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Yongnuo 560 III Flash Test With PocketWizards

By Pye Jirsa on August 13th 2014

Budget Flash Alternatives

A lot of our readers ask why we don’t recommend using the Yongnuo 560 III flash as a budget flash alternative. The flash itself is great. It’s powerful, well built, and easy to use, but there is one fatal flaw. Check out the video below to see exactly why we don’t recommend the Yongnuo 560 III.

Yongnuo 560 III Flash Test With PocketWizards Video

The Test

I tested the Yongnuo 560 III and the Vivitar 285HV together with Pocket Wizard Plus 3s. I had the PocketWizards attached the the flashes set on separate channels and the PocketWizard on my camera set to fire at both channels. I then walked away from the flashes while shooting to see how far I could get before the flashes stopped firing. Now you would think that they would eventually stop firing at the same time when the radio transmitter on my camera was out of range, but that wasn’t the case.

The Big Issue

When I was about 30-50 feet, I began to see the Yongnuo 560 III fire inconsistently, and when I was 70 feet away from the flashes, the Vivitar 285 HV would fire consistently, but the Yongnuo 560 III would fire about 1 out of 10 shots. This is a typical distance we would use in ballroom type situations where we set up these flashes in the corners of the room and the inconsistent firing presents a huge problem.

DSC05404

Conclusion

In our workflow with the radio transmitters we’ve invested in and use, the Yongnuo simply doesn’t fit. I’ve heard that other people have had better luck with Radio Poppers or Photex Odin. Let us know if you have any recommendations on great budget flashes that work well with PocketWizards!

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About

Founding Partner of Lin and Jirsa Photography and SLR Lounge.

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30 Comments

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  1. Andrew Van Arb

    This is somewhat disheartening, I just bought two of these! Luckily I don’t plan on having much distance between myself and them (using poppers anyway).

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  2. Juan Kis

    I found the problem!!!!! I’ve been thinking on this for a few days and I’ve tried to replicate the problem, but unfortunately I don’t have PWs. As STAN ROGERS said, it might be an interference, or what I think, is that the flash don’t even take the signal from the hot-shoe.
    I experimented with other triggers and I had the same issue that Pye had. What I found is when the 560III has their Wireless Function ON (default) doesn’t fire when you put the flash on any (just one in my test) trigger or on top of your camera. BUT, when you disable the wireless function pressing the third button (the ray with a wifi sign) you’ll not see the wifi anymore on the LCD screen. Now, will work on any trigger and even as an on-camera flash. When I bought this flash I thought this unit will work ONLY as off-camera flash, but cancelling the wireless function is like any other flash. Please, if you guys with PWs can test this would be awesome.

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  3. Leslie Troyer

    I guess don’t understand why it would be a flash issue rather than a PW issue — seems like the job of the PW is to fire the flash — to be fair – you should have swapped flashes leaving the PW’s exactly where they were. and retest – could be the one closest to the reflective windows got more interference.

    Les

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    • Stan Rogers

      The 560IIIs have their own built-in radio trigger (receiver), which can interfere with other receivers when the distances get longer and the signal from the transmitter gets weaker. (The inverse square law is still in effect, so quarter the trigger signal strength every time you double the distance.) Receivers (superheterodyne receivers) have their own radio frequency oscillator, and that oscillator signal can leak out of the system and cause interference. It’s not usually a problem within the system, but other systems that use a different local oscillator frequency and a different intermediate frequency can be swamped by the signal. (Local oscillator leaks were, once upon a time, used in Great Britain to see who was receiving radio/television without paying for a license.) There is also a chance that the switching power supply for the flash’s capacitor charging voltage can cause problems (it was a huge problem for some older Canon speedlites with 900MHz radio triggers, which is why there are aftermarket RFI wraps for them — it looks more professional than tin foil). We’re talking about very low signal power here (otherwise you’d need a transmission license), and a piece of electronic kit can easily be FCC-certified (Class B under Title 47 CFR Part 15) and still emit enough RF to interfere with small signals.

