DON'T MISS: Italian conceptual portrait photographer Sara Lando coming to US for two weekends of workshops in August.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Test Drive: Yongnuo YN-560

UPDATE: AVOID. IT'S A DOG.

Six months in, there have been enough reports of dead or dodgy YN-560s that I cannot in good faith recommend this flash. IMO, if they would put $5 more into build quality and tweak the interface, they could have (or, could have had) a real winner.

Here is a direct quote, from a retailer who sold them in the UK:

"I had piles of dead ones out of the hundreds we bought. We sold them off as dead in batches of 10 for $10 a piece. Other than a fail as soon as we tested before shipping, some were brand new. But YongNuo offer resellers only a 30 day warranty, and it has to get to them inside the 30 days. That's two weeks shipping from them, 2-3 weeks to return = no warranty."

__________

After months of rumor-fueled anticipation, I finally got my grubby little hands on a production model YN-560 speedlight.

The new, $85(!) flash has two important features which potentially potentially make it an good addition to a lighting photographer's bag: A built-in slave and an external sync jack.

Any shoe-mount flash with that kind of bling deserves a look.

First impressions, after the jump.
__________


The flash I ordered was a standard production unit. I had seen reports around the web from pre-production versions, but this review is from a unit purchased directly from Yongnuo via the US eBay site.

There are lots of different people selling them on eBay. But Yongnuo was offering a one-year warranty, which made them the obvious choice. Your mileage may vary with other retailers, who may offer a warranty anywhere from one year down to nothing.

There has been a lot of talk of the YN-560 as a lower-priced alternative to the $160 LumoPro LP160. Let's see how it stacks up.


Build Quality / Warranty

Yongnuo is an up-and-comer. Their quality continues to improve, and I have been very happy with my Yongnuo 10m TTL cord. Similarly, this flash gets triple aces on build quality -- it is very solid. Like, surprisingly so.

It feels like a much more expensive flash, aping the lines of the similarly named Canon EX-580 II. The battery door is captive and hinged (a plus over the LP160) and very well-designed. The battery polarity sticker is a nice touch for guys like me who are putting off getting bifocals. (That bell tolls for me in three weeks -- I am officially old.)

The batts themselves drop right in, whereas the LP160 housing can be a little tight on some of the rechargeable batts that sometimes are a little bigger than the alkaline versions.

The PC jack and high-voltage jack (don't get too excited about the latter yet) are covered by a rubber door -- another nice touch. Unlike the metal foot on the LP160, Yongnuo chose to use a plastic foot on the '560. I would not consider this a problem, as it appears to be solid.

Like the '160, it has a screw-down lock collar, but also adds a lock pin. In practice, the screw-down collar should suffice. Short answer, both models have reliable feet.

Weight-wise, it measures up about the same as an LP160 -- maybe even a tad heavier, judging with one in each hand. Both of these models are well-built.

So, build quality is great. Which is not to say that quality control necessarily is on the '560. As I said, this was a production model. But nonetheless, mine had some problems.

The recycle beep function did not work on my flash, which is a minor annoyance from an otherwise helpful feature. The LP 160 does not include a ready beep, but does include a ready light on both the front and the back. Call it a wash -- well, if the ready beep worked on the '560.

Far more frustrating was the fact that my flash had a non-working zoom-head motor.

Argh.

I so wanted to love you, YN-560. Now you hit me with a second, non-working feature. The absence of which essentially makes the flash unusable for me, necessitating a round-trip return to China.

On the one hand, this is why I strongly suggest buying direct. On the other hand, I would also suggest that Yongnuo join LumoPro in hand-checking each unit before it goes out. It is only a wasted effort if your quality control is hitting 100%. And you are not there yet, Yongnuo.

It's 30 seconds of prevention to insure against a few weeks' wait for the customer if problems arise later. Especially until Yongnuo gets the early production bugs worked out.


Slave and Sync

Kudos to Yongnuo for including both a slave and an external sync jack, although I would have loved to see a 1/8" jack alongside the PC version. Having to buy overpriced PC cords over the life of the flash is a hidden tax when compared to flashes that sync with a 1/8" jack. Advantage: LP160.

From my early testing, the slave appears to be very capable, and on par with that of the LP160. I would have liked to see more rotation on the flash head, which goes 180-left and 90-right. This leaves one quadrant uncovered for times when you need to point the flash head one way and the slave another.

The LP160 goes 180-right and 150-left, meaning click stops every 30 degrees around the circle. This difference will not seem important to you until you need to point the slave in a certain direction to get a good sync. Advantage, LP160.


Control Interface

What can I say. I found the 560's controls to be both fantastic and maddening.

On the plus side, you get a 1/1 - 1/128 power range. This is unheard of in the sub-$100 price range, but they go and include eight steps of variability between each stop. Amazing in theory, but in practice the flash's consistency tops out in the ~1/3-stop range. In other words, it ain't a Profoto D1, but I really like where they are aiming. You have to give them major props for that little trick. Advantage: YN-560.

That was the spoonful of sugar. Now here's the medicine.

The flash uses a row of 8 LEDs across the back display to give the following info:


1. Zoom head angle: This is the only function that is actually labelled, and a tad ironically so for me given that my zoom motor did not work.


2. Power range, from 1/1 to 1/128: When adjusting the power with the left/right buttons, the dot scale represents overall flash power -- but is not labelled as such. You have to count the dots. That's a dumb miss -- what were they thinking?


3. Intra-stop power range: When using the up/down buttons, this adjusts the power between stops. Again, no labels, and going for the third indicator from the same set of LEDs gets problematic when it comes to labeling.


I applaud the effort to get as much mileage as possible out of the LEDs, but I personally found the interface to be completely non-intuitive bordering on pretty annoying.

On the other hand, the LP160 has two rows of LEDs signaling both zoom head setting and power setting. So, while the LP160 lacks intra-stop adjustments and a 1/128th power setting, I still strongly prefer its interface -- faster and more intuitive.


Modes

Both flashes feature manual mode and two slave modes -- straight and pre-flash. They are pretty self-explanatory, although I do not know exactly how each handles the pre-flashes. But there is some mechanism for adding slaved manual flash to your TTL flashes, if that is your thing.

The YN560 offers a power saving mode, which will idle the flash after 3 mins. The instruction manual says you can wake it back up from its slumber by pressing the test button or the power button. Presumably, the test circuit could also be activated by a hard trigger at the PC jack, but probably not via the slave. After 15 mins of being dormant, the flash will turn itself off. If you are in either slave mode, the flash will extend the dormancy period to 30 mins.

That's pretty cool, but here's where it goes off the rails. If you turn off the power-saving mode, the flash will still shut down after 30 mins of non-firing (60 mins in slave modes).

Maybe it is just me, but if I turn off the power-saving mode, I would want the flash not to go to sleep. So if you pre-set flashes before an event, you'd better remember to pop them occasionally while you wait for the event to start. This is just dumb programming, and I would strongly suggest changing this on the next product run.

If I am not in power-saving mode, it is because I want the flash to stay on. If I drain the batts, it's on me.


Power

Other testers have reported power levels to be similar to the Nikon and Canon flagship flashes. Just a tad below, to be specific, for both the '560 and the '160 -- and I have no reason to doubt them. In short, plenty of power.

I'd confirm it, but I do not even know what zoom setting my flash is stuck at. It's something wide as far as I can tell. Barring that info, comparative readings would be useless.


Recycle Time

Nice surprise here -- the YN-560 recycles fast. As in less than 2 seconds for NiMH's, and ~4 secs for alkalines. Remember, 1.2 NiMH batts deliver current faster than their higher-voltage alkaline cousins, and that's what counts.

But with great power comes great responsibility, dragonfly. After just ten full-power pops at the speed at which the internal NiMH AA's will recycle it, the '560 will drop into thermal protection mode for several minutes.

So back off, Rambo, unless you want a three-minute time-out. My advice would be to back off the recycle time just a tad so we could make use of it for more than ten pops at a time. Or, add in a little better heat sink and let us make use of this fast cycling.

Oddly (given the above) the YN-560 includes a high-power jack which appears to be a Canon model jack. Why would you do this on a flash that can overheat itself in ten full-power pops using just NiMH AA's?

