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Cheap Chinese Flash Gun / Speedlight.


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I needed to buy an on camera flash for some work I am doing.

I really don't like these on camera things even though they are all the rage now with people that think manually setting an apeture and shutter speed value on their camera and flash is too difficult. My 25+ y/o Metz hammer heads do me just fine but unfortunately, are too big for the underwater bags I'm using.

I couldn't bring myself to paying $600 for the genuine canon units having used them before and being particularly unimpressed with them. I heard about these Chinese Things and read some good Reviews. The place I have bought some other cheap studio lighting gear from Which has all been excellent) had a special on them so I picked one up for $160 to give it a go.

The brand Is Yongnuo and the flash is their top of the line, Blow your nose, wipe your backside, E-TTL yada yada ripoff of canons original. The Yongnuo is YN565EX Which is compatible with the Canon 580EX and the Nikoff SB900.

I have only played around the house with the 565 over the last few days but to say I am impressed with the thing is a huge understatement.

The light quality that comes out of this thing is the best I have ever seen on a portable unit and that includes the Uber exy and somewhat rare Quantum Q series units.

While a lot of on camera flashes produce harsh edged shadows and have a very rapid light fall off, these things Illuminate beautifuly. The foreground subject is perfectly lit ( much better than any canon unit I have used by a country mile!) and the backgrounds stay detailed for meters behind as well. This is in stark contrast to the canon units which are harsh and have terrible fall off.

The colour balance of the 565 is also the best I have ever seen. It's dead neutral. All the canon units I have used have been blue as hell and take a custom white balance in the camera to make them look something like they should.

I also find with every canon unit I have used the actual exposure the things put out needs to have compensation dialed in to get the images right.

The Yonguno is spot on exposure and colour balance wise straght out of the box.

They of course have the normal swivel and bounce and the built in flip down wide angle diffuser and white bounce card but even straight out of the head, the quality of the output is fantastic!

They are very much like the Canon/ Nikoff units in look, layout and features. They even have the wireless remote/ auto feature that allows TTL sync with other units.

I think the wireless is the same as the canon system and only an infra red setup that isn't worth a pinch in daylight but I guess that's why they make Pocket Wizzards. The battery life is quoted as low as 100 flashes which would of course be full dumps but it does have the external battery terminal that allows you to run from 12 batteries instead of 4.

The battery life is quoted as Alakalines so if using Nickel metals you should do a bit better.

Recycle time for a flat dump is 3 seconds which the unit seems to do easily even with NiMh cells with quite a few frames on them already. The Flash is also compatible with a Quantum turbo battery which would have full recylce coming in at 1 sec or less.

Pretty much the 565's do everything the OEM units do but at a fraction of the price.

I don't know how well these things will last but the canon units certainly aren't without their reliability issues amoung others. If the quality of the compents on the 565 is as good as the quality of the light output, these things will become redundant long before they wear out.

Chinese stuff always has a stigma to it but I have to say I'm fast getting over that thanks to products like this.

The parameter I always used to put on cheaper alternatives is dividing the price of the original by the knockoffs and then asking if X units will last as long as the one original. At the price these things go for, they are a bargain for sure and I get the feeling are probably just as good quality wise.

Performance wise, they are a light that would justify a $600 price tag as far as I'm concerned and the canons would be more accurately price pointed at 160 bux.

It should also be remembered that the Canon units have been far from trouble free. There have been a lot of problems with these things over time and I seem to remember at least one recall/ free repair being issued on them.

I suspect if they had the Yongnu name on them they would be labeled as crap but because they are canon and are associated with a quality brand and the marketing influence behind it, the flaws get over looked or passed off as unusual. From what I know and have experienced, issues with the Canons are not that unusual at all.

I have tried the thing on my good camera's as well as the toy ones and it works perfectly on both and is fully compatible. You can ajust the custom functions of the flash through the camera which I find easier than trying to work out the symbols on the flash LCD.

Along with the flash I also got a cheap little softbox/ diffuser that goes over the head and is secured with a bit of elastic strap and velcro. I have borrowed one from a mate and was highly impressed with it on the canon 580 which personally I would never pay $600 for. It improved the light output on the canon dramatically and softens an already great illumination on the Yongnuo. Indoors, the output is almost shadowless.

