Saturday, 20 February 2010

Yongnuo YN460-II Quick Review

So, my other order came in today, which included a pair of Yongnuo YN460-II flashes, 2 more RF-602 Tx/Rx kits with Nikon cables, and a couple more RF-602 receivers, bringing the total up to 3 transmitters and 7 receivers now, which should be plenty for the various tests I have planned.

I had a quick play with them earlier today just to see how well they'd work out for the whole repeating flash thing, and while not entirely reliable for fast stroboscopic stuff as an optical slave, they didn't work too badly.  Their power output is quite nice, and they're slightly larger in size than the Nikon SB-600 flash (as you'll be able to see from the images a bit lower down the page).

The thing that rather surprised be about the flashes, when I read about it, is that they were "sort of" compatible with the Nikon CLS system.  No, you cannot control them via a CLS commander, however they have a second optical slave mode which completely ignores the CLS pre-flashes and only triggers on the main exposure, making them ideal for something like background lights or to light up a Hilite or something, while still retaining full iTTL control on the subject via Nikon SB-900s.

The infrared trigger for use as an optical slave has been moved since the YN460.  It now resides behind a little red plastic cover on the front of the base of the unit.  The flash head will rotate vertically from -7 to 90°, clockwise 90°, and anti-clockwise all the way to 180° (the same as the Nikon SB-600), so having the body of the flash pointing at another light source while the head points at your subject (or whever you need it to) should rarely be a problem.

There is no "locking system" to hold the flash head at any position, but you do get rather satisfying clicks at various points while rotating the head to different angles.  I'm not so sure about the locking wheel on the foot yet, but I'm sure I'll get used to it.  Perhaps I'm just too spoiled with Nikon's quick-release flash feet.

Again, the build quality of these extremely inexpensive flashes has impressed me.  They feel pretty solid in the hands, although the cover for the battery compartment see,s require a little persuasion to click shut properly without the risk of breakage.

The controls on the back, while fairly primitive when compared to something like the SB-900, are straightforward and to the point.  There is an on-off button, which has to be held down for several seconds before the unit actually turns on or off, although unlike the Nikon SB-600, it sits proud of the interface and could possibly be depressed for a long enough period of time to turn it on while in transport.  Fortunately, when in "M" mode (the default when you turn it on) the flash automatically goes into sleep mode after about 3 minutes of non-use, and turns itself off completely after 30 minutes, but it's still probably a good idea to remove your batteries immediately before packing up to travel.  In S1 & S2 modes, it automatically powers down after 60 minutes of inactivity.

The "Pilot" button gives you a quick flash trigger.  The "Mode" button allows you to switch between standard manual flash mode, S1 and S2 modes.  S1 is your bog standard optical slave mode; when it sees another flash, it triggers.  S2 is the pre-flash-ignoring optical slave mode.  This is the one that allows you to add the YN460-II to a CLS setup (in a limited fashion, obviously).

The power buttons allow you to go from 1/64th to the full power of the flash, which has a GN of 38 @ 35mm & ISO100.  These settings can also be fine tuned in 1/7th of a stop increments for a total of 46 different output levels.

So, another result for Yongnuo as far as I'm concerned.  Between these and the RF-602 gear, I'm very happy.  I wonder if they'll ever produce a flash that has the RF-602 receiver built in?  Oh, and a 3.5mm sync port would be handy too (and I'm sure David Hobby would agree with me). :)

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