This I do not know. If you get a YN-560, my advice is to ignore the hi-power batts. The inability of this flash to quickly dissipate heat would make it not very useful.


Accessories

Unlike the LP160, the '560 does not come with a sync cord, but it does come with a case. Both flashes come with a foot/stand, and the '560's has a metal 1/4x20 insert. Nice.

And, oddly, my '560 came with a Sto-Fen -type dome, but it was outside the box. So I do not know if every YN-560 comes with a dome, or if I was just lucky. Add in the variable of other dealers, and who knows.

There is a pull-up/fold-over wide-angle panel, and a pull-out bounce card -- nice. The panel is pretty stiff, and without a lot of lip to grab. If you are a fingernail biter, you'll probably have to pull out a credit card or driver's license to get it out. But still, nice touch. The LP-160 has a slip-on diffuser panel. No nails needed, but you could lose it.

Advantage: Depends on what accessories are more important to you.


Where to Buy

No brainer -- get it direct from the factory on eBay. Why? Well, there's the one-year warranty for starters. It's not as long as the LP160 (2 years) but still very good. Alas, if you have problems with it as I did, it will require a round-trip back to China. But at least there should be no passing the buck on who is to blame for the problem.

And don't be confused by the Nikon version vs. the Canon version vs. the Pentax version, etc., on eBay. As far as I can tell, they are all the same. Just keywording to try to catch more bidders.

So that's the quick test drive. If you are using a YN-560, hit us in the comments with your experiences.


__________

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125 Comments:

Blogger john_dorian said...

This flash is awesome! I wanna marry it!

August 12, 2010 12:15 AM  
Blogger Dano said...

I want one! I think I will buy one tomorrow. Be a nice addition than buying another Vivtar 285. Can I stick this on my Canon and it not do damage?

August 12, 2010 12:24 AM  
Blogger Kirk Lau said...

I also got my hands on one of these puppy about a month ago (I have the luxury of working in china, so it is much easier for me to get it, and quicker)
the flash unit also had the same problem of the zoom head not moving.
however if you hear the moter sound while u change your zoom, it is matter of a small clip/wire inside the unit that got loosen

I took it apart and carefully put the clip back and it is working now! the zoom works fine after.
however, if you got warranty on this, you might not want to take it apart and try fix it yourself.

only complain, i hope the power could be higher. i think 460II still has a bit more power.

But the recycle time and the beep was great!

August 12, 2010 1:00 AM  
Blogger Frank said...

So if the flash zoom and the recycle beep function worked, who would you give the nod to?

August 12, 2010 1:17 AM  
OpenID kurtwerks said...

You know, I feel much better about the '560 knowing that it has an "Unsulated gate bipolar transistor circuit design, it's more beautiful, creditable and professional (http://cgi.ebay.com/YN-560-Flash-Speedlite-Nikon-D700-D300-D200-D100-/150477944031?pt=Digital_Camera_Flashes)." Man, I love Engrish.

Seriously, nice review. Looks like the LP160 still has the edge.

August 12, 2010 1:23 AM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Thanks for your timely post, David. I feel qualified to speculate here, having just killed one of my venerable Sunpak 383s by running it off a wall wart that wasn't as regulated as I thought it was...

David sez: "Why would you do this on a flash that can overheat itself in ten full-power pops using just NiMH AA's?"

Without getting into too much math, it's the internal resistance of the AAs and the efficiency losses in the step-up converter that cause almost all of the heating. Those poor things have to handle a 30W average load during the recycle. If all that high voltage generation happens outside the flash, there won't be any reason for the flash to thermally overload.

Since it seems the charging is microprocessor controlled, it might have been nicer to have the flash slow down the charging at higher temperatures rather than go on strike.

August 12, 2010 1:28 AM  
Blogger Markus said...

Nice, seems like excellent value... if only everything worked...

I certainly agree that adding small text to indicate the power is a no brainer. Also, I'd imagine a second or even third row of led's wouldn't cost a fortune. However, not considering the poor use of led's, I just love the simplicity these strobist flashes can be controlled. Often times I find myself grabbing the YN-460 II cheapo flash instead of around five times more costly Canon EX430 II, only using it for the occasions I really need TTL.

Tough call between these and LP160. I suppose I'll be getting two more flashes sometime soonish, as I've noticed that often I could use more than three strobes. LP160 seems like a slightly better product, but then again, I can get two YN's for the price of one LP160. I'm not in a hurry so I quess I can afford a round trip to China :p

Anyway, more competition is always good for us Strobist!

August 12, 2010 2:00 AM  
Blogger Nick said...

I haven't tried the YN-560, but I've been very happy with my pair of YN-460-II's. They seem to be the more basic flash from the same Yongnuo generation, with the YN-560 serving as the big-brother model. (The YN-460-II was released ~May.)

At $40 each, they weren't a difficult sell to experiment with, especially because I'm new to speedlights, and I'd rather spend my money on other equipment. I've been very happy with them so far, here are some notes.

Differences from the YN-560:
- No motorized zoom head
- No external PC sync
- No recycle beep
- 1/1 to 1/64 power tuning (one stop less than the YN-560)
- No high-power jack

Similarities to YN-560:
- Big, easy-to-handle screw collar with lock pin
- 90-right, 180-left flash head rotation
- Built-in optical slave (with mode to ignore pre-flash)
- Pull out wide-angle panel and bounce card
- Included foot with metal tripod insert, I've found this to be very handy so far
- Fast recycle time -- perhaps a bit slower -- but ~4sec at 1/1 with NiMH batteries. (At 1/4, it's well below two seconds.)

Losing the zoom head is a reliability win, overall. I agree it's too bad that QC can't be better.

I plan to pull one of mine apart in a week or so to try and solder in an 1/8" jack for wired triggering. There seems to be a nice hollow spot below the optical trigger, perfect for a DIY addition.

Overall, if you're not broken hearted over the loss of a zoom head and external sync, I'd highly recommend considering the YN-460II as well, they share many of the same features, and I've been very happy with mine.

August 12, 2010 2:04 AM  
Blogger Daniel said...

Unfortunately, I would avoid YN flashes. I have had two YN-460's die on me in less than a year and the other one now requires a pen to push the buttons hard enough to work.

The durability and quality control of their flashes leaves a lot to be desired, which is a shame because I have some of their wireless triggers and a sync cord and they are rock solid.

August 12, 2010 2:48 AM  
OpenID out0f0rder said...

You didn't mention flash duration. According to some googling it is reported to have 1/800 - 1/20000 s. Which I highly doubt.
Is it suitable to freezing action?
If you can do a quick test with falling drop or ball like that one it would be a nice addition.
Overall, you've made a great review! Thanks a lot!

August 12, 2010 2:59 AM  
Blogger Payam Hamzei said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

August 12, 2010 3:01 AM  
Blogger wafu said...

I got one yesterday from a Kiwi dealer and it was DOA.

At switch on the LED'd lit up OK, but the pilot LED just glowed red then the unit shut down after a few seconds. I changed batteries and nearly fried my hand as the batteries where hot, so hot they burnt a battery shape pattern in a work top.

Returned the unit today and got a new replacement and all is well with the World again. Not really had chance to really test it but looking good so far.

August 12, 2010 3:03 AM  
Blogger Rich said...

Great review

I got mine from a UK re-seller a couple of weeks ago. luckily the zoom works, but my test button is very stiff and it's near impossible to press when the flash is on a light stand. I got the diffuser cap in my box as well.

The flash works well on my RF602's as well.

August 12, 2010 3:26 AM  
Blogger Anonymouslemming said...

I found the test button on my unit to be so hard to push that it's almost useless, but beyond that I love it. It compliments my SB-800 wonderfully.

I bought mine from a UK retailer, and he allegedly hand tests all triggers (I bought some RF602s with mine) and flashes before sending them, so I was confident I was going to get a working zoom head. I've read reports elsewhere of problems with this.

I'm happy so far - I got the new flash and a set of triggers for under 100 quid. The only problems with the flash so far are talent issues, and there isn't a flash in the world that can fix that :)

August 12, 2010 3:30 AM  
Blogger Kurbster said...

