Yongnuo Speedlite YN560-III radio-enabled flashgun review

Today we are testing the Yongnuo YN560-III, one of the first budget-friendly camera flashes to be released with a radio receiver built into it.

Yongnuo Speedlite YN560-III

Features and performance

This speedlight is effectively a YN560-II that can be triggered by a Yongnuo RF-602 or RF-603 wireless trigger without needing to connect an external receiver. Currently if you want the same sort of functionality from any other brand, you’d be looking at the much Quantum Qflash series or the Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT, both of which sit in a much higher price bracket.

The built-in radio is a great benefit, freeing you of cables, Velcro or wobbly receivers. It is nice to think that I only have one self-contained flash unit to worry about keeping securely on top of my light stand (or boom arm).

The Yongnuo YN560-III has a full complement of features for a manual-only flashgun. It has a clear, backlit LCD screen from which you can change all the settings. Sadly there is no remote control of settings, but you’d be paying a lot more to get such capabilities. The recycle time is specified to be four seconds at full power — in my testing I measured 3.5—4.0 seconds. You can speed this up with an SF-17C or SF-18C battery pack, but I haven’t got one to test.

Being only an AA-powered speedlight, the YN560-III is designed more for convenience than for absolute colour accuracy. That said, shooting a stream of a dozen shots at the same power level and comparing them, I found no significant variation in colour temperature or in light intensity.

Yongnuo Speedlite YN560-III

Flash controls

You can adjust the output from full power down to 1/128 in 1/3-stop increments. The zoom head goes from 24–105mm and there is also a flip-down diffuser panel. There are two optical slave modes (in the event you aren’t using the radio receiver), a PC Sync port and of course the radio triggering mode, which you can adjust to receive either RF-602 or RF-603 signals using the “FN” menu. Changing radio channels is very easy and there is even a helpful visual representation on the LCD showing how you should set the DIP switches on the RF-602/3 transmitter.

The Yongnuo YN560-III also features a stroboscopic “Multi”-flash mode, which you will most likely never use. But it’s nice to have.

The interface is so intuitive that I have been able to write the majority of the review without even glancing at the instruction manual, which is — predictably — written in broken Chinglish, but quite easy to understand. You’ll need to refer to this for some of the more advanced settings, such as customising how long the flash takes to go to sleep, how long the screen stays backlit, switching the ready beep on and off and adjusting whether power adjustment is in 1/3 or 1/2 stops. You can even toggle how quickly the flashgun turns on  — there is surprisingly a lot you can customise in this device!

On the screen there is a low battery indicator, which is incredibly helpful to have if the flash isn’t firing for some reason and you want to find out why.

Mysterious future features?

The labels suggest that there is a “GRP” (group) function if you press the Mode and Triggering Mode buttons together. In fact, this does not do anything but there is a “Gr” number in the LCD underneath the “Ch” channel indicator. I suspect that this is something that will be unlocked in a future model, such as the YN560-IV, or when a new kind of radio trigger with wireless flash grouping comes out. Perhaps Yongnuo’s next E-TTL enabled flashgun (YN569EX?) will have a radio receiver inside it compatible with their YN-622C triggering system? We can only speculate at this point.

In radio mode, you can choose between M, Multi and “–” settings. I can’t see the point of the latter — it just stops the flash from firing, which is not much use when it is only a receiver. But maybe this is a hint at a future version that can act as a transmitter? If you have any idea why you’d want to set the flash to “–” mode while set up as a radio receiver, let me know in the comments.

Yongnuo Speedlite YN560-III

What is the transmitter like?

I was sent a Yongnuo RF-603 to test with the flash. It is a “transceiver”, so you can use it as a receiver as well, and latest batches include little cold-shoe clamps in the box so you can mount them to light stands. For this evaluation I was just using the RF-603 as a transmitter, sitting in the hot-shoe of my Nikon D700 DSLR camera.

