Yongnuo Speedlite YN568EX for Canon, hands-on review

Yongnuo, the Chinese photography accessory manufacturer, has certainly come a long way since the days of YN460 speedlite and the original RF-602 wireless triggers. These days they are producing some high end gear, some of which actually puts the major players to shame.

lovinpixTake their flagship YN568EX speedlight (provided for this review by LovinPix.com); it has many features of the likes of the Nikon SB800 and Canon 580EX but at a fraction of the cost, and all this without cutting on the build quality. Sure, there are reports that while the build quality is top drawer, the actual components used on the inside are still somewhat substandard. I guess at the price something would have to give!

Scroll down for the video review.

I have to say that I own one of the original Yongnuo YN460 speedlights and I’ll be honest: it’s a box of inconsistent shite, however it was really cheap and I did use it to learn all this off-camera flash stuff.

Yongnuo YN460, YN568EX and Canon 430EX II

Yongnuo YN460, YN568EX and Canon 430EX II

This is the first time I’ve used any third-party speedlites after I moved from the YN460 to Canon’s own units, the 430EX and 430EX II. The reason for not using third-party stuff is simply that I wanted 100% reliability and the Canon speedlites offer just that: they have never ever failed me.

So what are my thoughts on the YN568EX? Well, I am mightily impressed: the YN568EX is a million miles away from that YN460 in every aspect, build, features, consistent output and recycle times. To me this shows that Yongnuo do kind of listen to the photography community, taking on board what’s been suggested and acting on that. For sure, there are some things that are missing, such as an external power hook up, and I’d rather had seen a 3.5mm jack over the 2.5mm one, but that’s a minor issue.

Below I’ll summarise my thoughts.

Build Quality

The build of the YN568EX is excellent, it feels heavy and solid. The plastic feels good, not too thin. The LCD clear and easy to read, the orange backlight is bright and pretty even in its illumination. The control buttons are of a solid plastic and have a good positive action with a click to confirm they have been pressed. The directional dial is a four way type, left right up down, it does have a central button but that doesn’t appear to do anything.

The head is about the same size of the Canon 580EX and can swivel 180° in both directions. One thing I’m not sure on is the head’s mechanism, it’s some sort of ratchet thing that I think over time could become loose. There’s a 14mm wide angle diffusion panel along with a pop out reflector card.

The battery door feels nice: it’s spring loaded so pops open when you release it. Talking of the release it opens and closes by sliding the door, locks with a solid feel. This thing shouldn’t just open by itself.

The hotshoe locking ring is a simple nut just like a thousand other’s out there, nothing fancy or clever (see the 430EXii) It can be a bit fiddly to tighten on something like the YN622C trigger, but it’s nothing major.

Features

For the price this speedlite is packed with features and what is a world FIRST! You can control this flash by either a Canon or Nikon camera. Yes, you read that right. In slave mode you can control the flash by using Canon wireless system or Nikon CLS/AWL. This is a huge development. While my test unit is a Canon variant, meaning it’ll work on Canon cameras, the ability to use, say, a Nikon D800 and Speedlight SB-900 (as master) to control this flash is pretty darn clever.

Side note: If you have this flash and are a Nikon shooter can you leave a comment below on how well the i-TTL system works?

Yongnuo YN568EX wireless modes

Yongnuo YN568EX in Nikon CLS mode and Canon Wireless mode

The speedlite has the usual stuff: full manual control, a 24–105mm zoom head, High Speed Sync (HSS), Second Curtain Sync and Multi Flash. The latter is the stroboscopic effect, firing multiple pops in various combinations of frequency and count. This is one feature I’m keen to try, having never done it before.

While in manual mode you have full control of the flash. The power adjustment has a nice feature: if you press the control dial left/right the power goes up in stops 1/1 → 1/2 → 1/4 … you get the idea. But if you want finer control then you just need to press up/down to give you third stops. One thing I was surprised to see was what appeared to be a half stop between 0.3 and 0.7. On something like the 430EX II the third stops work like this:

1/1 → -0.3 → -0.7 → ½

But on the YN568EX it is:

1/1 → -0.3 → -0.5 → -0.7 → ½

This indicates a half stop, which is nice. While I’m on the subject of the power adjustment, you have to be careful if adjusting it blind, as if you go too far the power will just cycle round and round. So it’s easy to go from 1/1 to 1/128 without knowing.