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    • Eric Sharpe

      I come to the forums for Stan Rodgers! Lots of experience and wisdom.

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    • Matthew Saville

      Stan, like you I am a bit puzzled by the use of PW triggers when the system itself has built-in radio transmission. This is like spending $2K for a set of Canon 600EX’s, and then reporting on their compatibility with PW’s.

      We’ll surely be publishing a more direct review of the 560 III’s sooner than later, of course, and use them for their intended purpose – built in radio wireless. :-D

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    • Leslie Troyer

      guess I’m still confused – It looks like both PW are the same distance from the 560 so shouldn’t any interference from the 560 effect both flashes?? Or is the interference somehow being transmitted down the cable? Also unless the 560 is in commander mode – shouldn’t it be mostly (100%) listen only and not be transmitting something that would interfere with the PW’s (unless the 560 is giving off a ton of noise that only effects the PW that is connected to it i)?? I’m not trying to be argumentative just really want to understand what is going on here.

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    • Stan Rogers

      Yes, the signal can go down the trigger cable. And receivers generate signals; they have to, unless you go back to the days of crystal radios. What matters here is that the strength of the signal from the transmitting PW signal is many, many times smaller when the flash (and it’s receiving PW) is farther away, while the size of the hypothetical signal from the YN I’m suggesting remains the same strength. To the PW receiver, that YN signal is “noise”, so the signal-to-noise ratio goes way, way down.

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  4. Jeff Ladrillono

    I wonder how this test would go if they used PocketWizards that didn’t have A/B/C/D groups like the Plus II or the Plus X. Maybe it would be more consistent withouth the groups.

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  5. Eric Sharpe

    I like PW in the studio, because I can trigger my flashes from my light meter. In studio, I have 2 PWs, and use optical slave on any additional strobes. I also have Yongnuo YN622 triggers when I’m on location, because they were cheaper than buying more PWs, and some of the flashes I had at the time didn’t have optical slave. That being said, I use PWs and “cheap” triggers, with Yongnuo flashes, and also Hensel studio strobes. I haven’t experienced this problem, and luckily for me, I have never been in this specific shooting situation.

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  6. Austin Swenson

    I don’t have the 560iii model but I do have a few of the mark ii models and I haven’t had this issue before, but I also haven’t tried to fire flashes from different channels at one time… At any rate, I thought the whole purpose of the 560 iii’s existence was to eliminate the need for something like a pocket wizzard? I also might be a little in the dark in this respect because I have never tried it before, but is there a need to fire flashes on different channels?

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    • Stan Rogers

      It’s the easiest way to have either multiple photographers sharing lights or to stage multiple lighting setups in a single location. (Put up, say, four lights on stands and just use the ones you want, depending on which “zone” you’re in at the time.) That, for me, is the biggest drawback of the Yongnuo triggers (the older ones I’m familiar with, at least) — the channel selector is a DIP switch inside the battery compartment, where you can’t get at it while shooting.

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  7. hIDE ME

    I actually laughed so hard when I watched this video.
    Don’t advise Youngnuo 560 because if issues with Pocketwizard….? HELLO.

    It amazes me to see how blog sites still rely on old fashioned ‘brand name’. Pocket wizard stopped being the top end trigger a long time ago now people. this is 2014, not 2001. Buy yourself a pocket wizard if (a) you want to be ripped off (b) have old tech (c) get crummy support.

    “OH NO HE DITTUN,”….. Oh yes I did, I just slagged off your favourite piece of flash equipment, I just told you that you got ripped off for buying one, conned, taken for a ride, fleeced, yep u’huh.
    Now let all the haters hate, because they can not handle the truth after splashing out money on a name they thought was still at the top of the game. haha.

    The only people who can reply to this, and be against what I’ve said, are the people who are old fashioned, has-beens, behind the time. Nuff said!