Thanks for your review DH,
Sorry to hear about the zoom head and the chime, But the chime can be turned on, and off.

I hope your retuned one will work 100% out of the box as my 2 did.

I think yongnuo needs to package these better for shipping, My 2 came in a nice little box with bubble foam, and not that plain brown envelope.

Once again thanks for your review

The Kurbster

August 12, 2010 3:34 AM  
Blogger thinkfromscratch said...

all features aside, would you get more value out of this thing (fully operational) or a Vivitar 285HV?

-Kevin
http://kevinramos.us

August 12, 2010 4:17 AM  
Blogger thinkfromscratch said...

all quasi-features aside, would you get more value in the end out of this thing (fully operational) or a 285HV?

-Kevin
http://kevinramos.us

August 12, 2010 4:19 AM  
Blogger thinkfromscratch said...

all quasi-features aside, would you get more value in the end out of this thing (fully operational) or a 285HV?

-Kevin
http://kevinramos.us

August 12, 2010 4:19 AM  
Blogger Simon Fuller said...

hi just two dumb questions i'm sure, but:

1. Can a 580ex2 trigger this thing (i know it's manual only)

2. How about a PW flex or miniTT?

Thanks in advance..

August 12, 2010 5:26 AM  
Blogger Joseph said...

Thanks for the great review. I still think that a used Nikon SB-26 is better value; & many times goes for the same price (plus shipping; this unit has free shipping).

Shame that the unit you bought(?) was faulty.

August 12, 2010 6:18 AM  
Blogger Joseph said...

Thanks for the great review. I still think that a used Nikon SB-26 is better value; & many times goes for the same price (plus shipping; this unit has free shipping).

Shame that the unit you bought(?) was faulty.

August 12, 2010 6:19 AM  
Blogger Russ Heller said...

David,
Great post, as usual. On the topic of powering small flashes, I have a feature request and I was wondering if you could help brainstorm its viability. Maybe you can even use your sway to help get someone to develop it. Basically, is there any reason why small flashes can't have the option to power them with no batteries at all?

On location, batteries are great, even necessary. There are plenty of occasions however, when power from the wall is readily available. In the studio, it seems crazy to have to keep 4 batteries charged per flash, and to have that power rapidly fizzle away if it isn't used. Big boy strobes are an option, but their size, weight, and usually slower flash duration sometimes make them an inferior option to speedlights.

In the past, I have used a Quantum Turbo as a solution to battery dependency. It holds a charge much longer but it has drawbacks as well. The QT does most of the heavy lifting of powering the flash, but the circuitry still requires AAs to run. Also, the QT weighs a ton, it is expensive and it is hard to power more than one light with it unless they are very close together.

So why can't small flashes be manufactured with a power jack that gives them what they need right out of the wall? It should be simple enough, since just about every other battery powered device has an AC adapter option. Even my dSLR has this option via an overpriced dummy battery insert. Something similar could be developed to retrofit flash models that are already on the market (hey engineers, a lot of people will buy your new thingy).

It seems to me like the best option for a retrofit would be something that is flexible enough to work on different flash models (where the battery compartment is spaced differently). That way it wouldn't require the expense of a separate, rigid dummy batt for each design config. It would need to perform the two functions of the battery door, bridging the series circuit of the individual batts, and keeping it all inside (maybe also hitting some button, so the flash thinks the door is closed). the dummy insert could either latch onto the same thing that the battery door does, or it could all be held inside by bungees, in the worst case. For those who like to void their warranties, a replacement or modded battery door could allow a cord to run right through it like the canon dSLR AC solution.

So along the same common sense lines as your campaign for 1/8" jacks over PC, can you help start a discussion about AC power as a speedlight option? Is there any obvious reason why this wouldn't work that I haven't thought of?

August 12, 2010 6:30 AM  
Blogger Russ Heller said...

David,
Great post, as usual. On the topic of powering small flashes, I have a feature request and I was wondering if you could help brainstorm its viability. Maybe you can even use your sway to help get someone to develop it. Basically, is there any reason why small flashes can't have the option to power them with no batteries at all?

On location, batteries are great, even necessary. There are plenty of occasions however, when power from the wall is readily available. In the studio, it seems crazy to have to keep 4 batteries charged per flash, and to have that power rapidly fizzle away if it isn't used. Big boy strobes are an option, but their size, weight, and usually slower flash duration sometimes make them an inferior option to speedlights.

So why can't small flashes be manufactured with a power jack that gives them what they need right out of the wall? It should be simple enough, since just about every other battery powered device has an AC adapter option. Even my dSLR has this option via an overpriced dummy battery insert. Something similar could be developed to retrofit flash models that are already on the market (hey engineers, a lot of people will buy your new thingy).

It seems to me like the best option for a retrofit would be something that is flexible enough to work on different flash models (where the battery compartment is spaced differently). That way it wouldn't require the expense of a separate, rigid dummy batt for each design config. It would need to perform the two functions of the battery door, bridging the series circuit of the individual batts, and keeping it all inside (maybe also hitting some button, so the flash thinks the door is closed). the dummy insert could eather latch onto the same thing that the battery door does, or it could all be held inside by bungies, in the worst case. For those who like to void their warranties, a replacement or modded battery door could allow a cord to run right through it like the canon dSLR AC solution.

So along the same common sense lines as your campaign for 1/8" jacks over PC, can you help start a discussion about AC power as a speedlight option? Is there any obvious reason why this wouldn't work that I haven't thought of?

August 12, 2010 6:33 AM  
Blogger Rudy said...

"my advice is to ignore the hi-power batts. The inability of this flash to quickly dissipate heat would make it not very useful."

The heat overload may (likely) be caused by the charge circuit so the external high voltage battey pack could reduce the rate of heat build up. But the even faster cycle times will have some people trying to shoot quicker yet and running into the same issue. It's a speed light damn it not a studio strobe.

August 12, 2010 6:35 AM  
Blogger The23rdman said...

David, it's a shame you got a duff one. I'm planning on getting mine in the UK from Cotswold who I know test every unit before sending them out.

August 12, 2010 6:46 AM  
Blogger The23rdman said...

David, it's a shame you got a duff one. I'm planning on getting mine in the UK from Cotswold who I know test every unit before sending them out.

August 12, 2010 6:47 AM  
Blogger Dan Lewry said...

Thanks for the initial hands on, it's made me feel a little better about my 560 purchase even though I have exactly the same zoom problem as you describe.

Very disappointing especially with the long delay for the round trip return.

August 12, 2010 7:13 AM  
Blogger Toooommmm said...

I've just got the YN-560 and it's great apart from when I turn it on the fact you have to hold the power button is annoying as hell but then again at that price who cares? I think what it lacks in an good interface is more than worth £60

August 12, 2010 8:04 AM  
Blogger Kristofor Jensen said...

Nice review!

You mention the slave 2 mode being 'ttl' compatible. I know your don't use the nikon built-in pop-up commander but would you mind doing a quick test to see if it fires properly when there are other preflashes going on? Like if there was two groups already going (the most preflashes I can think of).

I'd love to grab one of these as a background/separation light but it would be money wasted if it can't dance the waltz with the other stuff that's already going on.

cheers and keep up the great work!

kkjensen

August 12, 2010 8:08 AM  
Blogger Alexander said...

Conclusion is not clear :) You encountered set of problems, non-working features and some of them really crucial. Overall, could you recommend this flash as a part of starter kit for novice photographer?

August 12, 2010 8:22 AM  
Blogger Ryan said...

I don't suppose this has a delay feature like the SB-26, otherwise you would have mentioned it.
Any other flashes besides the SB26?
I'm looking to have two slaved BG flashes for even spread and not have to dedicate them to a wireless TTL channel.

August 12, 2010 8:41 AM  
Blogger Ryan said...

I don't suppose this has a delay feature like the SB-26, otherwise you would have mentioned it.
Any other flashes besides the SB26?
I'm looking to have two slaved BG flashes for even spread and not have to dedicate them to a wireless TTL channel.

August 12, 2010 8:42 AM  
Blogger 60/40 said...

