Yongnuo YN-622N flash trigger for Nikon: first look hands-on

We’ve got our hands on a set of Yongnuo YN622N i-TTL flash triggers, a set of 2.4GHz transceivers that hope to turn your optically-transmitted Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS) into a radio-based one.

Understanding the ins and outs of every function of this system is no mean feat; indeed, we haven’t got our heads round all of the controls yet. But after playing with these triggers for a few days, here are our first impressions, what works and what doesn’t.

First off, the build quality is pretty decent. The YN-622N’s have a nice, solid feel to them with a good firm response from the buttons but without creaky plastic or gaps between the components — more than can be said for the considerably more expensive and feature-averse PocketWizard PlusX. The top surface has a glossy finish that attracts fingerprints but nonetheless presents a premium appearance.

Yongnuo YN-622N i-TTL Wireless Flash Trigger Transceivers

When I first saw the YN-622, I mistakenly thought it might be a copy of the King-series triggers from Pixel Enterprise. While the YN-622C and Kings for Canon have a similar feature set, this is not the case for the respective Nikon i-TTL variants, which we will discover in a moment.

It must be said that the construction of the Yongnuo YN-622N is a bit better than that of the Pixel Kings, in particular the battery compartment. Whereas the King used a battery door little thicker than a playing card, ready to ping off at any moment, the YN-622′s is considerably more secure.

How does the system work? In a nutshell, it replaces the optical/infrared signals in Nikon’s Advanced Wireless Lighting (AWL) system with radio signals. I don’t know the nitty-gritty details of how the low-level programming works, but empirically it appears that the YN-622N’s protocol is more similar to PocketWizard ControlTL than it is to the YN-622C or Pixel Kings for Canon.

Yongnuo YN-622N with a Nikon D700 and two remote SB-800s

Essentially, you have one unit sitting in the camera hotshoe, acting as a transmitter. You then clip a transceiver to each remote flash unit and set them to “TTL” mode. The on-camera transmitter sends out signals to each remote flash to tell them to fire at an appropriate power level, but all along the remote flashes think they are actually sitting on top of a camera.

Here’s the clever bit: slide a Commander flash unit on top of the transmitter, put it in master mode and configure an “optical” wireless setup and the YN-622N will intercept the electrical signals, interpret them and send out appropriate instructions to the remote flashes so that they put out the same amount of light as if they had received optical signals from the Commander unit, but they are in fact getting these commands via radio. The advantage being that radio has a longer range and isn’t put off by bright ambient conditions.

You can also program the parameters from the YN-622N transmitter itself, by tapping the buttons on the side and memorising a few different colour codes. It is similar in some ways to the AC3 ZoneController module for PocketWizard ControlTL, but not quite as easy to use. We haven’t quite mastered Yongnuo’s interface well enough to use it without constantly referring to the instruction manual, so we’ll cover the feature properly in a later article.

Yongnuo YN-622N with a Nikon D700 and two remote SB-800s

We have been testing out the YN-622Ns with my Nikon D700, Chris’s Nikon D800 and a pair of Monty’s Speedlight SB-800s, the latter of which have definitely seen better days.

Unfortunately we have bad news for SB-800 users — you can’t use your beloved flash as a ‘Master’ with the YN-622N system. It just doesn’t work. The user manual says as much, by omitting it from the list of Commander-capable flashes, but doesn’t say explicitly that it doesn’t work. But we’ve tried it, and sure enough: it doesn’t. This is probably because the trusty SB-800 was released all the way back in 2003 and discontinued in 2008. The firmware is just too old and there is no way of updating it.

You can still use the setup pictured above, which will give you basic wireless i-TTL straight away. Once you get to grips with “remote control mode” then you’ll also be able to try out more advanced stuff like setting manual power levels or TTL flash exposure compensation directly from the YN-622N transmitter. See page 10–11 of the instruction book. We’ll explore this in a separate article.

Yongnuo YN-622N with a Nikon D700, SB-700 master and two remote SB-800s

So, the SB-800 may not be master and commander, but the SB-700, SB-900 and SB-910 should be able to do the job just fine. I don’t have access to an SU-800 Wireless Speedlight Commander, but Lighting Rumours reader Pireze has helpfully provided some feedback saying that it works. We’ve been trying out the SB-700 as an on-camera control unit (see picture above) and it seems to be working smashingly well, with a few exceptions.