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    • Matthew Saville

      Believe it or not, we don’t ALL adore the PW system. I hated them from the beginning, and went to the RadioPopper JRX system as soon as I could.

      https://www.slrlounge.com/radiopopper-jrx-wedding-photography-field-review/

      Nothing beats being able to adjust your flash power remotely, for dirt cheap!

      =Matt=

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    • Juan Kis

      That’s right! Several years ago, when all my colleges went the PW route, I bought and used for quite few years the RadioPopper JrX, now I’m with the Yongnuo 622’s using as manual flash controller with the posibility of having a on-camera flash and a focus assist from the transmitter when the lighting on my weddings or events are poor.

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  8. Dave Smith

    Your problem is the Pocket wizards not the flashes. I had pocket wizard plus III’s and dumped them in favor of the cheaper Yongnuo 622’s series. With not only MUCH cheaper price, but TTL and adjustable flash control from the camera. In fact I sold my used Plul III’s and got brand new Yongunos with money left over. The plus threes suffer from a number of documented problems. 1. Range problems. 2. Unreliable. Now as far as your test goes the flash trigger merely sends a set voltage to the flash to trigger the flash, nothing more. SO any distance problems lies within the flash trigger and not the flash. Your test show typical PW plus III issues, which I suffered on a number of occasions and is due to interference. My Yongnuo flash triggers and my mix of nikon flashes and yongnuo flashes have NEVER failed to flash when triggered. The same flashes had missed flashes on the Plus III’s and it would vary between the Nikons and the Yongnuos. My Yongnuo tests revealed that I could easily get 150 yards without missing any flashes and out to about 200 yards when it starts to miss about 2 out of 10 flashes. There is nothing “professional” about the Pocket wizards vs the Yonguno triggers, in fact I’d say the Yongnuo is more professionally based as it has better reliabilty and longer range. It’s just plastic and circuit boards. THe price doesn’t make it professional and is clearly why PW is getting it’s clock cleaned by Yonguno and going out of business.

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  9. Tony Benher

    I totally agree with Keith and first used them with the cheap cowboy studios triggers and now use them exclusively the Yongnuo YN-622N and control them through the amazing YN-622N-TX. Once I made that change the Yongnuo shined. I’ve never had a noticeable issue with the combination nor a distance issue. I use them primarily for wedding receptions I haven’t missed a shot yet. I’ve even upgraded to their YN-568EX flashes.

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  10. keith craine

    I’ve got to admit I don’t understand the point of the test. Why would you want to use the YN-560III with the pocketwizards instead of the yongnuo triggers? Especially with the introduction of the YN560-TX that allows full manual control of the 560IIIs. I have several YN-560s, and the main reason I got them is for the built in radio functions. If I wasn’t using that there are plenty of other cheap flashes that could have filled the bill and given additional features. To me the point of the 560IIIs is that they are cheap with built in radios, rendering the use of pocketwizards redundant.

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    • Dutch Marc

      Hi Keith, I understand what you mean, But I would like to use my canon 560 in the mix with my 2 Yn560 also Since I have 3 PW Plus II, I like to be able to combine a 560 flash with my strobe setup if need.

      How would I get my Strobe or my Canon 560 to fire via the Yongnuo YN560-TX unit?

      Thanks

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  11. Anthony McFarlane

    I own the these 560III and the new 560 tx trigger and it is awesome. No more reaching for the back of the flash. Fully controlled from the top of the camera!!!

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  12. morgan glassco

    Sorry but I don’t think this is a valid test.

    The problem is a peculiar one. The observation is the flash doesn’t respond well to signals from the receiver when the the transmitter is far away. Seems this is a reproducible problem for you but doesn’t mean it’s the flashes fault. Like you mentioned could be incompatibility with the PW’s. I wonder how a hot shoe trigger would work?