Great review, thanks so much for the info. I have been planning to buy 2 LP160s in the very near future to take me up to 4 lights. With this review, I think I am going to go for 2 of these, and 1 LP160 for the same price.

You rock as always David.

August 12, 2010 8:47 AM  
Blogger ethervibes said...

The one bummer is, when I mount my YN560 onto the RF-602 radio receiver, I can not reach the on/off switch of the receiver unit. (it goes right below the bulky body of the 560. The on/off switch of RF-602 is accessible when I use by SB600 or YN-460. (Because these are not as bulky). Why would Yongnuo not test the compatibility of it's own products. I just received the YN560 and yet to test if the zoom motor works. Take care

August 12, 2010 8:55 AM  
Blogger jason groupp said...

Thanks for this review! I've been trying to find a replacement for my dying 285HV's that I've had for over 15 years now. After some research I find myself disappointed that the new ones (285HV) are not built well, and it's impossible to find the old metal replacement foots. onwards...

So I've been trying to decide between these two for a week now and this is super helpful. It's unfortunate that the YN560 doesn't have the 1/8" jack, that's the deal breaker for me. Too bad.

LP160 don't let me down! :)

August 12, 2010 9:01 AM  
Blogger glenn said...

the GN is posted from the ebay ad as:"GN58 @ ISO100", for what it's worth...

August 12, 2010 9:06 AM  
Blogger Adler said...

Decide to give this Yongnao a try, wonder why I can't use my Paypal to buy it.

Very strange!

August 12, 2010 9:11 AM  
Blogger Adler said...

Just decidec to give this strobe a try. Ordered it form your link, wonder why I can't use my PayPal account, that strange!

August 12, 2010 9:13 AM  
Blogger Ian Worthington said...

Am I the only one thinking there's been a serious falloff in QA standards? Your problems with this beasty echo mine with TWO Nissin strobes. And with a Yongnuo ettl extension cable that was DOA. The Canon 7D launch not that long ago was awash with stories -- some at least credible -- of returns required. I'm sure I could go on.

I'm getting pretty cheesed off with it. And now everything it manufactured and serviced in the far East, it's only the postal services of the world that are winning.

August 12, 2010 9:20 AM  
Blogger glenn said...

@ Russ Heller - the Vivitar 285 HV can be used with the AC power adapter, "The Pearstone SB-4 is an AC adapter that allows the Vivitar 283 and 285HV flash units to be powered by 110V household current." B & H has them here:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?Ntt=The+Pearstone+SB-4+is+an+AC+adapter&N=0&InitialSearch=yes

August 12, 2010 9:58 AM  
Blogger fotofred said...

Coinky-dink! I was thinking earlier this morning about how disappointed I was that my Yongnuo sync cord/jump rope was near impossible to slide into my D90's hot shoe. I was afraid I would damage it, requiring a months-long repair. Fortunately I used the "real" Nikon sync cord immediately afterward and it worked fine.

August 12, 2010 10:39 AM  
OpenID elementalme said...

Does anyone know if this speedlight is compatible with a D90?

August 12, 2010 11:11 AM  
Blogger Mic Ty said...

Hi David. Sorry your unit doesn't work fully. FWIW, I dropped mine (by accident, I assure you) and the zoom was the function that broke. I also noticed early on that although my chime button works, sometimes it's not responsive.

@outoforder - based on my testing, the flash duration at full power is 1/640 or faster. I tested this using a point-and-shoot with an electronic shutter and found no difference in flash exposure until I hit 1/800, at which point there was a very slight reduction in power.

@ Kristofor Jonsen, the S2 digital optical slave mode does work with CLS AWL preflashes but only with particular settings. Long story short, the variables that affect ability to sync include: shutter speed, sync mode, flash exposure modes of other flashes, whether FV lock is used, which channel is used, which groups are used. I posted a link to the settings on the flickr discussion: http://www.flickr.com/groups/strobist/discuss/72157624180121385/72157624446487335/

August 12, 2010 12:31 PM  
Blogger Josh said...

Have you verified that the slave is actually in the body and not the head? The YN-460's slave is in the head, in spite of the deceptive red plastic on the front of the body. This makes it hard to slave with modifiers.

August 12, 2010 1:26 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Does it come with a optic slave like the Nikon SB26?

August 12, 2010 1:49 PM  
Blogger Leroy said...

This may not be a strobe- or even a photography-related question, but since you advise ordering directly from the Chinese factory, how are customs regulations and duties handled? I don't want trouble from ICE.

August 12, 2010 2:03 PM  
Blogger WingedPower said...

Just shelled out some monies for a LP160, then, merely an hour after doing so, I saw this post from you and my heart lept in my throat. I mean.. I could have gotten 2 YH560(s) for the price of the one LP160.

However, on reading it, I calmed down and realized my decision to go with the LP160 was a good one. I'm going to rely on this flash for a VERY long time. I'm willing to pay more to make sure that my equipment doesn't fail on me when I need it. I don't want to be carrying 5 or 6 extra flashes only to have to sweat bullets digging through the pile and find out which one is and isn't working... I just want to pull it out, plug it in, and have it work.

I like the captive door. The looser tolerance for the batteries is a good and bad thing, and may not necessarily have been by design. ;) The fast flash recharging is great, but with such a fast overheat... I think folks who buy it will want to retrofit it with a larger heat sink and/or fan. Similarly with the lack of a 1/8" jack.

Waiting on my LP160, but keeping an eye on the YH560. Money is harder to come by these days... rather than spending that money on a gamble with long round trip shipping times for exchanges, I'd rather invest my money in a more reliable unit.

August 12, 2010 2:36 PM  
Blogger Robert_Pat said...

Hello David
The recycle beep function did not work when you trigger the flash with the test button.
You have to trigger the YN 560 otherwise to get the beep-please try-. Also you have to verify if the option is enabled.
I have 2 YN560 and both came without the Sto-Fen -type dome, some sellers will add this in the deal.

I had the option to buy a LP160 or 2*YN560(for the same price). I went with the plan B, and TODAY(1 month later) I do not regret my decision.
I hear( a lot) complains about motor zoom not working on yn560 after a drop.
My theory is the QC in China is working fine(why not? the labor is almost free) but the motor is very receptive to Newton Law . I’ll try to postpone the impact test as much as I can

August 12, 2010 3:23 PM  
Blogger Robert Whetton said...

great timing, i was just looking into purchasing a couple of these to replace my ageing 430 Speedlites

thanks for the review :)

August 12, 2010 3:44 PM  
Blogger midwestphotoexchange said...

Small correction: The LP160 does come with a Mini-PC sync cord.

@Russ: Good to hear your comments. One more vote for that addition to the next LumoPro flash!

@DH: What did it cost you to ship the flash back to China? Did they cover shipping either way?

August 12, 2010 3:48 PM  
Blogger SAUL said...

Hi David thanks for this great review. I received mine about 3 weeks ago and I have a couple of things to share:

1- I'm using the unit mostly in weddings, so having the ability of plugging a battery pack is a bless ! I'm not too concern about recycle times as much as # of pops. With the battery pack (canon) it gives me a amazing 400 to 500 pops at full power...

2- I don't know if the problem is my softbox but I see a clear magenta cast... that's go into a very different direction of my Canon 580EXII which is slightly green. I use to work with both together, I guess I may have to gel it to have some color consistency between both units

3- Last thing, this guy is very well built, 1500 shoots per event and zero problems.

August 12, 2010 4:12 PM  
Blogger SAUL said...

Forgot to say, I test both units YN560 & Canon 580II at same power (full) and same distance with my lightmetter..results, the canon one is half a stop stronger than the youngnuo.

August 12, 2010 4:15 PM  
Blogger Setcamper said...

Nice review David, sorry to hear about your defective model. I got my YN-560 a couple months back and have nothing to complain about.

I'll agree the interface isn't straightforward, but I love how easy it is to push the buttons and change settings (compared to my 430exII which I need to manhandle to adjust).

While I can see why the swivel range and overheating while pushing the recycle time could be an issue for advanced users, at the 560's price point I couldn't care less.

