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Yongnuo YN560: A Look at the King of Low Budget Speedlights

By Anthony Thurston on March 11th 2013

Let’s face it, we all know that Photography is an expensive hobby. No doubt one of the first things you noticed besides the obvious prices of camera bodies and lenses was the price of name brand speedlights. When you are just a hobbyist, or just starting your business out you have to be careful where you spend your limited budget on gear – That Is where Yongnuo comes in.

The Chinese company has been one of the leaders in affordable low budget photography gear for several years now. We mentioned two of their budget radio triggers last week, this time around I wanted to highlight the king of the budget speedlight market; The Yongnuo YN560/560II/560III.


The Specs

The YN560 and YN560II are the kings of the low budget speedlight market, they are well build and work great. Now before I jump into the specs I wanted to clear something up, the YN560 and the YN560II are the same exact flash. Absolutely nothing is different about the two models except for one thing – the controls. The YN560 is controlled by a series of push buttons an LED indicators on the back, while the YN560II has a digital readout very similar to that of Canon and Nikons speedlights. The digital readout comes at a cost though as the cost roughly 20-30$ more than the original YN560.

The YN-560 III however is updated slightly but has a really neat feature that neither the YN560/II have, and that is built in support for the Yongnuo RF 602/603 radio triggers. That means that you can trigger a YN560 III speedlight with your RF-602/603 radio triggers at up to 100 meters. That is a really neat feature, and puts them right in the $100 per unit range.

Ok, now for the specs

  • GN58
  • Recycle Time of 3 Seconds
  • 24-105mm Zoom Range
  • Flash duration of 1/20,000 second
  • PC Sync Port
  • Battery Pack Port


A Video Review

Don’t take my word for it, checkout this thorough review of the YN560 II from “Photographyvideoblog” on Youtube.

My Experience

I currently have a YN560 and have a YN560 III on order. The YN560 has been a wonderful flash, and is honestly all I would ever need out of a speedlight. It is tough enough to handle being used on a regular basis, thrown by my 4 year old son, and still works like a champ. The PC Sync port works great, and the battery pack connection is awesome! I really can’t recommend this speedlight anymore than I currently do. The only problem is that the original YN560 is getting harder to find since the latest YN560 III is now available.

But that’s for good reason, why would you not want the ability to trigger your flash without having to connect a trigger to it! I can’t wait until my YN560 III arrives and I will do a proper review of it. But in the meantime if you are in the market for a low budget speedlight I highly suggest that you checkout the YN560/II/III – you will not be disappointed.




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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

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  1. George Gardner

    My YongNuo is only 1/3125 seconds at 1/128 power. A 1/20,000 duration would be extrememly fast, in the area of 50 microseconds. See the video below for the measurement of this device –

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  2. Paul Empson

    I’ve not tried the YN’s however I’ve always being disappointed with the consistency of light from none Nikon speedlight’s also recycle time always seems to be down…. for backup kit I keep a Nissin Di700 handy but it’s my Nikon flashes that I rely on.

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  3. Rafael Steffen

    Thanks for sharing these great reviews.

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  4. Servando Miramontes

    Been rocking the YN560II for awhile now and I am ear sold on their reliability and performance… Can you have better recycling time with a much more expensive Nikon/Canon equivalent? Yes. Is it worth it? Not for what I use em for… I have the YN560III on order… Being able to use my YN603II Transceivers with the new flash is a big bonus! Anyone even remotely considering one, I say go for it! If you don’t like it, sell it on Ebay, its guaranteed to go quick!

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  5. Antonio Carrasco

    I have in my hands a brand new 560-II. It seems to work very well with my Nikon. Thanks for the recommendation

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  6. Nikos Chazaridis

    Hey guys I have a D3100 and I am a beginner. Do you recommend this one to be my first flash?

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  7. Lightspiker

    Whose original design did they rip off to produce these units? The Chinese don’t do original design and engineering; they’re the kings of reverse-engineering, or industrial espionage, which ever you want to call it. I’ll stick with my Canon branded units – nothing says “poser” like chinees camera gear…

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  8. K. Bryant Images

    These speedlights are great! Especially if your on a budget and need a lot of other things.  They hypersync too! Which is a big plus ! This company’s triggers are really good too. 

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  9. Thaoimagephotography

    I have 3 YN560s for about a year now and they still work like champs… no need to upgrade to 580EX IIs.

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  10. Bangekobange

    I ordered 560-III from hkyongnuophotoequipment from their ebay site. They said it shipped on 26th feb, but no sign of it yet.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      If it is being shipped from China then it may take a while due to having to go through customs. 

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    • Philipp Boulanov

      Anything I order from China usually takes a month to get here. (Eastern Canada)

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    • K. Bryant Images

      You should have purchased them on amazon I got mines in 5 days max.  I’ve ordered them twice (not because of technical issue but to purchase another one). 

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  11. Jason McDonald

    I’m not sure I’m reading it right, but does this mean you can fire a bunch of YN-560 III with only 1 Yongnuo RF-603/C3
    on the camera?

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  12. Kalle

     “Absolutely nothing is different about the two models” Doesn’t the 560 lack the strobe function of the 560II?

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    • Anthony Thurston

      As far as I know, and everything that I have read says that the two models are the same. 

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  13. Miguel Ernesto Lara

    Do you know if this flash supports high speed sync?

