The Yongnuo (YN from this point foward in the article) 560TX flash controller is a tremendous value (UNDER $40.00USD) and provides you, the photographer, with the ultimate in control over your YN speedlights remotely. This can either be done from the hot shoe or even beside you at your computer while shooting tethered! It is a rather complex little device to use at first and the manual that it comes with leaves a whole lot to be desired. It is a poor Chinese translation, as many 3rd party items are, that may leave you asking more questions than you had BEFORE opening it!
Have no fear! When explained properly and with some visual guides, the YN560TX is a VERY capable and easy to use device that will have you questioning if the low price, currently under $40USD, is a mistake!
If you have not yet ventured into the whole realm of Flash photography because it seems so complex and daunting, worry no more! Jim Harmer has put together an AMAZING video set on this exact subject which can be found HERE or alternatively you can get that along with TONS more great content with a subscription to ImprovePhotographyPlus! Make sure to get on over to that site. It is building each and every week and with each new video training course offered the deal gets more and more incredible!
Let’s jump in!
What is the YN-560TX
The YN560TX is a hot shoe mountable radio flash controller designed to control either the YN560 III or YN560 IV flash. It can control the flash power, zoom, on/off and change between manual and multi mode firing. It will work up to 100m away using its 2.4Ghz wireless radio.
It can trigger any other type flash if they are matched with a YN602 or 603 receiver/trigger but you will only get firing option with this set up; control of flash power, zoom, on/off, etc is not possible when this configuration is used.
The controller has 16 possible channels and can control up to 6 different groups. You can set the zoom range on the flashes from 24-105mm.
There is a 2.5mm shutter interface where the cable goes into the camera for remote firing using a wireless trigger such as the YN603.
It accepts two AA batteries and these batteries will last a very long time as this unit draws very little power (120 HOURS standby time).
YN560 TX Diagram of Buttons
Here is a breakdown of the various buttons on the YN560TX.
1) STATUS INDICATOR LIGHT: This light turns GREEN when waking up (camera has been engaged, focusing) and it will turn RED when triggering the shutter.
2) DISPLAY SCREEN: The current settings and functions are clearly displayed. Unlike the amber color of the flash LCD, this is a green hue.
3) MODE: You can set the flashes that are synced to be in either “M” – Manual Mode / “Multi” – Multi Mode / “- -” – FLASH GROUP OFF
4) GR: Group button selector. Choose between A/B/C/D/E/F – six groups. Pressing the button will change between the 3 groups on that page (A,B,C). To change between the first 3 to the next page or set of groups (DEF) simply long hold this button and it will change to the next 3 groups. To get back to A,B,C, do the same.
5) TEST BUTTON: This will test your flashes and also assure that all your flashes are set to the proper settings that are currently on the YN560TX's display. It will also wake sleeping flashes that have timed out and gone to sleep mode. “SE” will be seen on flash LCD when sleeping.
6) ZOOM/CH: Short pressing this button will allow ZOOM setting for the current group from 24mm-105mm. Long pressing will allow you to set channel (1-16) on the YN560TX device.
7) Hz/FN: Short Press this button to adjust Multi Flash count or Multi flash frequency. Long pressing will set communications modes for the RF602 or 603 triggers.
8) POWER SWITCH: ON – UP / OFF – DOWN
9) Select/Setup buttons: Used to set various parameters. Left button is the reduce, Right in to increase, Up or Down is used to fine tune (Example to fine tune between full stops 1/3rd stop at a time). The center button, though not labeled as such, is known as the “OK” button. It is used as confirmation for various uses.
To get started, insert two AA batteries in the side battery compartment. Then simply turn your device on via the power switch. You must first set up for the controller to work with RF602 or RF603 communications mode. Long Press the Hz/FN button (7) and press right or left on the Select/Setup buttons (9) to choose the appropriate mode.
On your YN560III or IV, press the two buttons (shown below) with red arrows pointing at them. This will bring up options on the flash display. Hit the up or down buttons in the selector area that is identical to the (9) area on the YN560TX controller. This will scroll through options. Stop when you see the below screen on the flash – “rF 602 or 603” – and use the LEFT or RIGHT selector button to change it so that it matches your settings on the Yn560TX. Hit the center OK button to confirm.
ACTIVATE GROUP FUNCTION ON YN560 III
With the YN560 IV, you do not need to do this. This flash comes out of the box ready to work with the YN560TX controller. However, with the YN560 III, you must first activate the group feature within the flash so that it will work with the YN560TX. This image below explains how it is done:
- Set your YN560 III to RX slave flash mode (Not to be confused with S1 or S2 – that is a different subject). Make sure its communications mode is set to the same as the TX controller (RF602 or RF603 explained above). Also, make sure the CHANNEL on your flash is the same channel set on your YN560TX controller. Changing the Channel on the flash is simple (See Image Below). Just press the ZOOM button simultaneously with the button to the left of it with that little “Z” shaped double sided arrow and what looks like a WIFI symbol also. You can see the “CH” on the flash body with a double facing arrow above it. Two buttons pressed together will execute that said function which is printed directly on the flash body. For example, to change the group on a YN 560 III, Press the MODE button and the button on the right(See Arrows Below in Image), that same button we just mentioned with the two little symbols. Use the left/right or up/down buttons to select and then hit the center “OK” button to choose.
- PRESS THE ZOOM/CH button & the Hz/FN button at the same time on the YN560TX. You'll see the above screen. “ACTIVATE” mode is now activated. The display screen on the flash will have every character on the display show – it almost looks like an error! Haywire it seems! Don't worry – you want this!
- Now simply press the center button (OK) to accept. Your YN560III is now paired and ready for use!
