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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon March 23, 2012
EDIT: A problem that I didn't experience at first - while the LCD screen is bright and easy to read in most situations (looking straight at it), I found out that it's not so easy to read from other angles. For example, if you put it on an umbrella swivel (for an umbrella, beauty dish, softbox, etc..) and have it angled it can be impossible to read. If tilted 90 degrees forward, it appears as if everything lights up on it (the LCD screen uses something similar to a digital alarm clock - so it looks like "1/188" which allows the "88" to light up certain parts to form different numbers. So it could be 1/1, 1/2.. 1/16, 1/32, 1/64, 1/128) Again, the problem is that at odd angles (like 90 degrees forward) it appears as "1/188" instead of what the actual power is. On the other hand, tilting it 90 degrees backwards it will look blank.. so the viewing angle isn't great and creates some readability issues. Another example is if it's sitting lower to the ground and you're looking at it from a standing height it will appear blank. You need to bend down and look at a better angle to see the actual power. This could be considered a big downfall for some and does show that there is an advantage to the original YN560's LED system.
For comparison, the Canon 580EXII does have a similar issue but not nearly as bad. Tilting it 90 degrees forward it is still easily readable.

Over the last couple years, YONGNUO has made a name for themselves in the photography world. They've released some very nice, high quality alternatives to the "name brand" products out there as VERY nice prices. One of their better lines of items are their Speedlites (portable flashes).

I own and use many of their Speedlites - the YN460, YN460-II, YN465, YN560 and now the YN560II. I've used them for years and they all still work perfectly (the only issue was with a YN560 (original) that arrived with a broken zoom). For the prices they sell for, I find them to be very reliable. I have dropped them onto concrete from small heights (2-3 feet) and they continued to work fine.

Owning several of these, I'd like to compare them for anyone who was in the same situation as I was when looking for a flash. For the record, these units were purchased for:
YN560 - 70 bucks
YN560II - 100 bucks (NOTE: That was the price from a US Seller. From China they can be found for about 70 bucks, the same as the YN560)
580EXII - 500 bucks
Right off the bat, all 3 pretty much look the exact same. YONGNUO basically made a copy of the 580EXII mold (right down to including fake buttons on the sides which are REAL buttons on the 580EXII). The nice thing about this is that it means all accessories designed to fit the Canon 580EXII will work just fine with the Yongnuo YN560 (and 560II).
The obvious difference is the back of the flash. The original YN560 uses a LED system to indicate the power and zoom range - this means if 1 LED is lit, it's 1/128 power.. if 2 are lit, it's 1/64.. 1/32.. 1/16.. 1/8.. 1/4.. 1/2.. 1/1. This makes it easy to glance at from a distance and see "All the lights are lit, it's full power" opposed to an LCD screen which can be tough to read in the dark or from a distance.

LCD/Back display:
The YN560II and 580EXII use an LCD screen which tells you the actual power: 1/1, 1/2, 1/4, etc..
The better option for back display (LCD vs. LED Lights) comes down to preference - I have no issues with either. Both LCD screens (YN560II and 580EXII) have a backlight option - the Canon 580EXII has a specific "light" button which will turn the backlight (green) on for a few seconds. The YN560II will automatically turn the backlight (red/orange) on whenever any button is pressed. I like the YN560II's method as you can easily see the information no matter wherever you are when adjusting power - lit or dark areas (with the 580EXII you need to press the light button to see the light - so if you're in a dark area and changing power, you need to press the LIGHT then change the power (or vice versa) to see what level it's at - the YN560II will light up as soon as you start adjusting the power). The YN560II does not, however, have a dedicated LIGHT button but you can press any button (even the "enter" button which won't have any effect on the settings) to turn on the light for a few seconds.

