WEDDING SEASON SALE! 30% Off Training Systems!

Your content will be up shortly. Please allow up to 5 seconds

Yongnuo Announces New AF Assist Accessory for Canon Cameras

By Anthony Thurston on January 15th 2014

Most speedlights come with an AF assist beam. This beam helps your camera focus in low light. Nikon and Sony cameras also have an AF assist beam built into the bodies, Canon cameras, however, do not. So, if you are a Canon user, the only way to get the benefits of an AF assist beam is to have a big speedlight on your camera. At least, it used to be.


Yongnuo, the maker of many budget speedlights, has apparently seen the need for such a device for Canon users and has developed a new AF Assist accessory. The new YN12AF is a hot shoe mounted accessory that can basically be described as a speedlight AF assist beam. It is small, light, and has an internal battery charged via USB. It is a much more attractive alternative to having to lug around a speedlight on your camera just for the benefit of an AF assist beam.

[REWIND: Yongnuo RF-603 II Triggers Announced]

I am sure some of you are wondering if the AF assist beam really helps all that much. Surely, Canon does not think so since they have not built one into their bodies. The video below does a good job in showing the necessity of an AF assist beam.

The video itself is a battle between the Nikon D600 and Canon 6D, but if you skip to 11:40 for the low light test you will get a really good idea of why having an AF assist beam is useful.

Did you see how much faster the D600 was at focusing in the low light than the 6D when using its AF assist beam? How about the improvement from the 6D once the speedlight was added with the assist beam?

That is what this Yongnuo accessory is trying to do, give you better low light AF performance with your Canon camera.

No availability or Pricing has been released yet, but reports suggest that it will likely be an item in the $20 range. Definitely worth the benefits, in my opinion.

What are your thoughts on this device? If you are a Canon user, do you see yourself buying a device like this to help with your low light focusing? Share your thoughts in a comment below.

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, however, this does not impact accuracy or integrity of our content.

Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

Please or register to post a comment.

  1. Melissa Lewis

    It’s been over a year and I still can’t find this or another dedicated AF assist option:(
    I just switched from using my 50/1.4 to the 24-70/2.8L and would really use a lighter option then my speed light!

    | |
  2. Paui

    My old Canon EOS 50e (Elan II) has a built in IR focus assist light. Seems Canon removed this feature just as the did eye control focus.

    | |
  3. Stephen grande jr

    I’ve got that white light on my d700 and with Any standard pro zoom it ends up casting a shadow in the center focus spot. Have been using the red lights with a shut down flash if I want to shoot available in really low light.

    But this would be great if it had pass through (no ttl ) hot shoe for radios. But I’ll take it as if for my nikons too!

    | |
  4. Rick Estrada

    How funny! I’ve been using a 622c on my body for every shoot (just in case). This will definitely help because all I need is to keep one in my pocket, pop it on if I think low-light will cause focus problems.

    | |
  5. Mike

    I can’t find these on yet…

    | |
  6. Grant

    +1 to the pass-through hotshoe. If they bring that out, I’m instantly on-board.

    | |
  7. Jo Fonseca

    Awesome, gets a silver award…. would be gold if it had a pass-thru hotshoe to attach the above mentioned St-E3-rt! Yongnuo bring on the markII please.

    | |
  8. Tony Dunn

    Ive been struggling with this.
    I shoot the first dance at Weddings with an off camera flash on a stand all on manual mode.
    The band want the ambient lights down and I want the lights up.
    I struggle to get my lens to focus on AF and I get camera lag and end up missing the shot while my lens hunts back and forth.
    My viewfinder is so small and the light is so low that manual focusing is damn hard.
    This will fix my problem IF it will sit on top of my wireless trigger and still work Ok.
    Well worth the few quid imo

    | |
  9. Diane

    Another thing to carry…and I would always have my flash with me anyway for a low light situation. It has a beam.

    | |
  10. Dana

    I just bought Yongnuo manual flash and triggers. Will this work with the manual transievers that also sit on my camera’ shot shoe?? (I am still trying to figure out the flash though, but I don’t believe my triggers come with af beam.)

    | |
    • Anthony Thurston

      No, this is not meant to be a trigger. It will not fire anything, nor does it have a hotshoe to connect a trigger to. So It is this or the trigger.

      | |
  11. Ed Velez

    This one has me on the fence debating if its actually worth it. If I am in low light, I am going to be wondering about higher iso and noise and I may just pull out my 600ex anyway and thus have my AF assist right there. But then again, I may want to shoot ambient light if I am not looking for a harsh hard flash and having this device would give me the assist I need as long as I am ready to accept some noise with higher iso….But the price range seems like a no brainer. But will it sit in my bag and do nothing??

    | |
    • Anthony Thurston

      It can sit in my bag 90% of the time, but that one time that I need it makes it worth the $20. Seriously, Why not get one is my thinking.

      | |
  12. Tit Bonač

    No more using a YN-622C on top od the Pixel King Pro for AF assistance.

    | |
  13. Gogu

    Not ALL Nikon bodies have it. Strangely, the PRO models lack this. I currently use D3 and D4 bodies and none have it. Although the AF systems on both cameras is pretty much top-notch and are able to focus in almost complete dark situations, this would be helpful and I would surely buy one if they made it available for Nikon mount. In a few situations, I mounted a big SB-800 with the firing set to OFF just to be able to use the AF-Illuminator.

    | |
  14. Gregory Hitchcock

    I am hesitant about this product. I own several TTL Yongnuo speedlites, and they work pretty well, however the one thing that really falls behind on them is the AF focus assistant beam. I hope this stand alone units preforms better.

    | |
  15. fsjal

    Do all Nikon cameras have just a simple flashlight as an AF assist? It’s weird, because even my 6 year old Sony a700 (rest in peace) had some kind of miniaturized illuminator usually found in flashguns. I miss that thing so much, I could focus on a blank wall!

    | |
    • julian

      i’m 90% that all nikon dslrs have a white led that’s used for af assist. off the top of my head sony use an infrared focus assist lamp

      | |
  16. John

    SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!!… seriously though… how hard would it have been for Canon to add this type of functionality to the $300 St-E3-rt?? I mean.. I’m just a lowly schmuck photographer with no design background and even I thought of this before! Good for them, I hope they make several metric tonnes of money.

    | |
  17. Tim

    I will absolutely grab one of these to give my 85mm f/1.2 II a little bit of help.

    | |