Using the YN568EX

To test the YN568EX I used a Canon 7D, Cactus V5s, Phottix Strato IIs and a set of YN622C Triggers (more on those later).

For the first test I simply put the flash on top of the 7D, the camera recognised the flash and I had full control via the 7D’s menu system.I could access E-TTL, Manual, Multi, HSS, Second Curtain Sync: all the features you’d expect. However, there is a big omission, as the YN568EX cannot be used as a master flash, you cannot use it to control other flash like you can with the 580EX. bit of a shame but no big issue for me.

The next test was to get the unit off the camera, so I attached a Cactus V5 trigger and put it on a stand. Needless to say it worked flawlessly, fired every time which isn’t surprising as the V5s are just dumb ‘Fire now’ triggers.

Next up was the Phottix Strato II. I was keen to see if the E-TTL pass through would work on the transmitter. Well, again it does without skipping a beat. And the wireless worked like a charm.

Then I tested the YN568EX with the Yongnuo YN622C E-TTL Wireless Triggers. I had big hopes for this combination — technically they should be 100% compatible with each other. I wasn’t disappointed: the YN622C just worked, 100% accurate, changes made via the 7D flash control menu appeared instantly on the flash with no noticeable delay. E-TTL worked as well as E-TTL does (I’m no fan of ETT’hel’L!)

Finally I tested the built-in wireless control. I put the flash in Sc mode, popped the 7D’s flash up and went to the flash control menu. Again everything was where it should be HSS and Second Curtain all worked as you’d expect. The flash can be set to one of four groups and four channels. To change the group you press and hold the HSS/SCS button and then press either the zoom button for channels or the Mode button for Groups. One thing I did notice: the red LED on the front was out of sync with that of the 430EX II and 430EX, normally when all the flashes are in the same group the LEDs will sync, but the YN568EX didn’t. This didn’t seem to affect its functionality in any way.

I’d have loved to try it with the Nikon CLS (AWL) but I don’t have ready access to any Nikon gear so couldn’t test it.

Next up was to see what the I.R. focus assist beam was like. So with the flash back on the 7D and the beam turned on I gave it a try in a dark room. While the beam is a little off centre it did work and in fact it’s the same beam you get in the YN622C triggers. Is it as good as Canon’s? Not on this planet, but it isn’t a bag of crap either.

The final test — and one of the biggest — was to see how consistent the power output was across multiple power settings. You see flash power consistency has always been an issue with cheap third party speedlites. The YN460 was truly awful but it’s been a few years since the YN460 came out and if the rest of the flash is anything to go by the output should have vastly improved.

This wasn’t by any means a scientific test but was just a simple test to see if the output was consistent.

The setup: YN568EX in Manual mode, 35mm Zoom and around 10 ft away from a Sekonic L-358 light meter. Flash was triggered using the Phottix Strato II.

Power f/stop
1/1 f/11
1/2 f/8.0
1/4 f/5.6
1/8 f/4.0

I fired the flash five times for each power setting and it didn’t fluctuate in its output. Very pleased to see this.

Video Review

Pros:

  • Great Feature Set
  • Price
  • Build Quality
  • Audio Ready Beep
  • Canon/Nikon Wireless Control

Cons:

  • Build Quality (Internal Components)
  • Not a Master
  • No External Battery port
  • Head swivel mechanism not great
  • 2.5mm Sync port.

Verdict

I am very very impressed with the Yongnuo YN568EX. The build quality and feature set are excellent, even more so when you consider its price. Sure, there are some flaws but I have to give due credit to Yongnuo for the work they’ve put it on this; they have moved up in the world from those YN460 days. Yongnuo are starting to give the big guns a run for their money.

I’d have no trouble recommending this speedlite as either an extra unit to your kit or as perhaps your first speedlite.

Where to buy

The sample on test was kindly provided by Lovinpix, Yongnuo’s French distributor, who sell to all over the world. (Currently their web site is only written in French, but you can use Google Translate). No prior agreements were made with the dealer to affect the outcome of this review. Visit their web site at Lovinpix.com, where they list the Yongnuo YN568EX for €169.

The YN568EX is also available on Amazon UK (£125.99), Amazon USA (~$195) and eBay.

