Say goodbye to proprietary batteries: Yongnuo YN560Li (hands-on)

Yongnuo has released the Speedlite YN560Li, a manual radio-enabled master/slave flashgun that runs on standard 18650 lithium ion batteries.

Yongnuo Speedlite YN560Li

Yongnuo has released the YN560Li, their latest manual flashgun with a built-in radio transceiver. The YN560Li uses lithium batteries, but unlike competitors such as the Godox Ving V850 (or indeed other Li-ion Yongnuo flashes) it runs on a pair of non-proprietary 18650 batteries, like those found in flashlights (torches).

According to the manufacturer, two standard batteries should give you 500 full-power flashes from a single charge. Since you can buy two 18650 batteries for around the same price as four low-self discharge NiMH AAs, and a fraction of the price of dedicated batteries such as the Yongnuo YN-B1800 or YN-B2000, this should be a good long-term solution.

Guide number is 58 (at 105mm, Iso-100) with a two-second recycle time at full power.

Yongnuo Speedlite YN560Li

Yongnuo Speedlite YN560Li

The integrated 2.4GHz radio provides master and slave support in manual power mode with up to six groups of Yongnuo flashes on the YN560 system, including other YN560Lis, the YN720, YN685, YN560 III, YN560 IV and YN660. Using the YN560Li as a master you can control the power, zoom level and stroboscopic functions of these other flashes. You can, in turn, trigger the YN560Li as a slave from respective master flashes, a YN560-TX commander or the RF-603 and RF-602 radio triggers. The range is up to 100 metres.

Other features include S1 and S2 optical slave modes, Multi (stroboscopic) mode and a PC sync port. There is no provision for external battery packs; the internal 18650s are meant to be enough. There is a USB port for firmware updates.

We got our hands on a copy of the Yongnuo YN560Li at Photokina last week. It feels like a sturdy product, and it seems like the body has been made wider to accommodate the long 18650 batteries. Otherwise, the interface is familiar from the YN560-IV and other flashes in the series, with the compact backlit LCD screen and responsive buttons.

Yongnuo Speedlite YN560Li

It is reasonably intuitive to find the various modes, including radio master and slave, but the small screen means that it is a bit clunky to cycle through all the remote groups. If you are after a dedicated master, then the YN560-TX might offer a nicer experience.

Batteries in the Yongnuo Speedlite YN560Li

You can buy the Yongnuo YN560Li now for $95 from these sellers: Amazon (UK), Adorama, B&H Photo, eBay. Kits include batteries and a micro-USB charger.

That’s cheaper than the $139 Godox V850II / Flashpoint Li-ion and you don’t have to worry about the batteries being discontinued.

David Selby
Based in Paris, France, David Selby is editor of Lighting Rumours, a part-time photographer and a quantitative analyst.
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