The YN-560 mark II is the latest model of the super popular “strobist” flash YN560 (visit David Hobby’s website here). The flash was face-lifted in January of 2011 already, when Yongnuo added a metal flash foot as well as improved electronics and quality control.
What’s coming now in December of 2011 is an entirely new generation with the YN-560 II, and it will replace the current YN-560 that’s being phased out over time.
In a similar fashion as with the also-new YN468-II you can see how Yongnuo’s engineers are listening to customer feedback and push themselves to continuously improve on their product lines.
The most striking difference is the new LCD display on the back that’s replacing the battery of LEDs of the original YN-560 flash. But that’s not all – other smaller improvements include a “battery-low” indicator for example. Read on further below for a walk-through of the new features.
Pricing for the new flash is not known at this point but it can be expected that it will be on the level of the current generation, that means the YN-560 II should be available for around $70 (US price), or maybe slightly above during the first months. Check eBay or amazon to find offers and current pricing.
YN-560 II Still a Full-Manual Flash
Please note that this YN560 II is still a pure non-TTL flash. It adds a “multi mode” to the full-manual mode “M”, but there’s no (i.e. zero) support for the current digital Canon or Nikon flash exposure systems. The YN560-II is lacking any form of Canon ETTL (II) or i-TTL (Nikon). It’s also not compatible with the corresponding wireless auto-flash systems “wireless ETTL” or “AWL” / “advanced wireless lighting”.
You still can use the flash in the camera hot shoe, but everything has to be set to manual mode, both speedlite as well as the camera itself. And for every shot you need to set a power level by hand on the flash, e.g. “1/2″ or “1/16″, because the flash is unable to receive exposure information from the camera body. Same holds true for the wireless modes “S1″ and “S2″ which are also fully manual flash modes, even though the triggering is synched with a master flash.
Following is a look at the list of new and improved features. Go here for a full in-depth review of the current YN560 model – everything not listed here remains unchanged.
LCD display (new segment-type layout with large font)
The biggest change is that Yongnuo is moving away from the battery of LEDs on the back panel to indicate vital information such as power level, zoom step and flash mode / slave mode.
The LED “battery” was introduced with their first-ever flash, the YN460, and is a simplistic and rudimentary form of information display, especially when you’re used to the large and information-rich LCD screens on a Canon 580 or Nikon SB-900.
But back in the day of the YN460 this was not an issue – the flash had no zoom and no customization so that the only thing you really needed to know was the output level. With every LED lamp representing a full stop of light, this did work well.
With the YN-560 however Yongnuo gave us more features: there’s now a configurable sound-prompt, plus a zoom reflector, the option of fine-tuning of output levels between the full stops, and finally configurable standby behavior. The new YN-560 II adds even more, e.g. the multi mode and it’s therefore time to break free from the limitations of these simple LEDs and introduce a large back panel, based on segment type LCD’s. The panel has a good size and uses very large font as can be seen from the photo so it should be easy to read, even from a distance.
What I didn’t see was a display light option, however – that’s an issue when using the flash under low light and can be a serious limitation.
Concurrent Display of Zoom and Power Step
One, or maybe the biggest criticism of the original YN560 info display is that the flash doesn’t show the current zoom setting unless you push on a zoom button on the back.
With the LCD panel on the new Yongnuo speedlite YN560-II you get now both numbers displayed together at the same time.
You also still have the 2 dedicated zoom buttons for zooming up and zooming down, as well as the 4 control buttons for adding or subtracting power so that it’s not only easy to see where you are, but also super easy to make any adjustments.
New “Multi mode”
Yongnuo claims the new YN560-II to be the first Chinese manual-flash with a multi mode. Multi mode is a second flash mode, in addition to the full-manual mode “M”, and also in addition to the 2 full-manual slave modes “S1″ and “S2″ which can’t be combined with the multi-mode option.
Multi mode allows firing a series of rapid flashes with a shutter release to produce a stroboscopic effect in the resulting picture. It’s often used to show different phases of movement of a BMX cyclist, skateboarder or gymnast, for example, or any other object traveling through the frame.
Multi-mode is more of a gimmick than a really useful feature – you won’t find really useful applications in general photography. A special limitation on the YN-560 II is that you have to understand the relationship between the multi mode settings and the shutter speed used on the camera body. Flash and camera are unable to exchange information on this full-manual flash, only exception being the trigger signal sent through the x-contact. If the multi mode sequence i.e. the combination of frequency and number of flashes is incompatible with the camera shutter speed you won’t get a warning, or any form of an override.
