Three months ago I had uploaded a YouTube video regarding one of my YongNuo YN685 speedlites which had developed a fault, and stopped firing its flash. This was actually intended for the repair centre (who insisted I show them video proof), but this has attracted a couple of comments, and a request was made to create a video about the YongNuo YN568EXII and YN685 speedlites and its performance on my Canon cameras. See the video just below!
Now a little background… I’ve been shooting Canon for a couple of years, having used the 100D and 70D, to now owning the 6D and 7D Mk II. Although I AM a self-confessed gadget hoarder, I needed to be a little more savvy (read financially conservative) with my overall photography gear. So when it came to choosing speedlites for my venture into better flash, and indeed bounce and off camera flash, I was not in a position to be able to afford £300-400 per speedlite on a Canon branded one. In fact, as a wedding and portrait photographer, I knew that one speedlite would not suffice, and eventually I would need to invest in at least 3 or 4 of them. If fortune would have it, I’d be able to upgrade in the future. After much research, I came upon this third party manufacturer who seemed to offer as good as, if not identical, performance from their own flashes, but at one third to a quarter of the price! Without knowing a lot about triggering off camera flash, I did a bit more research and decided to purchase three YN568EXII speedlites along with four YN622C wireless triggers. A year later, I also purchased three YN685 speedlites (their current top the range flashes) and the YN622C-TX wireless flash transmitter.
As a wedding and portrait photographer, during weddings I usually like to set up an off camera flash in each corner at the reception, on a light stand or clamp to give some backlighting or rim lighting. These would be set on manual mode. I will also use one speedlite on camera and this can be set to TTL mode. Using the YongNuo speedlites and wireless triggers, this can be easily achieved by holding down the channel select button on the YN622C unit that is mounted on camera for around 2-3 seconds. This will turn the LED solid green. You can now set the modes of the different flashes independently.
This sounded great. I could set my off camera flashes on light stands or clamps in the corners of the reception room, whilst having my on camera flash set to TTL. I then wanted to be able to turn off certain off camera flashes when not needed, and only use the one directly behind the couple for the back lighting. So all I needed to do was designate a group (A, B or C) to each of the off camera flashes. In theory this should have worked perfectly. The YN622C units allow the flashes to be in groups A, B or C. Much to my dismay, I discovered all was not as simple as it should be. Whenever I took a shot, and wanted only one group to fire, for example, instead I would see all the flashes fire. Every single one. Every time. It did not matter which group I wanted to fire, whether it be A, B, or C, if I had an on camera flash mounted on a YN622C trigger on camera, my camera would fire all the off camera flashes as well. So I needed to come up with a solution, or at least a workaround. I knew this just would not be practical during a wedding. So I came up with two.
The first is to use the YN622C-TX transmitter on camera. This allows you to fire your off camera flashes as you please, meaning you can control the power output, mode, and even turn specific groups on or off. This works incredibly well in a portrait environment, as you could also have a main light firing from the front. So, a great solution for studio setups, but not so for a wedding reception, as you need to be moving on your feet. So I then came up with the next solution.
For this, I would use the YN622C on camera with either the YN568EXII or YN685 placed on top. I would put this flash in TTL mode, group A and channel 1. Now, bear in mind that with the YongNuo speedlites, it does not matter which group or channel you put it in. Being placed on camera, the speedlite will always fire, meaning you can put this in TTL or manual mode, whichever you prefer, plus have the ability to fire any off camera flashes with the YN622C on camera as the wireless trigger. Now onto the off camera flashes. The YongNuo YN622C wireless triggers support upto 3 groups and 8 channels. So I am able to place a speedlite in each four corners of a wedding reception room and have them in different groups, albeit, in 3 groups rather than a preferred 4 groups. I would then assign different channels for those groups, meaning I would put group A on channel 1, group B on channel 2 and group C on channel 3. With all of that in place, here is the important bit. As the first dance commences, and I move around the dance floor, I can quickly change the channel of my on camera YN622C wireless trigger with a click of a button so that it will only fire the off camera flash in that channel, PLUS my on camera flash. Remember, the on camera speedlite is unaffected by the choice of channel OR group you place it in, or which channel or group you select on the wireless trigger placed on camera. I also keep the YN622C-TX in my pocket, so that I can still change the power output, zoom setting, and mode directly from the unit. There is one extra step to perform however. You must remember to first change the channel of the YN622C-TX to the relevant channel of the group you wish to change settings for, scroll to the chosen group, and only then can you mess around with any settings.
And that’s it! Admittedly, it IS a more cumbersome solution, and I cannot figure out why it should be this difficult to just switch which groups to fire rather than play around with channels and having to remember them, but at least this works. As with most things, with a little practice, and brain training, it becomes second nature. All you need to decide is whether to accept this trade-off in functionality for the sake of financial savings. For me? At this point in time, the YongNuo YN568EXII and YN685 speedlites coupled with the YN622C wireless triggers afford me the luxury of great off camera flash options at an insanely affordable price (see photo below). And it works incredibly well with my Canon gear. For as long as I have a Canon camera in my arsenal, these will remain a firm favourite of mine.