In “TTL” mode, we haven’t found any issues yet. It seems to work just like you’d expect it would do with optical CLS. And with neat, shiny slide-in transceivers the whole setup looks a darn sight more elegant than the unwieldy RadioPopper or Aokatec AK-TTL infrared relay solutions. Using the LED indicators on the YN-622N transceivers, you set the respective group of each remote flash and this is recognised in the menu of your commander unit. So, for example, group “A” on the receiver LEDs is the same as group “A” in Nikon’s master controls. The remote flashes must be set in “TTL” mode, not “Remote” mode.

Here’s a shot I took of fellow photographer Chris Rubey with the master SB-700 on-camera bouncing off the wall to the right and two SB-800s behind him on either side. If I recall correctly, the master flash had no flash exposure compensation and the two rim lights were set to -2.0EV.

Christopher Rubey (Picture: David A. Selby)

Nikon D800, 70-300mm @ 140mm; f/8, Iso-200, 1/125 second; three Nikon flashes

The following shot was by Chris of me. Mostly the same setup, but this time the master flash is bouncing off the ceiling rather than the wall, so the light in my face is a bit more symmetrical. Also, Chris likes stronger rim lighting so he set each of the remote groups to 0.0EV.

Outdoors or in a larger room you could get a similar lighting effect with a softbox or beauty dish boomed overhead. We went for the bounce setup to see if an events photographer (both of us have experience in club photography) could use the YN-622Ns to build a look using a TTL bounce flash with off-camera accent lighting.

David Selby (Picture: Chris Rubey)

Nikon D800, 70-300mm @ 70mm; f/8, Iso-200, 1/200 second; three Nikon flashes

We didn’t have any problems with dodgy TTL exposures as a result of using the triggers. It seems that the only limitations are that of normal TTL metering itself, so you just need to keep an eye on basic stuff like increasing exposure compensation for pale subjects and decreasing it for darker ones.

However, from a more mechanical point of view, having an SB-700 and a YN-622N transceiver and a long lens all on one professional DSLR camera eventually turns into quite an unwieldy apparatus. If you’re used to lugging heavy gear then you might not see a problem.

In manual mode, everything works well too. In the image below, the main light was off-camera in an SMDV softbox to the left (power around 1/8), the accent light was a bare SB-800 behind Chris to the right (1/32) and the Commander unit was set to “—” to contribute no light to the exposure. We haven’t tested every single possible combination of settings but so far there have been no problems.

Christopher Rubey (Picture: David A. Selby)

Nikon D800, 70-300mm @ 92mm; f/8, Iso-200, 1/125 second; two Nikon flashes

However, try as we might, we couldn’t get the SB-700′s “A:B” ratio mode to work. No matter what kind of parameters we gave it, the flashes would trigger but not put out nearly enough light for a well-illuminated picture. Switch from here to TTL or Manual mode with exactly the same setup and everything goes swimmingly. So I guess ratio mode isn’t supported in the YN-622N’s software. I’m not too fussed, since I never use it, but just something to keep in mind if you do.

So that’s our first “quick” (2000-word) look at the Yongnuo YN-622N i-TTL Wireless Flash Transceivers for Nikon. In later articles we’ll be looking at other things, such as controlling your flashes directly from the transmitter, long-range shooting, FP Sync and “Super Sync” with manual flashes. Stay tuned for that.

The YN-622N is available now, priced around $90 for a basic two-piece set and $45 per additional transceiver. Click here for listings. You can find more technical information and download a copy of the user manual from the manufacturer’s product page. Thanks to YongnuoStore.com, an unofficial reseller, for providing the samples in this review.

Any questions? Send us your feedback and let us know what you’d like to see tested. If you’ve been using these triggers yourself, particularly with different gear, be sure to share your experiences below.

  • al bryant

    Are you able to use the built in commander mode of the camera instead of a commander flash on top of the YN-622N in the same way?

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

      No. Without the pop-up flash raised, the built-in commander settings don’t do anything. So you have to use a commander flash on top of the YN-622N, or the controls on the YN-622N itself.

