Yn-560 Review

Every YN-560 is compatible with both Canon and Nikon. You don’t need to buy a different flash for either brand.

The Yong Nuo YN-560 speedlight is somewhat of a legend among flash photographers.  Traditionally, any external flash for a DSLR cost at least $300.  You may have also seen this price tag the last time you went to the camera store.  The YN-560 flash is a knock-off speedlight that mirrors many of the design and functional features of the expensive Canon and Nikon flashes, but the question is… is it as good as the name brand flash units?

Features of the YN

First of all, this is one of few cheap flashes that has an automatic zoom (restricts the beam of the flash to make a tighter beam of light).  The zoom range on this flash is from 28 – 105mm, which is very respectable.  In fact, many cheap flashes don’t have ANY zoom function!

Second, the YN-560 offers a fantastic recycle rate.  That means the time it takes for the flash to be ready to fire after flashing.  The recycle rate seems to be on par with many of the more expensive flash units available.  I can often fire 3 flashes in a second as long as the power is lower.  When set to full power, the flash will take about 2 seconds to fire if you’re shooting a lot.

Third, this flash has a strong flash output.  Flash output is measured by something called the guide number.  Without too much technical information, suffice it to say that the YN-560 offers a guide number of 58 at 105mm and ISO 100.  If you know about flash, that will be meaningful to you, and if you don’t, then just understand that it’s pretty good.

What’s missing in the YN-560?

To me, the one feature that is missing more than anything else in the YN-560 is high speed sync.  This is a new technology that allows photographers to use shutter speeds of faster than 1/250th with a flash.  For more on this topic, read about flash sync speeds in this previous post.

The YN-560 flash is purely manual.  That means that it cannot receive exposure information from the camera and adjust the flash output automatically.  This may seem like a serious flaw in the product to photographers who are new to flash, but many (or most?) flash photographers prefer to shoot with manual flash.  It takes very little effort to simply press one or two buttons to alter the flash output, and the benefit is that it makes using flash much simpler to learn.

The flash is not nearly as durable as the name brand flash units.  It should come as little surprise to you that this off-shore knock-off of the name brand flash units is not built with as durable of materials.  I have owned a few of these YN flashes for over a year and a half without any problems; however, I have also heard several reports of the zoom function in the flash breaking soon after purchase.

Should you buy the YN-560 or a Canon or Nikon flash?

For 99% of photographers who are just getting started out with flash, I would recommend the YN-560 flash over the Canon (such as the 580EX II) or Nikon (such as the SB-800).  I like this flash for its simplicity, great feature set, and flash output.

This flash is ideal, in my opinion, for pairing with an umbrella and a light stand for more creative or formal shoots.  If you’re interested in getting started with flash, I would recommend this flash whole-heartedly.

However, if you shoot weddings, events, or other settings where you will keep the flash attached to the top of the camera and you want to be able to shoot quickly in different lighting situations, then I would suggest the Canon or Nikon flash.  In these situations, it will be simpler to use ETTL/iTTL mode and not have to set the flash output or zoom for each shot.

Where can you buy the YN flash?

The YN used to only be available for sale on eBay, but it is now available on Amazon.com.  Amazingly, it sells for about $65.  That’s an incredible deal for what you’re getting.  You could buy 7 YN-560 flashes for the same price as the Canon 580EX.  Given that choice…. I’d choose the 7 YNs.

Comments from the I.P. Community

  1. says

    Excellent example of you get what you pay for You don’t pay a lot you don’t get a lot. Pass this one up folks it can’t communicate with the camera? how can the camera tell the flash the proper exposure level or even the focusing distance to the subject . I think you might get equal results with a bright flashlight lol .
    Spend the money on a flash designed to work with your camera and you will get much better results.

  2. says

    Interesting review and very helpful. I’d been trying to decide, and it’s nice to hear from someone who’s actually used these. My decision based on my historical usage: I’ll go with the Canon, but this review definitely helped me make that choice feel more comfortable. Thanks.

  3. says

    I’ve actually had this one bookmarked on Amazon for a few days as I’m considering a second (cheaper) strobe for my setup. I’m reading some good things about it, especially the performance:price ratios.

    Note to Ed: If you use TTL, then do pass this one up. Many flash photogs operate mainly in manual mode though.

  4. says

    Outstanding bargain especially if you’re in the market for additional off-camera flashes! Don’t make a decision just based on the reader comments here – check out the reader comments on Amazon.com and other sites. For my money, for use with off-camera flash triggers or as an optical slave, you can’t get a better deal. I have one and am ordering 3 more.

