A cursory skim through eBay listings will reveal Yinyan of China is a company more used to producing old-fashioned, digicam-frying flashguns that allow no user control whatsoever. They have their place: I praised their miniature CY-20 flash for its bare-bones simplicity when used with compact mirrorless cameras. However, it looks like the manufacturer has upped its game (though that might not be saying much) with the new Speedlite CY-450M.
This is a manual flashgun, suitable for off-camera flash enthusiasts or events photographers on a budget. Since some Chinese flashes seem to have recurring issues with the zoom head motors breaking down, Yinyan have opted for a purely mechanical fresnel head that you operate by hand. The controls also seem to favour longevity over bells and whistles, with a more basic “idiot lights”-based display based on LED indicators, rather than a fancy LCD screen.
One of the more unusual things found in the Yinyan CY-450M is the old-fashioned non-TTL auto mode. Though not as accurate as the latest through-the-lens-metered automatic modes, this can be useful in a pinch (for example, at events) and means you don’t need a dedicated flash for each brand of shooter. Used off-camera, if you play with the settings enough you could get a ghetto “wireless non-TTL auto” set-up on the go.
- Guide number of 36 (85mm, Iso 100)
- 0.2–3.0 second recycle time
- Four modes: M, A, S and SD
- M: manual power adjustment, from full to 1/64
- A: non-TTL automatic mode, from f/2 to f/5.6
- S: basic optical slave mode
- SD: optical slave mode that ignores TTL pre-flashes
- Zoom head
- Manually-adjustable fresnel: 28mm, 35mm, 50mm and 85mm focal lengths
- Swivels left 180° and right 130°
- Tilts vertically to 90°
- Flip out diffuser and bounce card
- LED indicator control panel
- Overheating protection
- Plastic hotshoe foot
How much? Around US$63 per unit, available from the Focalprice and Fancy Cost gadget stores. While this price is not bad per se, for the same money you could net yourself a Yongnuo YN-560II or Triopo TR-960II, both of which have finer power adjustment, swish LCD screens, PC sync ports, stroboscopic mode and external power inputs. Which would you pick?