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Is The Yongnuo YN560-II As Good As The Nikon SB-80DX?

December 19th, 2012

PFRE readers that are polishing their multiple off-camera flash technique know from reading Scott Hargis’s eBook or watching his video series, or just hanging out in the PFRE flickr group, that even though Nikon discontinued the SB-80dx flash late in 2003 this flash is still the most used manual flash by real estate photographers. It’s popular because it has really sensitive built-in optical slave triggers, it’s reliable and they are easy to purchase online. You can almost always find a SB-80dx or two at keh or ebay or even Amazon. The only problem is that the demand for these little buggers are driving the price up! A couple of years ago you could easily get one for $130. Nowadays the going price is more like $170 and I’ve heard some say they’ve paid over $200 for a SB-80dx.

Yongnuo has been working at making a SB-80dx like flash for quite a while now. The YN560 (circa 2010) came close but as David Hobby explains it had some reliability, build quality and interface issues. Yongnuo engineers must have read David’s post because in late 2011 they brought out an improved version, the YN560-II. Here’s a review of it. And here is another.

I just got a YN560-II to see how it compares to the SB-80dx. On the surface, to me it looks pretty comparable feature wise, even though it is less than half the price ($82 at Amazon) of a SB-80dx. Of course the key question is the YN560-II as reliable as the SB-80dx. I don’t know, I haven’t had mine long enough to tell. The questions is how has Yongnuo done with their quality control? If it’s as reliable, the YN560-II could save a bunch of money!

I would like to hear from readers using the YN560-II. Have you found of any problems with this flash. So far, I haven’t. This kind of question is better answered by the experience of a large group. Anyone out there using this flash? Leave us a comment.

 

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22 Responses to “Is The Yongnuo YN560-II As Good As The Nikon SB-80DX?”

  • I did exactly this. After reading Scott Hargis’s eBook in August this year, I purchased four Yongnou YN-560-II for real estate photography. I’m a Canon shooter and so an used SB-80 wouldn’t be my first choice anyway (I know that it would work fine even with Canon in manual mode). I already owned the first model (YN560 without LCD panel) since about two years and it still works very well. The new model with build in LCD panel is a huge step ahead and the flash is easy to set up, to use and reliable so far. I’m also using my Yongnuo flash guns in event and wedding photography and I’m not afraid to power them with an external battery pack for continuous firing (which I would be with my $700 Canon 600EX-RT).
    Together with my two Canon 600EX-RT I’m happy with my set of seven flashes now. For wireless triggering the flashes I prefer Phottix Strato II transceivers where I can easily switch on and off single flashes from the sender on the camera hot shoe. Don’t buy the Yongnuo wirelss transmitters even they are cheap. You can’t switch them on and off while the flashgun is mounted on top which was a pain in my butt all the time I used them.

    Sorry for my poor English.

    Regards,
    Andreas (Germany)

  • Hey Larry,

    I have 4 of them and use them on every shoot. Build quality is on par with my 580EXII’s (which don’t even come out of the bag now) and they are very consistent. Optical slave is very convenient, and I only radio slave one of them. For the price ($75), it was a no-brainer. I’ll let you know if I have any issues, but they are a fantastic value for me.

    Thanks!

  • I have used them and have been happy. I have “worn” a few out. I just ordered one of these a couple of months ago and was extremely happy with the performance and long battery life. I purchased 3 more. http://www.ebay.com/itm/TT520-Flash-For-Canon-EOS-60D-500D-450D-600D-550D-1100D-5D-II-1000D-7D-40D-50D-/121001567427?pt=Digital_Camera_Flashes&hash=item1c2c4164c3

  • Love the Yonguno 560II just picked up 3 of them. I have 2 LP-160s as well and boy I wish I had bought another 4 of these instead of 2 of those. The build quality is better and the features are better. Thank goodness they stopped making the LP-160 and I was forced to switch I had no idea what I was missing. The only thing it doesn’t have that the LP has is the 3.5mm port which would be nice but I’m fine without it, for the 50% price savings its more than worth it. The built in diffuser and bounce card will also come in handy for non RE work. I just wish it didn’t have the 10 minute auto shut off, and I wish you didn’t have to hold the power button for so long to turn it on.

  • I currently have 10 of the MKI version that I’ve been using since February – before I got the Yongnuo’s I had a 580EX II and a 430EX II. I have nothing but praise for this speedlight! They recycle time is amazing – about 1 second (using eneloop batteries) after a 1/1 pop. The optical triggers are reliable 98% of the time and they just plain kick ass. I wouldn’t consider any other flash for the price.

  • I have 2 YN-560 and 2 YN-560II and could not be happier. Physically they appear almost identical to the Canon 580EXII. I use them virtually everyday and have not had a problem. The optical sensor appears to be as good as the SB-80dx. I have 3 SB-80dx and the only time they come out anymore is when I need more than 5 lights. I also have an N-Flash which I use for my main light.

    @ supraman – If you hold down the sound button for more than 2 seconds you can turn on and off the power saving mode. When the power saving mode is off the indicator below the pilot light will be on. With the power saving mode off the flash stays on until I turn it off…..or the batteries die.

  • I love the Yongnuo YN-560-II. I bought one a few months ago, preparing for RE shooting. It also works great in Slave Mode outdoors as well. A few weeks ago, I also purchased the Yongnuo YN-565EX ETTL Speedlite to give me a few more options. My first 565 was a dud [someone else had sent it back and the company put it back on the shelf and sent to me]; but the 2nd copy came and so far has proved to be very good. These are very good flashes and I highly recommend them.