The LCD screen on the YN560II is much more basic. You get the MODE you're in (M/S1/S2/MULTI (more on these later), the power (1/1, 1/2, 1/4...), the zoom level (24mm, 28mm, 35mm, etc..), the AUDIO indicator (more on this later..) and some others which will come on from time to time. One of the most helpful is the LOW BATTERY icon - unfortunately it doesn't give a constant indicator of battery life, only when it's "low". The 580EXII, on the other hand, has the same information but it's laid out in a much nicer presentation.
I will say that I prefer the YN560II LCD somewhat as everything is VERY BIG ON THE SCREEN. The power level is about 3 times as big as that on the 580EXII (so you can easily see the power level from a distance).. same for the zoom level. Doesn't look as fancy, but the information is easier to read on the YN560II. Again, the YN560 does not use an LCD, only light up LED lights - you can even say that the YN560 is easiest to get an idea of the power level from a distance since you can see how many LED's are lit from almost any angle.

The CANON 580EXII includes: MANUAL, ETTL (automatic flash exposure), MULTI (a strobelight-like effect where you can control how many times it flashes and how frequently), a MASTER mode (to control other CANON flashes) and a SLAVE mode (to be controlled by a camera like the 7D, a transmitter like the ST-E2 or another 580EXII flash).
The YN560 and YN560-II include: MANUAL, SLAVE1, SLAVE2 (and the YN560II includes MULTI). SLAVE1 and SLAVE2 on the Yongnuo are nice as they let you trigger these flashes using any other flash (SLAVE1 is for other manual flashes (or flashes without an ETTL metering), SLAVE2 is for cameras that use ETTL metering). These are great modes to have and are not on the CANON 580EXII. On the same hand, the 580EXII includes the ETTL ("automatic") and High-Speed sync mode for the flash while the YONGNUO models are all automatic and do not include high-speed sync (YONGNUO makes the YN565 flash which does include ETTL, but not high-speed sync)

All 3 have roughly the same amount of power output. They can be adjusted anywhere from 1/1 (full power) down to 1/128. I believe some of the earlier Yongnuo flashes only went down to 1/64 power. You can also fine-tune the power, so if you want something between 1/2 and 1/1 power, you can set it to 1/2 and then add +0.3, +0.5 or +0.7 compensation - this is done with the up/down buttons on the YN560 and YN560II. It is MUCH easier to read on the YN560II since it will say: "1/2 +0.3" while the YN560 only has 1 set of LED lights (which display flash power output, zoom level and flash exposure compensation, depending which one you're looking at. The YN560II will display all at once).

All 3 flashes have a zoom function on the flash - the YONGNUO are the easiest to operate as they have dedicated +/- buttons (canon requires you to press a button first and then change the zoom).
The YONGNUO flashes also allow easier control of the power (also a +/- button while the 580EXII requires you to press the SET button and then turn a wheel). This is a toss-up on who wins - the YONGNUO ones are easier to adjust, but that also makes them easier to hit by accident and change the power levels when you didn't want to.

The YN560II and YN560 have similar looking buttons (rubber-like), but the YN560 buttons are somewhat mushy/soft while the YN560II has firm buttons which feel a bit nicer. Both are usable.
The YN560II uses similar buttons to the 580EXII, except the 580EXII uses a wheel instead of the left/right/up/down/SET button on the YN560II. I actually prefer the buttons on the YN560II as they're easier to pick up and use, but all 3 work fine.

The YN560 and YN560II have a metal hotshoe (the YN560 originally released with a plastic hotshoe, but was quickly replaced). They also use the turn-to-lock clamp for the hotshoe while the Canon 580EXII uses a rubber gasket with a switch you flip to lock it down (this also keeps it somewhat water-sealed on the hotshoe). I prefer the 580EXII style lock for sure, but the others do work fine.
All 3 have a PC-Sync input and a high-voltage battery socket to connect an external battery pack to (such as the CP-E4). I use the Pixel TD-381 battery Power Pack for for Canon Speedlites 580EX II, EX580, EX550, MR-14EX,MT-24EX, extremely stable fast recycle time 1.24S and highly recommend it! These greatly speed up recycle times and give you a longer battery life.

