Until November 2011, the Yongnuo YN-468 was the latest addition to the Yongnuo 46-x flash lineup and their 6th model overall.
It is a “strobist” flash (visit strobist.com) with a manual mode down to 1/128 (a first for Yongnuo) and the 2 optical slave modes from its precursors, but it is above all an E-TTL(II) flash that works together with Canon DSLR camera bodies – e.g. the Rebel series – for automatic flash exposure, zoom reflector adjustment and other advanced features.
Comparable speedlites from Canon are 430EX II and the new 320EX. While the Yongnuo offers the basics you need for automatic flash photography with Canon camera bodies, it can’t fully compete on the feature front with either of them.
And finally, as of August 2011, the new Yongnuo top flash YN-565 EX (Canon version) has been released. It adds the dedicated Canon wireless ETTL (II) slave mode to the feature list, as well as some other features that are less essential to the hobbyist user (e.g. PC sync port and external power option).
This in-depth YN-468 review shows strengths as well as the weaknesses and does hopefully help with making a buying decision. Make sure to also read the comments at the bottom for other opinions and views and join the talk to share your experience.
- the most advanced ETTL speedlite from Yongnuo to date
- featuring ETTL(II), manual mode and even the Multi (stroboscopic) flash mode
- zoom reflector, plus swivel and tilt flash head
- fully usable manual mode flash with min power 1/128
- compatible with radio triggers, plus 2 optical slave modes
YN-468 Review Contents
Canon and Nikon Compatibility
Intro: Flash Modes and Wireless Flash
Build Quality & Features
Flash Head Features
Operation & Ease of Use
Test: Flash Recycling Times
Test: Guide Number
Speedlights.net Power Index
Test: Flash Duration
Tech Specs Table
No Dedicated Remote Slave Mode
Radio Triggering & Optical Slave Mode
AF Assist Beam
E-TTL Performance & Exposure Quality
Flash Sync Modes
Other Flash Features
YN-468 Review Conclusion
Where To Buy
Compatible Camera Bodies
The YN-468 is available only for Canon. For Nikon users, the latest i-TTL flash from Yongnuo is still the YN-467 (also the new YN-565 EX is not available for Nikon as of Sept 1st, 2011).
|Canon cameras||Nikon cameras|
|The Yongnuo YN-468 works with many but not all Canon DSLR camera bodies. Visit the Yongnuo-Canon compatibility page for details and user reports. The flash is not compatible with old film-based cameras (only E-TTL support).||The YN-468 is not available yet in a Nikon version as of May 2011|
Btw: don’t overlook the YN-465, the cheapest way into the world of E-TTL (Canon) or i-TTL (Nikon) shooting at Yongnuo – it’s a simple but very good flash, and actually my favorite among the TTL offers from Shenzhen’s Yongnuo.
Intro: Flash Modes and Wireless Flash
The YN-468 offers 3 flash modes: E-TTL (II), M, and Multi mode for stroboscopic flash (normally not found on other mid-market speedlites).
ETTL / ETTL II Exposure Control
What differentiates the Yongnuo 468 from its cousins YN 460 / YN 460ii and YN 560 is the support of E-TTL (II). It’s only with this additional TTL feature that the camera-flash combination can give you automatically a correct flash exposure for your photos. In contrast, when using a manual-mode-only speedlight you you need to set the appropriate output level by hand (e.g. “1/2″ or “1/16″) – for every shot you take, every time.
The E-TTL mode can be set on the flash. The display just says “TTL” btw, but it’s the E-TTL II version with modern camera bodies (E-TTL II is a camera feature, not a flash feature).
But the flash can be controlled through the camera menu system also (I tested with a Canon 40D as well as Rebel T1i). The “Flash control” menu is not displayed in all camera modes, but e.g. accessible in camera mode “P”. There you have the option between E-TTL II for the YN468 and the two other flash modes described in the next paragraphs.
More details about the YN-468 and E-TTL II can be found in the TTL performance section and following review parts.
Manual Flash Mode M
Manual flash mode can be used to override the E-TTL auto mode and is important for “strobist” photography (visit strobist.com to learn about lighting). While a manual mode is found on all speedlites from Yongnuo, it was improved on the YN-468 in two ways: (1) the minimum setting is now 1/128, which is one stop lower than the 1/64 on other Yongnuo models; and (2) you have all third stops available rather than only the full stops (or 1/7 stops). This is the sequence of available settings:
1/1 — 1/2 +.7 — 1/2 +.3 — 1/2 — 1/4 +.7 … — 1/128 +.3 — 1/128
Setting a manual step is easy: simply use the plus/minus controller for the desired level – no other keys are required. As can be seen from the picture, the battery of LEDs known as “idiot lights” is gone, the power level now can be seen on the LCD screen. Again – as for TTL – you can also adjust the flash from the camera menu which gives you the same range.
Full details about using the Yongnuo 468 in manual mode and with wireless triggers can be found in the wireless flash section further below.
Multi Mode (stroboscopic flash)
Strobo mode is set direct on the flash, or it can also be set on the camera body (tested with Canon 40D and Rebel T1i). The flash allows the following settings for multi mode:
- flash output:
1/128 – 1/64 – 1/32 – 1/16 – 1/8 – 1/4
1 Hz – 50 Hz max
- flash count:
zero – 100 times (depending on the output level)
The camera menu allows even higher values, e.g. for the frequency where up to 199 Hz can be set. But what happens after confirming the value is that the camera menu resets itself and goes back to the maximum value allowed for the YN-468, which are the 50 Hz listed above. The speedlite display automatically takes over the camera value, but this does not work in real time the other way round.