As a strobist beginner I'm very pleased with the 560 and would happily have 2 of them to one LP-160.

August 12, 2010 6:14 PM  
Blogger Senorito<- Ako said...

Great review. I've read other reviews online and nobody thought to test the number of consecutive full power pops !

Too bad for YongNuo that you got a defective unit. It WOULD'VE been a HOMERUN for them.

August 12, 2010 7:24 PM  
Blogger Darren said...

I have recently purchased a YN560 from Image Melbourne (Australia) - worked fine out of the box. Of course had to do some playing and testing and this is what we found:
* Less than a 1/3 of a stop difference, full power at 35mm and 105mm to my 580EXII - Serious power here
* Recharges a fraction of a second slower than the 580EXII at full power
* Recharge sound works if fired with built in slave but not if fired through hot shoe (didn't try PC sync port)
* Remembers your settings after powering off (my other YN flashes don't do this and it is great for when you set up a lighting scenario early, power off and come back later)
* Didn't blow up my 7D when I put it in the hot-shoe (not that I expected it to)
* For what it is worth, this is my 3rd YN flash and all have been great. All have been purchased through local distributor, so that might have something to do with it.

As with all these things, there are good and bad points...

Good stuff:
* I think you get more than what you pay for. It is a cheap flash with good features
* A heap of power
* Slave works well
* Zoom works well
* Seems solid enough
* Slave mode S2 worked with my on-board flash set to TTL (not a big deal to be honest)

Not so good stuff:
* I agree about the power display - this has been a problem on my 460s as well. There is plenty of room to label so it baffles me why they didn't. I have added my own label.
* A thread on the PC socket would have been nice
* I had to read the manual to figure out the 1/8th stop power adjustments - still confuses me
* Mode S2 didn't work with my on-board flash set to wireless trigger mode (which is a bit annoying if i want to manually and remotely control the 580EXII and still have the slave work) - Might try again though because now that I think about it, I probably didn't have things set up right.
* I wish there was a hard power switch (rather than a button) - thing gets switched on accidentally every now and then and flattens the batteries.

I am very happy with this flash and would highly recommend, but if you want one I would suggest getting it from a decent local distributor (if possible).

August 12, 2010 8:42 PM  
Blogger bobby-m said...

Hi there. I'm afraid I haven't been able to read through all of the previous comments but I thought I would add my two cents to the pot since I purchased one of these around 2 weeks ago (arrived two weeks ago).

I was tossing up between the lomo and this and get this because of the lower price and good things I had heard about it.

My version worked almost perfectly, the only issue was the test button has to be pressed very hard to make fire and the beep was making some strange noises at one point. Apart from that it all works fine and I have been very impressed.

I have been quite disappointed with the unlabeled power settings on the led's but I'll add in my own scale I think.

One other thing that I think I should point out is that you can't trigger this flash with a wireless trigger while it is in one of its two slave modes. So you can't use the slave as a back up trigger if the radio fails, but one of the other flashes fire, if you know what I mean.

On the whole though I'd say it is well worth the money

Cheers

August 12, 2010 9:05 PM  
Blogger Pare ou Pense said...

I have a Y460 and it has got an annoying sontinuous sound while it is on... Has anyone got the same problems, does anybody happen to know if this new Yongnuo makes this noise too?

August 12, 2010 9:39 PM  
Blogger bobby-m said...

The YN-560 doesn't make any noise while turned on except for the beep when it is recycled and the motor noise when it is zoomed. There is no recycle noise or any other noise at all.

August 13, 2010 12:15 AM  
Blogger Bruce said...

Funny how geographic location mixes things up. I can get the LumoPro 160 shipped to me in NZ from the US, and it's going to come out around $NZ250 once shipping and local sales tax (12.5% GST - they hit you with this when it arrives in the country) are added in.

Meanwhile our local auction site Trademe has sellers pushing the YN560 for between $NZ259 and $NZ280. So the YN560 ends up having little to offer against the LumoPro in price!

August 13, 2010 12:52 AM  
Blogger Andrew Gronow said...

+1 for CotswoldPhoto.
If your in the UK get one from him.
1 year warranty and checked before dispatch.

August 13, 2010 4:33 AM  
Blogger Darren said...

@Pare ou Pense... My 460s do the same thing. This new flash is quiet and you can't hear the charging circuit.

August 13, 2010 5:20 AM  
Blogger Ryan S. said...

Also curious about flash duration. Anyone have any solid info?

August 13, 2010 1:45 PM  
Blogger paul said...

I bought two YN-560 and both worked without fault, but I bought from a UK ebay store (Costwolds) who allegedly check them pre-shipment.

The zoom is very noisy in operation by the way, when it does work (un-greased worm drive sounds like).

Agree the lights are not that obvious for the multi-uses, but for the price its a bad interface I can live with.

August 13, 2010 2:05 PM  
Blogger Bill Wisser said...

I got my 560 about 10 days ago and it has worked perfectly on several shoots -- this is a truly great flash!

IMHO, its ability to shoot at 1/128th power and also to allow fine, 1/8 stop adjustments of the power far outweighs any difficulty with the LED interface -- you soon get used to the quirky LED system, and it totally ceases to be a problem.

On the other hand, the test, or pilot, button is a bit too stiff -- you have to press it really hard -- and I agree with David that a 1/8" mini jack would be far better than an obsolete snyc cord jack.

I bought my YB-560 direct from Yongnuo and a neat
Stofen-like diffuser cap came bundled with it for free -- and you can order extra diffuser caps for $2.99 each!

This diffuser also fits my Canon 580 EX I perfectly. And, when turned upside down so the little bulge is on the bottom, you can also slide it snugly on to a 550 EX.

Obviously it's too early to comment on long-term reliability; and the quality control problems reported by David and some other users are disappointing, but mine has worked 100 % great so far.

The flash feels extremely solid and well-built, and my feeling is that Yongnuo is a serious up-and-coming player in the strobist market,.

It's not unusual for problems to surface in the early production run of computers, cell phones, software and other things we use, and it's my guess that Yongnuo will move quickly to fix any weakness in the zoom mechanism.

Admittedly that's just a guess, but I think they are a serious company with serious ambitions. I read somewhere that they are also working on a more advanced 560 derivative that will include Canon-compatible ETTL circuitry as well as the manual mode.

And all at a price far below Canon's.

Meanwhile, I highly recommend the YN-560.

August 13, 2010 8:02 PM  
Blogger Glenn said...

As a previous poster commented I purchased a LP160 a day before this post and was wondering if I made a mistake.

While I have yet to put my new light through any real use I'm happy with it.

The LP160 does what it says it will do so that means a lot to me.

I don't consider myself to be overly critical but I do expect them to do what they are supposed to do. Of course an odd unit can occur but from what's been described in the post and the comments it seems like its more than a rare occurance.

I will give a huge nod to MPEX as they were wonderful to work with. An emailed question was answered quickly and when an order was placed it was a smooth transaction. In short they did what they said they would do.

For me while the price difference of the flashes is significant the lack of hassle is compensation enough.

The LP160 is fairly clunky compared to my 430EX and I would love to see a 2nd curtain sync and case. The YN-560 has a better finished look but I don't believe it has a 2nd curtain feature either.

If they can make a flash for $85 with questionable quality control is it too much to ask for a light for $100-125 which is reliable, of polished design and fully featured?

Seems like the volume of this group alone would make up for the narrow profit margin.

August 13, 2010 11:40 PM  
Blogger Darren said...

@Ryan S.

Took some shots of a grey card at different shutter speeds and power levels. Used a 7D (x-sync 1/250) with flash in hotshoe to avoid any wireless trigger lag.

Exposed correctly at 1/2 power at both 1/200 and 1/250 - histograms were identical

At full power 1/200 exposed correctly, however at 1/250 under exposed slightly and histograms were visibly different. Probably about 1/10th of a stop.

Spec says max duration is 1/200 which seems true. Takeaway message: if you need to eek out all the power you can, sync at 1/200.

August 14, 2010 8:04 AM  
Blogger photo said...

