Youngnuo are a Chinese company that have been making speedlites and LED lights for some time now, supporting both Canon & Nikon systems with so many variations that’s it’s sometimes hard to keep up.
Recently they launched the YN560-TX to accompany the YN560-III or YN560-IV speedlites, so let’s take a look at what you get and why you might choose this system.
[set_page_product product=”Yongnuo YN560TX”]
Designed as a dedicated wireless trigger (2.4Ghz) for the YN560-III (and later YN560-IV) speedlite, the YN560-TX is a well built unit with a solid feel. The YN560-TX provides remote control for up to 6 (six!) remote flash groups, each with individual control over the mode (Manual or Multi), power levels, in 1/3 stop increments from 1/1 (full power) all the way down to 1/128 and remote speedlite zoom level.
The YN560-TX comes in a fairly compact box, measuring just 101mm x 80mm x 58mm (4 3/16″ x 3 3/8″ x 2 1/4″). The only things in the box are the YN560-TX and the very concise user guide in the usual Yongnuo single fold out sheet with English one side and Chinese the other.
The YN560-TX runs off two AA batteries mounted behind a sold feeling spring loaded door.
The model I have is for Canon but I understand that it can also trigger Nikon variations of the YN560-III speedlite, as well as the Nikon version of the YN560-TX being able to trigger Canon versions of the flash too, so you can mix and match systems as needed.
The YN560-TX stands upright on the camera hotshoe which has the advantage of being easy to see and operate when hand holding, but if you’re tripod mounted in a low position then operation could be a little more challenging.
Once the two AA batteries are inserted, turning the YN560-TX on is via a physical on/off switch on the back (8 on the picture below).
The user interface is refreshingly simple & straight forward to use, unlike the Canon & Nikon offerings that have become bloated with many functions hidden / buried in sub menus. Note that while there are Canon & Nikon versions of the flash they can be used on Non Canon / Nikon cameras too, but in this case they won’t support the wake up function of the YN560-TX has entered sleep mode. I’m really hoping that Yongnuo see their way to providing some micro-four-thirds support in the near future as well as the big two.
1-Status Indicator Light – Green when walking up, red when triggering
2 – Display Screen – clearly shows the current settings
3 – MODE button changes between M (manual) Multi and [–] (disabled) for each for the flash groups
4 – GR Button – selects between the different groups. Press to change between groups, hold to change from ABC to DEF or visa versa. Only 3 groups are visible on screen at any one time.
5 – Power Indicator / Test Button – displays red while powered on, doubles as a test / trigger button to test remote flash units.
6 – Zoom/CH Button. Short presses adjust the zoom settings between 24mm and 105mm while holding for longer sets the channels (1-16) that allow multiple uses to shoot without interfering with each other.
7 – Hz / FN Button – Short press changes the multi flash count or frequency of the multi flash, long press access the transmitter function menu that controls RF602/RF603 compatibility modes.
8 – Power on/off switch
9 – Select button (centre) and cursor keys for adjusting the parameters
Adjusting the power output
Adjusting the power output for any given flash is as simple as using the cursor keys (1). Pressing the left cursor will decrease power while pressing the right cursor will increase power. The options are 1/128, 1/64, 1/32, 1/16, 1/8, 1/4, 1/2 & 1/1 with the selected power shown on the display (2) next to each group. In addition to full stops the power can be adjusted in 1/3 stop increments using the up (increase) and down (decrease) cursor keys, with the display showing +0.3 and +0.7, or nothing for a full stop position (3).
Binding to a remote YN560-III Speedlite
When you first take this controller out of the box it may not trigger remote flashes as you expect. It’s important to make sure that any remote flash is on the same channel as the YN560-TX (press and hold the Zoom/CH button then use the cursor keys to change channel), otherwise it simply won’t work. In addition, it seems that it’s necessary to bind a transmitter and receiver pair by holding both Zoom/CH and Hz/FN buttons (1) until ACT is displayed. Once active the blue light (2) on the YN560-III speedlight will illuminate for a short time. Press the enter (3) button on the YN560III to register the YN560-TX so that it will trigger this YN560-III.
How well do these work?
The important thing with any product is how well they work. the specifications claim up to 100m distance for triggering, and while this is often possible in an open field, often systems fail to live up to expectation when used in a less than perfect situation. While we don’t have access to a 100m building at this moment, we did manage to test this system up to 56m without any problems, including church pillars and people in between. That’s pretty impressive and something out genuine Canon system failed to achieve.
Who are these for?
So now we’ve looked at the user interface, exactly who is the combination of YN560-TX and YN560-III for? It’s worth thinking about for a second, because neither unit has any TTL / ETTL capabilities, so it’s strictly manual controls with the option of some multi strobe too, though personally I never use this.
The vast majority of DSLR users are now used to TTL and have no idea how to shoot in manual mode, yet many are frustrated by the lack of repeatability and finding it difficult to master flash because it’s all just seems so much black magic. Many speedlites end up back in the box on the shelf or sent off to ebay.
Having flash that can be controlled manually means you can produce solid, predictable, repeatable results,whether in a studio environment or out on location. Having the automatics of TTL can be a major blessing if you’re in a hurry, but having complete manual control means you can easily tweak one or more lights until everything is just right.
If you’re looking for a flash system that also works well on other camera types, including micro-four-thirds then the combination of Yongnuo YN560-TX and YN560-III may just be what you’ve been waiting for.
Price / Performance
Given the price of the the Yongnuo YN560-TX and YN560-III combination it’s hard to find a cheaper solution that provides anywhere near the level of control that these do, especially when you consider that up to 6 individual flash groups can be controlled right from the hot shoe of your cameras.