  5. says

    I have 2 of these units with one canon unit. I love them both for what they are, there are uses for both. Fill flash, hair lights or background lights. Not everything needs to automatic. I recomend the yn560 and get more than one,

  6. says

    Hi

    I am looking at this for my first on camera flash. I understand the difference between TTL and manual however is this really a problem? I see comments like Ed’s and that obviously makes you think.

    I don’t want to spend much on the flash so this seems like a great option.

  7. says

    I’m getting back into photography after a long absence, and the first thing I did was set my camera to aperature priority, buy a few old manual focus prime lens cheap, and a few excellent, manual YN-560 strobes. Ed is part right, it’s not as easy as point and shoot with auto everything, but most serious photographers don’t shoot that way anyway because it gives them so little control over their results. It has a wireless receiver built in, motorized zoom, and I can set the exposure within 1/3 of a stop. You can spend more time fighting automation that interferes with a shot than setting it manually in the first place.

  8. says

    If performance is the number one feature of a flash, the in my humble ( ha ) opinion, RELIABILITY is number two. As stated above, you get what you pay for. Price to performance would dictate buying the YN and take the savings and buy plane tickets to Turkey ( one of my favorite photographical spots on earth ). BUT if you’ve ever had a piece of technical equipment let you down, then Murphy’s law comes into play. And for those of you who may have forgotten Murphy’s age old wisdom, it simply states ” that if some thing CAN go wrong, IT WILL … and at the MOST inconvenient time. ”

    For my needs as a retired pro-photo ( but still a VERY serious photographer ) I shoot with Canon equipment and own a Canon 580EX II as my master flash and a 430EX II as a slave flash. I will buy one of these YN flashes as an extra flash simply because the reviews seem decent enough to peak my curiosity and certainly the price is attractive as can be.

    ps. I also own a Canon ST E2 transmitter. This invaluable piece of equipment sits in my camera’s hot shoe and controls EVERYTHING including which flash fires, or which group of flashes fire ( it has four channels ), their respective outputs, high speed sync it I need it, second curtain flash sync, and, saving perhaps the best for last, RATIOS. from 1:1 all the way out to 1:8 and can reverse them as well from 1:1 all the way out to 8:1 . ALL from the camera !!!! Cha Ching … TIME SAVED !

  9. says

    If performance is the number one feature of a flash, then in my humble ( ha ) opinion, RELIABILITY is number two. As stated above, you get what you pay for. Price to performance would dictate buying the YN and take the savings and buy plane tickets to Turkey ( one of my favorite photographical spots on earth ). BUT if you’ve ever had a piece of technical equipment let you down, then Murphy’s law comes into play. And for those of you who may have forgotten Murphy’s age old wisdom, it simply states ” that if some thing CAN go wrong, IT WILL … and at the MOST inconvenient time. ”

    For my needs as a retired pro-photo ( but still a VERY serious photographer ) I shoot with Canon equipment and own a Canon 580EX II as my master flash and a 430EX II as a slave flash. I will buy one of these YN flashes as an extra flash simply because the reviews seem decent enough to peak my curiosity and certainly the price is attractive as can be.

    ps. I also own a Canon ST E2 transmitter. This invaluable piece of equipment sits in my camera’s hot shoe and controls EVERYTHING including which flash fires, or which group of flashes fire ( it has four channels ), their respective outputs, high speed sync it I need it, second curtain flash sync, and, saving perhaps the best for last, RATIOS. from 1:1 all the way out to 1:8 and can reverse them as well from 1:1 all the way out to 8:1 . ALL from the camera !!!! Cha Ching … TIME SAVED ! And for many of us, time= $$$.

    Happy shooting,

    Richard

  10. says

    Hi,

    I have a D90 SLR camera and I am planning to buy an external flash. However, I do not budget for SB-600. While looking for alternatives I found YN560 and hit your site for review.

    I was wondering if I can use the YN560 by mounting on the hot-shoe. Does it do any harm to my D90. Just so that you know I am not going to any strobist work or any photo shoot. I just need the speedlite for regular photography purposes.

    Your response is appreciated.

    Please also let me know any alternatives to YN560 provided that they are good and inexpensive.

    Thanks,

  11. says

    Hi,

    @Sunny, the YN560 will work fine on your D90 or any Nikon DSLR. You can even get a second one remote triggered by the one on the hot shoe, or get just one remote and trigger using your pop-up flash.

    The only thing is, you’ll have to control it completely manually. That requires a bit or experimentation.

    Enjoy,
    Emmanuel

  12. says

    I bought 2 of these because of the rave reviews and the great price. BEWARE they fail after extended use. They worked fine for 3-4 weeks (400-500 pops), then both became duds within days of each other, they now both fire very randomly (1 in every 4, if that). Search for Problems with the YN560 and you will see what I mean. Save your money and remember – you get what you pay for. I have had my Canon 430EX for twice as long as these, and it still works perfect.

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