In the past, I used to use Yongnuo RF-602s as my main flash triggers, but I have since sold those units to my colleague Eduardo. They are pretty similar, but the RF-602TX transmitter takes CR2 batteries and can’t be switched off. The RF-603 has a nicely recessed power switch, so it is unlikely to drain the batteries while sitting in your bag. It runs on AAAs, which you can buy at any corner shop.

Yongnuo RF-603 mounted on Nikon D700

The RF-603 is pretty foolproof but there are some annoyances. There is no locking wheel on the foot, so while it happens to fit snugly into the shoe of my D700, I can imagine there are other cameras out there where it might not stay in so securely. The channel switches are tucked away inside the battery compartment, so you have to open it up and take out the AAAs any time you want to change channels. Also, the Test button does not trigger the YN560-III when you press it — instead you have to take a test shot with the camera to see if the YN560-III is synchronised or not.

Other than those niggles, the RF-603 is a good all-round radio trigger. On its own, the RF-603 is so low-profile that you could even leave it on your camera all the time — not possible with taller models like the Aputure Trigmaster Plus II or PocketWizard Plus III. It should also be discreet enough not to look out of place on a mirrorless or compact camera. If you wanted, you could put an extra speedlight on top of it for some fill flash, though be careful that it doesn’t slide off your camera.

Yongnuo RF-603 mounted on Nikon D700

Verdict

To summarise, the Yongnuo YN560-III is an excellent flash for off-camera lighting. From the moment you pick it up you’ll see that a lot of thought has been put into its design. It looks and feels professional. The built-in radio trigger makes it that much less fiddly to mount on a light stand and could even eliminate separate radio receivers from your gear bag entirely if you invested in an all-YN560-III set-up. The RF-603 is not the most advanced radio trigger in the world but it won’t let you down either: zero misfires at any reasonable distance.

If I were buying my first flash now and interested in the Yongnuo brand, I’d skip the YN560-II and go for the YN560-III with a couple of RF-603s to trigger it. If later on I wanted more power, I could get any brand of studio lights or location lighting system and still trigger it with an RF-603 plugged into the sync port.

Who wouldn’t want the YN560-III? Anybody who can’t live without certain special features, like TTL, high speed sync or remote control of power levels from the camera position. That said, there’s no telling whether Yongnuo will bring out a new transmitter with these features at a later date…

Where to buy

The Yongnuo Speedlite YN560-III is available now. The sample provided in this review was kindly provided by YongnuoStore.com, an unofficial reseller, who currently offer the unit for $86 on their web site.

I was not given any incentive to provide a positive review and I do not receive any commission if you buy from their store. Some readers have written in to me to complain about the level of service provided by this retailer, with a handful of customers citing long wait times and incomplete orders. If in doubt, you can buy the YN560-III from your preferred eBay seller or Yongnuo’s official outlet.

Any questions? Ask them in the comments below. If you’ve used this system before or a competing one, be sure to weigh in with your experiences.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kokyoonlee Kok Yoon Lee

    With regard to the test sync on the RF603, I think is you have press the shutter release, this wakes up the transmitter RF603, Both the LEDs on the back turns green. Then you can press the Test button, and it should work.

    Having the dip switches inside the battery compartment may also be viewed as a + as it prevents accidental changing of channels; just an alternative view.

  • Shlomi Cohen

    Great review, David.

    Two things:
    1. The blank “-” mode could be useful for when you want to disable a flash. The alternative to that would be to turn the flash off completely (which is also a good option), but this way you could save a bit of battery juice by not having to turn the flash back on, which causes the flash zoom to hunt and then recharge the the capacitor. This way you just need to change modes and you’re done.

    2. The button on the RF-603 isn’t a flash test button, it’s a shutter release button for other triggers that are wired up with a cable as a shutter release on the camera. That button doesn’t cause the flash to fire when using a flash on top of other RF-603s either.

  • Leo Klein

    Rf602s sync faster and have a lot less quirks than the RF603s, they are superior overall.

