After I wrote several posts about lighting (Light Study I, Light Study II, Patterns and Light Study), I received several responses from my readers saying – “You have up to three flash units in your setup! That is expensive. Not many amateurs who would like to experiment with lighting can afford that.”
Well, this is not exactly true. I agree that Canon flashes are expensive (even second hand), for example I bought my primary Canon 430 EX flash second hand for about 240 USD, and Nikon flashes are in the same price range. There are additional known brands that are a little cheaper but still expensive.
But I found really cheap flashes on e-bay from Chinese company named Yongnuo. Two of them cost me on e-bay only about 95 bucks (for both). Now you have to agree that this is cheap and much more affordable than branded flashes.
Of course there are pros and cons to such a purchase. Let me list here some of them:
- Price. Very affordable flash units.
- Flash comes with diffuser dome, built-in bounce card, and wide angle cover (see on the photo below)
- Flash head can be rotated in all the common directions almost the same as Canon/Nikon flashes.
- The output power of the flash can be controlled (but look at the “Cons” section also)
- GN number – 33, which means that this flash is pretty powerful.
- Recycling time of 5 seconds. My Canon 430EX recycles at about 2.5 seconds with Ni-Mh batteries.
- No ETTL controls (so that flash power has to be set manually)
- No flash zoom adjustments.
- Power is controlled by turning wheel (see the photo below) and not digitally, so I can’t set, for example, exactly 1/2 power. I can do it only approximately.
- No PC sync connector (but actually my Canon 430EX doesn’t have it either).
- I am also not sure about the build quality. What I mean is that externally this flash looks good, but I don’t know how long it will work. Until now I have been using it for two months and didn’t have any problems.
Looking at the pros and cons, I can say that some of the cons are not that important to me – for example the fact that there is no ETTL controls doesn’t bother me because I always work manually with these flashes. I use them primarily as off camera flashes with remote trigger. If I have to use flash on-camera, I use my Canon 430EX. No flash zoom adjustments are also not that important – if you put your flash behind an umbrella or put a gobo on it – the zoom doesn’t really matter. Even without all this, you can just vary the placement distance of the flash.
I would like to warn you again – I can’t guarantee that the build quality of these flashes is the same as the branded ones. It probably is not. But in my opinion for beginners they can be a perfect start.
In conclusion – if you have the money buy the good and proved branded models, but if your budget is limited like mine and you still want to learn how to work with light, these Yongnuo flashes are good solution for starters.
The white marks that you see near the power wheel are made by me.
In my next post on lighting I will talk about my remote flash triggers. So everyone interested – stay tuned!
If you got interested in these flashes you can visit the e-bay store where I found them. This is not an advertisement, I am not affiliated in any way with that store and don’t receive any benefits if you buy there.