Whats all the buzz over the Yong-Nuo brand strobes?  Several reasons for the rise in popularity of the strobes and accessories from this Chinese based company customarily by cloning almost anything made or innovative and avoiding things like royalties and patents, a precedent established by Dr. Yamaki of Sigma, but this is China today and anything goes. 

Yong-Nuo is positioned well in the market as the prime manufacturers keep adding useless items to the menu.  Matching their feature laden interplanetary cameras with equally feature laden flash units with menus containing enough variants to match anything utilized by the Mars Explorer.  I still think the Nikons and Canons have bigger processors than the one that went to the moon on Apollo.  And YN thinks differently, so do I. 

Light is light and it is the photographers job is to control it.  

When you take a picture with a  single light source such as a camera mounted strobe regardless of the all the propaganda the manufacturer throws at you to part you from your money the subject only gets the output of one light source for a few tenths of a millisecond.   You never thought of it that way but it is true. One burst of light…per picture.  Durations and intensity determine the exposure

Now the critical part of this statement is as follows.  How much of the light falls on the subject?   How wide a beam did the flash put out?  Was it more or less volume than the ambient light?  What was the color of the flash in Kelvin temperature?   Was it direct or bounced?  All these questions still have one answer, the resultant flash was one burst of light at a specific duration or intensity.  That translates into F-stops or parts thereof.

A simple manual flash can duplicate and in some cases do a better job than a viewfinder with 10-20 sensors, and all that integration of the camera and flash consuming tome and battery power just to determine flash intensity.

They kill everybody on price points, by dealing direct and with some distributors like Amazon and eBay, they cut prices and deliver a viable product, constantly being upgraded and suiting the needs of the low-end community which is an upgrade of the Vivitar 285 which was really old in the tooth.

For example, the YN had more common ports and is totally manual which met the criteria of the “Strobists” who frugalized flash photography with a learning website club,  complete with cooperative volunteer website information.  In my photo dictionary look up “Lemmingitus”. 

Need a backup or a extra light, here are the 460-II Yong-Nuo that we tinkered with at less than a third of the price of a manufacturers unit. Some still available on eBay floating around under 50.00.  Improved sensor, tilt and swivel, and a metal hotshoe.  

Make sure it is the 460-II model.  (09-18-2015) Just found two more at Amazon.  Yong-Nuo consistently upgrade  their line, thus the branded lines get upgraded too eg: 460 to 460-ll and now YN560-II, 560-II, 560-III, to 560-IV, to reflect the new capacitor skin molds and breadboard. . 

Its like two or four for the price of one. The perfection unit shown below with the accessories were made for a trade show I displayed at and was sold there.  A customer just had to have it and I was over on luggage.  

Plans for Doing It Yourself are in the DIY section and it’s easy to build.

And the rig works beautifully.  See this shot from a Triathlon where two of the strobes were used as flash fill to compensate for a dark day.  We split the strobes for one left and one right.   The Perfection setups are totally adaptable and can be used in any conformation.   

  • The stands were at ten to twelve feet  from the center racer at seven feet high.  
  • Both were hooked to my Black Boxes for speedy recovery at almost full power about half a second.
  • We concluded the shoot within a minute or two of the last of the 450 Awards Ceremony given and started packing up.  
  • How we did it.  The race coordinator was announcer was presenting, and we were set up ten feet away from her left. She passed the individuals and groups over to us.   It went smooth, a five minute setup, five minute teardown.  I love it.  The Nikon D4 set for the flash in manual, ignoring and allowing the for darkening the background.
  • My only wish was not bring a can of spray paint gold to do some of the ferns with….
  • We used the strobe at a conventional 45 degrees angle per side, one half-stop on the right under the left side for definition.  Both had Sto-Fens.  Absolutely no Photoshop was used for exposure, color or sharpening period.  We reduced file size to 72 for the web and added a border,  on this one for the site.  450 shots and basically no afterwork period, a breeze.
  • A wide enough spread for six abreast in two rows.
  • Nothing other than bordering in photoshop for this site was done.