    How do we know the flash isn’t just recycling? Even if it is on 1/16th I would still think that was very quick to be popping continually for that amount of time. It would be easier to believe there was an issue being triggered if the interval was every couple seconds and not a couple every second for a couple minutes. Or if you just started at 60ft. Could just as easily be a recycle thing.

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  13. John Ciciora

    I absolutely love my Yongnuo 560 III flashes. I own three of them. I trigger them remotely via one of the many transceivers available. I’ve been using them for almost a year and I don’t think they’ve ever misfired, not fired, or gave me any fuss. In short, they simply work, ever time.

    They have replaced my Canon speedlites (except for on camera auto, which I still use one of my 580EX II’s for). I could never get my PW Plus II’s to ever fire reliably with my 580 EX II’s or 430 EX II’s.

    At around $70 a piece, with a two pack of the transceivers costing ~$40, they are a steal. Oh and did I mention that I can use the Yongnuo transceivers with my Canon speedlites to wirelessly fire as well?

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    • Dutch Marc

      Hi John,

      I just got a pair of 560III with and try to get them to work with my Canon 560. I have a few PW Plus II and would like to get them to work together..

      I have not been able to fire the YN560II via my PW. I also got a 3.5 mm to Male Flash PC Sync Cable, since I thought maybe the PW cable that I use for my Canon 560III was not compatible. I have tried some settings inside the flash with no luck ..

      Would you mind explaining how you combine the YN and Canon flashes to work together?

      Many Thanks Marc

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  14. Rafael Steffen

    Don´t bother getting cheap stuff for professional use, otherwise you will lack quality and consistency in your work.

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    • Stan Rogers

      Yongnuo may have had some QC issues wa-a-a-ay back when, but the correct term these days is “inexpensive” rather than “cheap”. They’re extremely consistent from shot to shot and quite reliable (within limits; you can’t fire them at full power immediately upon refresh all day long without triggering the overtemp protection, but NO ordinary speedlight lets you do that). They’re a much better (manual) flash in every respect, including consistency and reliability, than anything you could have bought at any price when I was in the game (including the Metz and Sunpak potato mashers).

      These days, their biggest drawback is missing features, namely the ability to remotely control power.

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    • Jeff Ladrillono

      I don’t totally agree with you Rafael. I use PocketWizard PlusIII with Action Packs and Einsteins and there are times when they don’t fire. I’ve just come to accept that no trigger works all the time, every time.

      And as far a quality is concerned, the 560 flash is pretty consistent when it comes to light output and is close enough to 5500K to not be a problem. I’m pretty sure most people couldn’t tell the difference in quality of light between a Yongnuo flash and a flagship Canon/Nikon flash when you put them in a modifier.

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    • Kim Farrelly

      The 560 iii is a really solid little bit of kit, I’ve found mine to be very consistent in use. Their triggers work, with them, really well also. I’ve yet to have a misfire so for the cost of one EX600 I can have 10 YN-560iii (If I ever needed a ten flash set up I think I should rethink my life a bit :) ).

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    • robert s

      youre talking nonsense.

      so many pros I shoot weddings with have stopped paying tons of money for manual only flashes. many also dont use pocket wizards anymore. we all saw PW headlines of them going downhill. people are tired of paying extreme prices for reliable salves. PW milked people for year. that day is over.

      the vast majority of pro wedding shooter I work and know use the 622 and 603 slaves. I have 6 of the 622 and never had a reliability issue of it not firing either the 568 or 3 of my 560III. theyre fast and powerful and for $70, if they fall over and break, I throw them and get another.

      no need to pay high prices today to get great pro gear.

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  15. Stan Rogers

    It’s probably the internal radio slave interfering. The III-over-II feature is the built-in radio trigger, and there’s no indication of how “off” off is. It may be throwing some RF. (The “same” flash *without* the built-in trigger, the 560II, doesn’t seem to be particularly “dirty”.)

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    • robert s

      I think youre absolutely right. it has its radio slave inside and im certain its interference.

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