With full ETTL control Master and Remote capabilities the Yongnuo YN568EX-II is a low cost direct competitor to the Canon 580EX II. Just how good is it?
[set_page_product product=”Yongnuo YN568EX II”]
• Full ETTL Mode (same as 580EX II)
• Guide number 58 (same as 580EX II)
• High Speed Sync
• Master Flash Mode (can control remote slaves)
• Wireless Remote / Slave Mode (both Canon & Nikon compatible)
• Full manual control between 1/1 and 1/128
• No standard PC sync port (there is a 2.5mm version)
• No support for external power
What’s in the Box
The YN568EX-II comes in a typical Yongnuo black & gold box containing:
• A carry case
• The YN568EX-II speedlight
• The user manual (Chinese & English)
• A Table Stand.
The stand has the standard 1/4″ 20 thread for mounting on to a light stand but alas it’s a plastic rather than metal thread. If you’re going to be using this light much on stands I suggest also planning on getting a decent stand adapter that also angles and takes a shoot through umbrella.
The case looks like a direct clone of the one Canon supplies which also means there is no belt loop, so it’s literally a protective case for when you put the flash away, rather than something you can hang on your belt to carry the flash around. I do wish they’d spend the extra few pennies and do this right.
The build quality is good and feels solid. It’s a little more squared off compared to the rounded corners of the 580EX II, but it’s nothing that would make me want to spend the extra on the Canon. The foot is not weather sealed.
The LCD is a good size and backlit (orange) to aid operation in dark areas. Function displays are clearly laid out and I was able to operate 90% of this flash without instructions and only the multi-mode and custom functions had me reaching for the manual (plus Master and Slave modes).
The LCD backlight is not on by default but can be activated by pressing the top left button. The standard time from last button press to the backlight turning off is 7 seconds, though this can be changed to between 7, 15 & 30 seconds using custom function E3.
The battery compartment takes the typical 4 AA size batteries (I use Sanyo Eneloop) and the door is reassuringly solid, sliding down and then out. When open it’s held in position by the spring loaded hinge.
Using 4 AA batteries the recycle time is anything from instant (low power) up to around 3 seconds (full power). There is no way to connect external power packs.
Turning on/off is via a soft-touch button rather than a physical switch (the Canon 580EX II has a physical switch) and requires the button to be held for around 2 seconds while the YN568EX-II initialises. Simply tapping the button won’t work in the default configuration. The same goes for turning off, hold for 2 seconds otherwise it stays on. The benefit of this is that you won’t turn your flash off by mistake, perhaps by inadvertently brushing the button.
However, If this delay annoys you then custom function E2 allows a quick on / off function that changes operation to be a simple button tap with almost instant on/off.
On Camera Operating Modes
The ability to operate in several different modes, including ETTL makes this flash highly attractive, especially at this price point. Not all features are available in all modes.
ETTL is the default mode, the one most beginners start with, but also one that many pros use day-in, day-out for everything from fill flash to full blown portraits outside.
ETTL sends a ‘pre-flash’ that the camera uses to calculate exposure (all done in tiny fractions of a second), followed by the real flash as the shutter activates. Exposure is balanced by the camera and ETTL flash working together.
ETTL also allows for variations to the normal automatic exposure. Perhaps we need more (or less) power, so a function called “flash exposure compensation” (FEC) allows this to be set manually using the four rear direction buttons. The YN568EX-II allows up to 5 stops plus or minus compensation (in steps of 1/3 stop). Of course, if you’re already at full power, adding +5 compensation will have no effect, so you need to keep this in mind.
Also available in ETTL mode is HSS (high speed sync – see below), Rear Curtain Sync (see below) and support via Canon’s in camera menus (later model cameras only).
If the display does not show ETTL at the top left then press the MODE button (repeat if required) until it does.
Multi-mode provides a way of ‘strobing’ a subject (usually moving subjects) on longer exposures. This has the effects of freezing them in multiple positions within a single frame. It’s a cool effect but not one I personally use.
As you would expect the YN568EX-II allows you to control the number of times the strobe fires as well as the frequency (speed) flashes are emitted. As an example the system could be set to fire 15 flashes at a rate of 10 times per second. This means that over a period of a 1.5 seconds exposure the moving subject will be frozen in time at ten different positions.
Manual mode allows the user to precisely control the output of the flash and know that it’s output will remain constant from shot to shot. By removing any automatics a known exposure can be set and then repeated many times, typical for studio shooting.
Manual mode allows the power output to be varied in full stop steps of 1/128, 1/64/, 1/32, 1/16, 1/8, 1/4, 1/2 and 1/1 (full) with additional one-third stop (0.3 & 0.6) steps between them. As an example between 1/128 and 1/64 is also 1/128+0.3 and 1/128+0.6.
Changing manual power output is as easy as using the direction buttons. Left & Right increase/decrease by one stop while Up & Down increase/decrease in 1/3 stop settings.
To enter manual mode press the mode button until [M] is shown top left and the power indicator shown in the middle.
The YN568EX-II can operate as an on-camera master triggering remote flashes in up to 3 groups (A,B,C), operating in ETTL, Manual or Multi mode. How the master mode works is beyond this quick review but I’ve prepared a full post on how to operate the YN568EX-II in Master Mode so be sure to check that out. Note that the YN568EX-II is capable of triggering Canon and many of Yongnuo flashes too.
Remote / Slave Modes
The YN568EX-II can be triggered remotely in a number of different modes.
