YN560 Flash Speedlite Overview

yn560Many people have told me that they have been looking for an affordable lighting kit because they can’t yet afford to invest one one or more Canon 580 EX II’s or Nikon SB-800/SB-900’s. I looked at numerous different lights and finally settled on the YN560. While there are plenty of others on the market with a wide range of features, even some with more features than the YN560, I decided to stick with the YN560 because of its Cost/Feature ratio, ease of use, build quality, and overall value. For the beginning strobist, its hard to beat the YN560.

Features

I want to start off with the negative to get it out of the way. This is a manual flash, it does not talk to the camera to determine the correct amount of flash to fire like the Canon or Nikon flashes do with their associated camera bodies. With the YN560 you set the amount of power the flash is going to put out. Do not panic! Learning to set correct lighting power is fairly simple and there are some basic guidelines to use to get dialed in quickly, more on that is the Usage section.

Enough with the negatives, this flash is otherwise loaded with features. From a power point of view it is virtually identical to a Canon 580 EX II or Nikon SB-800. The head rotates 90 degrees to the right and 180 degrees to the left while being able to tilt just over 90 degrees.

Just like the Canon 580 EX/EX II, the YN560 features a pull-out Wide Angle lens and Catch-light card. The head also allows you to zoom the focus point of the light from 24mm to 105mm. The flash power is fully adjustable from 1/128 power to full power.

yn560_backOne of the big problems with many manual flashes with optical slaves is that any flash will cause them to fire. Canon or Nikon flashes send out a pre-flash to determine exposure and then send out the final flash for the exposure, this pre-flash will fire most manual flashes. The S2 mode on the YN560 will ignore the pre-flash and only fire when the main flash goes off. Along with optical slave firing, the YN560 also has a PC Sync Port and can be used in the hot shoe of your camera.

  • Flash zoom from 24mm – 105mm
  • GN58 @ ISO100
  • Optical Slave
  • Hot Shoe Trigger
  • PC Sync Port
  • External Power Port
  • Audible Ready Tone
  • Fast Recharge Rate
  • Granular control from 1/128 to full power
  • Vertical Rotation angle: -7~90 degree
  • Horizontal rotation angel: 0~270 degree

Setup

The only thing you need to do in order to start using the YN560 is to install batteries. In “M†mode, the YN560 can be used in your camera’s hot shoe or can be connected to your camera with a PC Sync cable. In “S1†mode the YN560 will use the optical slave and fire when any other flash goes off. This setting is fine when using other YN560’s or studio strobe lights. As mentioned earlier, the “S2†mode will ignore the pre-flash of TTL flashes allowing you to use the YN560 along with those flashes.

Usage

yn560_rearIf you have never used a manual flash before it can seem rather intimidating but with just a little knowledge you can learn to use the YN560 as even your main flash in just a few minutes.

If you need to add some light to a scene, unless you have had a ton of experience, it is rather hard to simply know what the flash settings should be. Here is a quick shortcut to getting the right settings within just a few test shots.

  1. Power up the flash by holding down the On/Off button until the flash is fully powered up
  2. Use the left/right buttons to adjust the power output to the middle position
  3. Take a test shot
  4. If the scene is too bright, press the left button twice / If the scene is too dark, press the right button twice
  5. Fine tune the lighting with single presses left or right
  6. If you cant get the scene bright enough, you will need to increase your ISO or open your Aperture up more
  7. If the scene is still too bright even on the lowest setting, you will need to lower your ISO or close your Aperture down more

That’s really it. Assuming you are already in the ball park with your aperture and ISO settings, you should generally be able to get the power output dialed in within three test shots.

When using the YN560 off-camera, turning on the audible ready alert is a great way to be sure that the flash is fully charged and ready to fire without being able to see the ready light.

A cool trick I learned from David Ziser a year or so ago was to use the flash’s zoom feature. A good example for using this is when you shooting a table of people at a reception. Let’s say you are shooting the table with a 100mm focal length, with a Canon 580 EX/EX II the flash will automatically zoom to 100mm to help focus the light, this can cause the people at the back to be lit but the people that are much closer can be too dark. By zooming the flash back to 24mm you get a wide angle of flash to light the entire table evenly. Conversely, you can zoom all the way out to 105mm when shooting a short focal length and the zoomed flash will give you a snooted effect with a natural vignette around the subject.

Results

The light from the YN560 is consistent in power and temperature and the unit recycles nice and fast. It’s actually fairly hard to say anything bad about the YN560 unless you just have to have TTL control in which case this is not the flash for you. For anyone wanting to have a very affordable lighting kit, the YN560 is really a terrific purchase considering you can buy three of them for the cost of a single 580 EX II or SB-800.

The fact is, the YN560 impressed me so much that I bought several hundred of them in order to sell to people wanting to get their lighting kits started. If this batch sells I will continue to bring them in and offer them on CameraDojo.com.

The list price of the YN560 is $120 which includes free shipping. Camera Dojo readers can get an additional $20 off by using the discount code Flash20. To purchase the YN560, please visit http://blackbeltlighting.com.

KerryG

Kerry Garrison is a wedding, portrait, and product photographer living in southern California. With 10 years of experience shooting products and 3 years of experience in the wedding industry, Kerry brings a good deal of technical know-how and can explain topics in easy-to-understand terms. Kerry's work can be found at http://kerrygarrison.com and on Facebook at http://facebook.com/KerryGarrison

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