Yongnuo YN-622C Wireless Flash Trigger Transceiver Review

2015-01-29 16.18.03Here’s a general rule in life that I use: “You get what you pay for.”

Which is why, prior to getting hold of some Yongnuos, I was running around with PocketWizzards (PWs) in my bag. But if you get what you pay for, you certainly don’t expect the PWs to die on you, not at that cost! However that’s exactly what happened.

What was I looking for?

So there I was, looking to get some new triggers, and thinking “Do I really pay out a shed load of cash, for something that’s just broken on me?” It seemed the sensible thing to do here, was to take a look at what’s out there on the market, rather than just blindly accept that a) PWs are the best and b) Most expensive is the best.

I took the approach of listing the things I use the triggers for:

  • Off-Shoe, flash gun in hand, shooting at nightclubs
  • Dual flash set-up with softboxes for location shoots
  • Remote triggering while assistant is holding flash other size of subject, for example: wedding first dance

And there we go. It’s not a big list at all. I’m not taking photographs with 20 flashes at high-sync, or of snowboarders jumping off a ramp using generators and teams of people (obviously I’m taking that last example from the Chase Jarvis session he did 5 or so years ago, watch the youtube video here).

Instead I’m being practical here. I no longer feel the need to over-buy gear anymore. I’m working photographer; I need the right tools, at the right price, for what I’m working on.

So I stumbled upon these Yongnuo triggers while doing some research. I’d looked at RadioPoppers, newer PWs, Hähnel Tuff, Pixel Kings, Phottix Odin, and some other obscure, almost unknown budget-range triggers out there.

On Paper, these little Yongnuo’s were incredibly impressive compared to their very small price tags. A set of 2 was looking to set me back only £65! And some of the specs were great, the ones that were standing out to me were:

  • Full ETTL – yep, FULL ETTL! not TTL, not walking back-and-forth to my guns to adjust things, this is real ETTL
  • High Speed Sync
  • Dimensions: 89.5x53x39mm
  • Net Weight:78g

That’s right, I was putting size and weight up there as an important factor. I often have to suddenly move from one location to another, and that usually requires just chucking the camera in the bag and running. With the PWs sticking upright on top of the camera, this has always been frustrating, but these Yongnuos are flat, and low profile.

Build Quality

So at that price, I figured, what the heck, lets get a couple, and see what happens, if they’re no good, I haven’t exactly lost a lot of money.

Something people will probably tell you about my gear, is the stuff really does get put through its paces. I don’t pay thousands of pounds for cameras and lenses, to then expect to have to protect them like they’re made of eggshells. I also don’t care if a little bit of paint gets removed from the corners of something. I expect work-horses.

So is something that’s made of such lightweight plastic, at such a low cost, going to last more than 5 minutes with me then?

YES!

These things have been dropped many times now, trodden on, rained on and splashed with champagne. They’ve been in my bag without a pouch or box, rattling away for 6 months. Not only are they still working, they’ve hardly marked at all.

While on build quality, yes they feel a bit cheap in the hand, but nothing’s broken off, the battery door is still solid with no broken latches, etc (something I know Yongnuo are known for on some of their Flash Gun models). I really am impressed with the build vs. the cost.

Performance

So surely this is where they fall down? The official distance for example is 100m – Compare that to other budget triggers, and its quite short, and compare it to something like the PWs, it’s really short.  But I want to be clear here, I’m not reviewing this trigger based on some extensive testing that’s fair across all competitors, this is instead a practitioner’s review, and therefore, based on my earlier list of ways in which it will get used, has it performed well?

YES!

More than “well” infact, I’ve not had transmission problems, I’ve not had issues with them connecting to each other, I’ve not had issues with them keeping up with high burst rates. They just simply work.

Ok so I’ve not tried using them over 100 meters, but I have done some reasonably long shoots with them… take a look at this behind the scene shot:

IMG_5079_8164

 

I’d say, based on the lens I’m using, that’s about 70m away. No problems. You might be looking for something with a lot more reach though, depending on what you’re shooting. Visit this post if you want to know a bit more about the shot above by the way, it ended up looking like this:

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Anyway, what about battery usage? Absolutely fine. It takes a couple of AA batteries in each unit. I use the same 7 Day Shop 2900 batteries that I use in my flash guns for this, and the flashes run out of juice almost 3 changes to 1 in favour of the triggers.

Something else worth mentioning is the red Focus Assist Beam. I’ve seen some reviews out there saying that some of them don’t line up with the centre point on the camera, and therefore the light is pretty much useless and the triggers, as a result, are no good for low-light photography. But I disagree, I’ve got 5 of them now, and they’re all spot on in the centre of the image.

Usability

There has to be something not so great with these triggers, at this price, and it’s the usability I’m afraid. It’s not shocking, but it can get quite frustrating at times, especially in the early days of usage when you’re getting used to where everything is.

A pretty much standard feature I’d expect on something like a trigger, is a “Lock” feature, that basically stops you from accidentally adjusting your settings while moving about, etc. Does this trigger have a lock?

NO!

2015-01-29 16.18.35Not only can you not lock the buttons, the buttons are really sensitive. They’re these handy little tap buttons on the side of the unit. On the left side you have a button to tap to change channels (along with a test button) and on the right side, you have a button to change the group (along with a power on/off slide switch).

Both channel and group buttons have lots of different modes, but only one button each to cycle through modes, rather than a “next and previous” style arrangement.

Basically if you are on the right setting, then tap the button by mistake, you need to tap the button a good number of times again to get back to where you were… and I won’t even tell you the words I say if I then also accidentally skip the setting again! or again AGAIN!

When I’m shooting with the flash in my hand, this is then amplified… I can often end up with both units being accidentally moved to the wrong channel and group settings, and having to quickly start tapping away on both, trying to get myself back to where I should be.

But you know what, I can live with it. I’ve now bought 5 of the units. Settings such as flash power, etc. can be changed within the camera menus, so as long as I’m careful, I can manage my way around trying to not touch them once they’re set up.

Looking at the YN-622C-TX trigger – basically a transmitter with an LCD screen and extra buttons to replace the standard 622C on top of your camera, I would expect these usability issues to go away somewhat. I’m going to purchase one in the next few weeks to see if it offers anything worthwhile.

I really do recommend these great little budget alternatives.

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