Fstoppers Reviews the Yongnuo TTL Flash System

Fstoppers Reviews the Yongnuo TTL Flash System

In the world of off-camera flash, there are two sides: the full manual side and the TTL (through the lens) side. I have always been on the full manual side, because when it comes to triggering a TTL flash off camera, things start to get complicated. In order to trigger the flash, you either need to have an expensive on-camera flash, an expensive TTL radio trigger, or a cumbersome TTL cable. Then, I found the affordable and feature-rich Yongnuo TTL system and instantly fell in love.

The System

In order to get your flash off camera, all you need are two Yongnuo-622n flash transceivers that are compatible with your TTL flash. One transceiver connects to your camera and acts as the trigger, while the second transceiver connects to your flash and acts as the receiver. With this simple $77 solution (not including your flash), you now have the ability to trigger your flash in manual, TTL, use high speed sync, and trigger multiple flashes based on groups and channels (with multiple flashes and triggers). The problem is that you have to adjust the TTL flash power from within the camera settings by using flash compensation and if you want to control the flash power in manual, you are stuck having to adjust it from the flash.

Enter the Yongnuo-622n TX. This transmitter not only gives you the ability to adjust the flash power in manual and TTL, it also gives you the option to adjust the zoom of each flash in addition to all the other features offered in the Yongnuo-622n transceivers. You can also switch from manual to TTL from the transmitter without having to touch your flash.

How It Works

I was surprised by how easy it was to set everything up. All I had to do was plug my flash into the transceiver, plug the transmitter into my camera, make sure my flash was set to TTL (I don't think the flash has to be in TTL for Canon users), and then confirm that the transceiver and trigger were on the same channel. After this quick process, everything just worked. The buttons on the transmitter are all very straightforward and it’s easy to figure out how to change all the settings.

The transceiver has three buttons and a switch on the unit: one button to cycle through the groups, one button to cycle through the channels, a test button, and a switch to power the device on and off.

The dedicated TX transmitter has a button for everything you can control from the unit and each setting is displayed on the screen. This means no diving into menus and settings to view or change a parameter. Each button works by pressing it to select what option you want to change, then using the directional pad to change the setting.  When changing flash power, you use the directional pad horizontally to change by full stops and vertically to change by third stops. It’s all very intuitive and easy to grasp.

When using the unit, I never once had an issue with the flash not firing or being out of range. Granted, I have never had a reason to get crazy far distances away from my flash, but I never had an issue with it being across a field or having the flash be inside while I was outside.

Build Quality

The build is what’s to be expected when dealing with cheaper products. They don't feel flimsy by any means, but they don't feel exceptionally rugged either. The glossy coating of the transceivers gets scuffed easily, but this doesn’t affect performance; so, it's not really a concern for me.

The main issue I have is with the TX transmitter. The display uses a clear plastic that seems to be easy to scratch, which leaves me wondering at what point it will become hard to see what is being displayed. After a few months of heavy use, it's still easily viewable, but I can see things going horribly wrong by simply placing it in a pocket with something that is rough or has sharp edges. The plus side is that at $44, I can buy a couple replacements and still be ahead when compared to a PocketWizard. The scratches are also not as prominent when the screen's backlight is on.   

The backlight of the display makes the scratches less noticeable.

Remote Trigger

One added bonus of the transceivers is the ability to remotely trigger your camera's shutter button. They even come with all the cables and connections you need, so there is no need to buy additional accessories. Once you attach a transceiver to your camera and run the cable to your remote port, you simply press the test button on the second transceiver to trip the shutter.

While light painting, I didn't have to keep walking back and forth to my camera. I just held a transceiver in one hand and my painting tool in the other.

What I Like

My favorite feature is the ability to trigger a flash in TTL while also being able to quickly change it to manual without needing to touch my flash. This is useful because TTL seems to work most of the time for me, but there are always those certain instances where it gets tripped up. For these situations, I can quickly and easily switch the flash to manual with a single button.

The next big feature is the ability to still use high speed sync when the flash is set to manual. In all my past days of manual flash, I was always stuck at my camera's sync speed of 1/250th of a second. I wanted to use manual flash, though, because I liked having the consistency of setting a specific flash power and not relying on the fluctuating TTL exposures. But now, I have the ability to use manual flash while also being able to exceed my camera's sync speed. Now, I get the best of both worlds.  Lastly, I can't overlook how relatively cheap the system is. 

TTL kept getting tripped up by the moving arms. A quick switch to manual made it easy to dial in what I needed.

What I Don't Like

My biggest gripe with the entire system is that the on/off switches are too easy to change. I shoot with two cameras and thus, the camera I’m not using is always bumping into my body in one way or the other. This bumping has caused a transceiver to be turned off on a couple of occasions, causing me to miss a few shots before realizing it’s off. Also, they always seem to be in the on position when I get them out of my bag. This could be that they got turned on in the bag from moving around or that I forgot to turn them off. But that brings me to my next issue: they don't have a battery-saving mode when not in use. Instead, both the transceivers and the transmitter will just sit and blink their little LED lights until they are dead. 

I also wish you could use the camera in bulb mode with the transceivers as a remote trigger. It seems that it only recognizes a single press and not a hold; so, using this setup, you are limited to the shutter speeds that are available in your camera. Lastly, while build quality is acceptable, I do wish they didn't scratch so easily.

Conclusion

The Yongnuo system is a very capable and affordable option for getting your flash off camera. Add in the fact that you get TTL and high speed sync and it’s a definite win. The few cons that I have seen, to me, are not worth the added expense of getting a higher-end system.

Are you team TTL or team manual? What flash trigger system do you use?