• As an ETTL remote (up to 3 groups with flash ratios)
• Sc / Sn modes controlled by both Canon & Nikon master units (inc 7D, 60D, 600D popup flash)
• S1 mode triggers when ever another flash is detected (good for studio or manual flash)
• S2 mode triggers with ETTL flash but ignores the pre-flash such as ETTL or red eye reduction
As with master mode, setting up the remote mode is a little beyond this review but there is another post dedicated to remote/slave operation. See YN568EX-II in Remote / Slave mode.
Operating from Camera LCD (recent cameras only)
When mounted on the camera the YN568EX-II can be controlled directly from the camera LCD. This is only supported on later models, but if you have this option it can make operation easier for controlling remote units.
One thing I always missed from earlier Canon flashes, including the 580EX II was an audible beep to signal recharge/ready state. I don’t always use it, but it’s nice to have an as option, especially for remote flashes when you’re firing off a lot of shots in quick succession (e.g. studio fashion shoot). Fortunately the YN568EXII includes the beep function as an option and it’s easily enabled / disabled by holding the backlight/beep button for 2 seconds. A small musical note on the right side of the LCD shows if the function is active or not.
The beep function serves as more than a simple recharge state indicator with various beep sequences also indicating possible over exposure, under exposure, over heating or battery low situations.
High Speed Sync (HSS)
The importance of HSS when shooting outside (in daylight) with higher shutter speeds cannot be over stated. Typical flash sync speed limits you to 1/250 (some cameras even slower), which then requires you to stop down further, losing that soft out of focus background. With HSS you can shoot all the way up to 1/8000s (body dependant) so shooting wide open becomes much easier. Far too many photographers enable the flash to add some ‘fill’ then wonder why their shots are completely blown out. The simple answer is they didn’t turn on HSS and their shutter speed plummeted accordingly.
Enabling HSS is as easy as pressing the [H] button and the [H] indicator appears. Pressing the button again turns on the rear curtain sync so it takes an additional press to turn things off again. It’s not possible to have both high speed sync and rear curtain sync active at the same time.
First Curtain / Rear (Second) Curtain (RCS)
The vast majority of photographers never use rear curtain sync (also known as second curtain sync) but it can provide some very interesting images when capturing moving objects. To turn on RCS press the H button once to turn on HSS and then again to turn HSS off and turn RCS on. Press once more to disable it.
Note that rear curtain sync is not available when in master / slave mode.
Foot (not weather sealed)
One of the areas Yongnuo have chosen to save money is on the weather sealing. The Canon 580EXII includes a small rubberised skirt that surrounds the camera hotshot once the flash is mounted and locked down. Yongnuo have chosen to stay with the older Canon style of mounting the speedlight by turning a wheel to lock.
Motorised Zoom Head & Wide Angle Diffuser
As is typical with speedlights of this type, the head zooms 24, 28, 35, 50, 70, 80, 105mm, either automatically (when camera mounted) or manually by pressing the zoom button to cycle through the settings. Additionally the head will zoom out to 14mm when the wide angle defuser is deployed. Settings other than 14mm are not possible with the diffuser in place.
Bounce Card for Catch Light
The catch light card is now a de-facto standard on speedlights so it would be a surprise if the YN568EX-II didn’t have one. If this is your first flash then you may be wondering what these are for but the simple answer is they help provide that all important catch lights in people’s eyes. Of course if you’re shooting a scene without people then there’s no need to deploy it.
Focus Assist Beam
I’m pleased to say the YN568EXII has focus assist beems, something missing from some other Yongnuo speedlights. Focus assist is invaluable when shooting in dark environments and can be seen as a small red beam of light spread in a specific pattern and designed to aid the camera’s focus unit detect the contrast changes in the scene. Without the focus assist your camera may well struggle, but with it, it should be able to focus in almost complete darkness. Note that the focus assist only fires when hotshoe mounted and is not fired from remote/slave units.
Head Rotation & Positioning
The head rotates a full 360 degrees as well as going from just below horizontal to vertical.
While the original Canon requires buttons either side of the head to be squeezed in order to rotate it, the YN568EX-II does not and the head can by moved just be turning it with enough force. It does have ‘notches’ every 30 degrees that it clicks in to and easily retains that position until you choose to move it again.
There is a plethora of custom functions available on this speedlight accessible by holding both the MODE and HDD button down at the same time. I’m not going to go in the individual screen displays and options but they include:
• Sleep – Auto Power Off Enable / Disable
• Flash Exposure Bracketing
• Focus Assist Beam (Active / Disabled)
• Auto Power Off
• Sound Prompting On/Off
• Timer Settings for Sleep / Auto Power off
• Quick Turn On/Off
• Backlight Timer
• Flash Fine Tuning (can set default +/- power)
Performance & Conclusions
Ultimately what we’re all interested in is ‘does it perform well’? I’m please to say that yes, the YN568EX-II performs very well in all the functions I used. ETTL works just like I’d expect a Canon 580EX-II to work (I’ve owned every Canon flash since the 550EX). Operation in manual mode was very consistent and although I personally never use multi-mode, it did exactly what I expected it to do.
Master & Remote (Slave) modes work just as well as the 580EX-II so it’s hard to say anything other than for the price this is an exceptionally good speedlite.
If I had to make any observations it would be that I prefer the physical on/off switch, the slide to lock foot with weather sealing and the ability to plug-in external power on the Canon. If none of those things bother you then why would you pay the extra for a genuine Canon 580EX-II over a Yongnuo 568EX-II? The only reasons I can come up with is local support & warranty. Given the price of the 580EX-II compared to the YN5680EX-II you could buy yourself a spare and still have money left over.
Considering the price it’s hard to give this anything but 5 out of 5.