trigger while the shutter is open. Result!

So in a nutshell, the YN560 cannot be triggered as part of a lighting setup that relies on the Canon Speedlite Wireless Transmitter system. If you are a Canon user, this flash is essentially an optical manual slave only. I believe the YN460-II uses the same slave system. It would seem from the "order mode" comment in the instructions that Nikon strobists will be in the same boat, but the manual says nothing about how Olympus or Pentax users will fare.

This is a massive shame because it means that if the YN560 is off-camera in S1 mode, then you need to have another flash in full manual mode on the camera in order to trigger it, or buy additional radio triggers. The built-in flash will also do the trick but of course you lose a heck of a lot of distance due to the puny guide number, especially if you dial back the power to stop the camera's flash from affecting your exposure.

I titled this review "A Really Mixed Bag". That's because the flash does have some great selling points. It's not the best build quality but it does feel fairly solid and the movement of the head is nice and smooth. It has a weird but usable button/display system. The flash really is powerful and the guide number seems realistic. It comes with a storage bag and a foot (incidentally, unlike the lame all-plastic foot that comes with the 580EX II, the foot that comes with the YN560 has a metal thread underneath it for tripod mounting).

At 1/8 power the instructions claim the flash will keep up with 8fps shooting. I tried shooting at 8fps with the YN560 as a manual remote slave: the frames with flash were separated by two without. I also tried the same test with the YN560 mounted on the camera: every other frame had flash; those in between did not. This test was carried out with the power set at LESS than 1/8, and I used Uniross Hybrio batteries (which give me three consecutive frames with flash in my 580EX II).

The YN560 has a three-pin port for an external power pack, as well as a PC port. It also has the same fold-out wide angle diffuser and catch-light panel as the 580EX II. The hot shoe foot is metal but it's only screw-tighten as opposed to the nice latch mechanism of the Canon model. There is NO weather sealing. There is NO master control mode.

All in all it is obviously a cheap knock-off, but it does deliver the light which is what really counts. And you're paying about 1/7 of the price of the 580EX II, or 1/4 the price of the 430EX II.
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