YONG-NUO 460 II Manual Flash  $ 47.00 - 53.95
The YONG-NUO 460- II, if you can find them, may be purchased for about 47.00 on Amazon or eBay.  About a third of the Midwest mishap. The YN460-II is a simple and inexpensive flash unit. They claim a GN of 53m instead of 33m or something like that, faster recycling and fine tuning for the flash power. This was my modified show unit below. I don’t believe anyone’s numbers I use a high end flash meter in controlled conditions, so each flash gets the same test accurately.

The fathead hood came off a burnt up Vivitar.  You take off all the screws, a little lifting with a plastic wedge, some pressure and a thin screwdriver blade releases the top from the assembly. Cut and trim the two legs, apply thin velcro to the body and inside of the legs and Voila!  I riveted it since it’s never coming off.  Things that come off bug me, how many lens caps have you lost?  This ones not coming off.


The head I wanted was for small specific tight targets in a project for a Forensics Department, experimenting, differing from Luminal so I removed the foggy front element the Vivitar had.  I had a specific use in mind, basically using masks to create a very focused beam with little spill like a short snoot.   A shade or snoot for the flash from a broken 285HV.  No edge bleed off.  I could control things with inserts made from black thin plastics and a “cookie cutter”.   A virtual perfect fit.

The features of a comparable Flash from YONG-NUO for $89.95, some at 75.00 with a Zoom Head, all digital, slightly more power, and compatibility with  the 460 II basic features. It's called the Model 560 III,  560IV and there are variants.  A better buy today than the Vivitar 285 if you understand this is a pure manual strobe and rethinking TTL.  I call TTL the Total Thinking Loser Mode.

No TTL-I, E, X, no power steering, windows or brakes, more like a WWII Jeep.   The 285’s are still OK now as long as you steal them on eBay and let me do a few upgrades while I can.  

This 560 manual series could be a killer strobe for Pro Wedding and event shooters who only shoot manual as long as they last a year without imploding and sustain a track record.  We have a  few in use now, so far OK, I’m hearing rumbles about the higher end multiple base dedicated units for Nikon and Canon TTL, I’m hearing a few stories and have to validate them. But the manuals seem fine.

I’ll modify them for you for Black Boxes, but they come with warnings and disclosures as I have seen and heard about a board problem.  All Yong-Nuos have a warning about Lithium products “as their dump or flow exceeds" what the capacitor can absorb and you will toilet the flash.

Yong-Nuo, is well known in the industry as Chinas best Japanese knockoff house but also the worst when it came to instructions and translations. They are getting better and even their products are getting better.  First thing they need is someone who can write and translate to “Ingleeesh”.  

"Shenzhen Yong Nuo Photographic Equipment Co., Ltd is Mainly engaged the product development, manufacturing and retailing of professional photographic equipment to our customers".  "We have abundant in product development.  And our engineer who has a very experienced knowledge on photographic equipment manufacture".   "That's the main reason to lead Yong Nuo Photographic Equipment Co., Ltd to be more profession, modernization and internationalization". 

NOTE:  In Mandarin Chinese, the characters  for Knockoffs, are  把 敲掉 击倒 停工 slightly differing from the simplified. 

I am working on a budget priced, pro level Wedding Rig using either the YN560-II-III and IV working in conjunction with a Black Box or one of the NEEWER CLONES of a clone.  We already have this setup working in New Jersey and in other parts of the country with no problems on the 460-II platform and so far it has been bulletproof.

And with the ability to operate in reduced power, this source will produce  2000 -4000 shots depending on settings easily for Wedding work or other high count projects.   

I do not build for the hobbiest teddy bear shooter.   I build for the individual who sees the business potential when a Bride in Sketchers is slaloming down the aisle in her church.  In photography, keeping costs down means a higher profit margin.  Profit as described in the Jacobs Dictionary is “Money you spend on you”.   My customers spend a lot of their weekends making money.  No clubs, secret handshakes or coded passwords. Their mantra is making money.  This is a great backup rig at a very low cost. 