“Power Low” Indicator / Battery Warning
A common problem with Canon and Nikon flashes is the lack of a low-battery warning that would give a chance to put in fresh batteries before it’s too late.
Nikon’s new speedlights do have such an indicator, but ironically the icon only shows up when battery power is completely depleted and not before the critical level is reached.
The YN560-II now has such a battery-low indicator (see icon number 28 in the display scheme shown here) – that’s a “first” for Yongnuo, and also a “first” for any full-manual flash as far as I know.
I’m hoping at this point that it’s the kind of battery light which gives you warning before it’s too late, and not only after the power is out. There’s one other flash today on the market with a real battery warning, and that is the Metz 58 AF-2 – a pro-level full TTL flash, not comparable with the YN560-II.
New Button Material
While there had been quite some issues reports with the YN460-line buttons which were labeled as “mushy” by users, the button layout on the YN560 series had been much better from the beginning – thanks to the design similarities with the Canon speedlite 580, and probably also the experience and learnings Yongnuo’s engineers have gained from their first product lines.
The button layout for the latest YN560-II generation now has remained unchanged from the previous model, but Yongnuo claims improved “sensitivity and better feeling to control”. My guess is that this refers to the material where they most probably move away from the soft rubber that was still used on the YN560 over to plastic buttons as they’re found on the YN565 already today.
From own experience I can say that the feel of the YN-565 buttons is on par with a Canon or Nikon, and this should then be the case for their latest “strobist” speedlite YN560-II as well.
Metal Flash Foot
Metal flash feet on all Yongnuo speedlites were introduced back in January of 2011, together with improved quality control. It’s therefore no wonder that also the YN560 replacement receives such a metal foot. It still has only one electrical pin in the foot center (the x-sync contact), that has not changed from the precursor YN560.
New Slave Sensor Cover Design
When you look at the front side of the flash you can see that the body design looks like the digital-TTL flash YN-565 EX, and not like the precursor YN560 anymore.
The flat, one-piece plastic screen has been replaced by a construction with an extra insert where the YN565 features its wireless ETTL / wireless iTTL slave sensor eye. Below that extra insert you find the laser-based AF assist on the YN-565.
The new YN560 II doesn’t have either of the 2 features, neither TTL slave nor any form of AF assist beam – despite the identical looks. What it takes over from its heritage, however, are the 2 simple optical slave modes “S1″ and “S2″. Both are always combined with manual flash mode, but allow remote triggering of the flash at a predefined output level.
We’ve shown in the YN560 review how exceptionally reliable and sensitive this slave mode is, and therefore it’s no exaggeration when Yongnuo calls it a “high sensitivity wireless triggering sensor”. They state 15 meters as maximum range outdoors, but this could be easily exceeded in the YN-560 practical tests where up to 30 meters could be achieved.
Where to Find More YN-560-II News
This post summarizes what I know and heard from Yongnuo about the new YN560-II flash as of now. As said at the beginning, it’s expected to be released in December, but I’m not able to give an exact date. Sign up to email updates, “like” Speedlights on Facebook, or follow Speedlights.net on twitter and you will be notified as soon as there are news coming in.
To read Yongnuo’s official product description go here. The full in-depth review of the YN560 flash is also available – I suggest you check this one out if you’re not familiar yet with the Yongnuo YN560 product line, because it has tons of information and test results that are relevant for the new generation as well, e.g. when it comes to the guide number, flash recycle times etc.
If you’re interested in a flash that does everything automatic don’t buy the YN560 (II) but either the new YN-468-II, or the YN-565 EX if you’re a Canon user. For Nikon photographers, the latest iTTL model is still the YN-467 as of November 2011.
Have a Direct Question for Yongnuo?
Would you like to ask a question and get a direct answer from Yongnuo? Go to the “Ask Yongnuo” forum where a representative of the Yongnuo corporation will answer user questions on a regular basis.
(please not that Speedlights.net is only providing the communications channel; Speedlights.net and Yongnuo are completely independent from each other)
Where to Buy
Yongnuo products can be found on eBay or amazon.
To find the new YN-560-II check the official Yongnuo web store on eBay where it will be available first. Click here to see all YN560-II offers on eBay, just keep in mind that you probably won’t find much until December 2011.
Make sure it’s really the new generation what you buy as some offers label the existing YN560 as “YN560II” – that’s at least the case for one flash as of 11/16.
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.