Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Yongnuo YN-560EX (EX600) Preliminary Tests

UPDATE: See the more comprehensive review here.

I just received the Yongnuo YN-560EX last night and did some tests.  FYI the YN-560EX (formerly EX600) is a manual flash with wireless TTL via Canon or Nikon's wireless flash commanders.  I was excited about this model because it's only $109.99, less than the YN-565EX (which has wireless TTL as well as on-camera TTL and costs around $160 for the Nikon version).  I believe it is currently the cheapest wireless TTL flash available.

I will post a more comprehensive review later but for now here are the results of my quick tests:
  • Build quality: seems about the same as the YN-560, but the LCD screen makes it look more polished.  The buttons are also different from the YN-560 and are hard plastic instead of squishy rubber, another improvement.  The hotshoe is mostly metal (the middle is plastic - perhaps to allow the flash to break away instead of tearing out your camera's hotshoe) and has a locking pin.  Doesn't look cheap at all.
  • Includes a flash stand and a nice-looking ballistic nylon case (similar to the case for an SB-900 or SB-800, though with slightly thinner padding) with a compartment for the stand.
  • Recycling: very fast.  At full power, seems to recycle in about 2 seconds with eneloop NiMH batteries.  I have to test whether it's really fully recycled or it's just indicating that it has recycled when it hasn't yet.
  • Power: advertised as having a guide number of 58 meters.  However when I tested it briefly against my SB-800 at 105mm zoom, the 560EX's output was noticeably lower, perhaps by as much as 1/2 stop.  My flashmeter is out for repair but it's one of the things I will test when I get my flashmeter back.
  • Interface: I liked the simple interface of the YN-560.  I was wondering with the new LCD interface of the YN-560EX whether the interface would become more complicated.  I found the interface very easy to use.  The only time I needed to look at the manual was to activate advanced options (sleep settings, manual power level increments, LCD brightness, quick startup)
  • Head rotates 180 degrees in both directions.
  • The front of the flash, where other flashes have an AF assist indicator, has brightly flashing LED lights when the 560EX is used as a slave to indicate that the flash is ready.
  • Has a 2.5mm jack instead of PC connector.  Could make it easier to connect it to accessories such as radio triggers.
  • Wireless mode: just like the YN-565EX you can select either wireless Nikon slave or wireless Canon slave.  In addition, there is the usual S1 (optical slave) and S2 (optical slave with delay for TTL).
With both the Canon and the Nikon wireless modes, you can select any of 4 channels and any of 3 groups (A, B, C).

I tested the Nikon wireless slave mode with the Nikon D90's popup commander and an SB-800 as master flash.  With the popup commander I was able to control the 560EX in channel 1, group A either in manual or TTL.  I was able to adjust the power manually and was able to adjust the flash exposure compensation.  I briefly tested channels 2, 3 and 4 and they also seemed to work.  However, when the 560EX is set to Group B, it seldom worked (perhaps 1 out of 10 shots), no matter which channel I used.  What's unusual is that I can see the flash firing but the flash is not in sync with the shot.

UPDATE: With my Fuji S5, it works in both Group A and B.  Will try to test with other cameras.

Using the SB-800 as commander, I was able to control the 560EX in group A, B or C, either in manual or TTL, apparently in all channels.

Some of the other tests I'd like to run:
  • TTL accuracy / similarity to SB-800
  • wireless mode sensitivity compared to SB-800
  • Does the wireless mode still work even when I am using other flashes in other groups?
  • I will try to meetup with a friend who has a Canon to see if he can control the flash.
  • testing whether the recycle at 2 secs. is really to full power.
  • flashmeter measurement
If there's anything else you'd like me to test, just post it in the comments or email me at info AT betterfamilyphotos.com.