YN-468 As Wireless Flash Intro
Yongnuo’s YN-468 is not compatible with the dedicated optical Canon or Nikon wireless TTL control systems – it can’t be automatically controlled from a compatible camera, or master flash, or a speedlite commander such as the Canon ST-E2 or Nikon SU-800.
But the YN-468 is a good wireless flash when used with radio triggers such as Yongnuo RF-603 or Cactus V4 or V5: it has manual power down to 1/128 with all 1/3 stops in between and a manual zoom reflector 24-85. Another wireless flash option are the 2 built-in optical slave modes “S1″ and “S2″, but their reliability is limited by the ambient light: in bright environments – e.g. on a sunny day – they go blind, so this is more of a studio solution than something you want to rely on. All the use cases described here come with manual output control, so you need to walk up to your flash to dial in the desired output level.
Finally the flash can be used remote with TTL cables and it should also be compatible with TTL radio triggers (please leave me a note if you have experience with TTL transmitters so that I can add the info here).
Read more about wireless flash in the Radio Triggering & Optical Slave Mode sections below.
|Compatible with Canon cameras (E-TTL(II))||yes|
|Supported Canon flash modes||ETTL(II), M, Multi|
|Canon wireless TTL slave / master||no / no|
|Compatible with Nikon cameras (CLS / i-TTL)||na – no Nikon version available|
|Supported Nikon flash modes||M|
|Nikon wireless TTL slave / master||na / na|
|Manual power settings (on the flash)||1/1 – 1/2 – 1/4 – 1/8 – 1/16 – 1/32 – 1/64 – 1/128|
Some flash manufacturers try to save a couple of dollars by bundling their flashes with no other accessories than the instruction manual, e.g. in the case of the Sunpak PZ42X or the Metz 48 AF-1. Yongnuo on the other side ships all of their their speedlites with complete accessories, and the YN-468 is no exception. Contents are very similar to what you get with the YN-460, the YN-465 or YN-467.
Open the box and you will find inside:
- YN-468 flash
- instruction manual in English and Chinese
- soft pouch
- flash stand
- comparison chart
- diffuser / bouncer
The flash unit is packed in an extra plastic bag. It comes without batteries but you will find a bag of silica gel in the battery compartment. On the back LCD panel there is a protective layer of plastic film. Peel it off to reveal the real LCD surface.
The instruction manual is a little booklet with Chinese and English versions. Go here for a scanned version of the YN468 instructions in English language.
The protective bag made from soft cloth will protect your YN-468 from dust and a random drop of water, but it’s not padded so don’t expect it to be a shock-proof container.
The flash stand is of higher quality than you’d expect; it has a hole for a locking pin and a metal tripod thread insert on the bottom.
The Yongnuo flash comparison chart lists some of the official specs of Yongnuo speedlites. I recommend you rather check out the Yongnuo speedlites comparison and guide numbers page – you will find more accurate information there.
Finally there is a good chance you’ll find a bouncer / diffuser in your packaging, however this is not an official part of the packaging list but comes as a ‘free gift’.
All the models in the YN46x series have the the same dimensions and are pretty much the same size as the Nikon SB-600 / SB-700 speedlights and the 430EX mk II from Canon.
The casing is made of thick and solid plastic. The Yongnuo speedlite does not feel as well made as a Canon or Nikon flash for sure, the finishing is a bit rougher. It’s a good idea to check warranty conditions when picking up one of these flashes and keep in mind they are not for the professional but more for the hobby user. On the other hand I think YN-468 feels better than the (2010 model) Vivitar 285HV.
It seems the Sunpak DF-383 was the inspiration for the battery door with its minimalistic hard plastic hinge; While that part feels really cheap there is no problem to get the batteries in (at least once you learned how to hold the flash right). And with batteries inserted the shaky feeling is gone.
Flash Foot: Metal Construction Since 2011
Yongnuo’s speedlites used to come with a plastic flash foot, until about the end of 2010. In January of this year, YN flashes were upgraded with a metal flash foot – more information and pictures can be found here.
I have the Canon version of the flash here which has 5 pins in total. There is the central x-pin for the trigger signal plus another 4 (and two contacts on the side rails) for the data exchange with EOS camera bodies.
The flash foot sports a traditional locking wheel with connected locking pin. A wheel is not quite as fast as the quick release levers on Canon flashes but secure mounting is no problem – the fit is even tighter than with the quick release lever solutions.
If you need a PC sync port / mini phone jack or external power pack connector then look somewhere else – the YN-468 has no external interfaces apart from the flash foot.
As can be seen in the photo (showing the YN-467 actually which has the same flash head as the YN-468) the front element of the Yongnuo 468 speedlite is identical in dimensions to the Nikon speedlight SB-800 (left) and SB-600 (right) which is why you can use the same modifiers such as “stofens”, snoots, grids etc.
No surprises on the outside of the flash head: -10 degrees (officially: -7) to plus 90 degrees tilt, and swivel from -90 to +180 degrees, so the usual total of 270 degrees. The flash head does not lock and therefore can be moved around without release button but clicks into place at predefined steps, e.g. 60 degrees, 75, and 90. There are markings for both swivel and tilt on the casing.
