Yongnuo YN560-II Review - Photo Jottings

Yongnuo YN560-II Review

Yongnuo YN560-II flash review

The made in China Yongnuo YN560-II is for manual use, meaning it’s meant for people who will most likely use it off-camera, or in full manual mode where the operator determines the power output and zoom settings.  I bought it as a low cost alternative to the expensive Sony factory flashes that work great in full auto mode with Sony cameras, but I never use auto mode, so why pay extra when you don’t need those features?  After I received the Yongnuo and put it through a few quick tests, I had high hopes of it possibly replacing some of my tired Sony flashes that are $500 a pop.  Unfortunately, after a couple of photography jobs, the Yongnuo had some undesirable shortcomings.

First off, the flash is made well, and the head adjusts to different positions without having to unlock or push a button, and they stay put too.   Also, there’s a screw lock PC connection for radio triggers using off-camera flash, so all you need is the proper connector to the trigger, that saves on having to buy a hotshoe adapter with a connector which I have to do with the proprietary Sony hotshoe flashes made before 2013.

The flash puts out a lot of light; in fact it puts out just a hair more than the Sony HVL-F60M or HVL-F58AMwhen tested at 28mm. Also impressive are the eight full power settings, with 1/3 and 1/2 stop adjustments.  The recharge rate for a full power 1/1 pop is about 3-4 seconds, not bad!  It comes with what sounds like a cool slave/wireless capability, but I didn’t test that feature.

 

However, all is not well with the Yongnuo YN560-II.  The LCD is fine when you look straight at it, but when viewed from a hard angle, it can be hard to read, or unreadable; that sucks when it’s on a light stand, you have to lower the stand so you can read it, then re-adjust it.  Another issue: the batteries are warm when the flash is on, but not being used, that draws unnecessary power, and shortens battery life.  I’m not sure why this is, but the owner’s manual says to remove the batteries after turning the power off, that’s weird!  Finally, the worst offending issue; the flash wants to turn off for some reason after a few full power, or even half power pops, and it won’t restart again until it cools down.  I never have this problem with factory flashes, even after using full power for an hour or two.

 

I’m not sure if the above issues are ‘normal’ or I got a bad copy.  I might try another one in the future.  Right now, I’d steer clear of this flash unit unless you can live with the problems I’ve pointed out.

 

Warranty coverage; if it breaks after 30 days, throw it in the trash can, or send it to China with your own money and wait six months for them to contact you and tell you it was abuse, and is not covered.  That’s what you get with dirt cheap electronic equipment.

 

For the money, the Yongnuo YN560-II could be a potential super bargain at about $59, but due to the power shut down after mild use, it has no use in my bag.

 

Update:  I tested the newer YN560III model, and it didn’t make it much farther than the older model.  The hotshoe connection became inoperable after about a month of use, so at that point it’s basically worthless, unless you want to use it solely for the optical slave function.

 

summer2013/yn560IIbox.jpg
Contents of box.
summer2013/yn560IIbk.jpg
LCD lit up, showing some available settings
summer2013/yn560IIports.jpg
Plug for external battery pack and screw lock PC connection.
summer2013/yn560IIft.jpg
Wide angle diffuser and bounce card.

 

 

Specifications and general information.

 

Model
Yongnuo YN560-II 
Owner’s manual
Go here and click ‘manual’ link at bottom of page.
Price
Street price; around $59.00
Tested on
Sony A77, A900 using adapter but only in manual mode.
In the box
Flash with pouch, hotshoe stand, and printed instruction manual.  Box color stolen from Nikon.
Build quality
Good all around.
Weather sealing?
No claims by manufacturer.
Hotshoe style
ISO standard.
Guide number
58 meters, 190′. (ISO 100, @105mm zoom position), and 41 meters, 135′ at 1/2.  Specs are for full frame sensors.
Guide number accuracy
Maximum output seems similar, or slightly more than models with guide numbers of 56 or 58!
Stated color temperature
5600k, but looks more like 5900k.
LCD monitor
Orange LCD.  2.0″ x .9″ (50mm x 23mm).  Has low battery indicator, overheat, zoom length, power levels, sleep, and many other items.
Lights and switches
Sound-power saving, mode, zoom, charge indicator/test, zoom, on-off, select/set button group.
Power source
4 AA, 1.5V
Recycle time
Usually between 3 and 4 seconds at full power depending on battery type; half-power (1/2) instant for 2 pops, then it slows down.  Quarter (1/4) power is instantaneous for the first few pops.  Rechargeable nickel-metal hydride batteries used.
Flash duration rating
Stated 1/200s~1/20000s
Power saving function
Yes, 3 minutes at default; adjustable in manual mode, either 15 or 30 minutes, in S1, S2 modes, up to 60 minutes.
Adjustable power levels
Eight full levels; 1/1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, 1/64, 1/128, adjustable in half or third stops.
Wide angle diffuser type
Built-in, pulls out and down, covers 18mm, (12mm APS-C).
Bounce card or reflector plate
White bounce card built in over diffuser, pulls out.
Bounce positions
90° up, to -7° down.
Swivel positions
0° to 270°.
Zoom positions
Wide panel (18mm), 24mm, 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 70mm, 80mm, 105mm.
Zoom type
Internal.
Auto format zoom
No.
AF assist beam
Not tested.
Custom functions
Time to power save, see power save function above. Beep sounds, on or off.
Connections
Screw lock PC plug and external battery adapter, SF-18C (Canon) or SF-17C (Nikon).
White balance info
No.
Modeling flash
Yes, but same as multi flash.
Multi-flash emission
Yes.
High speed sync
No.
Wireless ability
Yes, but I did not test this feature.
Sony ADI support
No.
Red eye reduction
No.
Dimensions
My measurements; 2.95″W x 7.5H x 2.3D   75mm x 190mm x 58mm   Maximum length 7.5″ (190mm) including shoe mount.  Length and depth measured with flash flat.
Weight
My scale; 12.9oz (366g) without batteries.
Operating temp
Not stated.
Quirks

Tends to shut down after mild use, and won’t restart unit a cooling off period.

 

Batteries are warm when flash is on, but not being used, meaning it’s drawing power for some reason, and the batteries don’t last long.

 

LCD is hard to read (or unreadable) at an angle, like when it’s on a light stand up high.

 

Long start up time, about 3-4 seconds, but advertised as only 2 seconds.

Notes

Compatible out of the box with Radiopoppers™ triggers with the appropriate plug, such as a stereo 3.5mm plug to PC.

Emits a beep signal when flash has fully recharged.
Manual says metal flash stand, but it’s just plastic.
Good for
Potentially a great flash for people wanting a powerful, quick recharging flash with a lot of power levels; quality control issues though?
Not good for
Anyone that wants a flash with auto control.
Recommended?
Not recommended because of shut down issue.
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