[set_page_product product=”Yongnuo YN560IV”]
The YN560-IV is the latest incarnation of Yongnuo’s YN560 speedlite systems, adding wireless master control as well as slave mode.
If you’re looking for the older version go here: YN560-III review
The Yongnuo YN560 speedlite range has provided outstanding value for money and given many people the chance to learn off camera lighting without breaking the bank. Yongnuo released the YN560-TX, a transmitter capable of triggering their YN560-III speedlite, but the speedlite itself could only be used either on camera or as a slave to other triggers/transmitters.
The YN560-IV fixes that by adding the master / transmitter capability within the speedlite itself, so now you can use the YN560-IV in several different ways:
• On Camera Hotshoe (standalone)
• On Camera plus Master to trigger other speedlites
• Off Camera in Remote / Slave Mode
What’s in the Box?
In the box is the YN560-IV flash, a table top stand with plastic 1/4″ 20 thread, and a case. I’ve moaned about this before so I may as well do it again now, the case does not include a belt loop so it’s completely useless as far as being a carry case (on your belt), instead it’s just somewhere you can store your speedlite when not using it. The plastic thread on the stand is useless and a metal thread would have been better.
Diffuser NOT Included
In my review of the YN560-III I noted that a diffuser had been taped to the outside of the box but unfortunately the YN560-IV didn’t come with one. This must be down to each ebay seller to do themselves, so I must have been lucky with the YN560-III but not this time with the YN560-IV.
Battery Door / Fitting Batteries
The battery door is well made, sliding down to open with a spring loaded hinge mechanism to keep it open while you fit batteries.
When first opening the battery door you’re likely to find a small packet of silica gel and a notice stating that LiFeP04 and/or Li-on batteries are not compatible and to use alkaline or NiMH. I’ve been using Sanyo Eneloop with all my AA gear for a couple of years and they seem to work fine in this speedlite too.
The YN560-IV has a soft push power button rather than a mechanical switch. I must admit to preferring the latter, but once you get used to the button it just works. The down side is that in it’s standard configuration you can’t just push and let go, the button needs to be held down for what seems like 2 or 3 seconds while the YN560-IV cycles through various modes and icons flash across the screen. Letting go of the power button early means the YN560-IV just shuts down again! Turning off is similar, hold the button, wait for the icons to cycle and the speedlite to turn off before letting go.
Quick Turn On / Off Custom Function
If you get tired of waiting for the long power on / off cycle time there is a custom function for setting it to ‘quick’ mode, providing almost instant on/off by tapping the button. I’m not sure why it isn’t like this to start with.
Display & Backlight
The LCD display includes an orange backlight that helps when operating in low light conditions. Viewing angles from below and side to side are very good but it’s only readable up to about 20˚ from above. The backlight will turn off automatically after a few seconds but can be re-enabled by pressing the (left most) backlight button. A custom function allows you to choose how long you want the LCD backlight to stay on between 7, 15 & 30 seconds.
Setting the Mode
The YN560-IV includes several modes of operation, Manual (hotshoe), Multi (hotshoe), Transmitter only, Transmitter + master flash and 3 different remote (slave) modes, being wireless (2.4Ghz) and two optical trigger modes.
There is no TTL in any of the modes.
Press the MODE button to toggle through M (manual) and MULTI.
Manual Mode: The YN560-IV uses manual mode by default with the user selecting the power output using the up/down/left/right buttons on the rear panel.
Multi-Mode: The YN560-IV can fire multiple flashes per exposure with the number and speed of those flashes controlled via the rear panel (see multi-mode).
Setting Master / Remote (Slave) Modes
Press the trigger button to cycle through the master / remote (slave) modes.
TX (wireless 2.4Ghz) turns the YN-560-IV in to a master controller for up to 3 groups of remote YN560 speedlites, each with their own power settings.
RX (wireless 2.4Ghz) turns the YN560-IV in to a wireless remote (slave) unit on one of up to 6 remote groups. Note that only 3 groups are available with the YN560-IV used as a transmitter, 6 groups requires the YN560-TX.
S1 Slave Mode uses an optical triggering system whereby the YN560-IV detects another flash and fires itself. S1 will trigger on the first flash, including a TTL preflash. To avoid a false trigger from TTL use S2 instead.
S2 Slave Mode uses an optical triggering method like S1 but S2 ignores the TTL pre-flash and fires on the second (main) flash instead.
Setting the Power (Hotshoe Mode)
As already mentioned, the YN560-IV has no TTL function and all power is controlled manually using the Up, Down, Left & Right buttons in a very logical manner
• Pressing Right will increase the power by a full stop
• Pressing left will decrease the power by a full stop
• Pressing Up will increase power by 1/3 stop
• Pressing Down will decrease power by 1/3 stop
This means that any power between 1/1 and 1/128 in 1/3 stop settings can be selected relatively quickly without having to dive in to menus, it’s all right there at your finger tips.
If you want even more control then using the custom function settings it’s possible to change the power increments from 1/3 to 1/5 or even 1/3 and 1/5, but I doubt many people need to get quite that precise and would just move the flash a few inches instead.