The auto zoom head moves in a range of 24mm to 85mm full frame which translates into a coverage of 15 to 54mm with an APS-C camera body such as the Canon Rebel series (400/500/600D etc). If you’re shooting with a Rebel and kit lens (18 – 55mm) the flash zooms with the lens and will give you proper coverage from wide angle until the tele end. These are all 5 auto zoom positions:
24mm – 35mm – 50mm – 70mm – 85mm – auto
Auto zoom works like a charm with Canon 40D and T1i. Unlike the latest Canon flashguns (and some Metz models) there’s no sensor size detection available so the flash always ‘thinks’ it sits on a full frame body. This is no problem, the only consequence is a bit of efficiency loss but you also win which is a flash coverage with less light fall-off at the frame borders.
The flash head also zooms in bounced flash positions – switch over to manual zoom if you want this to stop. A few other flashes automatically move into a fixed 50mm position for this scenario, e.g. the latest Canon speedlites and flashes from Metz (but not the Nikons).
As a first in Yongnuo’s history there is a zoom head with a manual zoom feature for Canon. Manual zoom is selected / set by pressing the “Mode” button and “On/Off” simultaneously. This sounds like finger acrobatics but it works quite well, at least once you got used to the somewhat mushy buttons and slight delay between pushing a button and the display to change. Manual zoom is indicated by a small “M” icon next to the zoom number on the back panel.
Manual zoom can also be set from the 40D’s menu system, and even that works with the Yongnuo: set it to 24mm on the 40D rear display, and the flash switches from auto zoom to manual zoom and goes to the 24mm setting. Set to 105mm in the camera menu, and Yongnuo zooms to its maximum position of 85. Neat.
Wide angle coverage
Built into the flash head at the top of the lens is a pull-out reflector card and a flip-down diffuser for a coverage of 18mm (full frame). The wide panel gives 18mm coverage for full frame bodies; with a smaller sensor (e.g. Rebel series) you get even coverage from around 12mm an up. Please make sure to zoom the flash into the 24mm position as this is not automatically set when the panel gets pulled out.
The flashgun is operated with 4 rubber buttons. These buttons have a good size but they are a bit soft and feel rubbery – the reason why they were labeled as “mushy buttons” on the flickr discussion boards.
First, there is the On/Off button. Next to it is the Mode button, and the Pilot button is the last in the bottom row. Above the bottom row is the combined Plus/Minus button used for adjusting output level and other settings.
For some settings a combination of buttons is used. While this certainly does not help simplify the usage it does work pretty well on the YN468, and thanks to the color coding (additional red labeling) it’s also not too hard to remember. As I’m re-writing this review in May 2011 it took me a minute or so to recall the manual zoom setting steps, but I got it done without a look into the handbook.
Overall, the flash is responsive but not super quick. This is noticeable when you do repeated button presses, e.g. when dialing up the manual output level. It happens that you press the Plus button twice but due to reaction delay it will increase only 1 step. Once you get used to this it works fine, but still I have many of other speedlights reacting faster.
YN-468 with LCD panel
Once powered on, the display of the Yongnuo YN468 lights up for a couple of seconds with an orange glow (the light seems to come from the sides).
In the top row the flash shows the current flash mode which can be “M”, “Multi”, “S1″, “S2″ and “TTL” as shown in the picture. In the bottom row there is an unused ISO display (the handbook says this is used for the Nikon version only, and this one has not been released yet), then there is a display for the f-stop which updates with the current setting of the camera or lens respectively, and then the zoom setting.
In manual zoom mode, there is a small “M” icon to be seen left of the word “Zoom”. In auto zoom (displayed here) you just see the current zoom position. The AF symbol indicates that the AF assist light is activated, and the three little arrows stand for 2nd curtain sync (the sync mode can be set on the flash, or from the camera menu system).
In addition, the flash shows the value of a flash exposure compensation (set on the unit itself); this is being displayed in the empty space between “TTL” and “ISO”. The empty area in the top-right is used for the stroboscopic mode, and it shows the number of repeating flashes as well as the frequency (plus the power output, but this is in the same place as the flash exposure compensation, i.e. more in the middle-left).
With the powering off there is a little light show by the way: In the place of the ISO display it says “Yong” – “nuo” – “468″ until it switches off after about 2 seconds. Useless, but neat.
The flash-ready LED lights up green and changes to red when ready to fire. Sounds strange, but conforms to the standards used by both Canon and Nikon (e.g. Canon 580EX-II and Nikon SB-600 / SB-900 which are using a red light too for showing ‘flash ready’).
YN-468 With Memory
The YN-468 has a memory and recalls the last settings when you switch it back on after being unpowered. This works for all settings, e.g. the flash mode. It also remembers the last manual output level. A clear improvement over the YN-460 where switching off erased all settings completely so you’re always back at “1/64″. The new 468 even remembers its settings after a battery change.
“External flash custom functions”
The Canon 40D offers a total of 13 custom functions for flash. I had a look at each one together with the YN-468, and here’s what I noted.
0:Distance indicator display: lets you change between meters and feet – Yongnuo has no distance scale, so meaningless.
1:Auto power off: this setting prevents the 580EX II in the hot shoe to go to sleep. Works with the Canon flash, does not work with the Yongnuo which goes into standby after around 15 minutes.
2: Modeling flash: not supported by Yongnuo.
3: FEB auto cancel: not tested with the YN-468
4: FEB sequence: not tested with the YN-468
5: Flash metering mode: not supported (E-TTL II, TTL, External metering: Auto, External metering: Manual). Choose one of the available flash modes on the flash instead.
