Yongnuo 468 versus Canon’s 430EX II – how does the $100 flash (e.g. from eBay) hold up against the mid-range speedlite from Canon costing about > 2.5x?
Finally, a Canon speedlite 430EX II has joined the collection (I plan on doing much more Canon testing in 2011!), and a direct comparison of YN468 vs 430 EX II is the topic of this article. Both speedlites were tested with a Canon Rebel T1i (Canon 500D in Europe).
YN468 Compared to Canon 430EX II
The build quality of the YN-468 is not perfect but it’s much better than what you expect given its price. The unit feels solid overall, it’s made of thick plastic with a nicely finished surface. Since quality control at Yongnuo is not always on par with Canon or Nikon, you should buy with a warranty e.g. from Yongnuo’s store on eBay.
The 430 from Canon is on a higher standard but has, surprisingly, some pretty rough edges, especially around the battery compartment lid and on the left side, where the cover of the bracket mount is pretty loose (see here in the 430EX II unboxing video).
Operation and Controls
The Canon flash is operated with 9 switches and buttons, while the Yongnuo has only 5. The Yongnuo’s buttons are very soft and ‘mushy’ but have a large size. They are clearly labeled and easy to use.
The Canon has very small buttons (they appear somewhat bigger in the image below), the 4 buttons in the top row don’t have a well defined pressure point either. The interface of this mid-range flash is clearly not as good as on the professional 580EX II.
Both flashguns feature a segment type LCD screen on the back. Canon’s screen is smaller but with good contrast and decent font size. The green display illumination is great – very bright, and with its own dedicated button. The LCD panel on the 468 is larger and also easy to read.
Neither of the 2 speedlites allows external battery packs. There is also no sync terminal (e.g. for a PC sync cord).
Guide Number and Recycle Times
The Canon is the stronger flash, it has a guide number of 31 (meters) on paper and delivered a very strong 34 in the test lab. The Yongnuo comes with an official spec of 33, but in the tests it reached only GN 20.4. This means you have a longer maximum range with the Canon 430, at f4.0 its like 8 meters vs 5 (at ISO 100). Keep in mind that your range doubles with every 2 ISO steps, so at ISO 400 the effective range is already 10 meters with the Yongnuo (and 16 meters with the Canon).
Together with lower maximum output comes a faster recycle time: while formal testing with the Canon is still on the to-do list, it seems from a quick test that the YN 468 is 50% faster than the 430EX II.
Canon’s 430EX II features a more advanced AF assist with two LED lamps, one for the vertical and horizontal pattern each. The Yongnuo 468 has one simple AF assist light only so it’s not as sophisticated. Still it works well under normal shooting conditions and even in complete darkness.
Flash Head Adjustments
The Canon and Yongnuo flash head rotates 270 degrees horizontally and 90 degrees upwards (important for bouncing the light off walls or ceilings), but only the Yongnuo offers a negative tilt position as can be seen from the image below (minus 10 degrees for close-up photos).
Both zoom reflectors start at 24mm coverage and allow 85mm (Yongnuo) and 105mm (Canon) as the longest zoom setting. When used together with the 18-55mm kit lens on your Rebel, both flashes provide full coverage without the wide panel needed. With wide panel in place, the Yongnuo covers 18mm full frame, or around 11mm for EF-S, the Canon 430 covers down to 14mm (full frame).
The Yongnuo 468 has auto zoom, just like the Canon speedlite, which means the reflector zooms with the lens. The Canon 430EX II features as additional zoom mode ‘sensor size detection zoom’, which means it keeps the flash beam more narrow with an EF-S (APS-C) camera like the Canon T1i. While this is beneficial for flash efficiency, it further pronounces the unavoidable light-falloff (vignetting) towards the frame borders. The Yongnuo always covers all sensor sizes.
Available Flash Modes
The normal flash mode on both units is ETTL = Canon’s flash protocol for EOS cameras. On top of that, both Canon and Yongnuo YN468 offer a manual mode with 1/3 step adjustment (YN468 allows 1/128 as the minimum setting, 430EX II goes down to 1/64). Finally, the YN-468 has a multi-mode for stroboscopic flash effects. Neither of the 2 has an “auto” mode (a relic from the old analog days, you don’t need it today anymore).
Flash Sync Modes
In addition to the normal 1st curtain sync, both speedlites also allow rear curtain sync photography. Setting rear sync is very similar, both flashes have a labeled button for this feature. With Canon’s flash protocol, you always have a clearly visible flash at the beginning of the exposure even in rear sync mode, but the main light is fired at the end of the exposure.