Log in or register to post comments

72 Comments

Robert Johnson's picture

I use clear packing tape to cover the plastic screen and it keeps the screen looking great, I also do the same for the transceivers also. And also remember if you don't have the tx unite you can still adjust the power either up or down from the transceiver two button combination. Also you can always see the channel and group that the units are on because they flash.

William Nelsen's picture

Good idea!

I've got a trio of 600 EX RT speedlights, with the transmitter. But I can also go the opposite direction with a pair of 285 HVs, and some Pocket Wizards.

Isaac Insoll's picture

I like to shoot with two bodies. Can i have 2 transmitters (one per camera) and use them both at the same time with the one remote flash? I know i can do this with 602 and other dumb triggers but not sure how it works with ttl and hss etc.

Jason Vinson's picture

Yes you can! That's exactly how I shoot.

Damien Kook's picture

These have fantastic high-speed sync capabilities; much better than my experience with the PW miniTT1 and flexTT5 combo.

This could e the deciding factor for me.

Anyone know about brand compatibility. I've got a mix of Yongnuo and Metz speedlights.

Damien Kook's picture

I use them with Nikon speedlights and have had absolutely no problems. No doubt they will work with other Yongnuo products, and I would assume they would work with other brands, although it might be wise to find some documentation to confirm this.

Antony Gomes's picture

How do you set you nikon flash to be able to be able to remotely change the power of your flashes?
Byt the way thanks for your article!

Robert Johnson's picture

To be able to change the power of the Nikon flash, you will simply set the flash to ttl and you will be able to change the power from the TX unit.

Bill Peppas's picture

I've been using this kit for ages.
Miraculous little and cheap things.
Makes paying the big bucks for PocketWizard seem a very stupid idea.
I don't mind the "cheaper" build quality, since I take good care of my stuff ( none of my equipment has any kind of scratch or physical damage despite me being a hardcore landscape photographer ).

Highly recommended, good range, solid performance, no issues at all.

I've got this kit! It's an amazing tool, the TX also works with the cheaper 20€ ones, up to 100m distance and also with TTL.

Gabriel Cruz's picture

The Yongnuo 622 system is a kick in the butt of PW.

Thomas Hansen's picture

I too use this set up and love it! I did see Yongnuo came out with a YN-622 C ettl-II. (obviously, i shoot canon). What is 622 and 560-RX Communication? Also, I recently bought a studio strobe and I have been reading these are capable of "supersync" (the hypersync equivalent to PW). Is that just on the ettl-II verson, or can you do it with this model?

Blake Aghili's picture

TTL is pretty complex, not all TTL systems are equally brilliant. For example a TTL of Nikon vs Profoto vs PocketWizard...are not the same. As far as I know for example PocketWizards can get confused when Vibration Reduction of a 70-200mm Nikon lens is active!

Anonymous's picture

Great review Jason. I've been using the YN-66N and YN-66N-TX system for a year now and I love them. Another nice feature is the built-in auto focus assist red light, which comes in handy during events and when people are dancing at weddings. I even use this system to fire off my Einstein E640s using PC sync cables.

I have this plus the mini and flex set up for nikon. I like both. I like being able to control the zoom, which groups are in manual, ttl and super sync (aka hyper sync). However, for nikon, if you happen to own sb800's, the performance is unreliable in my experience. I have had a hard time keeping the sb800 to sit snug in the hot shoe and it cant be used as a commander on the unit when on the camera. Where as PW its fully compatible and it has more flexibility in timing hyper sync. Other than that- its an awesome bang for your buck and for the price of on flex tt5, you can get two transceivers and a tx unit.

Rashad Mosley's picture

Is there certain settings the camera, flash, and TX should be on to be able to change flash power wirelessly? I have not been able to get mines to work

SOMEONE PLEASE HELP!!

Jason Vinson's picture

If it's a Nikon they all have to be in ttl mode. Even to do manual flash.

Rashad Mosley's picture

WOW! I cant believe that was the issue. I have had the TX since December and could not figure it out. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!

Robert Johnson's picture

Set the flash to ttl mode and that's it.

Regarding the scratches... Did you peel the stiff plastic covering off the trigger? I've had this system for over a year and don't have that kind of damage. When not in use I keep mine stacked and locked onto one another and in a padded case. They're too valuable to leave laying loose. The on/off switch comment is spot on. I've pulled them out to use them and one might be on or dead from accidental switching.

Robert Johnson's picture

I too have had mine for about two years and the clear plastic finally came off and I replaced it with heavy clear packing tape and it looks and works great. No damage at all.

I would recommend people invest in the new/updated yn622 ii tranceivers. The new units have a usb port, for firmware updates. The yn622 tx (transmitter) already has a usb port, for updates. The first gen of tranceivers are great, but certain cameras have issues in hss mode above 250 sync speeds (black bars). The latest firmware updates address those issues. B&H carries the latest yn622 ii units, and can also be purchased through ebay. Thanks for the review.

I've been using this kit for a bit and really like it. Lot's of flexibility and control. I'm still learning how to use strobes so this is a perfect tool to get that experience without having to spend a large amount of money.

Ovanes Miskaryan's picture

And now they have made Yongnuo YN-E3-RT TTL Radio Trigger which I have not used yet, but it seems it is a beast! It is announced to work perfectly with their flagship flash, the YN600EX-RT, which has a built-in receiver. I have bought the 600ex a couple of days ago, and it is fantastic!

James Frank's picture

I have these triggers, but I can't get the hss to work! I have the yn568iii so that should be compatible. Does anyone have any ideas where I might be going wrong?

Jason Vinson's picture

If it's nikon you have to turn it on in the camera settings.

James Frank's picture

It's canon, and I think it's on in the camera settings? Thank you for your reply

Yes, it's on the camera flash settings. HSS is there to activate, i've got the menu on my EOS 500D and my EOS 6D. Both are compatible with the triggers and both can do HSS.