None of the Yong-Nuo’s should be powered by anything thats LIPO AA or Li-Ion basically Lithium powered cells and there is a warning in their package in the battery compartment expressing this. Those batteries will exceed the input capacity and blow the motherboard.  It is on a yellow tag in the battery compartment.   Nissan has the same warnings. Talking with a tech, those touting Zinc ultra cheap batteries will do the same. Those Zi-Ion are really bad.

Like any other strobe push them and you can harm them, thats why the NIKON and Canon’s flagship models have overheat diodes and soon they will all have them. The 560 does have a similar mod.

My rig now is based on SLA performance and economy.  A survey of many of my wedding pros and event shooters indicated they shot in manual, same as I do using manual, the old F8-F11 at ten feet at 1/125 ASA 200, and got great results on the aisle to the red carpet.  Hmmm, why pay 400.00 to 600.00 dollars to shoot in manual  when I can build a complete wedding pro rig for under $350.00.  Flash, cable, and Black Box, really simple learn and to use.

The YN-560 IV  is the latest incantation, the flagship manual speedlite, and its the first all manual speedlite with a radio trigger receiver built in for firing the flash reliably off camera.  Compatible with both the existing and very popular RF-602 and RF-603 radio triggers.  Yong-Nuo has confirmed a remote manual power control function is already built into the current YN-560 III manual flash units.  

This function will be enabled via a new transmitter unit with built in LCD interface in the 560-IV.   The III and th IV both had anti-Jacobs devices installed preventing the use of modules.  It took a while to work around them. we are testing them for a year to ascertain their longevity with our power pack.   Naturally this is all experimental in risk.

The YN-560 III is just a simple manual flash with a basic receiver built in, and selling around just $70 each. I have used the 460-II same quality smaller and less expensive but they are getting harder to find.  

The built in receiver of the YN-560 III or 560-IV  has big practical advantages, because you simply don’t have a lot of extra gear and extra batteries to constantly transport, organise, set up and manage.

So all you need is the one small transmitter unit to fire as many flashes as you like. Of course it saves money too without all those extra receivers and batteries.

Another big advantage is that you don’t have anything mounted to the foot of the flash making it higher in umbrellas and generally less stable. Or alternatively extra cords (to go wrong) and receivers dangling around.

This flash is a bargain for the price and if you follow my instructions on care and feeding you’ll think you robbed a bank and got away with it. 

My only concern is longevity and I am and readily admit highly prejudiced towards products till I see a years performance satisfactorily completed under adverse conditions. 

UPDATE 2016 Late
Yong Nuo has now confirmed a remote manual power control function is already built into the current YN-560 III and 560-IV manual flash units ! This function will be enabled via a new transmitter unit with built in LCD interface, to be available.   

We have two cable options. A slightly modified MB-2 for the Yong-Nuo 560-III, IV called the open door model and they run 70.00 converted and ready to go on the Black Box.

I can also modify the permanent closed door model on a full conversion with the door closed.

 In other words the MB-2 Is a temporary hookup and mine is  permanent with my modules and 120 dollar cheaper on the pair since I will never use AA cells.

See Photo for correct positioning of the cable with the Black Box and a model III.   Yes the door will remain open using a rubber band to secure it in place/ or...

I can however modify the flash to a closed door like on the 560-IV.  The usual one-way drilling but can be reversed.   In forty years of doing this no one ever asked me to reverse it.   Who cares the strobe is cheap enough and no one repairs them anyway. 

The IV model shown just above has the OPTION B twist.  And so, those who never use AA cells asked for a different workaround because it’s 120 dollars cheaper.   This is it.  I created my own module for a client with closed door and not using the MB2.  On a two light rig, which tested beautifully thats a savings of 120 dollars, closed doors and all you need to find is a couple of used cables, almost any MB series from Quantum and must be in good shape. 

My customer had two laying around.  My module is free vwith any purchase of two battery packs.  If after the fact, and just the fact you switched to Yong-Nuo,  they are 20.00 dollars to convert.  Still,  a frugal or cheap upgrade.  Frugal sounds better.