Slow sync is also possible with both contenders, since it’s the default setting in “Av” mode on the Canon Rebel T1i. You need to deactivate it with custom function “3″ if you don’t want to use it, there is no dedicated button or menu entry for this.
The 4th sync mode is missing on the Yongnuo YN468; only with the Canon 430EX II you can shoot in hi-speed sync (HSS, called “FP” sync at Nikon). This feature allows flash photography at faster shutter speeds than the normal 1/200 seconds, at the price of reduced flash power. Still, it can be a very useful feature, e.g. for daylight fill flash.
Red-eye reduction could be considered as a fifth sync mode, but it works only with the built-in pop-up flash, and not with external flashguns in the Canon world.
Flash Exposure Compensation, Flash Exposure Lock
The YN-468 behaves like the mid-range speedlite from Canon here: flash exposure compensation can be set on the speedlite, or on the camera body. Flash exposure lock is set with a dedicated button on Rebel and displayed in the viewfinder with a “*” symbol on the left.
Custom Flash Functions
The Canon 430EX II offers 9 custom functions. The adjustment of AF assist beam firing (on/off) is possible with the Yongnuo 468 also, the other adjustments can be made only on the Canon flash: distance indicator display in meters or feet, adjustment of auto power off, modeling flash, custom settings for test flash, sensor size zoom, power-off customization for slave mode, flash range info.
The last focus area for the YN-468 vs Canon 430EX II post is wireless flash. Both flashes can be used with radio triggers like the Cactus V4 or Yongnuo RF-602, but there are also significant differences:
- No Wireless ETTL with Yongnuo YN-468
The low budget flash from China works in TTL mode when attached to the camera, but it can’t be used in wireless TTL mode like the Canon 430EX II with its built-in light sensor and intelligence to interpret the optical (infrared) command signals.
Wireless TTL, together with a master-enabled pop-up flash on the Canon 7D or 60D, is the easiest way to off-camera flash with automatic flash exposure. For the Rebel series, you need additional accessories to use wireless TTL, for example Canon’s wireless commander ST-E2 (around $240 from amazon), or the Yongnuo version with the same name (find it on eBay from around $110, or in the manufacturer store for around $150).
- No optical slave modes on the 430EX II
The Yongnuo has two different optical slave modes; the difference to wireless TTL is that you need to set flash output by hand and before the shot, since the camera has no way to exchange exposure data with the external flash. All that happens in Yongnuo’s simple slave mode “S1” is that the 468 waits for a light signal from any other flashgun, and then fires off together with it.
The other optical slave mode is called “S2” (Nissin calls it “SD” for “digital optical slave mode”). This mode is more useful for digital photography, since the flash ignores the small pre-flashes used by all digital TTL systems for exposure metering before the actual exposure.
Neither of the two modes is a real replacement for wireless TTL. In both cases, you need to set the flash output level by hand, and manually adjust for every photo you take. But it’s a great way for syncing a Yongnuo as a background light, for example.
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$model2 = "'430EX II'";
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This quick hands-on comparison ends with a summary of the main advantages for Canon 430 EX-II vs YN-468. The Canon is surely the more capable flashgun, while the Yongnuo offers the basic features needed by most hobby photographers at a much lower price point.
Advantages Canon 430EX II
- clearly more powerful (GN 34 vs 20.4)
- wireless TTL slave mode
- larger zoom range (tele and with wide panel)
- high speed sync
- dual AF assist beam
- modeling flash
- sensor size detection zoom
- padded soft case
- much cheaper ($100 vs $265 as of Dec 2010)
- built-in reflector card
- faster flash recycle times
- 2 optical slave modes (simple and “digital”)
- negative tilt on flash head
- multi-mode (stroboscopic flash)
If budget is no issue, you get without a doubt more flash with the mid-range speedlite from Canon. The Yongnuo on the other side is a good alternative if you don’t need the maximum power, the wireless TTL mode and the high-end AF assist.
The YN468 is surely not the perfect flashgun, but a good value and clearly superior to the Canon 270EX, which plays in the same league when it comes to the price; The entry-level flash from Canon lacks the manual mode, and can’t be swiveled to the sides, just to name 2 of the main shortcomings.
Where to buy the Yongnuo YN-468
Yongnuo products can be found on eBay. Check all YN-468 offers here for the best prices.
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.