Yongnuo YN-560 vs YN-460-II (Manual Flashes)

Yongnuo 560 Frontal Viewvs 460IIUpdate from November 16, 2011: expected for December release is a new, upgraded YN560-II model with LCD display and other upgrades. Learn more.

The Yongnuo YN-560 as the first model within the 56x line is a fully manual flashgun – like the 460 and the 460 II. After looking at the manual mode operation of YN560 and Canon 580EX II this post here now compares the newcomer with the existing top model, the YN-460-2.

As of today, the YN-460-II is still the most powerful strobe in the Yongnuo lineup: it is specified with a guide number of 38 (meters, 35mm coverage, ISO 100) whereas all other models have GN 33 (at least on paper, it is lower in real life). But like the other models it is a member of the same line of speedlites, the 46x line.

With the discovery / announcement of the new YN-560 we see the start of a second line of pro flashes from Shenzhen Yongnuo Photo Equipment. Think SB-900 vs. SB-600 or 580EX vs 430EX: with the “pro” model comes usually more power, external ports for PC sync and battery packs, over-sized flash head with bigger zoom range, a better build quality and other additional features.

YN-560 a lot bigger than YN460-II

What you see here below is a composing, not an actual photo taken with the 2 flashes in the same frame (look at the slight differences in color tone, sharpness and perspectives e.g). But you still see photos of a YN-560 on the left and of the YN-460-II on the right side. I scaled the latter one to a size where the screw lock wheels on the flash feet have exactly the same size. If the assumption is true that this part has remained unchanged (and it looks identical on this and other photos) then we have here a correct representation of the sizes of the 2 models in comparison. Quite a big one, the newbie!

Yongnuo YN-560 vs YN-460-II Size Comparison

Guide numbers compared

The new YN560 is the first Yongnuo speedlite I know of with a guide number table in the instruction manual: it says there that guide number (all at ISO 100, in meters) is:

  • 28 at 24mm reflector position
  • 30 at 28mm
  • 39 at 35mm
  • 42 at 50mm
  • 50 at 70mm
  • 58 at 105mm

As a comparison, YN-460-II has a guide number of 38 meters with its fixed 35mm flash head. So at the 35mm zoom position the two units should be very close in terms of the maximum output. At 105mm however the YN560 will be clearly stronger with its GN of 58 versus the incumbent that is unable to zoom (thus still has GN 38 then). The same should apply for 24mm: if the zoom reflector is working well then the 560 will outperform 460 mk2 again.

Improvements over the 46x line

Looking now at the intrinsic values we can start to collect a list of changes and improvements to be found in the new YN-560 versus the 460 mk2 (this is using data from the Yongnuo site and a beta version of the handbook):

  • new and bigger casing
    a bigger flash head means better ventilation and less heat build-up but the whole thing is now 1 or 2 sizes bigger than the 46x line, which I found ideal in size.
  • zooming flash head
    the zoom on the 560 has now a wide range of 24-105mm, and it extends down to 18mm with the wide angle diffuser. Previously, only YN-468 had a zoom reflector with manual override and a range of 24/85mm. 460 mk2 has fixed flash head at 35mm plus wide angle diffuser with 18mm coverage.
  • PC sync socket
    more choices and flexibility for triggering, and ability for direct mounting on the light stand, closer to the center of the umbrella. But no mini phone jack as you get on a LumoPro.
  • external power socket
    I’ve seen that Yongnuo has been offering external power packs for Canon and Nikon flashes for a while and never paid much attention to it. But it certainly makes sense to construct a socket into your own units too if you’re offering both battery packs and speedlites. The socket looks identical to the one on the 580EX mk2 and it will use the SF-17C and SF-18C power backs in the Canon version
  • improved optical slave modes
    Yongnuo state that the optical slave modes have a better range (30m indoors) and are also practically usable outdoors now (up to 15m range).
  • memory for last settings
    this was already implemented on the YN-468 although not written into the handbook. Now it is an official feature, at least if this is what means: “automatic setting saving: YN560 can automatically save your current setting”. Think remembering the current zoom range even when powering off and on again, or the last power output level.
  • 8 step manual power setting down to 1/128
    again, extended range like on YN-468, nice to see. For me 1/64 is what I want to see personally, but further down is even better. There will be 1/8 steps in between for fine tuning of the output level e.g. between 1/2 and 1/4, not 1/3 or 1/2 steps as are normally used in the field. A future model with LCD screen interface will have third steps again, I’m like 100% sure about that!
  • improved recycle time over YN-460 II:
    it is stated that recycle time is 3 seconds with alkaline batteries for 560 versus the 4 seconds I find in the 460 mk2 manual. My own 460-II tests showed 3.8 seconds with alkaline batteries and 2.0 seconds with NiMH, we’ll see how the YN-560 compares here.
  • optional beep signal ..
    ..to indicate full recycle and ready to fire. Nice feature, but given the fast recycle plus optional power pack maybe a bit unnecessary. The acoustic signal would have been nice on a slow strobe like the original YN460 (taking 9 long seconds to recharge its capacitor).
  • locking button for flash head
    there seems to be a button now to unlock the flash head for tilt and swivel action. On the 46x line this was done without pressing buttons, and it worked really well despite a lot of skepticism in the beginning. I was not missing the lock on the flash head, it’s actually more of a pain to have one for me.

