Thursday, February 16, 2012

On The Cheap: Yongnuo YN-467 Speedlite Review

I suppose, in the name of full disclosure, I should start out saying that I am wary about writing this review. This is mostly because I'm not deeply versed in flash photography. By that, I mean that I studied the technical aspects of flash photography while in school and I used a variety of flashes and setups as well, but in all honesty it was something that I didn't master and mostly fudged around with until I got it right. I was spoiled and shot mostly with strobes in a studio setting, but still used a speedlight, just not many times. So, if you are looking for a laboratory test/technical review where someone goes in-depth about verifying the guide number, measures the color temperature of the light, or whether or not it will blend... this is not it. 

So what is this review, then? Well, it's essentially a 'Did it do what I needed it to do?' review, so let's start with what I was looking for. Not being a speedlight veteran I decided that whatever I got had to have E-TTL because I had jobs coming up quickly that I needed it for and I didn't have enough time to become proficient in shooting in Manual mode. I also knew that bounce flash always looks better than direct, so I wanted one that had a built in bounce card and at least a tilt head if not both tilt and swivel. Any extras or slave functionality would be welcomed as well. Oh, and most importantly I had less than $100 to spend, so anything from Canon was out of the question.

Mmm... The sweet glow of faster battery death.
After some searching and a couple of nights pounding my head asking myself why I even bothered looking, I finally settled on the YN-467. It had everything on my list and fit my budget at $73. Now, anyone who is looking for info on the 467 probably already knows there is a very similar YN-468 that has an LCD screen and ON/OFF button instead of LED lights and a twist dial. So why not buy that one? The answer is simply that they are the same flash to me. You are just paying $20+ for the privilege of seeing the same thing in LCD form and letting it drain your batteries faster. There is no added functionality or settings gained from it. Technically you do get a burst-mode feature, but it sacrifices flash strength and I would file how often I need my flash to keep up with six frames per second somewhere between rarely and never, so I pocketed my $20 and bought the YN-467.

One weak tab holds it shut.
Now let's talk build quality. For something that costs one third of the device it's modeled after, you wouldn't expect much. I know I didn't. However, the 467 is actually quite nicely made. It has a good heft to it but doesn't feel like a brick on top of your camera. Giving it a gentle shake I didn't hear anything rattling around, not even the pull-out bounce card and diffuser. Also, the tilt and swivel head turns smoothly and locks in to each position solidly with no fear of it moving on it's own. The only flaw is the battery chamber and cover. Either the chamber is too small or the springs inside are too strong, combine that with the ridiculously thin battery cover and it's a recipe for disaster if you aren't careful. I just feel it in my gut that this cover will break long before the electronics inside wear out and will force me to strap it shut or render it useless.

Switching over to the performance side, things start to get dicey. While shooting in E-TTL Mode I felt like the unit consistently overexposed a bit. I was running at -1 stop of exposure compensation and -1 stop of flash exp. comp. and images still came out on the bright side, but not blown out. I also was not a fan of how loud this unit is. Whether firing it up, adjusting the power level, or it adjusting itself as you zoom, it sounds like an old floppy drive on an Apple II computer. Since I was using it as an on-camera flash, I'm sure the proximity to my ears made a difference in how noticeable/annoying it was, but that doesn't change the fact that it's loud. The last negative thing I have to mention I'm not 100% sure was the unit's fault. I had an issue where the unit would recycle and fire just fine off my camera with the pilot button, but as soon as I put it on the camera, it would fire once and lock up. It was very frustrating and I thought for a while the flash was broken. However, I was able to fix it by placing the flash on the camera, turning it on, and going to the External Flash settings in the camera menu and playing with some settings. The two machines finally started talking again and seem to be back to normal. However, I feel like this issue may pop it's ugly head up in the future since I have no clue what locked it up to begin with.

On the positive side, the recycle rate never disappointed me during any shoot. It was always ready to go when the shutter clicked. White balance was never an issue as I never noticed any tinting in any lighting condition. It also covered four hours of shooting time on a single set of batteries. Despite the above paragraph, I was pleasantly surprised by how well this unit works given it's price range. I expected getting quality images with this flash would be like pulling teeth, but that's just not the case. Now that I have a set of wireless transceivers (look for a review later), I am looking forward to taking this flash off-camera and seeing how it expands my creativity.

Final Verdict: You Get What You Pay For!

Now, you're probably asking yourself, "What the hell does that mean?" And that's a fair question. Just because I've fallen in love with this flash doesn't mean I've given it a key to my apartment and let it keep an extra toothbrush in the bathroom. It's performing well so far... so far. This thing cost $73 when it's comparable Canon model, the 430EX II costs four times the price. I may sound paranoid about how cheap this flash is, but I know there has to be quality sacrificed somewhere inside to make up the price difference and I've already seen signs that prove it. Will it last 12 months, or 12 years? Who knows, but I knew the risk when I bought it. If you aren't willing to take that gamble, look elsewhere.

Thanks for reading!


  1. My YN467 died, first it did not sync right then the flash was really loud when it fired and then it went completely dead and does not turn on.

    1. Sorry to hear that, Captain. About a year later for me and mine is surprisingly still holding up. These cheap Chinese items are always a gamble. Hopefully you have better luck with your next one.