Saturday, February 6, 2010

Yongnuo Speedlite YN460-II


In the end, I couldn’t resist ordering the YN460-II even though my arsenal of flashes is (mostly) built around the Nikon SB series. In a previous post, I wrote about replacing the foot of a damaged SB-24. I actually did not expect to win that damaged SB-24 and had, in fact, ordered the YN460-II just two days prior. Fifteen days later, the YN460-II arrived in a plain brown wrapper, shipped via airmail from Hong Kong.

The YN460-II is a simple and inexpensive flash unit that is an upgrade of the (what else) YN460. The upgrade consists of more power (claims Guide Number of 53 instead of 33), faster recycling and fine tuning for the flash power. The flash head has both tilt and swivel. The YN460-II has two operating modes: manual flash and optical slave flash. In either operating mode, the YN460-II flash power must be set manually.

Here are my first thoughts and impressions.

My first concern was the packaging. Although the shipping envelope was lightly padded, the YN460-II box was simply placed inside it without additional padding. There was no padding inside the box although the flash was inside a plastic bag which was inside a nice black cloth bag. In spite of my concerns, all parts arrived in good condition.


The YN460-II is a nice looking flash with a better quality appearance that I expected. The tilt/swivel head position is held by friction; that is, just grab it and turn/tilt – no release buttons to push. This is fine for now but I wonder if it will become sloppy loose with much use.

I dropped a set of PowerEx NiMh rechargeables into the YN460-II and pressed the ON button. Nothing. Press again – nothing again. Did I get a bad flash? A quick glance at the instructions confirmed that I was indeed pushing the ON/OFF button but should have been holding it down for 2 seconds. Duh. Firing a few quick pops manually, the YN460-II took about 8 seconds to recycle to full power; the SB-28 from which I robbed the batteries took about 9 seconds. (Time to recharge?) Recycling was near instantaneous at minimum power setting. (A fresh set of PowerEx reduced the recycle time to less than 5 seconds.)


Changing the flash power is easy and very visual: Press the Power +/- button and watch the lights change. However, the button must be pressed for each step change. Same for changing modes: Press the Mode button and watch the lights change. When the YN460-II is turned on, the mode is set to manual and the flash power is set to the minimum; it does not remember the previous settings.

In contrast to the simplicity of setting flash power, “fine-tuning” was not so simple. Well, I could follow the instructions but the flash power output level lights do not remain as set so I had no confidence in what I’d done. The procedure is to press and hold the MODE and PILOT buttons until the middle light blinks then use the +/- button to fine tune. This seems OK except that the output level lights soon revert to the non-fine tuned display. Pressing MODE and PILOT again shows the fine-tuned setting. I quickly resolved not to use the fine tuning feature (for now anyway). Illustrated is 1 stop down from maximum (i.e., would be half power) but then 2 clicks farther down using "fine tuning".

Somewhat skeptically checking the YN460-II in optical slave mode, I found that it works very well with my Canon G9. In fact, the YN460-II was triggered by the G9 flash in both the S1 and S2 settings when the G9 was in P mode. With the G9 in manual mode (no pre-flash emitted), the YN460-II was triggered only in its S1 mode. Even more surprising, these quick tests were shot at 1/500 second! I was impressed. With my 7D, the YN460-II also worked in both S1 and S2 modes when the 7D was set for ETTL; however, at 1/200 second and faster, S2 is necessary. In a dimly lit room, triggering is easily possible at a distance of some 20 feet. The obvious conclusion is to use S1 for pure manual flash and S2 for triggering with ETTL -- as advertised.

Next up was to test the YN460-II with my Cactus wireless triggers. The only way to connect to the YN460-II is through the hot shoe. This is OK with me because my Cactus units are more reliable when connected via the hot shoe. The YN460-II worked fine with my Cactus wireless triggers and could be triggered at 1/640 second using the Canon G9.

Finally, I compared the flash power of the YN460-II to some other flashes. I did this by shooting the flashes directly mounted on my Canon G9 camera in full manual mode. Just firing shots across a dimly lit room, it seems to me that the YN460-II is not as powerful as the Canon 580EX but is similar to the Nikon SB-28 and more powerful than the SB-24. In fact, the relative power of all those flashes seems to be about as listed in my post on guide numbers. I also noticed that the YN460-II seems a bit “cool” in color cast, especially in comparison to the Canon 580EX (which seems a bit warm).