Mark Boadey is a portrait photographer based in Prescot, near Liverpool in England. He runs the New To Photo web site, “Your guide to learning photography”. See Mark’s portrait work at markboadey.com.

  • Joel MacKenzie

    The yn-565 is also able to be controlled by both Canon and Nikon in slave mode.

  • Juvenall

    I picked one up a while back and while I do love it for the price point, it seems that either my copy is bad, or the AF Assist beam doesn’t work with the 5D Mk III. If it didn’t have to come straight from China and take 3 weeks each way, I would have sent it back and gotten a replacement.

  • barry1

    hi can’t seem to find out anywhere – if you have the 622 on camera and then the 568 on that ( think it’s called “pass-through” can you operate the on camera flash as though directly attached ? e-ttl etc ?

    • lexer

      Yes. Checked.

  • http://www.facebook.com/fpizarro.iracheta Francisco Pizarro Iracheta

    New bug found it with canon cameras, the flash freeze the camera if you shoot burst shots in ttl and hss. this is a mail from yongnuo with the answer.

    Hi Saludos,

    Thanks for your mail.

    After test, the YN568EX on Canon 60D does exist the “Error 20″ phenomenon, which happens only when the flash is not fully charged.Thus we suggest you avoid taking photos before the flash fully charged.

    In addition, you can return the flash back to our factory for maintenance if the problem seriously affect your use.Please note that you need to undertake the shipping cost for back and forth.For saving the shipping cost, we suggest you first contact your dealer to see if they can help.Please follow the procedures to return as below if necessary:

    1. Pls send by register post mail.

    2. Please attach a note to state the problems when returning the product.

    3. Please supply the scan of the airway bill.

    4.Please supply your returning address , contact number,E-mail address.

    5. We will charge the shipping cost for sending back the fix item to you.

    Shipping address:

    Shenzhen Yong Nuo Photographic Equiment Co., Ltd

    Address:2-A511 Saige Science & Technology Park, North Huaqiang Rd, Futian District, Shenzhen, China

    Phone: (86) 0755-839-88996

    Attention: Deng Guoyuan

    Best regards.

    Yongnuo

  • Bitanphoto

    Thanks for the thorough review. I’ve had good success with my Yongnuo gear and can barely keep count of how many flashes I’m up to by now – with zero issues. In fact, I have a set of Pixel King triggers with an extra receiver and find it less reliable than the YN-602s.

    At any rate, I’m going to pick up a YN-568EX and try the YN-622N when it comes out for Nikon next month or thereabouts. Word has it Yongnuo is short on materials and cannot produce these triggers fast enough to get them out to wide distribution. The price here in Taiwan is significantly cheaper than what you quoted above, at around US$125, so it’s not a big risk to give this new flagship flash a try.

  • Ian Wilkinson

    I just bought a YN-568EX and a single YN-622N, thinking that was all I needed for a simple off-camera flash set-up. The trigger came without instructions (perhaps the eBay seller split up a pair and I ended up with the orphan!), so I don’t know quite what to do. Should I have bought a pair of the transceivers? Thanks for your help.

  • eWish

    Does HSS stay on until you turn it off, or do you have to turn it back on after you take a photo or meter at something less than your sync speed (like the sigma flashes). My sigma is a pain because almost every time I meter, I have to turn hss back on. My 580ex II keeps hss enabled even if my shutter speed drops below 1/200. Help?

  • APSI Photo

    Just got 3 from Ebay auctionzone1168, one of it has battery cover issue but they ship it to me any way, it took them 2 months to replace the defective unit and didn’t return any of my return shipping cost, If you going to get one, buy it from other place.

    So far run several shoot with it, It does everything you ask for. It’s good flash to work with.

  • Giz

    I just got one of these FN-568EX units and it appears to work well on the Canon 5D hotshoe but I can’t get it to work remotely.
    I’m don’t know if I’m doing something wrong or if there is a problem with the flash unit.
    I’m not sure where to go to for help on this, Any Ideas?
    Thanks

  • Darryn McKay

    Great reviews thanks for the ino

  • Chow Snoopy

    Hello, I’m using Canon 550D, and i don’t know how to set the wireless control with my YN-568EX, can you show me the step? thank you

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