For photographers on a budget, Yongnuo’s 460 model
is was a great choice – until the introduction of the Yongnuo YN-460 Mark II.
The YN-460 offers everything that you need for manual operation in a package of acceptable (some say ‘very good’) quality at a bargain price, and it’s available new from eBay for around 40 USD.
In addition, it’s rather small size, almost exactly the same as the SB-600 from Nikon.
Manual power goes down to 1/64, too. Triggering is no problem via the single pin on the flash foot. And there is no trouble with standby.
What you don’t get is a zoom feature on the flash head, and there is no PC port either, but the fans of the 460 can easily live with the limitations (and yes, I am one of them!).
Off-Camera Flash Must-Haves
- manual mode
- has manual mode: yes
- minimum manual power: 1/64
- all full stops from 1/1 to 1/64: yes
- X contact firing: yes
- flash standby mode: fixed 60 mins
Triggering is easy via the flash foot, which features a locking pin compatible with Nikon and Canon cameras. It also comes with a mini stand with a pin hole.
The flash has been reported to work with about any radio trigger out there, I’ve been using Cactus V4 as well as Yongnuo 602 myself without any problem (it has been reported to work with V2s triggers, CTR-301 in addition), As this is a rather newly designed flash unit, there are no concerns about excessive voltage.
In addition, the flash has an optical slave sensor built in with 2 different modes – one normal = ‘dumb’ slave mode and another one that ignores pre-flash. With this, people have been able to integrate their 460′s into wireless CLS setups. The positioning of that sensor
is was inside the flash head for the first generation of Yongnuo 460′s, but it has been moved under the red cover resembling an AF assist screen on the front side. The optical slave works OK indoors, but not under bright ambient light.
For manual mode, just press the ‘Mode’ button until the ‘M’ LED lights up. With the controller button, dial up or down from 1/64 to full power – the whole procedure is super fast and easy. There are only full stops available though. A little downside here is that the flash always goes down to minimum power if switched off and on again or if you change the mode – there is no memory of the current output level. At least it goes to the minimum setting rather then having full power as a default.
The YN460 actually has a standby feature. Some people say it’s 30 minutes, my leaflet states it is set to 60 minutes, so no matter what it really is this should never interfere with your shooting, even considering the fact it can not be altered or switched off. The power switch itself is a bit of an annoyance for some, as you have to keep pressing it for 3 seconds in order to turn the strobe on or off.
This is the category where the others shine. There is no zoom feature on the YN460, neither motorized nor manually. The angle of coverage is fixed at around 35mm as it looks like (the instruction manual does not talk about this, it only specifies 18mm with the wide angle diffuser.
With my 12-24 lens at the wide setting and a DX cam, I was able to get full coverage with the diffuser confirming the 18mm coverage. Without diffuser, only at 35 (24 DX) there was really even light across the whole frame. To make up for the missing zoom head, there are certainly other options to control the beam, e.g. through snoots or grids, but the flash itself does not gain power that way opposed to real zooming flash units. The head itself can be swiveled 270 degrees, and tilted up by 90.
Older v1 models of the YN460 start tilting at zero degrees and go to +90, whereas my newer one (bought in early 2010) also goes down to a -10 degrees “macro shooting” position – which means it aims better at the center of my shoot-thru umbrellas when mounted on a swivel adapter on a light stand.
The guide number is specified as 33 at ISO 100 without talking about a specific focal length, which let’s us assume that this is the guide number at 35mm, as there is no zoom anyway. This seems quite optimistic, as it would be even a bit stronger as a Nikon SB-600 in that case which is not true. I’ve tested the 460 now against a Nikon SB-600 as well as other flashes now and can confirm that it is not stronger, but about a third stop weaker than the Nikon.
The calculated guide number of the YN460, derived from light meter tests against other speedlights, is 28 at the default 35mm reflector setting, and for ISO 100, expressed in meters. More details will be published in an upcoming in-depth review.
Flash duration at full power is specified as 1/800 in the manual (which is just a leaflet), and recycle time with AA batteries is rather slow at around 9 seconds at full power with alkaline batteries, which is clearly longer than the 5 seconds mentioned in the leaflet. I just re-tested recycle time with freshly charged Sanyo eneloop NiMH rechargeables and got 5 seconds. At half power or lower, the situation is much less annoying though and recycle time is really not an issue.
The Yongnuo takes 4 AA batteries or rechargables, and – not surprisingly – there is no external battery pack available. Many people complain about the flimsiness of the battery cover attachment, but I have not read any report yet about a broken off door, so it seems to hold up better than it looks.
i-TTL / E-TTL
There is no dedicated Canon or Nikon version of this flash unit. The YN460 has just one single pin on the flash foot for the X-contact, so there is no TTL in any form, no i-TTL, no E TTL (II), and certainly there is also no Nikon AWL / CLS support for wireless i-TTL nor is there support for the corresponding Canon solution for wireless E TTL. If you want a Yongnuo with TTL, you should go for a YN465, the YN467 or a YN468.
Yongnuo from China entered the scene pretty recently, but made a great debut with its YN460 flash, which is now available as a mark II version, the YN460-II. Apart from another manual model, the YN462, the company entered the TTL market with its YN465 and YN467 models. With the RF-602 line they offer very reliable radio triggers as well.
Full Tech Specs
Click her for the instruction manual of the YN460. Please note that not all information there is updated, i.e. the data published in the table below differs in some areas where I noted or measured different specs. Recycle time for example is slower in real life with alkaline batteries (not with NiMH).
|Guide number spec
(35mm, ISO 100, in meters)
|Guide number test result||28|
|Manual power settings||1/1 – 1/2 – 1/4 – 1/8 – 1/16 – 1/32 – 1/64|
|Flash duration (full power)||1/800|
|Recycle time spec
(at full power)
|5 sec alkaline|
|Recycle time test result||9 sec alkaline, 5 sec NiMH|
|Flash foot material, type||metal (2011), standard|
|PC Sync Port||no|
|Optical Slave||2 modes (1 w/ pre-flash suppresion)|
|Trigger Voltage||3.31 V (measured)|
|Standby Mode||fixed 60 mins|
|Flash Head Features|
|Swivel||-180 to +90 degrees|
|Tilt||-10 (older models: 0) to +90 degrees|
|Manual Zoom Head||(18) 35mm fixed|
|Auto Zoom||(18) 35mm fixed|
|Bounce card / 2nd reflector||yes / no|
|Batteries Used||4 x AA|
|External Power Source||no|
|CLS Wireless Slave||no|
|CLS Wireless Master||no|
|E-TTL(II) wireless slave||no|
|E-TTL(II) wireless master||no|
|Other Flash Modes|
|AF Assist Light||no|
|Exposure Compensation in TTL Mode on the Flash unit||no|
|Rear Curtain Synchronization||yes|
|High Speed Synchronization||no|
|Sensor Size Detection (DX, FX, etc)||no|