All in all, my YN460-II works and seems to work as advertised. I’m pretty happy with this one – in fact, am thinking about getting another one.



Lancelot said...

it sounds cool to u think it works with most other cameras? I am planning to invest in one for my Olympus E520

Tritium said...

It's a manual flash, it will work with almost anything. You just have to work out how much flash to apply.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the review. I'm thinking of getting one of these myself. My only question now is whether to get the Cactus V4 or the RF602 system...

Perry said...

How is this working for you after a few months? Getting ready to spring for a couple as fills. I assume they work with the RF602's, which I have and work great.

Gordon Buck Jr. said...

I find that I most often use my YN460-II very simplistically as a second flash in optical slave mode. Mine also works very well with the RF602 system.

Lancelot said...

thats great I have ordered one and I am waiting for delivery...will let you know how I find it - if it works then I am going for one more... and does it come with the thread to fit in a tripod? or should v get tripod socket(I guess thats how its called)

Unknown said...

Hi, how does this go after consistent use?

I bought the YN-460. It does work.. for a while.... then becomes unreliable. I am reluctant to purcahse the II version because of my experiences....

---- that is.. off flash usage for a while then it won't fire... or will do so randomly (fresh batts)...

Gordon Buck Jr. said...

Sorry to learn of your problems, Jojie. Mine own copy of the YN460-II is going strong. Perhaps I don't use it as hard or as often as you do.

Unknown said...

I bought this piece of Junk off Ebay 6 months ago... I set it off maybe 20 times and it sucked my batteries dry..I decided I wanted to just spend the extra money and get a used canon flash...well it has been in the box in my closet for 6 months now and I have decided to sell it...well now I can't get it to hold a charge! I have had several other people look at it and tried numerous batteries..still will not light green! I contacted the company that made it and they wrote me back telling me basically that I over paid for it... not that they make a quality product just that I over paid....I wrote them back and said "so basically you are telling me you make crap products!" I never got a response..of coarse they would exchange it if I wanted to shell out more money to ship it to china.... DO NOT BUY THIS THING!!!

Gordon Buck Jr. said...

Mine still works fine. I use it, although lightly (no pun intended), several times a week.

henrysophia said...

Hi Gordon, thanks for your review. I'm thinking to get this as my first external flash for my Nikon D90. Question though, when you want to use it as a slave, do you need to have an external primary flash or the built-in flash would do?

Sorry if this sound dumb, as I'm quite a noob in photography.

Gordon Buck Jr. said...

The small built-in flash will certainly trigger the YN460-II. I use mine frequently with the G9 or G12 and triggered by those cameras. However, the range will be less than if a large flash is used as the trigger source.

Kristian said...

I bought to of these flashes. The same thing happened to both of them: They worked fine at first. Then after a long and heavy photoshoot they stoped working - or more presise: Now they go of just randomly, and with a heavy delay. My flashes (both of them!!) seems to be crap - they just don't stand to be used. Do not use your money on this hardware!

RTOGOG said...

This Chinese brand product is one that have good quality compared the others from same country. It works fine for my need. I only doesn't like its physical style. It only mimics the Canon model & didn't create their own design. That makes the products look cheap & no character at all.

AbleTech said...

Hello Gordon;
I've just bought a Canon G12, Vivitar DF-483-CAN flash, and Vivitar cord VIV-FC-CAN. Everything is brand new.

With the flash directly in the hotshoe it seems to work fine(though about 1/3 stop overexposed for my taste)
With the extension cord the in-camera flash is disabled but the flash does not fire (in any mode), or show

indication of control of the flash or match zoom setting. nothing.

I have checked with a multimeter that there are no shorts in the cable. The four small contacts show continuity and

the larger contact at the top shows an open circuit. From what i can decipher from various searches, the large

contact is unused.

I bought this flash to have a master w/less control unit without the size and weight of the Canon Speedlite 580EX

II Flash.

The G12 seems to have small but significant changes to firmware that hinders full compatibility with

flashes that work on the G11.

I was about to spring for the original cable OE-C3, but with the Vivitar cord in hand and looking at the magnified OE-C3 image on the Canon website they are the same unit. ( all markings, line-up and construction of flex-guard).

Have you experimented with flash cables with the G12?
I live in the Caribbean and the cost of these items start at 50% more than the US. I thought i was making good choice by going with Vivitar. The Nissin and Sigma flashes have too many reports of failure for my comfort.

if you could confirm an off brand E-ttl cable that is compatible it would be a greatly appreciated.