6: Quickflash w/continuous shot: can be enabled, but is not supported
7: Test firing with autoflash: not tested with the YN-468
8: AF-assist beam firing: can not be deactivated from here for the Yongnuo, but on the strobe itself.
9: Auto zoom for sensor size: no support on the Yongnuo.
10: Slave auto power off timer: YN-468 does not support Canon wireless slave functionality.
11: Slave auto power off cancel: YN-468 does not support Canon wireless slave functionality.
12: Flash recycle w/exter. power: irrelevant; not tested.
13: Flash exposure metering set.: speedlite button dial or speedlite dial only: allows flash exposure compensation to be set on the 580EX II with the dial alone, without pressing Sel/Set first. Has only an effect on the Canon flash, the Yongnuo has no dial.
4 AA-type cells are required to power the flash, and you can use either alkaline batteries or NiMH rechargeables. There is no external power pack socket but given the fast recycling this seems not the most necessary add-on really. Once you found out how to hold the unit right it’s easy to get the 4 cells in their place – there are no dividers in the battery chamber which makes the battery loading a bit tough during the first time. Inside the compartment you find stickers with polarity icons. I’ve never had a contact problem with any speedlite from Yongnuo (pic below shows the YN-465 which is the same construction battery compartment).
Test: Flash Recycling Times (1.8 / 1.0 seconds)
Modern flashes have full-power recycle times between 2 and 6 seconds, depending on their maximum power and battery type. Speedlights.net recycle times are tested according to ISO 2827; see details.
The flash recycling test procedure can be seen in the video from the Speedlights.net youtube channel.
Flash recycling times are in the same super fast range as for the YN-465 and YN-467. While the official specs state a conservative 5 seconds with alkaline batteries the test average is only 1.8 seconds with Duracell alkalines, and 1.0 (!) seconds with Sanyo eneloop NiMH cells (1.370 volts at time of testing).
How can this cheap flash be so fast – much faster than the brand name competition from Canon and Nikon? Well, a part of the explanation can be found in the “real world guide number” section below. But there must also be something to the technology used by Yongnuo, or maybe it’s more that Canon and Nikon are very conservative with theirs? Whatever it is, here’s the impressive recycling chart for the Yongnuo YN-468:
Overheating protection, also known as ‘thermal cut-out’ can be a double edged sword. It helps protect your flash head from melting down from over-usage heat, but it also means your speedlite is locked for a while – typically a couple of minutes. This was (or is) a real problem with the SB-900 from Nikon and the overheating protection.
Like many of the new speedlights now the YN-468 does have an overheating protection feature too. The chances you will see it in action are low, however, given the lower maximum output the unit delivers. So there is a very low chance it will get in your way.
Test: Flash Output and Guide Number
The guide number (GN) of an electronic flash is a measure of the maximum light output – visit the test details page to learn more.
Official Specification: GN 33
The official guide number from the Yongnuo website and instruction manual is 33 meters. But, as we’ve seen from other YN speedlites, the real GN for Yongnuo flashes tends to be lower. This is true for the YN-465, the YN-467 and also the YN-560.
Flash Meter Results
All flashes are tested using the same standardized method using a Sekonic flash meter in a controlled environment. Speedlites are never tested alone, but always together with re-tests of other models to guarantee consistent results between sessions.
The light meter reads f11 + 7/10 (f14.4) for the YN468, the same value I had for the YN-467 which makes sense given their identical zoom heads. For the fixed reflector model YN-465 I had f16 +5/10 (f19) – which is a higher value. See the table below for a range of mid-range flashes, all tested at Speedlights.net
|Model||Light meter reading|
|Nissin Di622 Mark II||f22 +4/10|
|Sunpak PZ42X||f22 +3/10|
|Canon 430EX II||f22 +2/10|
|Metz 48 AF-1||f22 +1/10|
|Nikon SB-600||f16 +9/10|
|Nikon SB-700||f16 +7/10|
|Yongnuo YN-465||f16 +5/10|
|Nikon SB-400||f16 +0/10|
|Yongnuo YN-468||f11 +7/10|
|Yongnuo YN-467||f11 +7/10|
Measurements were repeated as it was surprising to see the YN468 in the last place, even after the tiny SB-400. But the outcome is consistent with the YN-467, so I’m sure there is nothing wrong with the sample. It seems that the zoom reflector, intended to help with improving the output, actually costs performance at the 35mm default position; which is why it falls behind its own little brother YN-465 without a zoom head.
Real World Guide Number: 20.4 – Guide Number Table
The calculated guide number is obtained by adding exactly 1 f-stop to the flash meter test results. Learn more about this method on the test details page.
For the YN-468 the calculated guide number does not come close to the official GN 33; the calculated guide number from the test is GN 20.4 (20.4 = f16 +7/10). At the 85mm tele setting the flash is stronger and reaches f16 +5/10 which equals GN 26.9.
The following table shows guide number test results together with manufacturer specs – which are only available for full power and 35mm in the YN468 case.
Speedlights Power Index
The light blue bar in the Speedlights.net Power Index shows the official 35mm-GN, and the dark blue bar indicates the test results. Go to the test details page for more information on the Speedlights.net Power Index.
Yongnuo’s YN-468 is less powerful than the mid-range speedlites from Canon (320EX, 430EX II) and Nikon (SB-600, SB-700) and shows up near the bottom of the list which should not be surprising at this point. But keep two things in mind that put this a little bit in perspective: (1) the Yongnuo YN-468 is still clearly stronger than your typical pop-up mini flash and (2) you can increase the guide number with higher ISO.