Yongnuo YN-560 back panel

Specs compared for YN-560 and YN-460-II

Update: The data in the following table is now based on the instruction manual data.

Model information
Brand Yongnuo Yongnuo
Model YN560 YN460-II
First introduction 2010 2009
Successor none yet none yet
Output specs
Guide Number (m) 39 38
Manual Power Settings 1/1 – 1/2 – 1/4 – 1/8 – 1/16 – 1/32 – 1/64 – 1/128 1/1 – 1/2 – 1/4 – 1/8 – 1/16 – 1/32 – 1/64
Flash duration (full power) 1/200 1/800
Recycle time specified
(full power)
3 sec alkaline 4 sec alkaline
Recycle time measured
(full power)
3.4 sec alkaline, 1.6 sec NiMH 3.8 sec alkaline, 2.0 sec NiMH
Flash head features
Swivel -180 to +90 degrees -180 to +90 degrees
Tilt -7 to +90 degrees -10 (older models: 0) to +90 degrees
Manual zoom head (18) 24-105 (18) 35mm fixed
Motor zoom no (18) 35mm fixed
2nd reflector no no
LCD display no no
Standard flash foot standard standard ISO
PC Synch Port yes no
Optical Slave 2 modes (1 w/ pre-flash suppresion) 2 modes (1 w/ pre-flash suppresion)
Other trigger no no
Trigger voltage 3.25 V (measured) 3.26 V (measured)
Standby mode can be adjusted (30 mins max) 4 min fixed, but instant wake-up
Power supply
Batteries used 4 x AA 4 x AA
External power source Yongnuo SF-18C or SF-17C no


On-camera features

Both models are not really designed as dedicated accessory shoe flash units, but they can be used that way if you’re fine with shooting in manual mode. There are no differences when it comes to using these 2 strobes mounted on a camera – unless anything surprising should be discovered once we hold the new YN-560 in our hands.

Model information
Brand Yongnuo Yongnuo
Model YN560 YN460-II
First introduction 2010 2009
Successor none yet none yet
Nikon TTL
D-TTL no no
i-TTL no no
CLS wireless slave no no
CLS wireless master no no
Canon TTL
E-TTL no no
E-TTL II no no
E-TTL(II) wireless slave no no
E-TTL(II) wireless master no no
Other flash modes
Stroboscopic mode no no
Auto mode no no
Camera support
AF assist light no no
Exposure compensation in TTL mode on the flash unit no no
Rear curtain synchronization yes; most probably not working with Canon cameras yes
High speed synchronization no no
Sensor size detection (DX, FX, etc) no no
Modeling light no no
More information
full review YN560 YN460-II


Compared To ..

Read on to learn more about:
Yongnuo YN-560 review (updated May 2011)
Yongnuo YN-460 Mark II review (updated May 2011)

Where to buy YN-560

The YN-560 will be available on eBay first, either in the manufacturer store “hkyongnuophotoequipment” or from other eBay sellers. Search for the new YN-560 and other Yongnuo flash models on eBay!

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2 Responses to Yongnuo YN-560 vs YN-460-II (Manual Flashes)

  1. Simon May says:

    I have both the 460II and the 560. I like them both but find the 560 is more practical due to its larger size. When I’m using them in a ebay softbox I find the 460 doesn’t clear the brackets used to mount the flash and softbox. The 560 is much easier to mount and the flash head fits into the softbox much better giving a better picture results.

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