  • I have 3 YN-560’s and have been extremely happy with their performance for the past year. Since then I bought a YN-565 for the ttl function and it has also performed flawlessly. A couple months ago I bought 2 YN-560-II’s and they are much improved over the older model. At the time I got them for $69.95 at Amazon. I see they went up to 80 something. They’re still worth the price at $100.00 easily.

  • I just picked up two YN-560’s and am still working on getting them to work dependably with my 580EX-II triggering optically from my 7D. I believe putting the YN-560’s in S1 mode is necessary for them to ignore the pre-flash from the 7D for the 580EX-II. So I think I’ve got it figured out now, just haven’t had any practical experience with them yet, hopefully on Saturday. So far I really like the simplicity of them. I just like being able to run up and push left or right to change the power and that’s it! Done! For $50 each this is the best money I’ve ever spent for photo equipment.

  • I picked up a YN560-II for some corporate headshots and the only issue I have found thus far is the output and recycle time. I have noticed that even with a set of 4 Duracells after a short while the flash needs longer to recycle in between photos. If I don’t wait those few extra seconds (I’m not going crazy here with rapid fire sequences like a fashion shoot!) I find the the light output is not 100% consistent (slightly lower light output, noticeable in portraits). RE interiors dont need short recycle times but if you’re doing RE headshots for an agency, invest in an external battery pack for faster recharge times.

  • I am a convert to the YN560IIs as well. For the price, you really will have a hard time finding a better value. From my personal experience, the optical triggers are not as sensitive as the Nikon SBs but for non-critical tasks they do work just fine. I also notice that the recycle time is not as fast as other strobes but again, for the money, its a perfectly acceptable trade-off.

  • I bought a YN-560II to replace an SB-80dx that didn’t survive a wind gust and marble floor. The YN-560II has been a solid performer in it’s place for the past 6 months. I use it along with 6 other SB-80’s and I’ve noticed it uses up the batteries faster than my Nikons. Maybe 20% faster. Noticeable but, not a problem. It makes good light and the price is excellent. I’ll definitely buy more as needed.

  • Not to go off track, but I went even more low budget with the Neewer TT560 for $45 a piece. Except for the two that I’ve dropped and broken they’ve worked out just fine. Sure they’ve got even fewer bells and whistles, but the results have been just fine and they’re so cheap they’re practically expendable.

  • I picked up a 560 II a couple months ago and have been really happy with the build quality, power output, and recycle time, but the biggest difference/disappointment to me is the difference in color temperature. Hasn’t anyone else noticed this? The three 560 II’s I’ve used (mine and two friends) have all been MUCH cooler color temp than my Canon flashes, where I’m using a 1/8th or 1/4 CTO just to match it to daylight or to the Canons.

    Maybe it’s a quality control issue, has anyone else noticed the Yongnuo is 400-600K off in white balance/color temp?

  • I recently tried out a family members YN-560. I was impressed for the price. The optical slave works great at a pretty good distance. For the price, I’m going to get a few of them.

  • Thanks for all the great feedback on the YN-560-II, this makes a great compilation of data on the YN-560-II for people that are thinking about purchasing this flash.

    @Dylan- Be sure to get the YN560-II. The YN560 is still being sold but the -II is much improved.

  • Glad to hear all the positive feedback. I just sold one of my Canon 550ex and bought two of these flashes. They should be arriving in a week or so. Can’t wait to try them out! Great idea for a post Larry!

  • I’m a little late to the party, but does anyone take issue with the idea that they cloned the 580exii shell? I think it’s reasonable to assume that Canon didn’t sell them the design. As creators of intellectual property ourselves, I think it’s something to consider when we’re deciding who to purchase from.

  • @Joshua – I wouldn’t consider it a clone of the 580EXII. If you hadn’t mentioned it, I would never of noticed the similarity. There are a lot of similarities but my 580EX (the older one… not the II) has a much higher quality finish to it. The dimensions are not identical and there’s a lot about the buttons that are different.

  • @Larry – Thanks for the input. Having not held the Yongnuo myself, I’m going off of the reviews I’ve read and photos I’ve seen. There are obvious differences, such as the Canon dial vs the Yongnuo pad, but I see enough similarities, casing/shell only, to my 580exii, that I’m not convinced it’s coincidence. Here are some comparison photos I found by searching “yn560ii vs 580exii”:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/arakus/6838760988/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/arakus/6838757056/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/arakus/6838759522/

  • @Joshua – Now that you posted the links to the comparison photos, I see that the 580EXII looks more like the YN-560II than the older 580EX that I have. Yea, it’s certainly no accident that the look the same but I don’t see any big advantage that this gives Yongnuo to look like a Canon 580EXII. I would think everyone buys these things based on price and how they work. I could be wrong but this seems different than Samsung making a cellphone that looks identical to a iPhone.

  • I have used two of these for a while now along with 580EX II. Works just great as long as I use them with radio trigger, but they do not get to be working with optical trigger.

    If I set them firering with the optical sensor, it works with strength untill 1/4. If I go to a higher strength than this, so it seems as if the flash fires too late.

    Tested in both the S1 and S2 mode.

    Is there anyone who has done something similar?

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