I have buy the Yongnuo YN-560 and test for have the true NG, the box show 58m for NG, but in relality it's not true. I have test à 10feets, 100 ISO with head at 50mm at full power 1/1, my flashmeter give me the same NG that my Canon 430EXII, and absolutely not the same at the Canon 580 EXII, i'm really disapoint because i have buy for have full power, double of my Canon 430 EXII. Rest to test the LP160 for check if it's really the same at the 580 EXII ?

August 14, 2010 3:10 PM  
Blogger Bill Wisser said...

One correction to my earlier post:

The 560's included Stofen-like diffuser cap also fits my 580 EX I, when turned so the bulge on the cap is at the bottom. But it does not fit the 550 EX. Sorry for my error on that.

August 14, 2010 8:00 PM  
Blogger Howell said...

recycling time is so fast, about 1.8 to 2 secs on a Ni-Mh batts..

August 14, 2010 8:11 PM  
Blogger Leo said...

Thanks David for the review. I hope you'll be editing the original review when your replacement arrives.

Most review sites don't publish an incomplete review, instead they wait for the replacement, review that and mention the 1st unit wasn't quite right. For example Dpreview has done this a number of times.

Basically the YN560 is a powerful, well featured flash. It has its quirks as most gadgets do but nothing most users can't live with, especially given the price. However as some vendors offer little to no warranty its worth making sure you check this before purchase.

August 14, 2010 11:26 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

I like what it has to offer. But in terms of reliability, would you go for the Vivitar for the same price?

August 15, 2010 1:44 PM  
Blogger Nick Vail said...

Whats the flash sync of these units? Is it fast enough to freeze action? I.E 1/1000 or faster at full? 1/1000 flash sync or faster at 1/2 power?

August 15, 2010 3:45 PM  
Blogger David Rivera said...

My only question is can I fire it using a canon 580 exII off camera like DH said right under the lens and have it go off with just the optical or do I need tiggers. Of course I will use a sync cord to fire the 580 off the lens..

August 15, 2010 4:13 PM  
Blogger Senorito<- Ako said...

I second Leo's comment on editing the review once you get a fully working unit.

August 15, 2010 5:29 PM  
Blogger bobby-m said...

I came across the t.1 times for this flash posted somewhere and it made it harder to compare with other flashes as they are usually stated in t.5 times. But I think in the end it was very much in line with what you would expect from the top of the line canon or nikon flashes.

August 15, 2010 6:32 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

Does anyone know of an AC adapter that will work with high-voltage connector on the YN-560, much like the Pearstone SB-4 for the Vivitar 283 and 285HV flashes?

August 16, 2010 1:09 PM  
Blogger timoripatti said...

David,

I just checked my recently purchased YN560, and just like you said, it lets you fire only 16 or so flashes at full power.
After that, you wait for 3 minutes to get another 16 flashes. This is very annoying way to prevent overheating. Sure, it works but heat-wise it is overkill. The flash head just warms up a little (I have no idea what goes on inside though).
At 1/2 power I get 31 flashes and wait for 3 minutes.
At 1/4 power I get 72 flashes and wait for 3 minutes.
The consistency made me think that this has nothing to do with the temperature. There must be a counter!
Actually, you can stop the cooling period if you grab the flash and OPEN THE BATTERY DOOR. After that, the flash assumes that you have just started to use it.

Maybe in the future 56x's there's an USB port for updating firmware - for a reason...

August 18, 2010 4:11 PM  
Blogger Adler said...

Just got my YN-560 I've ordered after read this thread today. Everything works fine for me. Can't wait to try it in serious session.

August 21, 2010 7:50 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

Just got mine today (from Cotswold). Looks good, now to put into practice all the things that DH showed us ate Edinburgh session back in May. I would imagine the thermal protection averages usage over time so that e.g. 1 full power shot every 10 seconds could be sustained 'indefinitely'. I may try the experiment myself and report back.

August 21, 2010 10:55 AM  
Blogger That Guy Designs said...

Been researching the past few weeks on which flashes to get and was all set to grab a pair of Vivitar 285HV's, when someone got me rethinking about my initial interest in the YN-560's.

Seems both have many upsides and downsides. Does anyone have both? and if so, which do you prefer?

August 24, 2010 7:49 PM  
Blogger JustinWilliams said...

Any idea if this is compatible with the 7d built-in wireless flash feature?

great blog by the way.

August 24, 2010 10:38 PM  
Blogger gideon said...

Hi guys. First off, I am a genuine newbie considering strobist speedlights. I'm in the market for a good flash and deciding between the 468 and the 560. Now, since they are both in different series there have to significant differences, both meant for 'different' photographers. From what I understand is that the 468 is more automatic and the 560 is all manual.
Can someone please explain for which people they both are directed and what would probably work better with a canon 550d?

Thanks!

August 26, 2010 4:45 PM  
Blogger george said...

mine just arrived. i got it off their ebay page for $65 (score!) after reading your post. can't wait to play with it!

August 27, 2010 1:42 PM  
Blogger ronanpalliser said...

To Leo - to be fair to David he isn't running a review site here so he can post a review whenever he feels like. I for one am glad to see him post a timely review telling us about the faults he found as soon as he found them (faults which others might also find) rather than him waiting perhaps 4 weeks for a replacement unit to arrive, which of course may or may not have faults.

August 30, 2010 11:24 AM  
Blogger The Call of the Open Road said...

Interesting post. While looking to see where I might find one, I noticed that a local camera store is selling these:
http://www.nissindigital.com/en/Di866-1.html

These look like a good flash at a good price. In theory, anyway. Now, I'm trying to decide if the price is in the range that I'd consider buying one to try out and chalk up to (bad) experience if it doesn't work out.

September 01, 2010 11:21 AM  
Blogger chanizm said...

Anyone use this YN560 unit with Radiopoppers JRX triggers? These would be a really good power upgrade from SB600s, but only if it supports TTL control of the flash unit, not just a dumb trigger.

September 01, 2010 12:47 PM  
Blogger epinion said...

I have had this unit for a month and love it, shot 4 weddings and 4 fashion sets with it. I run it just below full power as it does overheat and recycle is long at full power.

I will get round to adding the power settings on a strip, simply for accurate reporting on the strobist flickr info.

All in all for £65 delivered in the UK, its a real bargain. I trigger it with 602 triggers by the same manufacturer.

Shame you had problems with it.

September 02, 2010 4:10 AM  
Blogger vampirnata said...

First of all, a quick thank you to David for his great blog.

Secondly, I don't see why there is so much buzz about the YN and Lumopro flashes.

I own two of the older generation YN flashes which I bought on a whim just to test. I find the controls very problematic and generally the flash is rather unrealiable, but since you are paying next to nothing for them, you can't expect much.

The problem comes in when they start introducing more expensive flashes with some of the same problems of their cheaper models.

Moving on to the LP160, I can see why people would be attracted to the flash, but for that price I still think you can do much better.

I swear by my Sigma 530-DG Super flashes. They are only marginally more expensive than the LP160 (in fact you can even pick them up cheaper if you are lucky), and their performance is fantastic. No fickly (don't know if that is a word) controls and so far I've had no reliability issues.

September 06, 2010 4:49 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

i have used these with cybersyncs no dramas at all dont miss a beat. only down side i have it they dont keep up with the 1dmk4 even with an external battery pack for the $ they are awesome and would strongly recomend.

http://www.boostcruising.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=629229

some shots there with one at rear and one at front 1/4 - 1/8 power

September 08, 2010 7:12 PM  
Blogger EVO said...

I'd like to buy my first flash. Which flash would work with a Nikon D50? Also, do I need one of those wireless triggers? Thanks.

September 10, 2010 8:05 PM  
Blogger Mark Warner said...

I have both the mk I and mk II versions of the YN460. I will be using the mkII on a fashion shoot for the first time tomorrow but I have used the mkI for almost a year now and am very happy with it. It is easy to use, reliable and gives good battery life. Recycle time is a bit slow but supposedly better on the new model. The price enables you to have a whole bunch of flash units on a shoot and really opens up possibilities for key lights, kicks and rims.

Excellent value and I'll be getting more.

September 11, 2010 10:52 AM  
OpenID matu42 said...

