Yongnuo is a Chinese manufacturer of photographic equipment which makes speedlites, flash triggers, LED lighting, cable releases and more recently camera lens. In the last year they have even started to produce cameras themselves.
Their registered name is Shenzhen Yong Nuo Photographic Equipment Co. Ltd and they are based in Shenzhen in China. They have four factories and eight stores throughout China. However in Europe, USA, Canada and Australia you’ll find their products mainly retailing on Amazon or ebay. In the US many of their products are now available through B&H Photo and other online stores.
Yongnuo are popular for producing cheap “clones” of existing equipment, particularly Canon speedlites and prime lenses. The Yongnuo 600EX -RT II is almost an exact copy of Canon’s 600EX II-RT, even the radio and optical wireless signals are compatible as well as the E-TTL II auto exposure system. And the big advantage, especially for beginners, is that their products are much much cheaper than the originals. You can buy five Yongnuo 600EX-RT II speedlites for the price of a Canon 600EX II-RT. Many professional photographers will tell you that you get what you pay for, to a certain extent it’s true especially if you’re a commercial photographer charging clients thousands for your services or a wedding photographer who can’t afford to be let down at the critical moment. For the majority of photographers though the decision whether to buy an expensive original Canon version or to buy three cloned versions and still have money left over for a decent soft box isn’t a difficult one.
Whereas Canon offer a current range of just two professional quality speedlites (well three if you include the 470EX-AI), Yongnuo seem to be knocking out a couple of new models or updated versions each year. The various options can be very confusing especially since many of them are similarly priced and often it’s difficult to know which is the newest version and what updates have been made. We hope this website will help you although I have to admit even I get confused at times.
What’s wrong with Yongnuo
Yongnuo used to be the best budget alternative to Canon but in recent years another Chinese company Godox seems to be edging further ahead. One of the problems with Yongnuo is that they have tried to copy Canon’s wireless systems without having full access to all the design information i.e they backwards engineer their products. This is fine at the time that they are released but when Canon brings out a new camera or speedlite then compatibility problems can sometimes occur. That’s why it’s critical to buy the newer versions or radio triggers etc and keep the firmware up to date although updating the firmware can’t always fix the problem. If you buy a new camera then you always run the risk that your Yongnuo “clones” will no longer work as they should do.
Another issue that I have found with Yongnuo is that they have too many wireless systems on the go at the same time. Canon has just the one radio communication system (RT) and one optical system (EX), Godox has its radio X system but Yongnuo has a host of different systems that aren’t all compatible. With some speedlites Yongnuo has copied the Canon system (RT radio & EX optical pulse wireless) whilst other speedlites require manual triggers using radio RF602 radio system (older models), which were then replaced by the RF603 and now RF603 II (which is compatible with the older RF603 system but not the RF602 one). They’ve even brought out a new RF605 trigger which is compatible with RF602, RF603 and RF603II systems. Getting confused? and this is just for the manual triggers. They also have a 622C radio system which is capable of transmitting all the E-TTL II information and are compatible with Canon EX speedlites allowing full E-TTL II auto metering. The 622C system works great especially for the Canon 580EX II and Canon 430EX II flashes. As you can see it’s a bit of a mine field but, if you know what you are doing, all the systems seem to work well and I’ve tried to help you as much as I can with clarifying the different systems in this website.
Overall I love a lot of Yongnuo’s equipment and their innovative products as well as their ability to quickly respond to the market’s needs. Their wide range of products offer photographers a fantastic choice of excellent value equipment especially for people starting out in photography who don’t have a big budget and where money saved is better spent on more important items such as light modifiers and training.
Useful external website links
http://en.yongnuo.com.cn/enwww/ -the English version of their official Chinese website
https://www.yongnuo.eu – European arm of the business
http://www.hkyongnuo.com/e-aboutus.php – Hong Kong arm of the business
https://yongnuousa.net – claims to be the US website but looks a bit poor quality.