Test: Effective Output Range
On paper you get a very good 7 stop range with the Yongnuo under review (1/1 to 1/128). According to the tests this range is not quite as big. 1/1 gives a metering of f11 +7/10 whereas 1/128 (minimum setting) gives f2.0. As can be easily seen, the real range is 5.7 stops for the test unit.
|Output range spec||Output range from tests|
|7 stops||5.7 stops|
Test: Continuous Shooting Output
All flashes lose some power when fired with maximum frequency; read the test info page to learn more about the effect and the test procedure.
|Model||Calc. guide number at 60 sec wait||Calc. guide number at continuous fire||Difference in f-stops|
|Nissin Di622 Mark II||36.8||32.0||-4/10|
|Canon 430EX II||34.3||26.0||-8/10|
|Metz 48 AF-1||33.1||29.9||-3/10|
It can be seen from the table that some level of power reduction is normal when firing at maximum frequency, compared to waiting 60 seconds between the individual flash shots. For the YN468 there is hardly a difference between the 2 cases: it’s only 2 tenths of a stop.
Test: Flash Duration
Flash duration is the time between the beginning of the flash and the end of the light emission. Go to the speedlite test methodology page for information on t0.5 versus t0.1 flash durations and the method used here for reviews.
YN-468 Flash Duration Compared
The YN-468 has a very short flash duration at full power, but the t0.1 times for comparable speedlite models are in the same ballpark, e.g. 1/265 for the SB-600 from Nikon, or 1/230 for the flagship model SB-900.
|Model||flash duration spec at 1/1 power (sec)||t0.1 metering result (sec)|
|Nissin Di622 Mark II||1/800||1/375|
|Canon 430EX II||unspecified||1/350|
|Metz 48 AF-1||1/125||1/230|
The differences in the manufacturer specs are due to different definitions involved = t0.5 versus t0.1 as it seems.
t0.1 Flash Duration Times Table
|Output level||Manufacturer spec||t0.1 metering|
YN-468 Tech Specs
Here’s now an overview of specifications versus test results.
|Guide number spec
(35mm, ISO 100, in meters)
|Guide number test result||20|
|Manual power settings||1/1 – 1/2 – 1/4 – 1/8 – 1/16 – 1/32 – 1/64 – 1/128|
|Flash duration (full power)||1/800|
|Recycle time spec
(at full power)
|5 sec alkaline|
|Recycle time test result||1.8 sec alkaline, 1.0 sec NiMH|
|Flash foot material, type||metal (2011), standard|
|PC Sync Port||no|
|Optical Slave||2 modes (1 w/ pre-flash suppresion)|
|Trigger Voltage||3.29 V (measured)|
|Standby Mode||power-off after 15:40 minutes|
|Flash Head Features|
|Swivel||-180 to +90 degrees|
|Tilt||-10 to +90 degrees|
|Manual Zoom Head||(18) 24 – 85|
|Auto Zoom||(18) 24 – 85|
|Bounce card / 2nd reflector||yes / no|
|Batteries Used||4 x AA|
|External Power Source||no|
|i-TTL||na – no Nikon version available|
|CLS Wireless Slave||na|
|CLS Wireless Master||na|
|E-TTL(II) wireless slave||no|
|E-TTL(II) wireless master||no|
|Other Flash Modes|
|AF Assist Light||yes|
|Exposure Compensation in TTL Mode on the Flash unit||-3 to +3|
|Rear Curtain Synchronization||yes|
|High Speed Synchronization||no|
|Sensor Size Detection (DX, FX, etc)||no|
The YN-468 can be used as a remote flash in these configurations: (1) triggered through the flash foot (preferably with radio transmitters & receivers such as Yongnuo RF-602 or Cactus triggers) or (2) with the non-TTL optical slave modes “S1″ or “S2″.
TTL remote cords such as the Canon OC-E3 will also work, and the flash should also be compatible with the expensive TTL radio triggers (please leave a note if you have any hands-on experience for this model of flash).
No Canon or Nikon Remote Slave Mode
While it works in E-TTL mode in the camera hot shoe, the Yongnuo YN-468, like all other Yongnuos as of May 2011, does not support Canon’s (or Nikon’s) wireless lighting system, neither as master nor as a slave flash. There is no TTL sensor built in but only a simple optical slave sensor with 2 modes “S1″ and “S2″, and the flash does not understand Canon’s wireless flash “language”.
Radio Triggering For Wireless Flash
Your normal off-camera flash triggering option are radio triggers like Cactus V4, or Yongnuo RF-602 or any of the other models hitting the scene these days. My 2 test triggers are Cactus V4 and Yongnuo RF-602 – I think these 2 models are among the most commonly used. The flash works without problem with both, just as expected.
The trigger voltage taken at the flash foot of the test unit is 3.29 Volts so it is safe with modern digital camera bodies and low voltage triggers like the RF-602. I have used the flash on a Canon 40D, Canon Rebel T1i, and on a Nikon D90 – there in manual mode – and all cameras are still alive (in case there should be any doubt).
No PC Sync Port
The flash foot is the only point where triggers can be installed, there is no PC sync socket. This professional feature is reserved to the 560 line in the Yongnuo model family. The advantage of the PC port is not reliability – PC sockets often don’t provide a very good connection. But the advantage is that the flash foot remains free so it can be mounted direct on a light stand e.g., without the trigger in between.