Setting the Multi Flash Frequency & Flash Count
When in MULTI mode the power is set in the same way as manual mode but now the OK button allows you to toggle between the Power, Flash Count and Flash Frequency settings.
Setting the Count: Press and hold the OK button for 2 seconds until the flash count starts flashing then use the left and right buttons to change the count up/down.
The count can be set between 1 and 20 in increments of 1, then 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 60, 70, 80 & 90. However, the number of flashes is limited by both the power and frequency you have selected, so you may need to experiment.
Setting the Frequency: Press OK again to move from the flash count to the the frequency then use the left and right buttons to set the frequencies between 1Hz and 100Hz in similar 1, 5 and 10 Hz increments. Press OK to accept the current frequency and move back to the power setting.
It’s perhaps also worth noting that the maximum output in MULTI mode is 1/4 power.
Zooming the Flash Head
Zooming the flash physically moves an element within the speedlite head to change & control how the light spreads. By moving the flash element to the front of the head (24mm) the light can spread wider whereas moving the element to the back (105mm) produces more of a tunnel effect, concentrating the light in a tighter pattern. This is of course useful for on-camera flash when zooming a lens, but is also just as useful when trying to fill an umbrella (24mm) or concentrate the light beam, such as for a hair light (105mm).
Pressing the zoom button moves the head through a 24mm, 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 70mm, 80mm and 105mm sequence. Like the Canon, it’s not possible to choose intermediate settings. Once you reach 105mm the next press will return you to 24mm. While the zoom mechanism is not silent, it’s not overly noisy either.
Rotating the Head
Just like the YN560-III, the YN560-IV head only rotates by 270˚ which is something of a frustration for me. While I don’t mind it being only 270˚ it would be better for it to rotate all the way around in the other direction. Why? When using on a camera turned to the portrait orientation I’d still like to be able to bounce light from somewhere up and behind, but the head only turns to 90˚ in this direction.
I’ve no idea why they chose this direction because I can’t think of any time I want the flash ‘down’ and ‘back’ at the same time, so in portrait mode you’d need to turn the camera to the right (instead of the normal left), and while doable, it’s not how battery grips are designed to be used. Maybe Yongnuo engineers never shoot in portrait mode, but I really wish they would!
Fake Head Release Button
At first sight the head appears to have similar head mechanism release buttons to the Canon 580EX II, but you soon realise they are only there for styling and decoration and don’t actually ‘push in’. The head can be freely rotated without the need to hold down any buttons, though it does have some ‘notches’ as it turns (see the positions above). While it’s unlikely you’ll knock the head out of position accidentally, it is at least a possibility.
The head can tilt all the way from 7˙ down to all the way up.
Audible Signal / Beep on Recycle
One thing I always missed on the Canon 580EX series was the lack of audible feedback for recycle & ready. Nikon have had it for years and I used it all the time on the SB-800 & SB-900, but for some reason Canon stubbornly refused to add it until the new 600 series. The YN560-IV emits two quick beeps when you fire and then a longer beep when it’s recycled and ready to go.
If you have several flashes operating at the same time then the beeps could be annoying, but you could disable all but the highest power unit and know the others would be ready by the time this one beeped.
Beeps can be disabled by holding the left most button for 2 seconds at which time the musical notes icon disappears. Hold the button for another 2 seconds to reenable the beeps.
When using low power the the recycle time is very quick and you could fire off a number of shots without thinking about it. As power is increased the recycle time increases proportionally, taking around 3 seconds at full power with fresh batteries. It’s this time delay that caused me to miss fire a Canon flash thinking is would be recharged when it wasn’t, so the fact that the YN560-III beeps certainly helps.
Setting the YN560-IV as a wireless Master
To enter master mode press the Wireless button (and repeat as needed) until the TX icon appears on the LCD. Once in master mode the group and channels also need to be set on both the master and remote (slave) speedlites, otherwise they won’t fire.
Setting the Channel (Master Mode)
Press both trigger and zoom buttons at the same time (–CH–) and the Channel selector will begin flashing. Use the left and right buttons to set the required channel. Note that DIP switch settings suitable for other Yongnuo products are also displayed as you make the changes. Once the required channel is selected press the OK button to confirm.
Setting the Group (Master Mode)
The power for each remote (slave) group is set by selecting the group then adjusting the power for that group. To select the group press the centre (OK) button to toggle through ‘A’, ‘b’, ‘c’ & ‘–‘.
Selecting ‘–‘ means this flash won’t fire.
Setting the Group Power (Master Mode)
With the required group selected use the left and right buttons to set the power in full stop settings and the up and down buttons to increase or decrease in 1/3 stop. Press the OK button to move to the next group and repeat until all groups are set.
YN560-IV as Remote / Slave
It’s possible to operate as a wireless (2.4Ghz) remote in one of 6 groups with the YN560-TX transmitter, though only 3 if you’re using a YN560-IV as a master. This means you could setup 6 different YN560-IV lights, or mix them with YN560-III speedlites, all with different settings and controlled from your camera using the dedicated YN560-TX transmitter (sold separately).
