It was a bright flash of light and it came all the way from China. Funny thing is; it seems most bright flashes of light come from China. I had purchased several Yongnuo YN560-III flash units about two months ago and I have used them in some basic studio work. I had them mounted inside of Westcott soft boxes and I’ll write about that at a later time because I have not finished testing them in a studio setting. However I did for the first time take one YN560-III unit out and used for a full evening of photography at a New Year’s Eve house party that I had the fortune to attend. So yes as the name “Yongnuo” suggests these units are made in China and look very close to a Canon EX580 II flash unit. Canon has ditched the EX580 for the wireless radio technology of the new 600 EX-RT and Yongnuo has somewhat incorporated the radio technology into the new YN560-III. I say somewhat because it does not come close to the 600 EX-RT which can both send and receive radio and the Yongnuo can only receive radio. But I’m not here to talk about the radio part of the flash at this time. I just want to share my experience of using the YN560-III as an on camera unit in a party/event setting. If you are looking for a full review of the unit please look elsewhere.
So here is the basic price breakdown
- Yongnuo YN560-III $75 at most places on the web.
- Canon 600 EX-RT about $500 to $550
- Canon EX430 II $280 to $300
So you can see right off the start what makes this YN560-III so enticing. You can purchase 6 to 7 units for the cost of one Canon 600 EX-RT.
The unit comes very nicely packaged; mine were even wrapped in a heavy plastic/rubber wrapper for the long trip from Asia. But from the moment you open the box you feel that you have a Canon flash, just cheaper. However it feels cheaper too, but this could be a mental thing I’m not sure. Note; don’t even bother with the instruction card, it is 110% useless. Everything seemed to work nice, the battery door opens a lot easier than a Canon unit and most of all the controls for changing power settings are noticeably easier to work, especially for big fingers like mine. If I am working on camera flash with a Canon unit, I find it easier to change the settings via the camera menu rather than fumble with the buttons on the flash unit. But the YN560-III’s buttons work like a dream and that is a big plus because using the buttons is your only option as the Yongnuo’s menu is not compatible with the Canon “in camera” menu. So let’s head out to the party and see how it works on the fly in the real world.
The YN560-III is powered by 4 AA batteries and I used my trusty Eneloop Power X batteries. I shot 376 photos at various power settings ranging from 1/32 power to full power on one set of batteries. Most of the night I bounced between 1/16 & 1/4 power. So I can say it did not use an excess of power and that is a good thing.
Moving between power settings was actually a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. I brought my Canon EX430-II just in case I had to ditch the YN560-III because of annoyance, but it seemed very easy to find the power setting I needed when I needed it. Moving between four different areas in the party house meant changing flash power for each location.
And how was the light? Well… that is the best part. The light looked like a flash… it was bright and fast like most light. Seriously though; I have used the Canon 600 EX-RT units and this $75 dollar light was the same as the $500 light. I’m not the first to say that and I won’t be the last, but the light is the same, “light is light.” The light is what you need to make your image and who cares if it comes from a $75 flash with a name you can’t pronounce. Really who cares? My next test will be with the wireless radio functions. So I can’t really explain it; both Canon & Yongnuo are made in China as it seems all stuff is today. There is a huge difference in price between the YN560-III and the Canon EX430-II and for what? The only noticeable difference is the YN560-III uses a plastic twist lock wheel as opposed to the Canon having a slide lock with a safety release. I did notice a little side to side movement when locked tight, but not enough to let the unit come off camera. So that is my story and I’m sticking to it.