      • Johnny

        How does it work with a Sekonic 358 light meter? Will it fool the lighter meter with an unnecessary pre-flash in manual mode like the Phottix Odin does? Also, will the test button only trigger the speedlight on the active group (unlike the Phottix Odin which triggers all speedlights on the same channel in sequence regardless of whether they are on an active group or not). I use manual mode with an external light meter always and have been looking for a radio trigger with which I can use my light meter and remotely set the flash power of my speedlight. HSS is a bonus but not a must. Will this YN trigger meet my requirement? Thanks.

        • Milo

          I would like to use also with Sekonic 358 light meter. Any info?

    • MSP-Strober

      No. Nikon’s built in CLS system uses infrared which has limitations (range/ambient conditions). These are radio triggers which have a longer range and aren’t put off by bright ambient conditions.

  • Adi Marwan

    In the future article about YN-622N, can you please test the FP sync on studio strobes? I have the Jinbei DC-600, and would appreciate if you could test the trigger on the DC-600, which you have reviewed before. =D

    Cheers

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

      Eduardo has the DC-600 but he also has the YN-622C, so maybe he can test them together.

  • Riccardo Delfanti

    very very interesting!
    when the second part of the review? =D

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

      In about a week or so.

  • Marcin Bogdański

    FP sync works well up to 1/8000 sec. Tested with Discovery 1200ws set.
    Could you please test transmiter on camera in off position. I see when metering stops camera doesnt want to wake up when I pres AF-on or shutter buton. When transmiter works everything is ok. Could you please check it..?

    • Adi Marwan

      Good to hear that it’s able to sync up to 1/8000s. However, just wondering if you notice any decrease in light output?

      • Marcin Bogdański

        I noticed some decrease in light output when it was higher than 1/4000, but must check it again. I just get yn622… In my test it needed to be boost :) 1/2- 1 ev when shutter speed was so short.

  • Gareth O’Neill

    It looks pretty unwieldy. When you get the Pixel King Pro please do a comparison as that looks a lot easier to use without a flash on camera.

  • Ross Campbell

    ” And with neat, shiny slide-in transceivers the whole setup looks a darn sight more elegant than the unwieldy RadioPopper or Aokatec AK-TTL infrared relay solutions. ”
    I find that statement hilarious .. the YN-622n and a master flash on top of it looks pretty unwieldy to me.

    I have a Nikon D7000 with an Aokatec AK-TTL transmitter mounted on a bracket on my camera, takes a couple of seconds to setup, that setup looks a lot better than the YN-622n and master flash combo.

    I have 2 x YN560EX flashes as wireless TTL slaves, the optical sensors are a piece of cake to attach, the sensor window on my flash is marked, and I use velcro straps to hold it down. Takes me 30 secs to setup.

    From my camera menu I can adjust each flash in 2 separate groups using TTL or manual ( how good is that ! ). You can’t do that with the YN-622n setup. Range is over a 100m, which I rarely ever use.

    The only setup I would use with the YN-622n’s triggers is an SU-800, then again my Aokatec AK-TTL triggers can do the same.

    Cost of my setup, Aokatec AK-TTL 1 x transmitter and 2 x receivers $120, 2 x YN560EX $190, for a grand total of AU $310, in perspective the Nikon SB-700 on its own here in NZ is AU $370. If your into a budget strobist setup this is hard to beat.

  • Tero

    can I control 3different slave flash groups independently with one transmitter atteched to the DSL i.e adjust all those 3 slaves power separately?

    • Juan Kiš

      Yes you can. You need a YN-622 on each slave.

  • ettventer

    I want to be able to control the power of my flashes remotely, using the YN trigger on the camera. So if I were to use these triggers with a couple of YN 568EX flashes, would the flashes have to be TTL mode? I want the flashes in manual, I don’t want them to be doing their own metering at all. I want to have full, full control. Being able to do EXP COMP while in TTL isn’t good enough, I need the flashes to fire at the same power every time. Is this possible?

    Thanks for the great review!