Setting Your Channels on Flashes and YN560TX
Again, shown below are the two buttons on either flash to push when selecting a channel. While flashing, use the up, down, right , left buttons to choose a channel. Confirm by hitting the center OK button.
On the YN560TX, just long hold the ZOOM/CH button and the “CH” box will begin to blink. Use the Up, down, right or left buttons on the 560TX controller to choose channel. Again, as with the flash, press the center OK button to confirm selection.
These channels must must match those that are set in your flashes and also the 602/603 triggers (if you have them) should have their little dip switches in the battery compartment on those same channels.
The switches inside the 602/603 Handheld triggers are physical switches rather than electronic ones which are displayed on both the YN560TX controller and the flashes themselves.
You DO NOT need to have the 602 or 603 triggers in order to use the YN560TX controller. They are simply wireless triggers or receivers for a wireless signal from the YN560TX when paired with another brand flash to allow trigger function only as explained earlier. They are required, however, if you want wireless control of your shutter release with the controller on the hot shoe and the 2.5mm cable connected to the that controller and camera. Later in this article there is information on how you can shoot tethered from a computer using these 603 triggers on the camera.
SETTING GROUP AND FLASH MODE
To select a flash group to alter, you can toggle through A, B and C simply by hitting the GR (#4 shown in diagram). Long pressing this same button will bring you to the next page that allows control of the 3 remaining groups – D, E and F.
Once you are on the group desired, you can then press the MODE button to shuffle through the three options there: M – Manual Mode, Multi – Multi Mode and “- -” which tells that flash to NOT fire. It can be very helpful to turn on one flash at a time this way as you “build your lighting” for the desired look you wish to achieve.
Adjusting the Flash Power
Once you are on the group that you wish to alter the power on, it is very simple to do so. Moving down to the SELECTOR buttons (9) will allow you to increase or decrease the power by full stops or finer 1/3 stop control. The RIGHT selection button will INCREASE the power a full stop. Alternately, the LEFT selector will decrease the power by a full stop.
Pressing the UP button will increase the flash power by a 1/3rd of a stop while pressing the DOWN button will decrease in 1/3 increments.
The power range in “M” Mode is 1/1 (FULL POWER) to 1/128 (Lowest Setting).
In Multi Mode you can adjust from 1/4 power to 1/128.
NOTE: You may happen to change the power on your flash manually, on the flash, for whatever reason. It should be noted that this power setting will NOT register with the YN560TX. An example is if you had your flash set to 1/16 via the YN560TX controller and you happened to change the power to, let's say, 1/4 by manually switching the power on the flash, the flash will fire at 1/4th! If you do make and change with the controller, it will then be set to the level you have chosen on the controller. Another quick way to make sure ALL of your flashes are in sync with the power settings on your YN560TX is to simply hit the TEST button. It will take a second, sync, and then all the flashes will go off together. All your flashes are now set to the power level stated on the 560TX display.
Multi Flash Frequency and Flash Count
When in Multi Flash Mode, short pressing the Hz/FH button will allow you to select the flash frequency and also multi flash count. Hitting the button toggles between flash count and frequency. To set your desired parameters and go back into shooting mode, simply hit the center “OK” button in the selection/setup (9) area of controller.
Setting ZOOM for each group
If the need arrises and you want to have full control over the zoom on your flash, this can also easily be done right from the YN560TX controller. To do so, simply press the ZOOM/CH button (6) and this screen will be displayed. Here in the example, channel “A” is chosen. Hitting the UP or RIGHT buttons in the selector area (9) will increase with each press (24 to 28 to 35, etc). Pressing the left button or down will decrease the zoom with each press (128, 80, 70, etc). Once you get used to the YN system it becomes very easy and second nature.
A word about YN Price to Performance
Here at the ImprovePhotography Network, it is always stressed just how great the YN stuff really is. With photography being a hobby that can quickly become very addictive, it is great to have options like the YN gear that make creating amazing images very much possible on the cheap!! DO NOT LET the low price fool you! This UNIT is a bit on the plastic-feely side but hey, it does its job and does it well. Jim Harmer did a review on this unit a while back HERE. In it, a reader (ME!) submitted a photo where I broke this unit wide open with perhaps the most stupid move one could make – I won't even repeat it! Anyway, my D750 and Tamron 24-70 lets went crashing to the floor and luckily, this “plasticky” unit took the brunt of the blow and split in half! I am glad to say nothing was damaged AND with some superglue I was able to put the YN560TX back together again and have it as a back up which I gladly shared with some photographers out in Arizona this spring! BACK UPS are always nice to have!
Since the YN560TX is a wireless device, it allows for complete control without wires OR without even being connected to the camera!! That is right. In this example below, I was shooting tethered with 4 speedlights set up into different groups on lighting stand with various modifiers. For those not familiar with shooting tethered, it is a way to shoot with your camera connected to a computer and you can fire the camera directly from the software and the images are then immediately available for review and edit with software like Lightroom or Capture One.
By mounting a YN603 on the camera, when the camera fires a shot, the 603 sends out a wireless trigger that ONLY fires the flashes. Since the YN603 and the flashes are all on the same channel as well as the YN560TX, you are able to fully control flash power, zoom and on/off function for each light – ALL WHILE SITTING DOWN! It is a little side bonus that you get if you have the YN603 triggers. You can fire the camera with the software as mentioned or another 603 trigger as long as the 603 on the hotshoe is connected via the 2.5mm cable to the camera. How's that for flexibility and power??
The YN560TX is a wonderful device at a cost that is next to nothing. If you want to really improve your photography and open up an entirely new world of possibilities, I highly suggest looking into the YN lineup of flash gear and also the training available on the ImprovePhotography network. You will certainly be glad you did! Please leave any comments or questions below!!