“Strobist” Flash in Manual Mode
Manual mode is selected with the “Mode” button on the back panel. To change the manual output level simply press the combined “+/-” button. The flash is always using third steps. Here is how the sequence looks like: 1/1 — 1/2 +0.7 — 1/2 +0.3 — 1/2 — 1/4 +0.7 — … — 1/64 — 1/128 +0.7 — 1/128 +0.3 — 1/128. When setting the output level and pressing on the “minus” button at the 1/128 setting, you go to 1/1, and also from 1/1 using “plus” you reach the 1/128 output.
As can be seen from the picture, the battery of LEDs known as “idiot lights” is gone, the power level now can be seen on the LCD display direct. Which is not quite as crisp as the one on the Canon 580EX-II but as good as on my Nikon SB-600.
As shown above in the output range section of this review, the true range on my test unit is not 7 stops but only about 6 stops (5.7 stops to be precise). There is a full stop difference between full and half power output levels, but from then on the decrements are a little bit smaller, at around 8/10 – 9/10 of a stop. The smallest difference is between the 1/64 and the 1/128 setting – flash meter readings are f2 +3/10 vs. f2 +/-0, so the last one is only a third stop.
Another important feature for “strobist” flash is manual zoom: this test is also passed by the YN-468: it has a manually selectable zoom range of 24mm to 85mm, plus the wide-panel for 18mm coverage.
Optical Slave Modes “S1″ and “S2″ (non-TTL)
Like most other 460 series models you’ll find the 2 optical slave modes “S1″ and “S2″ on the Yongnuo 468.
“S1” mode fires the flash with the first light signal from another speedlite it sees. This light signal can be a manual flash used as a trigger, but it will also trigger the Yongnuo with digital pre-flashes used for exposure metering, which is why the S1 mode does not help much in a digital setup.
In mode “S2“, the YN468 ignores E-TTL (or i-TTL in the Nikon world) pre-flashes used for flash exposure metering and triggers the strobe with the main flash burst only. Please be advised that the “S2″ mode can get confused in multi-flash setups, which makes mixing wireless TTL speedlites and the YN-468 in “S2″ a bit of a gamble.
Limited Slave Mode Reliability
Another caveat is that the built-in sensor goes blind with bright ambient light. While the optical slave modes work well indoors e.g. in your studio, you should not rely on them in sunshine outdoors; the threshold is around EV 7 to 9 which is less than you think. But at least with everything below that you can expect the optical sensor to work pretty reliably.
YN-468 Standby Behavior
Since I have one of the first YN-468 here for reviewing, I noticed that the engineers in China changed the standby mode compared to the YN-465. According to the handbook, standby is activated 30 minutes after the last action in modes TTL, strobo and “M”, and after 60 minutes in the two optical slave modes S1 and S2. I switched mine to “M” and it took about 15 minutes and 45 seconds to switch itself off completely – so there is no real standby even, but a complete power off!
15 minutes and 40 seconds should be long enough to not bother in many photo sessions, but can be an issue sometimes, this is at least my feeling. In TTL mode the standby delay is the same as in “M” mode, my stopwatch said 15:37 minutes. And also when mounted on a Yongnuo RF-602 in “M” mode, the flash powered down at the same 15:40 minutes mark. It would have been more elegant to have the same solution as on the YN-465, where the RF-602 prevents standby altogether.
In mode S1 however standby does start later when mounted on the RF-602. I missed the exact moment, but it is around 30 minutes or a bit later than that.
Wireless Flash Video Review
See here the Speedlights.net video review starting with the unpacking procedure and then showing the operation in mode “M” with radio triggers.
Off Camera Flash Score
- manual mode
- has manual mode: yes
- minimum manual power: 1/128
- all full stops from 1/1 to 1/128: yes
- X contact firing: yes
- flash standby mode: power-off after 15:40 minutes
The YN-468 works fine with radio triggers and offers a very usable 7 stop range with all third stops to choose from, so it’s very usable for “strobist work”. The 2 optical slave modes and manually adjustable zoom reflector are a bonus, and also the adjustable flash head including negative tilt is an asset. Plus the super fast recycle times!
On the not-so-great side are a comparably low maximum output, the fixed power-off at 15 minutes, and the lack of a PC sync socket. All in all it still achieves an “AA” rating, but there are other preferred options if you’re willing to drop the “TTL” requirement – have a look at the Yongnuo YN-560 in that case.
YN-468 E–TTL Review
For the initial TTL tests of the Yongnuo 468 a Canon 40D with 24-105mm lens was used, and the flash now sees action on a Canon Rebel T1i. Find out about compatibility with other Canon camera models on the compatibility page.
Hot Shoe Operation
The YN468 slides very smoothly into the hot shoe of the Canon 40D and sits securely in its place once fixed with the screw lock and locking pin. The flash foot
is was made from plastic, in contrast to the Canon 580EX-II used for comparison.
The Canon flash has a lever-lock design which works a little bit faster and the flash sits even a bit tighter, but it’s not a big difference, and the Yongnuo is not loose by any means. The Chinese flash makes contact very well with the camera, there has been no problem during my usage.
By the way, it’s not a fair comparison between the 2 models. The 580EX II is the top of the line model from Canon, whereas Yongnuo is more comparable to a Canon 430EX II, the mid-range flash from Canon. Go here for a comparison Canon 430EX II vs YN-468!