The ONLY complaint I have about these units is the name. Trying to pronounce it is the only thing I don't like about them. :P

For anyone that wants an on camera flash for general ( or Pro) use, I'd highly reccomend the Yongnuo 565.

You can bolt the things on and they are ready to go or you can get up to your eyeballs in the custom functions, wireless TTL setups and more.

The price is unbeatable, The quality of the light out put probably is as well and certainly the best I have seen from an on camera light and it has every feature you could want including full compatability with the canon units.

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Thanks for the comprehensive review (on a 4wd forum no less - I keep telling people that it's a myth that we're all uncultured rednecks!!).

I'd been tossing up between this one an a Nissin unit for a D300 Nikon. The old Sunpak hammerhead (with a voltage reducer) I've been using is good for output but doesn't swivel.

The price of the Canon/Nikon units is ridiculous.

Where did you buy it?


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I bought mine at Hypop

They are available at plenty of places though they seem to be selling like hotcakes. No surprises why that is!

I agree with you on the price of the canon units. The thing is the Metz speedlights are about the same price but they are worth it to me where the canons are not.

I must have used 6-7 different canon 580s given that they have all been borrowed and I wouldn't pay what I did for the yongnuo for one. I remember ringing the guy I borrowed the first one I used from and asking him about the settings as I couldn't figure out where I was going wrong. After he confirmed I had set it right ( which was intutive) I described the poor quality image too him and he said that's what they always look. Other units have been the same and required manual tweaking to get them to something acceptable for me.

I was looking at a 54 metz and would have probably bought one of those if the 565 didn't turn out to be any chop. Even though I'm a terrible cheap tightarse, it's not the price of the canons that gets me, it's the fact the things are pieces of crap as far as I'm concerned. Like I said. if the yongnuo performed like the canon, Id say well you get what you pay for and there you go. The fact that the cheap knockoff Chits all over the original they ask 3 times more for is what gets me.

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I looked at the cheap imitations but decided to go with a genuine 580ex 11 as I didn't want to buy 2wice... Knowing I could buy 4 of these compared to one 580 or 600 flash I might give one a try next time I buy a flash as I've been thinking I need another 1 or 2...

now if only quality glass was this cheap...

Which body you use glort???

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I have 7d's, a 600 40, 30, and some 20s lying around somewhere.

The 7's are great, was going to buy another but I think I'll wait for the 8 or I might get myself a 1DX just as a play toy and so I can play the penis compensation game so many other shooters place such importance on.

Camera that expensive would be too good to flog out with work related stuff though. Thats what Disposeable toy camera's like 600's come into their own for.

I looked at the 600 flash on Tuesday when I was in town and wasn't real impressed. Also not inclined to get something that has the same flaws as the 580 especialy for the price. Like you say, you can buy 4 yongnuos for the price of a canon 600. No brainer to me and even if you do have to buy twice, at that price so what? Youd still have the ability to do a lot more wth 4 units than you can with one and lets face it, half the features or more on the 600 are designed to work with other overpriced 600's and are useless on their own.

I bought an entire 4 head 300W studio monoblock setup for $500 last year ( maybe I should do a review on that too?) and with an inverter and a car battery, I have a setup that no speedlight could match the output on or the ability to use the range of modifers. To do that sort of thing with the 600 speedlights, you'd be closer to $3K than 2 by the time you bought stands, softboxes and all the other stuff that came in the $500 kit.


The cheapie studio kit was for doing outside work to savemy elinchroms getting knocked about and it's been great.

good light quality output, came with every thing you could need and so far the only failure is a lightstand I trod on and made the pressed in spogot fall out on. cut 2 inches off the top of the stand, beltedthe spigot back in and drilled a hole to pin the spigot to the stand tube. It will never come out again.

The idea of buying 4 of the 600 canon flashes to do onsite strobist work to me is bloody poor business management.

That said, with the yongnuos, it's a hell of a lot more feasable.

For me the Yongnuos may allow me to light up the indoor pools I do the underwater work in. I could easy mount them on a wall or off a window etc for overall or background lighting and to allow faster recycle times for high frame rate work.