    • http://www.lightingrumours.com/ David A. Selby

      I used to use RF-602s myself and was very happy with them. The only reason that this review focuses on the RF-603 is because that’s what came in the package.

      • Mango

        Hi. Very good review! if i paired this with a YN622c on the flash and one on the camera, would i then be able to change the flash settings via my camera?

        • http://www.lightingrumours.com/ David A. Selby

          No, it is not specified to work with the YN622C.

    • mooboy

      I used to have a set of RF-602s, but after the transmitter died just as starting a shoot (saved by CLS) I swore by transceivers.

      I looked into RF603s, but have many quirks as you said. So far, Aputure seem to be the bomb in my book for what I need. Just wish they’d make a YN-560-III competitor that works with their triggers.

      • http://www.imagemelbourne.com.au/ Leo @ Image Melbourne

        Actually Cactus V5s are superior to both…

  • Stuart Fawcett

    “the Test button does not trigger the YN560-III when you press it — instead you have to take a test shot with the camera to see if the YN560-III is synchronised or not.”

    Actually, if you half press the shutter with an RF603 on camera(canon), you can the press the RF603 on the camera to fire the flash without taking a shot – fiddly.

    The RF603 is also the first trigger i’ve used with “wake up” on it – very nice for my other flashes :)

    I’ve the YN560-III and 5 RF603’s. I get occasional no fires – could the lack of a tight locking connection you mention.

    Stuart

  • Django

    Is this lighting rumours or a Yong Nou fan site? Judging by all the YN related content of late I wonder…

    • http://www.lightingrumours.com/ David A. Selby

      Thanks for the feedback. We do not intend to over-represent any particular brand or company. I do admit, there has been a cluster of YN-related announcements and reviews in a short period, but they should be less prominent in the articles we have planned over the next couple of weeks.

  • TrP

    Still waiting on mine! Ordered from YongnuoStore.com. Didn’t know they were the unofficial store! Anyway how long does it usually take to get to the US. I was hoping to have it by now.

    • TrP

      Anyone have any contact info for the Youngnou Store?

      • survivorist

        Did you receive your goods from them in the end?

  • snova

    any idea if it works with YN-460-TX?

  • TrP

    Any news on their being technical issues with this flash. I saw someone post this on Yongnou Store’s facebook page. They told me they couldn’t send my order until they had them back in stock.

    • TrP

      FB post “YN-560III they have discovered technical issues with some parts, and as a result it is not available. They are working on fix.”

  • Disappointed

    EBAY RETAILERS ARE NOT SHIPPING THEM!!!

    Due to an alleged manufacturer recall. Ebay seller are refunding money now and taking down listings. DO NOT ORDER UNTIL YOU KNOW THEY HAVE THEM IN HAND.

  • w

    Can YN560-III be triggered by other brands’ trigger such as Phottix Strato?

  • STRIXNEB

    nice review! looks like we are going in the direction of eliminating radio triggers. Can you use one RF-603 (or other trigger) on camera and trigger multiple YN560-III ? and if I get it right, the YN560-III cannot trigger other flashguns which is what the new YN568EX does (but it does not have built in radio trigger).
    So we are still one step away of having all in one.

  • Takor

    Great review thank you. As a result I have ordered a YN-560III, YN-0906, RF603 C1 and a Sf-18 to use with my Canon 550D

  • Jon

    I’ve been having a problem with this flash. I have the channels set the same on the dipstick inside the RF-603’s and on the flash, but I just can’t get them to sync. I’ve even ordered another flash and another 603 and I’m having the same problem. Any suggestions.

    • Just ME!

      Put them in water and they will “sync” :P

    • Ewaldaz

      560-III can be triggered by rf-603 and rf-602, but not by both simultaneously. In the menu you should set triggering mode to rf-603. Maybe it is set to 602 by default and thats why it is not triggering for you?