I loaded fresh rechargable batteries (same brand, all bought at the same time and freshly charged) into all 3 flashes, connected them to a radio trigger to set all 3 off at the same time. The YN560 recycled the faster (barely beating out the YN560II), and the 580EXII slightly slower than all 3. The difference was about 1/2 to 3/4 seconds difference between all 3. With the external battery pack (above) connected, all were fully recycled and ready for the next shot within about 1-2 seconds from full power (and all ready about the same time).

The YN560 and 580EXII both go from lowest power (all the way left) to highest power (all the way right) and stop at each. If you go to full power (1/1) and press right, nothing happens. If you go to lowest power (1/128) and press left, nothing happens. The YN560II changes this - if you go to full power and press Right, it goes back to 1/128 (and if on 1/128 and pressing left, it goes to 1/1). I'm not sure how much I like this, since you can easily change the flash power greatly without noticing it if you press a button.
All 3 flashes have a Pilot light which indicates Charging (green) and Ready (red). When ready, you can press the light in to trigger the flash -- this is very easy to do on the 580EXII and YN560II, but with the older button types on the YN560, it's a bit tougher.

The YN560 and YN560II have an optional sound function - this means you hear a "beep beep" when the flash fires and a long "BEEEEEEEP" when it's ready again. This is helpful to know if a flash fired (sometimes looking through the viewfinder you can't tell) and to tell when it's ready to go again (so you don't take a shot before it's charged). The 580EXII does not have this feature.
The YN560II seems noticeably louder than the YN560, making it somewhat hard to hear the YN560 (if using one of each flash) - it can also be quite loud if used in quieter areas (to the point you wish it had a volume control -- I never had this issue with the YN560).

The YN560II and Canon 580EXII include a nice nylon carrying pouch to hold the flash and the coldshoe (more on that later..), the YN560 just comes in a thin carrying bag.

All 3 include a coldshoe (so you can set the flash on the ground, standing up). The YN560 included a nice one with metal around certain areas (like the tripod threading) while the 580EXII and even the YN560II included an all-plastic cold-shoe.

All 3 include a wide-angle diffuser panel and a popout bounce card.

The 580EXII can swivel 360 degrees (180 degrees left, 180 degrees right), the YN560 and YN560 are limited to 180 degrees left or 90 degrees right.

So overall, what do I recommend?
The 580EXII is obviously in a different class (and a much different price range!). I didn't want to compare it against the Yn560II directly to determine which is better, but I owned it and wanted to throw in some comparisons - I'm not expecting the YN560 and YN560II to be the 580EXII, but they both held up very well against it (and even exceeded in some areas)!
Some of the features in the YN560 and YN560II are great, and not even part of the much more expensive 580EXII (such as the sound indicator, low battery indicator and slave-modes).
With both YN560 and YN560II being very close in price, it's up to you whether you find the few new features on the YN560II (the LCD screen and MULTI option) to be worth the extra money. I own 2 YN560's, a handful of YN460's, YN460II's and YN465's and am considering getting another YN560II due to the low price and great features. Highly recommended - either the Yn560 or YN560II.

EDIT: Just bought another YN560II. Love this thing!
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on June 19, 2012
Short and sweet.

Low price (Canon can kiss my butt)
It came
It works
It's durable
Simple to use
Work with my Canon 5d Mark iii
Works with my cheapo cowboy studios remote triggers
Nice case
Great recycle time
Works with rechargeable batteries

