My Favorite Gear: Yongnuo Flash System

Today’s Post by Barry Staver

Let’s cut to the chase. Dedicated flash systems are lacking in the world of mirrorless photography. Both Canon and Nikon still rule in this world with their respective camera systems. I’ve tried the dedicated TTL flashes made by Panasonic for my Lumix GH4’s and they just don’t cut it for my shooting style. No radio control, only the line of (short) sight optical wireless technology and they’re not powerful.

I’ve used my Canon 580 EX II’s and Radio Poppers for speedlite needs with mixed results. “Mixed” meaning unreliable and temperamental. Plus taking a step backwards, losing the TTL feature to manual flash exposure.

Enter the Yongnuo Flash System. Several of my friends and colleagues have been using them and recommending them to me. I’m slow to catch on but now that I have, wow. I’m sold on these.

My lighting backpack now contains four YN560 IV speedlights ($69) and the YN560-TX Manual Flash Controller ($39.99.) Yes, still only manual flash mode but this system works well. It’s easy to set up out of the box and easy to adjust while shooting. I’m able to group the flashes, turn groups on or off, adjust flash exposure, zoom the flash head all from the controller attached to the hot shoe on camera. There are several different radio frequencies to use, so these lights fire at greater distances without requiring line of sight.

These speedlights are also dirt cheap when compared to their Canon and Nikon counterparts, so they’re easy to replace if and when they don’t work.

On location at an event I often extend one flash in the left hand to light subjects. The controller stays mounted to the camera’s hot shoe and it’s easy to make slight flash output adjustments while I’m shooting.

In the studio I’ve got one or more Yongnuo units firing into my softbox as the main light. One Yongnuo is easy attached to a small lightweight boom pole for the hair light. Others are easy to aim at background if needed.