I received 2 YN-560 today. One of them worked perfectly... the other wouldn't even fire (zoom and sound were working though :) ). So, it's round trip to China.
On the plus side I've played a little with the working one and really like it so far.

September 16, 2010 3:10 AM  
Blogger RoyReddy said...

Ordered, paid via paypal, delivered to the door 3 weeks.
It works.
the manual is weak, I will need to read it several times to make sense of it.
For the money it is a worthwhile experiment.
Thanks for the hint ..

September 23, 2010 6:27 PM  
Blogger Leo said...

There is a simple fix for the flashes arriving with no zoom :
http://www.flickr.com/groups/strobist/discuss/72157624620959271/?search=560+zoom

David, any news on that update?

September 23, 2010 6:27 PM  
OpenID Stirling said...

Thanks for the review.

I am disappointed that you have to return a defective unit all the way to China and there is no way to exchange it locally (In the US for me).

How much does it cost to mail it to china? It would be at least $8.00 to send it across the US!

Talk about a hidden tax.

September 27, 2010 6:09 PM  
Blogger Hector said...

Thank you Dave.

Funny thing i just ordered 4 YN-460 from an ebay seller. They are half the price of the 560 and since i am just getting into using small manual flashes i think they are 0K to experiment with.

Ordered them from the ebay seller http://stores.ebay.com/van-nod-store because i previously purchased some wireless triggers and his service is excellent. I'm in Mexico and was expecting a long wait but i received them in less than 2 weeks. Mexican customs are really slow so i was very surprised to get them so fast.

I will post about the flashes when i get them.

October 06, 2010 1:32 PM  
Blogger mhtomlinson said...

Same excerpt as on the flickr group thread.

My feelings are mixed about the YN-560s. The first one I got from Hong-Kong eBay seller worked perfectly out of the box until a few weeks of light and careful use I noticed the zoom motor got much louder like the motor was going to stop working but it didn't. Then the pc sync connection became unreliable only firing 30-40% of the time. I confirmed with other cables and pocket wizards that it was a problem with the pc port on the flash. Then shortly after that , holding the power button down to power on/off would loop and eventually power on after the led lights cycled all the way through 5-10 times. I returned it for a new one plus two more and so far (1 month) all three units haven't displayed any of the issues mentioned except for one of the latter two units doesn't beep audio which is annoying but not worth the hassle of shipping back. I've used them a fair amount both on and off camera in this short time frame. I can't help but to feel like they are eventually going to fail on me sooner than later but that's obviously because of the bad experience from the lemon I originally got. Other than my jaded concern, they are working out great.

Btw David, this is my first post on your blog. I'm very new at this. I've been following here and there for the last several months since picking up photography. Your blog (esp lighting 101 & 102) has been a great tool in learning flash so thank you.

October 21, 2010 8:01 PM  
Blogger Jorge said...

I feel cheated.
buy two n-560 flash and the two have hurt me. did not fall, not beaten, were used in only canon, were used with new alkaline batteries ... shooting began to fail when they wanted and then they stopped doing ... I think that was the filament that lights the torch but not the flash fires.

i lost my money :(

December 11, 2010 9:02 AM  
Blogger mhtomlinson said...

Update to my earlier post above back in Oct.

All 3 of my YN-560s which have gotten moderate use since Oct. have all developed problems.

Two of them do not beep anymore when power has been recharged. Also, both of these two also only fire off camera via pc sync cord connected to PWII's about 50% of the time. No good for me as I'm learning how important reliability is in it firing during a shoot. This is only a problem when using sync chord connection though. It fires 100% of the time when mounted to the camera hot shoe on camera and almost 100% of the time in M1 and M2 slave modes.

The third flash is enroute back to HongKong for repair/replacement. It doesn't fire at all...just stopped working all together one day.

I picked up a LP160 to try out. I hope this is much more reliable like I've heard than the YN's.

December 30, 2010 12:14 PM  
Blogger eddie said...

I've wirtten a review for my strobist friends about this cheap flash here:

http://www.ebphoto.be/blog/en/gear/gear-test-yn560-580ex/

Everything is working fine except for TTL triggering in S2 mode (test N°4 at the end) if anyone has an idea why it's not working, please leave a comment on my blog, I'd be grateful.

Thanks!

January 06, 2011 6:25 AM  
Blogger Dave Tease said...

I Bought 4 Units prior to Christmas, 2 came with the metal hot shoe - and 2 with the plastic one.

Despite the quality build look of the exterior, I think its interior build must be pretty ordinary, and certainly not water resistant at all. I had one unit get a little damp when using it in some misty rain, and two days later it no longer works.

I have 2 580exII units and honestly the Canons' wouldn't have missed a beat in the same sort of weather.

I won't bother replacing it with another one, anecdotal reports from others here suggest to me that it will be only a matter of time before all of them fail in one way or another.

Has anyone used the Sigma 610 Supers?

January 16, 2011 5:14 PM  
Blogger Damian said...

Buyer beware!!! – I had a problem with the flash not firing. I contacted the Yongnuo and they told me that I need to contact my ebay seller for support. They would support me only if I bought the product from them! The ebay seller that I bought it from said… sorry only 30 days for exchange. So I am out the cost of a YN-560. You must by from the manufacture to get support… this is nutz!

Speedlights.net gives these product s good ratings and is making a lot of people go out and by these units. I have two Yongnuo 560’s and one of them has this problem. I will not be buying any other products from Yongnuo and I strongly caution anyone that is thinking of buying from Yongnuo. Ask yourself one question, if the unit breaks, how will the manufacturer support me. In case of Yongnuo you are on your own!

January 16, 2011 5:31 PM  
Blogger Senorito<- Ako said...

This has been my experience YN-560

http://www.flickr.com/groups/strobist/discuss/72157624653680531/#comment72157625946280908

January 31, 2011 10:28 AM  
Blogger Jan said...

Thanx for summing up the experience with YN560 (in article and in comments as well) I was about to buy a couple of YN560s... now I am on hold, but still do need some cheap extra light sources. I wonder if anybody here has similar (or any) experience with Meike mk930? (...or mayby would David still be willing to try another cheap flash unit..?)

February 04, 2011 8:26 AM  
Blogger WingedPower said...

Just wanted to chime in again, 6 months after my LP160/YN560 decision(I had gotten the LP160). The LP160 is rock solid reliable. Been firing it and dropped it a few times, that thing is a tank. Even when firing at 1/1 and 1/2 power, I've never had it stop on me. The price difference is a 2:1 vs the YN560, but from the reports, you really are getting what you pay for.

As an aside, 2400mAH LSD NIMH batteries barely get warm in the LP160. If you're trying to decide on a starter flash that will last, get an LP160.

February 17, 2011 5:48 PM  
Blogger Dave T said...

Another month gone and another bust with a YN560.

One unit now shuts down after only 3 to 4 pops. OK granted the unit is firing in the upper levels of power, (Near 1/2 power plus), but seriously I would have thought I would get better than this. It is very frustrating.

The two remaining units don't exhibit this behaviour at all.

I have added 3 Vivitar 285HV (<$30 Cheap!)units to the units I already carry. As plenty of people say around some forums, they are like Cockroaches, they don't die. I'd agree with that! The power options (full, 1/2, 1/4, and 1/16th) are quite limiting. Rosco ND gels are required!


They Do the grunt work though, and don't shut down without notice.

February 26, 2011 7:38 PM  
Blogger Mark Warner said...

My two YN560's are still going strong after a year, including one unit that I dropped 2 weeks ago from a light stand extended full height (a slight breeze through an open window was caught by the shoot through umbrella, bringing the set-up down).

February 27, 2011 12:21 AM  
Blogger Henry said...

I now own 2 YN-560 and 1 had a problem with the zoom head...took it apart and figured out how to fix it. Now it has a weird sound when the zoom head moves but otherwise works just fine. Although that does void the warranty so do it at your own risk.

Not bad for the price but I will still be getting some SB-900's or EX-580's. I think the YN-560's are good when getting to learn how to use flash. The newest version comes with a metal foot.

February 27, 2011 9:34 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

Life is too short to be fighting with flaky equipment. I'm not in the market today, but if I was I'd avoid the YN-560.