It's 8x cheaper than Canon...enough said!!
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on December 28, 2012
I searched amazon for a while looking for a good speedlite on a low budget. I came upon the YN-560 II and i'm glad I did. To start off let me say that this is a fully manual flash, so it requires some knowledge of DSLRs. I purchased this for my Canon T3i and it works great. Note that this isn't a Canon product, so it won't work completely with the Camera. In the menu screen it said's that the Speedlite can not be recognized, but it works. The way to make it work is too look through the viewfinder on the Camera, and not the live sceen view mode. This can be a pain for people who are used to viewing through the screen, but if not then this is good for you. Another thing that I should mention is that Speedlites swivel for a reason. They turn a lot of different ways because the red sensor on the front of the speedlite is what sends the Camera the signal when in Slave mode ( when using off camera flash). The red sensor must be facing the camera in order for it to fire when you press the shutter button, otherwise the flash simply isn't going to go off. This Speedlite requires 4 AA Batteries, so if you are going to be using it a lot I would think about investing in some rechargeable batteries for it. The flash it's self is seems very durable and works great! Again, you have to be familiar with things such as Aperature ( F 5.6, 11, etc.), Shutter Speeds ( 1/1, 1/160/ 1/200/ etc), and ISO ( ISO 400, ISO 800, ISO 1600, etc). The flash also has outputs. They start with 1/1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8/ 1/16, 1/32, 1/64/ and 1/128. These are basically how much light the flash is going to let out. When using the flash I would recommend bouncing the light off of say a roof to get a softer light on the subject or if you have photography umbrellas to soften light, then that works too. The speedlite also has "zoom" depending on how far away your subject is. If they are close you can use up to 18mm with the diffuser or 25 mm without it and up to 105 mm. If you know what your doing or if you simply want some practice with manual flashes this is a great Speedlite and I definitely recommend it to you. If you want an automatic flash they are a bit more expensive, but it will be a great investment because it saves you the time to change all the settings manually.

I rate this product 5 stars out of 5 stars for great efficiency.

I hope this review helped you out, if you have any questions feel free to comment.
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Enthusiast: Photographyon November 26, 2014
These are working great on my Sony mirrorless cameras (A7, a6000, RX10). I use them in manual mode with the Yongnuo RF-603 II radio remotes. I elected not to use the newer Yongnuo flashes with built-in radio triggers since I also want the flexibility to adapt my radio remote system to other flashes, like monolights.

The great thing about using the 560 II shot into umbrellas, or through umbrellas (like the Wescott series) is that when you move them around in a studio setting or on location the combination of stand, umbrella, and flash is very easy to re-position to get your light the way you want, and you don't lose connectivity. This also allows a lot of experimentation with new lighting set-ups.

As an on-camera flash, the 560 II's are great with light modifiers like the Gary Fong Lightsphere system where they can be used as fill or primary lighting for events or kids on the run. In not using the TTL function (with Sony cameras) you will need to shoot in manual, but once you nail the exposure you just need to check now and then, particularly if you are moving around with the on-camera setup. Personally, I have no problems with non-TTL, as that's where I started back in the old days of film.

Bottom line is that these are bargain priced flashes that are well made, reliable, highly configurable for power and zoom and compatible with a wide range of cameras if you are willing to flex and experiment. Since many photographers are converting to Sony mirrorless lately and I found no information on using the Yongnuo flashes with them (and there, as yet, is no Sony-specific model) I hope that this helps those of you who shoot Sony A7, RX10 and a6000 or like cameras and need a good portable flash system that doesn't send you out for a loan. I like my two so much that I just ordered a third to complete my location studio set-up!
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on January 24, 2016
I got this because the canon one was too expensive. I didn't expect much from a 70 dollar flash but I have to say I was impressed. It kept up with my 580exii in output and battery life. In terms of the manual mode it works better as all I need do is press up or down to change power nice. No twist lock so I can change orientation quick with one hand, feels real sturdy maybe not as much as the canon flashes but for any dry shoots I have no issues using it (if I'm shooting manual) it has high speed sync so I just turn it on and then I can go up to 1/8000 of a second and have the light I need. It has slave mode so I set it and it will fire when it sees light from the other flashes bounce. A bounce card and beam spreader are built in like the canons and it also comes with a case and And a base that has a 1/4-20 female thread to mount to light stands. All in all you won't de dissapointed it performs great the only down side is no ETTL so that means it won't adjust to changing conditions like the canons. You will either need to set it and remember to go back to adjust it as you need or mount it on your hot shoe and use it only as a trigger. I have a wireless trigger system so that's not an option for me but where I use it is in situations when I want to add light to a spot just a little like a corner of the scene that isn't getting light from the other flashes or if you need a snoot light it's great. My advice is get the one with ETTL though if you want it to move the flash in fast shoots and don't want to think about flash power. I would not buy this again as I always need control over the power on my flashes and I am constantly changing them via my wireless system this flash usually gets left in the bag as a result only as a backup but still if you have the time to change settings or just want an on camera flash it may be a good option.
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on December 5, 2012
I have had a Canon 580Ex-II for more than 5 years and still I find myself using this Yongnuo a lot.
I won't bother you here with a complete review: other people here have done a sterling job at that.
Still, let me share a few tidbits regarding the off-camera flash uses.