    • Juan Kiš

      Yes, I use the Canon version and they might have some minor differences. If you choose “Manual” you can select in your camera for example “1/8″ and all your flashes will fire at 1/8. If you choose “TTL” they will meter and fire accordingly, also you can use groups assigning every speedlight a different group (Up to 3) then you can select the ratio. And finally, and this is the method I normally use: MULTI Flash, where you assign the power for each group. For example:

      Group A (Main) 1/4
      Group B (Fill) 1/8
      Group C (Accent) 1/32

      I hope it helps.

      • ettventer

        It’s different on Canon and Nikon, though. With Canon, you control this in the camera itself. On the Nikon side, you have to do it on the trigger, which is why I’m asking :)

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

          Yes, there is manual mode. We used it for the last photo in the article. But your flashes need to be set to “TTL” mode to be able to read the signals from the receiver they are sitting on, whether the master is telling them to trigger in TTL mode or Manual mode.

          On the Canon system, the LCD on each speedlite would update with the power settings sent through to it from the master. But in the Nikon setup, it will always say “TTL” on the speedlight screen, even if the YN-622 is actually tricking it into firing at a manually-set power level.

          • ettventer

            Ok so even if the light is in TTL mode, every single exposure will look exactly the same, unless I change it, right?

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

            If you’ve got your master telling the flashes to be in “manual” mode, yes.

          • ettventer

            And by “master”, you mean the transceiver? I don’t plan to put a flash on top of the trigger on the camera, I ideally ONLY want a trigger on the camera. I don’t own an SU-800 either, so if I can pull this off with JUST the trigger on the camera and the YN flashes on the YN triggers off camera, I’ll be happy!

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

            Yes, you can do this as well. I’d recommend reading the user manual (downloadable from Yongnuo’s official site) so you can understand the process.

  • Gary Brown

    Any comment on the built in AF-assist? It’s a feature I’ve wanted in a trigger for a long time!

  • Arnie

    I cannot confirm your investigations in all points:
    I found out that the SB-800 units do NOT work correctly in TTL-mode, whereas the SB-700 do.
    manual mode works fine
    Please have a second look at this combination (D800 + SB-800 in TTL mode). I just see the preflashes but no main flash from the SB-800 units (sometimes and irreproducably I get a main flash at full power).

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

      Sounds like the problem we had with the A:B mode with the SB-800s. But in TTL mode I haven’t had any problems so far. I even tried again just now and the SB-800 in TTL mode still gives the expected results.

      • Arnie

        I’m very surprised about your positive results. Thank you for your re-test!

        How exactly did you test? did your SB-800 show TTL or TTL BL on the display?

        In my tests the SB-800 did neither work as a “slave” in TTL mode in normal i-TTL mode nor in Master Control mode (with a SB-700 as a master unit on top of the on-camera YN-622n).

        Another interesting observation: the zoom-information (flash zooms when you change focus length) works with the SB-800 but not with the SB-700 (though nobody really needs this feature).

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

          My re-test was just with a YN-622N on the camera (no master unit on top of it) and the SB-800 connected to another YN-622N. Not sure what it said on the screen because I was doing a self-portrait to check the TTL exposure was correct.

          • Arnie

            Let me guess: You did NOT use a zoom lens. I just re-tested the iTTL mode with the SB-800 and it seems that with prime lenses the iTTL mode works fine (although in seldom cases irreproducably with full power or zero flash power) but as soon as you use a zoom lens you get the troubles (with full power or zero flash power all the time).

            To me it seems that the protocol of sending the zoom information to the slave YN-622 unit somehow makes the firmware hang up. So if you use your prime lens again you first have to take out the batteries of the YN-622n units to reset them.

            Can you confirm having used a prime lens?

            Do you have a zoom lens to try again?

            What happens in MUp mode?

            Thank you

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

            I was using a Nikon D700 and a 50mm f/1.8D. But for the test in the main article, we used a D800 and 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G. No problems with either setup, except those already mentioned.

  • macadphotos

    Does anyone else have the similar problem as what arnie has, and what I am experiencing, where the SB800 and trigger either not fires, overexposes or underexposes despite being kept on the same setting? If it is a copy problem, I will try to do an exchange before the window closes

    • macadphotos

      hmm, sounds like copy variation (But i did try reversing the roles of my trigger… Same problem)! Will do an exchange and update a lil more. In the mean time, I shall just list some other factors that may be contributing to the different results.