February 27, 2011 10:04 PM  
Blogger pasteurella said...

@Russ Heller, Glenn
I owned a Vivitar 285 the old one, a long time ago. Decided to buy their mains adapter, only to find out that the recycle time with that went to some 12 seconds.. Brought it back. I hope that the current AC adapter is a bit better in that aspect.

May 01, 2011 12:57 PM  
Blogger THRobinson said...

I have one, still learning photography though, so, worried about the non-working flash heads I hear mentioned quite often.

How do I check? Like, what am I looking for? First flash unit so, not sure how to test or what to look for to know if working properly or not. Thanks.

May 14, 2011 5:19 PM  
Blogger RussOz said...

I bought the YN560 about six months ago, it lasted around 30 pops then died. I sent it back and received the new one about 5 weeks later. Used it yesterday (Boxing Day in Oz) took 6 shots and it died again. I won't be bothering to send it back. A shame really, it looks so well built.

December 26, 2011 8:57 PM  
Blogger RussOz said...

I bought a YN560 Speedlight about six months ago. After around 30 pops the thing died. There was no warning of overheating apart from a burning smell when I opened the battery door.
I sent the flash back to china and received a replacement within 5 weeks. I tested the replacement flash and it seemed ok.
Yesterday was Boxing Day in Australia, and we had our family get together for lunch.
I took six shots with the new flash and the same thing happened, no warning and no flash.
I won’t be bothering to have it fixed and I certainly won’t be buying a new one, which is a shame because they feel and look very well built. I guess you get what you pay for.

December 26, 2011 9:10 PM  
Blogger acman said...

i have 3 of these flash (YN-560), and i love them.. i've been using it for outdoor portrait shoot, indoor portrait shoot, should be hundreds of flashes between the 3 of them for 1 year.. and so far those 3 are still working well.. the only problem is if you still have the plastic foot.. you've better change it to the metal foot (from ebay yongnuo), as mine drop couple of times, and the plastic foot was broken.

December 29, 2011 6:31 AM  
Blogger cream of beats said...

This flash just flat out sucks! I thought I was getting a hellava deal when I got two for $100. WRONG! The first flash the zoom function wouldn't work, but the other flash worked great. I fixed the zoom, do some test shots, everything looks great. The colors gives a nice bright color similar to the Norman! The next day, the good flash is creating some squelching sound when it would trigger, then it wouldn't trigger, constantly powered down, and got really hot. Yongnuo is a brand I will never trust. Its so hard to overlook the features and the low price, but be warned...if you really use your gear, it will let you down! If your the non serious type that occasionally uses the gear..a few shots every other year, it might last you a really long time, but do some research first; many are SHIPPED DEFECTIVE! If you buy any Yongnuo flash, just know your taking a gamble with your money! It might work for a few days or months, but I don't know any "consistent" photographer that is still happy 1+ year later! NONE!

January 30, 2012 3:21 PM  
Blogger S.F.Beehler said...

I bought my first YN560 in October of 2011. It has far surpass my expectations. I use it professionally for action sports and portrait work and it works better than the other Canon speedlights in my arsenal.
The YN560 has taken some real abuse and continues to work without issue. In January it got bounced off a marble floor during a wedding shoot with barely a scratch on it. Last weekend I was using it to shoot an indoor rodeo event and a bull knocked it off it's 15' high perch. The flash landed right on the lens, other than a little dirt in the corner there was no sign of the impact. The flash stayed powered on, the battery door stayed closed and I picked it up and kept shooting. There is nothing bad to say about this flash, I have purchased another and as long as they work I see no reason not to keep buying more.

April 05, 2012 1:53 PM  
Blogger Robert Davidson said...

I see that Yongnuo has come out with a YN-560 II model, with very tempting improvements in the user interface and a metal foot. This would indicate that they have been listening to critical reviews of their product, and appear to want to meet customers' desires. However...reliability is much more important than product features. No matter how many desirable features a product has, if serious photographers can't rely on the product, they won't buy it. It seems to me there are two extremes on a continuum of marketing strategies that a company can take: (1) try to sell one product to every sucker you can find, and to hell with repeat business. OR (2) build a base of satisfied customers who will return again and again to buy from you. If Yongnuo's chosen market strategy is the first one, they appear to be succeeding at it. If, however, their chosen market strategy is the second one, then they have dug themselves a very deep hole that will prove quite difficult for them to overcome.

May 16, 2012 7:52 AM  
Blogger Paul S said...

I own four 560 II's.. They are brilliant. I use them every day on serious commercial commissions. The build quality is superb. The weight and feel is very similar to my Canon 580's. I have yet to have any problems with them. My only issue is that they use slightly more battery power than my marque flashguns, but only a little and it's easily solved by carrying an extra couple of sets of batteries.
A friend of mine recently invested over a grand on an Elincrom Quadra kit. Half way through his first shoot the head gave out and he had to call me and I let him use my 560's to finish the job....just goes to prove that no matter how much you spend on your gear you can still end up with a dud and that cheap gear can be as useful and flexible as expensive pro gear.

January 01, 2013 9:02 AM  
Blogger Raymond said...

Like Paul S. above, I also have a handful of these beauties. I am actually surprised about the issues you mention at the start of your article. Maybe this new version has corrected the issue. With my 4 units that I have been using for about 6 months now, the only issue is with one unit that doesn't signal the recycle. Given that I have 2 or 3 others that are signaling when I shoot, I can feel confident that it's ready when the others beep - so not really an issue for me.

I shoot them all with Yongnu triggers and the setup has been pretty flawless inside and out.

I have to share your frustation in those LEDs and trying to figure out the power. Over time, it gets easy - but in the beginning, I had no idea what power I was shooting at, as the instructions in mine were in Chinese (No English for some reason).

Great article and nice depth of detail about the speedlights.

January 03, 2013 7:23 AM  
Blogger Camco said...

i have the yn 560 1st over a year now works great no problems getting 560!! soon

February 17, 2013 7:12 AM  
Blogger sd_nyc said...

And now they offer YN-560 III. Still a dog?

October 23, 2013 3:53 PM  
Blogger Amit Abhyankar said...

Can anyone please tell me durability and reliability of Yongnuo flashes ? Can I buy those with full confidence that they will work for at least 3-4 years without problem. Yongnuo YN-560 III are 'solid' in construction as stated by many reviews on youtube, but is it 'Soild' internally too ?

November 13, 2013 11:19 AM  
Blogger john said...

just got a 560 II today 4 days from the uK for €60. It's a nice little unit but the zoom wasnt working I removed the 2 plastic strips on the side the 2 metal clips on each side. and 2 screws on the front. A little wiggle and it was fixed.

I think the rough handling in the post is the problem a thin card box in a plastic bag with just a bubble wrap bag is not much protection. Works well and the little stand is threaded so you can stick it straight on a light stand. How long it will last I don't know but good enough for a newbie just starting I think. wish it had a 3.5 jack instead of a pc sync jack. I could probably use a guitar lead with an adapter now i need to buy a short pc sync and cut it in half and add sockets.
the wireless rf603's are cheaper to buy than a sync cable and 2 universal translators.

November 14, 2013 7:35 PM  
Blogger Gary C said...

I purchased three of the YN560IIs for a total cost of about $10 more than a single Lumapro LP-180. So far, I've had zero problems with these flashes, and obviously, I hope they continue to be that way, since I bought them from China. But, I find them to be substantial, and seemingly well made.
Coupled with Pixel Soldiers, they do a good job with my Sony A58 and Minolta 7D.
Would I like something a little bit better? Absolutely, but I can't afford it, so I'll use these while they last and move up as I can.

January 24, 2014 12:50 AM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@Gary-

Congrats. Buying Yong Nuo is like playing roulette. Many people get good ones, some people get useless pieces of crap. The company's reputation for failure rate (and not great service after the fact) means that I will never recommend them here. I feel that if you pay for a flash, you should get a reliable flash. And that means everyone who bought one. Not just most.

YN are cheap because they do not build good QC and after-sale service into the price. Until they do, I will never recommend them to anyone.

January 24, 2014 9:11 AM  

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