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    • Anthony Thurston

      It does not support HSS natively, but if you pair it with a radio trigger that does HSS then you would be golden.

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  14. guest

    Would this flash work with alpha 99?

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    • Philipp Boulanov

      It’s a 100% manual flash, so not canon/nikon/pentax/sony specific; so it will work with an adapter for Sony since their hotshoe is smaller as far as I remember.

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  15. Jon Diaz

    If you aren’t planning on shooting TTL, I can’t understand why you wouldn’t go with one of these compared to the more expensive Nikon or Canon branded speedlights. They are fantastic alternatives for those not concerned with branding. If you haven’t given them a try stop reading this and go out and buy one and you will wonder why you wasted money on others. With the savings on these you can use the extra cash on better glass. Have fun!

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    • Antonio Carrasco

       To be honest, I had previously not bought these because I just equate electronic gear made in China with being low quality. I now realize this is incorrect, at least for Yongnuo products.

      But I think that is why a lot people automatically reach for the Nikon or Canon brand over this.

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    • Stryker Graham

      China has the best manufacturing in the world. We get the good stuff. It’s countries like Vietnam and Cambodia that get the Chinese crap.

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    • Philipp Boulanov

      Or buy 4 of those + triggers for the price of one 580ex ii…. :D

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    • stanrogers

      To be perfectly honest, the QA on the early 560s was hit-and-miss (the zoom function would fail in almost half of the units and the overheat circuit was wonky, leaving you with a flash that wasn’t ready when you were). Most of that seems to be straightened out in the newer models (the II and III, as well as the 460II, which you may find expensively rebranded as the Photoflex Starfire, among others), so you no longer have to buy two or three to get a good one. (And there are several HK-based retailers going out of their way to get things right as well. I’ve been very happy with Gadget Infinity, who sell some of the Yongnuo stuff as well as their own Cactus brand flashes & triggers.)

      But there are still reasons to go with the name brands (or higher-end 3rd-party units like the Nissins) if you can actually afford them or need them, like being able to remotely control the flash output and having access to the “pro plan” loaner services (camera brands only) when you need repairs, etc. That can save you a lot of time on location and make it more likely that you’ll get the shot when you have to. Admittedly, those are more of a consideration for certain types of professionals (location portraits when you have limited time with the subject and/or location, for instance) than for the average enthusiast or studio shooter. And you do lose the TTL option, which can be a lifesaver sometimes even if it’s not your preferred mode.

      But certainly, if you’re like me and have more time than money to play with, there’s a certain advantage to getting six flashes for the price of one, yes.

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  16. Dave Birch

    great article…except for we Sony shooters…no triggers made for us…

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    • Jon Diaz

      Cactus V5’s wont work on Sony? 

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    • stanrogers

      They’ll work fine, but you need an adapter to fit the Minolta/Sony hot shoe on anything but the newest models. From the time the Maxxum/Dynax/Alpha AF line of 35mm AF film cameras was launched to the release of the α99, Minolta, then Sony, used a wonderfully strong, secure and capable hot shoe system—that was unfortunately incompatible with everything else on the market (and instantly obsoleted my collection of Minolta 360PX flashes, which were probably the best TTL/auto/manual hot shoe units made by anyone at the time). Now, Yongnuo makes an “S” series of its flashes for the Sony shoe, but the  triggers need a (simple, dumb, cheap and relatively-available-so-stop-your-whining) adapter.

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  17. FTGRF

    Hi there.
    I would like to know which battery pack you use for the 560. Thank you very much.

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  18. RuckFules

    I do have 2 YN 560 II,and it works great..and yes they has optical slave built in..even they got rpt mode,which I can’t have that in my Nikon SB 700..I love my nikon speedlight,but for a low budget speedlight..?certainly YongNuo is The King
    Sorry for my bad english..cheers

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  19. Federico Feroldi

    The only problem with the YN 560 is the lack of TTL.

    That’s why I went with the cheaper, but easier, YN 467, if I wanted to spend a little more (really is the double) I would have gone with the YN 565 EX.

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  20. micha8583

    Although the newer models (II and III) have more gizmos and a better feel to it, the original with its red KIT- Style Display still scores in one major aspect when it comes to off- camera- work: you can figure the power output from 10ft away at a glance- which is a factor when the thingy is up on a lightstand.
    But still, with either one of the versions, you get a lot of light for the buck.
    @Antonio C: Yes, all of them have an optical slave build in. But not TTL.
    Supposedly, in S(lave) 2- Mode, it is supposed to ignore the pre- flash and trigger on the main flash. Most of the time, it works, I always use the main slave mode. Never failed me.

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  21. Antonio Carrasco

    hello, I am seriously considering buying a yongnuo 560 II very soon. Can you please tell me if it has an optical slave built in? The descriptions on Amazon appear to be written in less than perfect English and I need to know. thanks!

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    • Chad

      Yes the YN-560 II has the optical slave built into the flash. Works well but I had issues when using it for shoots outside because if the unit is not in the line of site of the on camera flash they will not fire. 

      I bought some RF-603N to add on to my kit so I would always get the flash to fire. This new flash YN 560 III is probably what I will buy in the future.

      I bought 3 YN 560 II for $70 each and 2 sets of RF603N for $35 each about a year ago. So $280 would almost be equivalent to 3 YN 560 III. You would still need the Tx/Rx unit for your camera to fire them.

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