Note that the YN560-IV must be made ready for the wireless radio triggering (RX mode) by using a ‘binding mode’. On the YN560-IV master hold the the MODE & TRIGGER buttons together (labelled ACT) and ‘ACT’ will begin flashing on the LCD display. The Pilot light on the remotes will begin flashing blue during which time you should press the Ok button to accept triggering from this master. See here for more information on how to do this from a YN560-TX transmitter.
The remote operating mode is selected by pressing the trigger button which (with repeated presses) cycles through the ‘M’, ‘TX’, ‘RX’, ‘S1’ and ‘S2’ modes.
RX is a wireless (2.4Ghz radio) trigger mode used with Yongnuo’s YN560-TX (transmitter), YN560-IV (speedlite), RF602 (transmitter) or RF603 (transmitter) triggers. The channel must match the transmitter and the group must be one of the supported transmitter groups, being A, b, c for YN560-IV or A, b, c, d, E, F for YN560-TX.
S1 an optical trigger mode designed to trigger the speedlite when any other visible flash fires. The YN560-IV can be used with other flashes, including speedlites & studio strobes. S1 is not suitable for use with TTL/ETTL because it will trigger based on the first flash it sees (e.g. TTL pre-flash), so only use S1 with manual mode flashes (speedlites or studio strobes).
S2 is the same as S1 but will ignore a TTL/ETTL pre-flash and trigger only on the main flash. This is called pre-flash cancel mode. Use S2 when triggering from other speedlites operating in TTL/iTTL/ETTL mode.
16 Channels & 3-6 Groups
In RX mode the YN560-IV can be set to one of 16 different channels to allow multiple photographers to shoot in close proximity without triggering each other’s flashes. I’m not sure how often that situation occurs for Yongnuo users, but it’s a feature worth having none the less.
To change channels press the Trigger and Zoom buttons together which causes the [CH 1] to flash. Use the left and right buttons to change channel then press OK to accept.
To change groups press the OK button (the [GrA] will flash) then use the UP and DOWN buttons to change the group (A, b, c, d, E, F) then OK to accept.
Assuming you set your transmitter and YN560-IV speedlite to the same channel it’s now possible to control the flash power differently per group, based on the group each unit it set to.
Resetting to Factory Defaults
If you need to reset the YN560-IV to the factory defaults hold the Audio & Mode buttons together, wait for the display to change to “CL EA” then press the OK button.
PC Sync Port
One further way to trigger the YN560-IV is via the built in PC-Sync port. While not many people will be using this, it’s a welcome addition and especially useful for those wishing to test fire using a light meter / sync cord combination.
Bounce Card & Wide Angle Diffuser
Typical on this type of flash is the pull out bounce card for adding catch lights to eyes when bouncing off the ceiling and the wide angle diffuser, helpful for further spreading the light beyond 24mm. This is especially useful when needing to fill a larger umbrella or softbox.
Just in case you’re planning on doing a lot of shooting and need some extra power, or perhaps you’re looking for faster recycle time than internal batteries alone can provide, the YN-560-IV also includes an external power socket compatible with those designed for use with the Canon 580EX II.
What’s not included?
There are two main features missing from the YN560-IV. The first one is TTL. If you’re looking for a flash that provides automatics then the YN560-IV is not for you. If you are using a Canon system then check out my YN568EX-II review which does include TTL mode.
Another missing feature is the focus assist beam that the Canon and Nikon flashes have. Perhaps Yongnuo thought that manual flashes wouldn’t be used in situations that need it, but it’s an omission that worth noting, not just from the YN560-IV but also from the dedicated transmitter (YN560-TX). If you’re expecting to be working in extremely low light and need to rely on a focus assist beam then think twice before committing to the YN560-TX and YN-560-IV combo.
What cameras will this work with?
Yongnuo have produced the YN560-IV with a single pin on the hotshoe, giving it maximum compatibility with just about anything that has a hotshoe option. I’ve personally tested both the YN560-IV and YN560-TX on Canon DSLRs (several), Panasonic GH4 & Olympus EM1 (both micro-four-thirds cameras).
Nothing is perfect
The entire system would be enhanced if the YN560-IV or the dedicated YN560-TX included the focus assist beam and it would also be better if the head’s 270˚ rotation limit went the other direction and the case had a belt loop. Simple things that really should be fixed by the time you’re on revision IV.
If you’re on a Micro-Four-Thirds (Olympus / Panasonic) or Sony system then check out my Nissin i40 review since this great little flash does have TTL capability on these systems. For Canon / Nikon check out the YN568EX-II review.
Considering the extremely low cost of the YN560-IV combined with very good build quality, great power output (GN58) and wireless control (both optical and 2.4Ghz radio), this highly flexible speedlite could well be the perfect tool if you need a compact portable studio setup.
For the cost of just one genuine Canon or Nikon speedlite you can get a YN560-TX transmitter and 4 YN560-IV speedlights for the classic four point lighting system (Key, Fill, Hair and backdrop) and still have money left over for another couple of lights for even more creativity. With that in mind it’s really hard to complain.
Setting the little nitpicks aside, I’m going to give this 5/5 due to the fantastic price/performance combination.