As can be seen from the photos, the Canon 580EX II dwarves the contender from China and it offers a plethora of functionality few other flashguns can compete with.
AF Assist Beam
The Yongnuo’s AF assist light on the test unit – located under the red cover on the front – was slightly off center and aiming a little bit to the left. In practical shooting this did not lead to problems but in one situation the 40D needed 2 or 3 attempts to find the focus point. It’s maybe teething troubles with the (back then) all new 468 model, I got one from the very first series.
Due to the 1-LED layout you should not expect to get 100% of the reach that can be achieved with the Canon flash, but overall the AF assist works really well despite its much simpler design without a grid pattern or a double LED like on the original accessory flash units. This is true at least for the central AF point. At the frame border the situation is different, and a Canon 430EX II / or even 580EX II clearly outperform the Yongnuo.
The model 468 is the 2nd flash model in the Yongnuo history to offer a zoom head and the first one for Canon with a manual reflector adjustment on top of the auto zoom. The adjustment range is from 24 to 85mm with additional 18mm coverage when the flip-down wide panel is used. These are numbers for full frame, so with a smaller sensor you get even more coverage in terms of focal length (minimum ~12mm for the Canon consumer camera sensors).
Here is how zooming works together with the Canon 40D:
- auto zoom:
works like a charm on the Yongnuo with a sound similar to that of the Canon 580. Unlike the latest Canon flashguns it has no sensor size detection, so the angle of coverage does not adapt to the smaller sensor of the 40D and other Canons.
- manual zoom:
manual zoom is set by pressing “Mode” and “On/Off” simultaneously together, and that works also on the camera hot shoe. But manual zoom can also be set from the 40D’s menu system, and even that works with the Yongnuo.
E-TTL / i-TTL Performance
What differentiates the Yongnuo 468 from its cousins YN 460 / YN 460ii and YN 560 is the TTL support. Only with this feature the camera-flash combination can give you correctly exposed flash photographs automatically.
E-TTL can be set on the flash – but the display just says “TTL” btw, but it works with E-TTL I and also E-TTL II camera bodies: E-TTL II is the latest digital TTL version from Canon but a camera feature which does not require specific flash support.
The Canon 40D has three groups of flash related icons in the viewfinder:
- flash ready icon:
The flash symbol can be found on the left side of the information display bar in the viewfinder. A steady light signals the flash is ready to fire; works with the YN-468 like with the Canon strobe.
- flash exposure compensation:
If set on the camera it also shows up in the viewfinder and the flash works well with it. If a flash exposure compensation was set on the Yongnuo however you won’t see it in the viewfinder info display.
- FE lock:
Flash exposure lock shows up in the viewfinder as it’s supposed to with the YN468. See below for more information.
The YN-468 produced some very decent to very good output on the 40D, also compared to the Canon 580EX II. Often the flash was a tad brighter than the original from Canon, but that normally led to a more flattering picture with the Yongnuo. Both direct as well as bounced flash show good exposure. Please note that the ceilings and walls are not perfectly white in the shots below, so there is a slight color cast.
Bounced flash with the 468 + 40D combination is leading to a very smooth light and exposure is within the limits, I’d adjust the curves for any of the shots shown here, but that might be my taste only. I left all the pictures displayed here untouched, so that you can see the outcome as close to the original file as possible.
Balancing Light = Fill Flash
With daylight fill flash I had in some cases like in this shot some overexposure. I would fix this for me using the (permanent) flash exposure compensation on the Yongnuo that tends to be a bit on the hotter side, but this was not a general problem.
As you can see from the text and image examples there were some imperfections in flash exposure with the combination Canon 40D and Yongnuo YN-468. No show stopper though, and my shots with the Canon 580EX II were not all perfect either. There, the problem was more on the underexposure side.
I used AWB (auto white balance) for all flash shooting with both units and the color reproduction was very similar; no significant differences here.
Flash Sync Modes
Normally, a camera chooses speeds between 1/60 second and 1/250 for flash photography and fires the speedlite at the beginning of the exposure. But there are other sync options which can be extremely useful in the right situation.
Rear Curtain Sync
Rear or 2nd curtain sync on the 40D is also selected from the camera menu and found in the second yellow menu group. In addition, the Yongnuo 468 has also its own setting for rear curtain sync, that is via pressing the “Mode” and “+” keys together. No matter which way you go, the display as well as the camera menu setting both update concurrently.
This implementation is as good as on an original Canon speedlite. And the rear curtain synchronization does also work perfectly with the YN-468 & 40D combination. I first spoke about it in the YN-465 i-TTL review for Nikon: 2nd curtain sync is not a feature of the flash unit but a pure camera functionality, despite the fact that Canon blocks the feature for some external flashes that they consider incompatible.
High Speed Sync / FP flash
Despite the fact that the guide number is greatly reduced, high speed sync is a very useful feature for daylight fill flash, e.g. when shooting on the beach or other very bright environments. It allows to go beyond the normal camera sync speed, which is the shortest time where both curtains of the camera shutter are fully open. On the Canon 40D, this is 1/250 second.
As the YN-468 has a “multi” mode for stroboscopic flash there was hope it could be used with high speed sync too – because HSS is also using a series of smaller flashes similar to the multi mode.
Interestingly HSS is not described in the camera handbook, but you can find it in the handbook of the Canon 580EX-II flash. You can set it on the Canon flash with the combined “HSS/2nd curtain” button. Once activated, it shows an icon on the flash LCD, and also in the camera viewfinder using a capital “H” next to the lightning stroke symbol on the left side.