First it has two off-camera modes that bear understanding: S1 and S2 for Synchronized with the first or the second flash it sees.
S1 simply monitors the environment for a flash and gives its own light in sync with it.
In case the other flash uses a TTL preflash to make a measurement, you want the Yongnuo to shoot on the second flash, when the camera is actually taking the picture. In that case, select S2.

I found that contrary to what the YN560 manual states, it is possible to use it together with a Canon flash triggered remotely. Theoretically it should be a problem: there is the remote control preflash from the camera, the TTL preflash from the Canon flash and then the actual picture lighting, so we would need to sync on the third flash. They were right to state it does not work.
But you can make it work: simply shade your camera flash with your hand so that the Canon flash sees it but not the Yongnuo - the Canon shoots its TTL preflash and then the picture, the Yongnuo synchronizes with the seconds flash it sees and you are home free.

Why I love that flash?
Its very simple triggering mechanism makes it very convenient for the classes of photography I sometimes give to kids: they show up with their camera or I lend them a rebel, we set up the lighting (including additional battery packs for the flash, and set it to 1/4 so it does not burn) and whoever shoots gets the light from the flash so they can easily try what they want as long as we take turns and no one uses red eye reduction.
High-key, low-key, back-lit, the pictures they get from 5 years old powershots in these conditions are so good I sometimes wonder why I bother lugging my stuff around.

Bottom line I have another two of these in my basket for next time I send out an order to Amazon.
It will not replace a good TTL flash but if you do any studio you can't really beat this one.

Edited in July 2014

If by any chance you could lay your hands on a couple of YN603, the YN-560III (3 'I', not 2) is essentially the same plus an embedded receiver for the YN603 radio trigger. Considering the price of the -III (currently $71 on Amazon) and the low availability of this one, I would suggest you look at the -III instead.
This present one one remains a great acquisition if you find it at a decent price.
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Enthusiast: Photographyon September 24, 2013
I've owned the Canon 580EXII in the past and while upgrading to studio lighting with Alienbees B800, I decided to get the YN-560II as a rim light and portable solution.

I was expecting a lighter and cheaper replica of the 580EXII but the flash came in a box similar to Nikon (copper color) and packaged well. The carrying pouch is very similar to the Canon and does feel a bit thinner. The plastic shoe mount works great and the flash of course I will go in detail.

Yes, this is not a dedicated TTL but since I will be using the flash mainly with the CowboyStudio's NPT-04 trigger and off shoe set at manual mode, it's not a problem for me.

It has a solid feel and very similar to that of 580EXII. While the control buttons are plastic and only has the rotating dial to lock the flash on the camera, the base is metal and secures tightly. The swivel head again is same as 580EXII but instead of the push buttons on the side it's held by friction. Not the smoothest of course but it's sturdy enough it stays in place. 270° turn and the head does 180°.

LCD Display:
The LCD light is the same as the orange LCD found on Canon's top menu screen. The color is pleasant to the eye and it's not overly bright. The LCD contrast is easy to read.

It has both audible tone when the flash is ready to fire and can be turned off with a push of a button. It makes a quick two beeps followed by an old flash whining noise. With the four AA, the recycle time is very quick for anything under 1/2 power and under. At full power there was a lag of about a second or so.

The bottom right button is held for couple seconds to turn on and the same to turn off. I think it's a nice feature to make sure the unit doesn't come on by accident.

When zooming the flash it does have a noticeable sound but it's not very loud or make any weird noise.