      Body/Body firmware/Flash/Enable HSS on cam/SB800 on receiver or transmitter/Bounce vs Direct/Presence of other SB as master/Zoom vs Prime/Focal length/Nikon vs 3rd party lenses/ Reseting the trigger by removing batt

      Feel free to add to the list so that we can all start eliminating these factors one by one.

      PS. Connecting via pc sync cord does NOT work with TTL.
      PS. AF assist works fine in my usage. But at close range, the spots don’t hit the center of the frame due ti the offset.

      • Arnie

        Please try to slightly move your SB800 unit out of the YN-622 hotshoe so the contacts slightly move. Or try not to lock your SB-800.

        When you use MUp what happens? First the pre flashes and then full power flash? And in normal mode it diesn’t fire? (these are my observations).

        But with some adjustments toovercome the loose connection of the SB-800 in the YN-622 hotshoe it now works fine also in TTL mode. Con you confirm this observation?

        • macadphotos

          Tried both your suggestions. The movements did nothing to the ttl. Three new observations though.
          1) When using with a zoom lens, the SB800 on receiver zoomed in and out whenever I zoomed. Is it supposed to do that?
          2) When I attach SB800 to the transmitter on the body (ttl pass through), the camera stops focusing or shooting sometimes.
          3) To get into master mode on the SB800, go to the menu setting where you choose master, remote off etc. Half press the shutter button, you will see master option. TTL doesn’t work though.
          Tried on both D800 and D5100…. same phenomenon…. Arghhh

          Mine just keeps getting weirder….

          • Arnie

            i can confirm all of your three observations, but as I wrote some movement made the slaves work in TTL. But anyway it’s not as reliable as you want your equipment to work.

          • macadphotos

            I’ll try moving it slightly again. Like you said, definitely not as reliable as I would have wanted it to be. Also, tried it briefly on the SB600. Seems problematic too. I’ll test it again tonight.

            Thanks Arnie!

          • Arnie

            I have contacted Yongnuo technical support with detailed problem description one week ago and got an answer today

            “Yes, You can not use the SB-800 on the YN 622N as
            master flash.”

            => Seems that the communication problems aren’t limited to the communication protocol between YN-622N and SB-800…

          • Arnie

            Today I got Yongnuo’s confirmation “Yes, YN-622N have Compatibility issues with SB-800.”
            So it seems that they now are aware of the problems which occur at least with the SB-800 in TTL mode not flashing straight the the subject (but bouncing through a light modifier or via the walls).

  • Arnie

    so, next round of findings:

    After several tests it seems that the SB-800 units’ hotshoes are slightly different to the SB-700/SB910 flashes’ hotshoe dimensions and therefore have contact problems.

    Trying to adjust the position inside the hotshoe of the YN-622 minimally (by not inserting it until the end) makes the SB-800 work also in TTL mode.

    Doing this and using the test-button of the YN-622 you can also make the SB-800 work as a on-top master unit.

    • Arnie

      Today I got my YN-622N units back from Yongnuo where i sent them to have a firmware update. But unfortunately the bug that TTL mode isn’t working together with the Nikon SB-800 flashes hasn’t been fixed.
      Very frustrating and annoying!!

      • Carmen Clark

        I am having the same problems. I use a D800 and have tried the triggers with both my SB800 AND an YN565EX, i’m getting poor results with both in TTL mode (just using one flashgun off camera and no master unit as I don’t have one that’s compatible), sometimes the flash will only fire preflashes, other times it won’t fire at all, sometimes it’ll fire normally, sometimes it’ll fire full power or low power. I really cannot understand what’s going on with it. I wanted to be able to use the radio TTL for outdoor portrait work but when I tried it the other day the flash wouldn’t fire at all so I had to abandon it and use CLS with my pop up flash! It’s a shame as I love using these triggers for my studio strobe setup ( to allow shutterspeeds faster than 1/160 that the 603′s allow) but i was hoping to put the TTL feature to good use too. I can’t figure it out. I’m currently trying changing all my batteries, cleaning the hotshoes etc etc! :-*( COuld it just be a case of “jiggling it a bit?!”