The YN468 has a sync mode button as well, unfortunately there is no HSS setting available. But there is another option to activate high speed sync apart from setting it on the strobe itself: you can change the sync mode in the camera menu, navigating to the yellow menu group, “Flash control” and then “external flash synch. setting”. And yes, with the Yongnuo in the accessory shoe you can switch the 40D to Hi-Speed too! Unfortunately, it instantly jumps back to “1st curtain”, so no high speed sync available. Sad news. But not unexpected.
Other Flash Features
This section deals with red-eye flash, modeling light, flash-off, and flash exposure compensation / flash bracketing settings.
Interestingly, neither the original Canon 580EX mk2 nor the Chinese Yongnuo work in the anti red-eye mode, this option is only usable with the 40D’s built in mini flash. Anti red-eye flash can be activated from the menu system in the first red menu tab, but it has no effect on the two accessory flash units. At least I could not figure out how it would work, and none of the handbooks speak about it either.
Modeling light is a custom function on the 40D (see below). The feature is not available on the Yongnuo 468.
Flash Exposure Compensation (FEC)
Flash exposure compensation is implemented on the YN-468, and it’s extremely simple to use: just press “+” or “-” on the controller underneath the info panel, and you are set! The challenger from China offers a range between +3 and -3 EV, and the pictures come out as supposed.
As the Yongnuo memorizes the last settings even when powered off, you could use this as a permanent output override in E-TTL if you’d want to – just set it to -1/3 e.g. and leave it there forever.
Setting flash exposure compensation works also on the 40D camera, there you need to use the combined “ISO/flash+/-” button above the top display. Unfortunately, the Yongnuo does not accept a command in this mode as soon as you have set anything other than “zero flash exposure compensation” on the 468 itself. This means: if there is no flash exposure compensation set on the Yongnuo, you can use the camera’s flash exposure compensation and the YN468 executes the command. But as soon as there is something set on the 468, it ignores any override from the 40D.
A third way to set flash exposure compensation is the menu system: with an active flash exposure compensation set on the Yongnuo the corresponding menu item is grayed out, so also here no setting possible. But if no compensation is set on the flash, the menu settings with their range of “-2″ to “+2″ do work.
Flash Exposure Lock (FV Lock)
Flash exposure lock (or “FE Lock”) works perfectly with the review flash: pressing the “*” button on the 40D sends out a pre-flash for light metering, and the FE lock symbol in the viewfinder lights up. When aiming at another scene and shooting, the flash uses the previously stored output level, and then erases the flash exposure lock memory after the shot. Pressing the “*” button repeatedly sends out a new pre-flash every time. This is 100% the same behavior as I get with the 580EX II. This works much better than on my YN465 for Nikon i-TTL!
Flash Bracketing (FEB)
Flash bracketing allows you to take 3 pictures with different flash exposure. The maximum range on the Canon 40D is +/- 3 EV in third steps. The Yongnuo supports the feature, with every shutter release it takes a picture with different exposure.
With flash-off selected on the mode dial of the 40D, neither Canon nor the 468 use their AF assist beam. And both do not fire (which is the intended behavior with this camera setting, just to make sure there is no misunderstanding).
However, there is another trick to get AF assist without firing the flash: go in the camera menu (chose another camera mode first, e.g. “P”, then enter the menu, and then select “Flash control” in the 2nd yellow menu group. There change the first option “Flash firing” to “Disable” – and that is doing the job, for the Canon and also for the Yongnuo: AF assist from the flash without flash exposure.
YN-468 Review: Conclusion
The Yongnuo YN 468 is a capable unit for Canon users who don’t want to spend a fortune on an accessory flash. Exposure in E-TTL mode is good and reliable. And once you discover how much better your photos will look when using the flash remote, that means not in the hot shoe, it is a capable “strobist” partner as well; the only other accessory you have to buy are radio triggers.
Please note that there is still no Nikon version available as of May 2011. Available Nikon i-TTL speedlites are the YN-465 and the YN-467 (you find reviews for both units here on speedlights.net also).
Yongnuo YN-468 Positives
The Yongnuo 468 can’t win against the mid-range Canon flash 430EX II – which has more features, and also more power. And it costs almost $300 these days. But if you want to spend only around 100$ – the 468 becomes interesting. Getting the 80% most needed features for around 1/3 of the price is a deal worth thinking about.
If you consider the small Canon 270EX then have a look at the YN-468 in any case. It costs even less than the entry-level model from Canon, and it offers much more. Adjustable flash head, a real zoom head, wide-angle coverage, great wireless capabilities with radio triggers, the optical slave modes, strobo mode, exposure compensation, etc.
Photographers on a budget get a lot of flash with the Yongnuo 468. An alternative to consider is the YN-465, also from Shenzhen Yongnuo. It lacks some of the features, but you get more power and it costs even less. Click here for the YN-465 in-depth review.
A next step up from the YN-468 are the Nissin Di-622 Mark II, which is also a very interesting product, and now the new YN-565 – but it’s in a different price class at around $180 (as of August 2011).
Where to Buy
Yongnuo products can be found on eBay. See all YN-468 offers here for the best prices and check warranty conditions. A good option is to buy direct from the Yongnuo manufacturer store with the advantage of a 1-year warranty that usually comes with their sales.
amazon is another good source for Yongnuo products; compare availability and purchase price. If you purchase through one of these links you support the expansion of this website with even more tests and reviews.
Thank you very much.