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Lifewire / Jonno Hill
Extensive manual control
Documentation could be better
Quality control issues
The Yongnuo YN560 IV Wireless Flash Speedlite Master is a great manual flash for controllable environments, but event photographers might want to look elsewhere.
We purchased the Yongnuo YN560 IV Wireless Flash Speedlite Master so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full product review.
The Yongnuo YN560 IV Wireless Flash Speedlite Master finds an interesting balance between barebones manual flashes that sell for around half the price, and much more expensive options from big brands like Canon and Nikon. The big upgrade is full radio control, letting you adjust a group of these lights in concert. Along with 24-105mm zoom support and a quick 3-second recycle time, this is a very appealing flash for off-camera use for portrait and real estate photographers.
The Yongnuo YN560 IV Wireless Flash Speedlite Master features a robust design that doesn’t feel like the manufacturer skimped on build quality — one of our biggest concerns with budget-minded flashes like this. When adjusting the position of the flash head through its 90 degrees of vertical and 270 degrees of horizontal range, it felt very solid.
Buyers that need a lot of manual control for complex flash setups will be very pleased with what the get for the approximately $60 the YN560 IV costs.
Starting with the front of the device, you’ll find the photosensitive trigger sensors and the 2.4G wireless receiver module. On the left side, the spring-loaded battery compartment cover opens to reveal room for four AA batteries, beneath which is a guide diagram to assistance in orienting the batteries. On the opposite side, users will see a micro USB port (for firmware upgrades), and a flap that reveals an external power port and PC sync port underneath. On the bottom of the device, you’ll find a hot shoe mount with a screw locking mechanism.
Finally, on the rear of the device users will see the LCD display and a suite of buttons and indicators, which we will cover in the next section.
The Yongnuo YN560 IV Wireless Flash Speedlite Master has a lot of different options that will make it an attractive option for manual shooters. But before we dive into all the things it does well, let’s talk about what you won’t find in this flash. The most notable omission is TTL. For the uninitiated, Through The Lens (TTL) is a metering mode that lets a flash unit fire a series of infrared bursts and evaluates the actual light coming through the lens to determine how much power to deliver when taking a photo. It’s very handy to have for beginners and event photographers, but by no means essential for many other types of users.
The other missing feature here is high-speed sync, which lets photographers shoot with shutter speeds in excess of 1/250th of a second. High-speed sync is a newer feature, and useful in scenarios where you want to shoot at a high shutter speed and low aperture, like outdoor portraiture.
The YN560 IV has a lot of functionality, but it doesn’t have the most intuitive interface.
Neither of these features is particularly expected in a flash at this price point, but it’s worth mentioning in case you’re shopping for something that can cover that functionality.
Now, let’s talk about what the Yongnuo YN560 IV Wireless Flash Speedlite Master is proficient at — manual, off-camera light. If you want to shoot mostly indoors, mostly in controlled settings, the YN560 IV is a pretty great pick.
Yongnuo provided this flash with 2.4GHz wireless triggering, as well as S1 and S2 optical trigger options. Those wishing to use this Speedlite solely with S1 or S2 optical trigger might be better served by a simpler, less expensive option. But if you plan on purchasing multiple units and using them together, the Yongnuo YN560 IV Wireless Flash Speedlite Master is a great option. You can control the settings of all of the slave units remotely, which is a huge plus when dealing with more than two flashes. Not to mention the money you will save using multiple YN560 IVs instead of big brand competing products that often cost in excess of $200.
The Yongnuo YN560 IV Wireless Flash Speedlite Master performed very well in our two and three light off-camera test setup, using an umbrella to take portraits.
Once you unpack your flash and install the four AA batteries, you’re going to want to familiarize yourself with the buttons and menu system a little. The YN560 IV has a lot of functionality, but it doesn’t have the most intuitive interface. The front of the device contains a top row of four buttons (a Light/Music icon, Mode, a Wi-Fi icon, and Zoom). Below this is a charge indicator button marked “PILOT”, a direction pad, and an On/Off button.
It's not immediately evident what the four buttons in the top row do. For example, the Mode button, instead of changing the trigger mode as one might assume, instead changes between M and Multi — modes which themselves require further reading. M functions like a typical manual flash would, while Multi is a programmable strobe mode which lets you pick power, number of repetitions, and frequency of flashes.
If you plan on purchasing multiple units and using them together, the Yongnuo YN560 IV Wireless Flash Speedlite Master is a great option.
The button with the Wi-Fi icon on it to the right of the Mode button is used to toggle between trigger modes. Here you may select the radio trigger modes TX and RX (for transmitter and receiver, respectively), and the standard S1 and S2 optical trigger modes. Yongnuo could have definitely done a better job explaining all of these things more clearly.
The last quirk that users will have to familiarize themselves with is that a lot of menu functionality is only accessed by pressing two of the top row buttons simultaneously. Pressing the first two opens the advanced options, pressing the middle two issues an activation command to the slave units when in TX mode, and pressing the final two buttons lets you set the channel.
Overall, the YN560 IV gives you a lot of functionality and control, but definitely requires some reading and troubleshooting before you can master the device.
Buyers that need a lot of manual control for complex flash setups will be very pleased with what the get for the approximately $60 the YN560 IV costs. It sits at a price that’s a fraction of its TTL-enabled Canon and Nikon counterparts, but twice that of even simpler options. Do you need all the functionality that the YN560 IV offers? Are you willing to troubleshoot a bit with returns to make sure you get good, non-defective units? If the answer to those questions is yes, this is definitely the flash for you.
Photographers just starting out (or with significantly less complicated lighting ambitions) might be better served by getting a dead-simple option like the Neewer TT560 Flash Speedlite. It’s a no-fuss option with very few extraneous controls that will be a good starting point for most users, and solid for pros who don’t want more than optical trigger functionality on a flash.
If you feel like you’ve outgrown the capabilities of simpler flashes, however, or simply want more room for growth, the Yongnuo YN560 IV Wireless Flash Speedlite Master offers a lot more for another $30.
Full featured manual flash
The Yongnuo YN560 IV Wireless Flash Speedlite Master may not be a very simple flash, but it packs enough functionality to make a very versatile platform for more aspirational photographers. Buyers that want full manual control and radio transmission without paying an arm and a leg will be more than pleased with what they get.
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