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Significant variance in color
on January 12, 2013
I bought one unit to try it out, and it worked great. So I bought two more. They all work great, well built, reliable. If you configure it correctly per the manual it does not time out. Very happy with the units except last night I discovered an odd color when I was using two Yongnuos with my Elinchrom studio flash in a three flash setup. I lit a model with the key light being a Yongnuo through a softbox, the Elinchrom providing fill, and another snooted Yongnuo lighting the background.
The Elinchrom fill provided nice, vibrant color in the model's blonde hair. The Yongnuo key light created an odd, muted cast in her hair that was very muddy and unattractive. One half of her face looked great and the other half looked terrible. This is the first time I noticed it so I decided to do a color comparison between my six flashes (Two Canons, three Yongnuo's and a studio unit). I shot an Xrite colorchecker chart with each flash using the same exposure (measured by the histogram as the each unit's power output is slightly different). I then loaded the photograph in Photoshop and used the eyedropper tool to extract the RGB values of the white square for a very accurate, numerical comparison.
Interestingly enough, one of the Yongnuos provided a color balance that almost exactly matched my studio flash. The other two were SIGNIFICANTLY bluer which explains the muddy look in the model's hair on the Yongnuo side. The two Canon flashes (a 580 EX II and 430 EX II) were almost exactly the same with each other, and very slightly cooler than the Elinchrom. I attached a 1/4 CTO gel to the two very blue Yongnuos and remeasured. One of the two now almost exactly matches my two Canon's and the other is slightly warmer. I am much happier now as all my flashes are now close enough in color balance to each other to not be noticeable if I combine them in a shot - but I have to keep the gels on them permanently. Adjusting the power will probably change the color balance (more light through a gel reduces the color it gives the light), so I will need to remember which flashes I use for what purpose in a shoot, and try not to mix them where it will be noticeable.
Bottom line: What you pay for in the more expensive Canon's are matched and uniform color balance. Although the Yongnuo's are reliable, the money savings show in the unmatched and very different color balance between units. If you only use a single flash the impact will not be noticeable as there will not be a color mismatch. Fixing a color mismatch in post is difficult and time consuming at best.
For those that are interested, here are the results of the tests:
B:185 (Note how balanced the color is - the values are almost exactly the same)
Canon 580 EX II
B:198 (Note that is a touch cooler than the Elinchrom, but not by a whole lot. Probably hard to notice in a photograph. Also not as beautifully balanced as the Elinchrom)
Canon 430 EX II
B:197 (Notice how amazingly close the two Canons are to each other)
B: 184 (Surprisingly well balanced. Better than both the Canons in fact. Also very close to the Elinchrom - this is VERY good and it needs no gelling. Will always use it with the Elinchrom)
B: 200 (Terrible balance - the spread between the numbers R,G,B. MUCH cooler than anything else. This creates the muddy color). Can't use it in combination with other flashes in the same shot
B: 215 (Terrible balance. significantly cooler than anything else) Can't use it in combination with other flashes in the same shot
After adding the 1/4 CTO gels to units #2 and #3, here are the results
Yongnuo 2 + 1/4 CTO
B: 182 (Much closer to the other flashes now, but slightly warmer)
Yongnuo 3 + 1/4 CTO
B: 192 (Very close to the Canons now, I can combine it with the two Canons if I need three strobes for a shot without getting a noticeable color mismatch)