So far I'm very pleased with the amount of light it puts out. It's nice and crisp. I have not noticed any color change like others may have noticed. Recycle time is quick with low power usage. There's the diffusing panel that comes out along with the white bounce panel that also can be used just like the 580EXII.

Overall I'm very happy with the purchase. If you want to get a creative shot, two of these flash plus the transceiver I listed above should work well together. And for 1/10th of the cost of brand new Canon 580EXII you really can't go wrong. If the unit dies in the next three years, well, for $60 I certainly cannot complain.

I'll update as long as I own this unit. If you were considering the Vivitar 285HV well, the Yongnuo may just be the new flash to go for today's entry level hot shoe flash :)

One thing I did notice using with CowboyStudio's NPT-04 is that sometimes it didn't fire. Once I had to reset the remote, turn off the flash for a bit and finally started to fire again. I'm not sure if it's the remote or the flash itself. I was thinking it maybe the flash as my other unit is B800 and was firing every single time.
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on March 18, 2014
I purchased this trying to avoid and an E-TTL flash in order to learn how to use speedlites effectively. I'm still in the process of learning. :)

+ Value! great price with great performance.
+ Great power output
+ Consistent light and fast fires
+ Never encountered any misfires due to the flash (I had issues with remote firing using the optical sensor in bright day light).
+ Tough....It took a fall from a height of about 60", and rolled down the parking garage...a few scratches, but works just fine (nothing broke).

- None! It is an effective flash that simply works. It would be dumb of me to give negative review because is not high speed sync or E-TTL as others have. It is a great flash for what it is.

I would, and have, highly recommended this flash to anyone needing additional slave flashes or is on a tight budget, or simply needs a manual flash!
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on April 20, 2013
First the good news. I was able to successfully used this with the Pocket Wizard TT5 with the X as the transmitter. Flash power was much better than my canon 430 (first version). With most shots at less than 1/1. The color was also better. I was really impressed after taking over 50 shots.

Now the bad news. Took it to a photo shoot and it worked fine for about 100 shots before it started faltering. I had alkaline batteries then so I figured it was the battery. Took out the batteries and they were very hot! I couldn't even hold them in my hands. I was surprised by this since I wasn't using full power. It was about 3 minutes before I changed the batteries. I shot about 3-5 shots and noticed that the flash wasn't going off consistently although the ready light was lit. After that it died. Since I was using Envelopes now, I thought possibly the batteries weren't fully charged, so I switch again. Same deal. I tried the batteries on another flash and the batteries were good. So I'm returning this flash.

A couple folks in the group had these, one being the YN-560 (first one) and they liked them. So I'm going to try again. Hopefully I won't end up with another bad one as others have encountered. If the second one fails, back to Canon and asking for donations! I'll update this review with the status of the next flash.

I gave it 2 stars only because it has potential. I liked the screen and the buttons. One thing I would point out is, that to turn it on you must leave your finger on the button until all of the modes display on top of the led screen. At first I thought it was defective as it wouldn't stay on.

Update 12/2013:
The replacement has worked for a few months now without issue. So I bought another of the same. I have used them both as master and slave and they have both worked flawlessly. I've updated the star rating to 4. I can't give 5 because of the first returned.
I would recommend this but I advise that you use it extensively as soon as you receive it to make sure it works. This way you can get a replacement asap if it doesn't.
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on December 27, 2014
I really like this flash. It's powerful, durable, efficient, well featured, easy to use, and generally just seems happy.
I bought a 2nd one (after buying a cheaper Neewer to use as a slave that proved to be undependable, less efficient, etc).

If you don't need fancy TTL stuff, and manual works for your needs, this is an excellent flash. I don't think you can do better for anywhere near the price.

If I could improve anything:
Better "early warning system" when the batteries are low.
Slightly better tilt angle range so it could point down a little bit. It doesn't tilt downward past level.
Similarly it'd be nice if you could rotate a little more right/left. It'd be nice to be able to point it almost backward (sometimes remounting backwards is a hassle).

But those are minor things. Overall, a great flash.
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