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.

45 thoughts on “Yn-560 Review”

  1. Well, YN560III’s are available directly from their online store. 86 bucks. I bought one first to test out and decided to get another one. Like it? Yeah, otherwise who wants to buy more. 🙂
    Note: they throw in radio trigger if you use express shipping. I used FedEX.
    Happy shooting.

  2. Hey Jim,

    I was curious which Yongnuo flash unit you recommended besides this one. Do you know if any of the newer ones have the flash syncing to go about 1/250 shutter speed?

    Also, is the Yongnuo 560 II any better?

    Thanks.

    Choices:
    Yongnuo Speedlite YN560 Flash: $60-100
    Yongnuo Speedlite YN560 II Flash: $59-140
    Yongnuo YN-565EX ETTL Speedlite Flash for Nikon: $200

  3. I purchased two of the YN560s a year or so ago. I see were up to YN560IIIs now. Anyway, I used them sparingly and they worked fine up until last weekend when I was using them heavily at a shoot. I got about 20 full powered shots over a 15 minute time frame and then no flash. I thought the batteries were dead and went to pop them out and they were burning hot and partially melted together. I got new batteries loaded and tried again. Within 10 shots or so I had slow recycle times and again batteries were burning hot. I tried my second YN560 and same result. After about 10 flashes slow recycle times and hot batteries. I then went to my Canon 580EX and was able to get some pictures taken although I did chew through batteries at a fast clip. About a 100 shots and change with progressively slower recycle times. I have lost confidence in the YN560s.

    1. @Frank – I’m sorry your flash died, but if this is your first flash you should recognize that this happens regularly with ANY brand of flash. Flashes can’t last forever just like a lightbulb can’t last forever.

  4. Jim,

    I just purchased a Yongnu Speedlite YN560 from Amazon.com. This was a used unit but sold by Amazon. I purchased this to work on my Nikon D3100 which I use for Real Estate Photos. When I change the intensity for the flash it doesn’t seem to make any difference, ALL PHOTOS ARE COMPLETELY WASHED OUT. Does this seem like a broken Speedlite? Any help would be appreciated.
    Bob Pearson

  5. Hi Paul
    I’m considering buying the YN560III. I’m currently using a Nikon D7000 and I was wondering if this flash would be compatible with my camera. Also, I don’t understand how this radio triggering works so I was wondering if I have to buy the radio transmitter in order to make the flash work? or is that just for off camera flash?
    please help me out as i’m inexperienced with external flashes!

    Thanks,

    Raygun

  6. Bought the YN560III based primarily on your highly recommending this unit. The manual is a joy to read with phrases like the following included:

    “To avoid possible safety accident, do not use the flashlight on the people who need a high degree of attention”

    priceless.

  7. What about the Canon 320EX flash? In a first for Canon Speedlites, the versatile new Speedlite 320EX features an LED light on the front of the flash body that can be used to illuminate nearby subjects in dim light. The light is ideal for video recording but can also be used as a modeling light or as an AF assist beam during Live View shooting. When used with EOS DSLRs that have integrated Speedlite transmitters, the Speedlite 320EX can be used as a wireless slave unit positioned off-camera. A flash release function further facilitates wireless flash shooting by enabling the shutter to be released remotely from the Speedlite 320EX with a two-second delay, which gives the photographer time to re-aim the flash if necessary. The Speedlite 320EX combines rich bounce functionality with high performance, ensuring smooth, professional-looking results.

    Flash coverage and guide number can be changed manually by extending or retracting the flash head. The Normal position provides wide coverage equivalent to a 24mm lens (full-frame) with a guide number of 79 (ft.) / 24 (m) at ISO 100. The Tele position boosts the guide number to 105 (ft.) / 32 (m) at ISO 100 while providing coverage for lenses 50mm and longer (full-frame).

    Lightweight, pocket-sized, grip-friendly, and with an intuitive, easy-to-operate design, the Speedlite 320EX is powered by 4 AA batteries (not included) and recharges silently in approximately 2 seconds.
    This flash is amazing. it cost’s only about 299.99 from B&H Photo.

  8. is there a general guide as to what yongnuo flash components ones needs ?

    I have a 560 iii but want to use the b setting on my canon 7d with 2 flash guns using brollies ?

    1. Yes, as an on camera flash the YN560II will work just fine on a Canon 6D. In order to make it work with an off camera flash you would need to get two RF603 radio trancievers because the YN560II doesn’t have a radio inside it. Remember that the YN560II is a fully manual flash ONLY. It won’t do ETTL. If you want to change the power or zoom of the flash you have to do so manually, there isn’t any way to do that from the camera.

  9. I want to know I have Nikon speedlight . After I purchase another brand of bridge Fujifilm. Can I used the Nikon on my S-X1 . I don’t mind scrificed on the TTL option. Pls advise. before I consider next purchsse. Can it cause any damage to ny X-S1 . Thank you

  10. Hey there. I have the fuji xs1 and use yonguno rf-602 TX transmitter and the equivalent receiver to trigger a pentax flash off camera. The setup works without issue.

  11. Very flimsy, the cover for the batteries has a push and slide locking arrangement which after not a lot of usage has now broken making the flashgun useless

  12. Can I shot with auto mode on camera with YN560II and how?
    Or it must be manual on camera and on speedlight?

  13. Ciekawe treści, dzięki za wartościowy wpis. Polecam zerknąć też w razie chęci do mebli biurowych, a zwłaszcza stelaży biurkowych, proponowanych na mojej stronie 🙂

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