Yongnuo YN460-RX TX - A few brief comments on

Started Aug 3, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Michael Thomas Mitchell
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Yongnuo YN460-RX TX - A few brief comments on
Aug 3, 2012

I recently submitted a post inquiring about anyone's experience with Yongnuo's new-ish wireless flash system, the 460-RX/TX combo. As far as I can tell, it has been out about a year, and yet I could find no online review (preview, yes, but nothing more), no any comments on users' real-world experience.

So, I took chance and bid on a set, winning the ebay auction for both units for just $66. (Normally, the set sells for about $250). Then bought a second flash for $92 alone.

In a nutshell, this set promises built-in wireless TTL flash exposure using radio signals for up to 200 meters (yes meters, not feet). The TX unit controls both TTL and manual operation for up to three separate groups: TTL Group, Manual Group 1, and Manual Group 2. The master unit is dedicated for either Canon or Nikon. The flash units themselves work with either brand.

As a regular user of off-camera flash, using both Canon's optical wireless ETTL system and standard manual radio triggers with conventional flashes, I was intrigued by this set for three primary reasons: 1) Wireless through-the-lens flash operation using radio signals, eliminating the limitations of distance, environment, and line-of-sight that has always plagued optical systems, 2) radio control built-in... that is, no separate hotshoe modules, and 3) relatively low cost. A hundred dollars for a controller plus a hundred for each flash isn't bad.

So, does it work as promised?

In a word, yes.

In fact, I'm still scratching my head why this hasn't caught on better. "Strobists" should especially enjoy being able to adjust the output of their flashes directly from the master unit. Quite simply, it works, whether you use manual settings or fully automatic TTL.

Is only a single TTL group limiting? Yes and no. In theory, there is only one TTL group. In practice, each individual flash can have exposure compensation dialed in. So, if you want a particular ratio, set one ETTL flash to normal and the second to -1 EV or -2 EV. All of your exposures after that will still be automatic TTL, yet you will still enjoy variable output levels.

Manual Groups 1 and 2 work just like any other radio-triggered manual flash except that you get to dial in the output from the commander rather than having to do it on the unit itself. What this means is completely hands free off-camera manual operation.

How's the range? Well, I don't anticipate having to fire flashes from a football field away. But I can say that I've not had a single failed firing after a couple hundred test first, some from the length of my entire house. I've pushed them more than I would at virtually any wedding.

How is exposure? I've used Canon flashes for a dozen years, and operation of these units seems pretty identical. No funny over or under exposures.

Are they well-constructed? They do not seem as rugged as the Canons or Nissins, yet, with batteries, they don't feel excessively cheap. Middle-of-the-road. But, then again, they are not terribly expensive, either. An assistant once dropped a year-old 550EX flash at a wedding, cracking it pretty hard on pavement. I could hear the cash register bell ringing like crazy as I heard it crash. At under a hundred dollars a pop, these will break about the same but won't sting quite as hard. I wish the battery door was a better built, though. On the other hand, they are small and lightweight, about the size of a Canon 420EX. Both units are supplied with sturdy metal hotshoe feet.

These units don't have sophisticated LCD screens, mostly because they don't HAVE to. Controls are logical and simple. Operation is fast and intuitive. Once radio signal channels are matched between controller and flash (simply press and hold the Channel button on each for a few seconds), they are linked until disconnected: just turn on and shoot.

The master has a very effective autofocus assist beam that makes it worth using for that purpose alone. It is quite bright, and remains on until focus is locked, turning off only for the actual shutter release.

What are the drawbacks? A couple. First, they are not as powerful. In fact, even a 420EX puts out more light. Second, they don't support an external battery pack. That sort of thing really does help some of my action shots with faster recycling times and greater longevity. Because the system solves so many problems, however, one easy way to address that is to simply use two lights instead of one. Normally, it is my off-camera light which needs to be more powerful since I am using ratios. A couple mounted together will put out more light than say a 580EX, and yet still cost a fraction of the amount.

All in all, a very effective and affordable wireless set. And one which is particularly PORTABLE and EFFICIENT given that it dispenses with having to have separate wireless triggering components. Of course, its real power comes with TTL exposure, and it is here that their cost-effective also shines. Three flashes and one controller would run about $400. A similar three light setup would not only require three flashes and a trigger, but also three separate receivers. Make them TTL operational, and you're talking about a somewhat bigger hunk of money than these units... and these might be a bit easier to operate, too.

No flash system is good for every application or every photographer. And I won't use these everywhere. But they do seem to address certain problems for me in a very effective -- and cost-effective -- way.

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