  • survivorist

    Am I right in thinking that if I purchase 2 YN-560 III’s I’ll only have to buy the RF-603RX (single transceiver/receiver) to fire them both, attaching the 603 to the camera and using the built in receivers in the 560 III’s?

    • afropizza

      Yes, you are correct in thinking this. I did this exact thing and it works great EXCEPT when there is sufficient ambient light for the slave mode flash not to pick up the master. If you’re using them in a controlled environment they’re absolutely fine but if you’re gonna use them in daylight I would invest in another transceiver

      • francois

        ??? Your answer is not correctly at all. Tell me, how can a radio trigger being influenced by the ambient light. The 2.4Ghz connection is based on radio waves, so there is NO interference possible with ambient light. I presume that you did this test absolut wrong. Place a 602/603 transmitter on your camera and place your 560-III on the same radio channel. Then you will see this combination works great, without any interference.

  • abogom

    Hello,

    you mention that it is easy to change the channels, while I can’t figure that out. Also, do you know whether it could be triggered by, say, Rebel 4Ti wireless.

  • Sandeep Singh Thukral

    Great review , love the photos

    Question – Is there any other difference between the 560 II and the 560 III other than the built-in receiver?

  • don

    can i use yn560 iii for my old nikon d100 camera?

  • Ron

    Where can I get a ‘Channel Chart’ for the YN603 dip switches

  • Jimmie Breedlove

    I have a 7d. I was wondering if the in camera flash control will work with this flash

  • Nick

    I am new to this and have a silly question.

    I will be buying 4 speedlites. Will I need to buy the 603 radio trigger for each one or just one transmitter since the trigger is built in.

    I need to buy these real soon and I don’t want to make a mistake.

    Please help!

    • tristan

      You just need 1 pair. (1) 603 on your hot shoe and the other as spare or as a remote shutter release.

  • Michael Sherrards

    What modes can you use with S1/S2 and how can you tell what mode you are in. I want to use Multi with S1 or S2 with my Canon 580 Mk II as the master. I cannot figure out if the flash is in M or Multi mode.

  • zhihao

    Just want to check with other owners of YN 560 mk 3, the unit stop to rest after 13 full blast (1/1). Normal?

    • carlosdiazmontano

      The unit has an overheat protection system so it’s probably that the YN560III enters to this mode to prevent damage.

  • Darryn McKay

    Great reviews thanks for the info :)

  • Barry O’reilly

    Is the yn560 mk3 and rf 603 compatable with the canon powershot sx50hs ?

  • Barry O’reilly

    Is the YN560 mk3 and the RF603 compatiable with the Canon Powershot SX50Hs

    • jerryh

      I have the same question and have been waiting for an answer. Anyone know?

      • Barry O’Reilly

        Yes, it is, I’ve just tried them and everything worked perfect, much better than I expected too,

  • Vicky La

    I attached the Yongnuo YN560-III on my Canon EOS Rebel T2i camera. When I go to the Flash Setting on my camera, it says the external flash function menu cannot be displayed. Flash may not be compatible or the flash’s power is off. What do you advice?

    • carlosdiazmontano

      Keep in mind that this flash is not TTL, it’s a fully manual flash so the camera will not recognize it in the settings.

      • Vicky La

        Thanks Carlos. Before I bought this YN560-III, I made sure it will be compatible with my Canon EOS Rebel T2i. I must have read the flash specifications incorrectly.

  • Dipesh Guria

    I am planning to buy yongnuo 560-iii for my sony a58. I want to use them as off- camera flash in manual mode only .Will RF 603 work with the new sony a58 or a99 multi shoe interface ? If not can anybody suggest some wireless trigger other than RF 603,which will work with 560-iii?

    Please Reply.

  • liam

    Can I use this speed light (YONGNUO OEM YN-560 III )on my Nikon d3200 eg conected to it

  • roberto290800

    My yongnuo iii no powers on, where can I send it to repair it?

  • Neelen Patten

    Can this speedlight be used with a Pocketwizard plus iii?

Wordpress Ad Management