Grok Photography

Photos and words by Petter Senften

Review: Yong-Nuo 565EX (Nikon)

I was looking for an extra speedlight to use for a portable two-flash setup. I already owned a Nikon SB-700 which I’m very happy with but didn’t feel like spending that kind of money on a secondary speedlight. So I figured I’d buy some cheap chinese flash that I could simply slave to the SB-700 or just trigger some other way. Looking around, Yong-Nuo seemed decent and I’d noticed a lot of people mentioning them. A little more research provided that their quality was a lot better than expected and that you got a lot of bang for your buck. I found the 565EX II which is an updated version and this one allegedly had TTL measuring as well as support for both Nikons and Canons wireless flash trigger system – Nikon calls theirs CLS which stands for Creative Lighting System. This seemed nice since I’d used my SB-700 with CLS and it’s a nice perk to be able to control flash settings from your camera rather than running around tweaking them manually so if the Yong-Nuo third-party chinese stuff could work with it, that’d be a nice bonus. In all honesty I didn’t really expect it to work.

Off I went, found a reputable seller on ebay and ordered one for the dirt-cheap price of about US$100. In comparison my SB-700 cost roughly US$360 when it was new. Free shipping turned out to be free but very slow and it took more than a month for it to find it’s way to my shores. No problems though, everything went ultra-smooth and about a week ago I had a new toy.

I’ve been playing around with it and I’m really, really impressed. Physically it’s a lot larger than my SB-700. The II (2) version of this flash is a little more luxurious, I’ve gathered that the first generation 565 does not have the LCD-display and is somewhat more obtuse to work with. The flash seems very well-built and doesn’t creak or groan when you use it. Feels solid and is a big chunk of plastic.

Usage-wise it works well. The UI is somewhat weird and the badly-translated manual doesn’t really help out but you can figure out most things on your own. The only real weirdness is that to make the flash talk wirelessly you have to hold down the zoom-button. Not exactly intuitive and had I not seen a bunch of youtube-videos mentioning this I would’ve been stumped as to how to do it. The manual mentions it but calls it the S1/S2-mode and isn’t heavy on useful information. But once you figure out that you need to hold the zoom, the rest is fairly easy to figure out.

The display is quite nice and I’d hazard that the built-in illumination feature is actually better than the one on my SB-700. The display gives you the information you need and while it’s a little cluttered it’s no biggie to work the flash. A nice feature about this flash is that it actually talks to the TTL in the camera and works that way – this means that you need to buy the proper flash for your system, the Nikon-version doesn’t talk Canons TTL and vice versa.

After fooling around a bit, yes – this flash DOES support Nikons CLS. It works just as it would with a Nikon-flash once you figure out the S1/S2-modes and whatnot. Once the flash is in remote-mode then CLS will work just as expected. Yes, it still has the minor niggles that comes with optical triggering but it’s no worse than Nikons own equipment. As far as I could tell, it’s a slot-in replacement/addition to a CLS-enabled flash system.

My opinion, this is a total bargain. You get a lot of flash for your money and if you’re on a budget you can’t go wrong. Sure, this is a third-party option and as such you can’t really demand the same production quality as the branded stuff, but it’s hella cheaper and most people seem to get stuff that just keeps going and going. The flash I got seems totally solid and I haven’t noticed any niggles yet. If it suddenly dies then I’ll update this review to reflect that.

Here’s some hastily shot product-photos, some comparing it to the SB-700.

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