The pool management and OH&S people would chit a kidney if I even asked about putting mains powered units in there or running leads.

Then again, might be bloody good sport to see their reactions if I did ask though!

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Just a thought....

Ive been finding over the years that chinese gear usually fails due to corrosion, especially of the instrument quality stuff. Inside and out. So I reckon storing things like lenses and the like, in airtight moisture proof containers (some kind of absorbent material or balls like medicine canisters have) might make them last longer.

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  • 2 months later...

Just thought I'd update this thread to give some feedback on how this thing is going.

In summation, Bloody Brilliant.

I have been flogging the guts out of the poor thing all week doing underwater work and it hasn't missed a beat. I have a couple of LED torched duct taped to the side of the thing adding to the strain of the bag it's in. I was worried about snapping the hotshoe as I always seem to do on these things but I then noticed it's metal and seems plenty thick as well.

The underwater work seems to upset the E-TTL a bit but I just wond the flash down a bit with the over ride that maintains auto operation but at the redusced output dialed in and it's fine. I thought the colourbalance underwater was off but then realised it's just the reflected light in the crappy place i'm at.

I bought an cheapo Chinese accessory battery pack that takes an additional 8 Cells giving a total of 12. The jury is still out on this thing. I have noticed that the batteries in the flash are nearly rooted while the ones in the pack only seem to have the top taken off them so I'm not sure about the way this works. There is a function on the camera where I should be aboe to tell the flash to draw from the internal or external batteries but that dosen't seem to work so I'm assuming this is where a cost saving on the pack is made.

I Paid $30 delivered from the land of Who flung dung The canons are about 180 I believe. A mate has a couple, I believe these are both cheapies but I'll have a look and compare. I think I have used his more than mine so he may not know how they work either. I might sus a freindly camera store salesman out about them and Might end up with the genuine one yet.

I also bought the cheapo Chinese Battery grip for my 600. I got the grip which has a nice little LCD clock and timer built in ( additional to the OEM grip which has nothing) 2 batterys rated higher then the OEM ones and a infra red remote delivered for $47.

These have all worked perfectly as well. I thought the batteries might just be over reated with a number based more on fantasy than reality but they do seem to outlast the OEMS. This is the same as knockoffs I have bought which lasted longer in the camera and years longer in serviceable life thanthe OEM's.

I literally have more work than I can handle coming up so I'll be buying at least one new complete outfit, probably 2.

This time I'll get the new 650D as there a few things on that which might be handy for the work I'm doing, another youngnuo flash and probably a spare as well in case of physical damage, a grip, battery pack ( genuine or non remains to be seen) and all the other crap like a bag, rechargeable batterys, batt charger, a dozen cards etc.

I'm also looking at some new wide lenses but haven't decided on those yet. there are a few choices for what I want from Canon and sigma/ tokina. Probably go for a prime 24 or 28 as I need big Depth of field, fast speed and I'm limited on front element size.

The biggest risk I might take is a Chinese waterproof bag. The Genuine one I'm using is about $600. The chinese knockoff is under $150. The bag is getting used about 7 hours a day so I don't think they will last more than a few months due to sheer wear and tear.

From the photos I have seen the china ripoff is frighteningly similar to the original, absoloute baltent riposs. It's that closely copied. I can always throw and old body in it, sink it to the bottom for a couple of hours and see if it's dry when it comes up. If they are good, The chinaman may get his first order for half a dozen of the things!

I also did something I have never heard of before or the distributor.

I bought a PALLET load of A4 Photo paper. 27,000 sheets. There will probably be another ordered before years end as that one won't be quite enough to get me through the work I have lined up and I'm getting sooo many people ringing ME now and having to put them off to next year I don't think the 2nd lot will go far.

I had to ring back to chase them up. They said they would ring me back and never did. When I chased them up, after talking to the guy for a minute he went quiet and then said " You are serious aren't you?"

I said Fk yeah!, I need this stuff, I'm more than happy to pay up front if you want but don't leave me in the lurch with it. Then he did get back to me and all sorted now.

I wonder if Canon has ever sold 15 printers to anyone before that wasn't a shop or for a group of offices?


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