      • Martyn

        Hi Arnie
        Just upgraded my d700 to a d800 all the same sort of problems using Sb800and Sb600. Think I may sell and get some pixel king pro,s.
        Martyn

  • Stanley T Shao

    Is it safe to do this….. mount a Phottix Stratto 2 (Nikon) onto the YN622N pass
    through Hot Shoe? If that works, then i could still get to use my
    Phottix Stratto 2 in Manuel Mode, in combination with the YN622N. And finally my on board Flash set to TTL
    on top of it all- triple decker combo !

  • Jay

    Hi Guys, I’ve been testing my 622N’s with my D7100 and a single SB-700. I’ve kept all variables the same, but have inconsistent results between using the SB-700 camera mounted, triggering it using optical CLS and wirelessly with the 622N’s. I’m not convinced the 622Ns are doing the exact job of iTTL as the photos seem to be a little under-exposed. (All settings and variables were kept constant) Has anyone else done a similar comparison test?

  • Bernd

    Does anybody knows if the YN622N´s working with Metz Flashes?
    I use the 50 AF-1 Metz but i can´t change the flashlight-power,
    when i change in menu of the D7000. everytimes the same result.
    I´m afraid that the Metz 50 AF-1 doesn´t work with the YN622´s :-/
    Any help?

    • GonzoG

      And it shouldn’t work.
      To control remote flashes see p.11 of the manual – use buttons on transmitter.

    • riri

      sorry to say I fried my metz using it on the canon ones of these. capacitor blew pretty quickly

  • MRomine

    Does anyone know if these units are compatible with D4 and/or D3s?

    • sloma_p

      Works with my D3 just fine :)

      • MRomine

        Thanks sloma_p! Since asking this question I have purcashsed two sets and they have been working on my D4 and D3s.

  • jonggi

    i just bought yn622n iTTL for my Nikon D600 and my YN565EX. There is a problem i am having right now, that is that I mount my flash YN565EX on to the YN622N on the camera hotshoe, my camera can not operate its Focusing Meter. I can not take a shot with my ND600 (24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G) in automatic focusing method. Strangely, if i am taking shoots with Live View System, the camera’s auto focus can work normally. I am planning to purchase YN568 ii and will put it as the Master placed on YN622 on the hot shoe. I need your assistance to eliminate the auto-focusing issue. Thank you in advance.

  • nick

    i have a nikon d600 and i want to ratio my 2 flashes from my menu camera. can be done with those? wiith canon its adjustable from the menu.

  • Czeslaw Dabrowski

    I’get 4 of Y622N and tested it with D7100, SB-900. SB-800. SB-600 and Yongnuo 560.
    One 622 on the top of the camera as transmitter only and different setups.
    All Nikon SB’s work as it should be: iTTL, zoom, manual, HSS, compensations, mixed modes. Not any problem with SB-800 as mentioned. SB-900 works on-camera as master flowlesly too. Haven’t even try SB-800 as Master as mentioned, it’s not compatible but works well on other modes. YN-560 in Manual only of course.
    Have also added one YN-603 on the top of 622 to trigger remotely the camera itself and two YN-560 on two YN-603 in Manual mode as bakground flashes, not any problem either.
    Very nice product and very affordable priced.
    BTW, have looked at the contacts of all three SB-flashes, seems to me that there is no any differance between them.
    I can’t figure yet how to dissable the focusing light of the recivers as I’m preparing to the wedding in the church and would like to dissable those and left one on the transmitter only.

  • Bram Hofland

    Can the SB800 be used as a fully functioning slave with the

    Yongnuo YN-622N flash trigger for Nikon?

  • Brian H

    Can the SB-800 – in combination with my Nikon D5100 – be used as a slave with the Yongnuo YN-622N flash trigger (for Nikon).

  • Brian H

    Ï ask this question (below) because I just read: ” ….. Unfortunately we have bad news for SB-800 users — you can’t use your
    beloved flash as a ‘Master’ with the YN-622N system. It just doesn’t
    work. …

  • Brian H

    Does the SB800 work as a slave -in combination with my Nikon D5100 – with the YN-622N system?

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