Yongnuo YN 460-II Manual Flash

YN-460II Yong Nuo Camera Flash Speedlight for Canon Nikon Pentax Olympus
Advanced Model of YN-460
Apart from the Optical Slave and Fully Manual function as YN-460, YN-460II has the following advanced features:
* Higher guider number (GN38), with electric capacity increased from YN460 700uf to YN460II 1200uf
* Output power fine-tuning function:
* Level 46 light quantity output control with 1/7-stop increment
* Optical sensor is moved from the head of the flash to the body of he flash (behind the red plastic). This change make the it covers a wide direction
* Technical parameters:
* Guide number:
* 38 (at 35mm focal length, ISO 100 in meters)
* 53 (at 35mm focal length, ISO 200 in meters)
* Flash mode: M, S1, S2
* Flash power control : Level 46 light quantity output control with 1/7-stop increment
* Circuit design: Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor (IGBT)
* Vertical rotation angle : -7~90 degrees
* Horizontal rotation angle : 0~270 degrees
* Power: 4 x AAsiz
Product Code: 311
Brand: Yongnuo
Warranty: 7 Days Check Warranty
Availability: In Stock
Price Updated On: 23 Aug, 2015
Rs. 4,600
Shipping & Delivery
Shipping Cost: Rs. 200/Unit

Yongnuo Speedlite YN 460-II Review (Manual Flash)

 

Yongnuo YN460-II review photo on standThe YN 460 Mark II, the second flash from the Chinese Yongnuo brand, is an upgraded version of the original YN460.

The big difference is an increased guide number which reaches now 38 in the specs (and 34 in reality as you’ll see further below), compared to GN 33 (official) /28 (real) for the 460 “mark 1″ flash.

Luckily, the price has only been moderately increased, making this a very attractive offer for off-camera flash to use with radio triggers.

Other improvements include shorter recycle time, optional partial output levels, a more silent operation, and a better location for the optical slave sensor.

The third fully manual flash from Yongnuo is the YN-560. It has the same basic (real world) guide number of 34 but adds a zoom reflector, PC sync port, a new and bigger casing (modeled after the 580EX series from Canon) with improved battery handling and a PC socket, but it comes also with a somewhat bigger price tag.
 

 

YN-460 II Highlights

  • very low-cost “strobist” flash for manual-mode shooting
  • powerful with fast recycle times (when using NiMH batteries)
  • swivel and tilt flash head, built-in wide panel
  • manual mode with 1/64 min, 2 optical slave modes
  • compatible with radio triggers, e.g. RF-602 / RF-603, Cactus V4, etc

 

YN-460 Mark II Canon / Nikon Compatibility

This is a manual-mode-only flash, and not intended to be used in the camera hot-shoe. There’s no automatic exposure control with DSLR’s such as the Rebel T3i, or the Nikon D7000.

Canon cameras Nikon cameras
only really usable in manual camera mode “M” or “Tv” (all Canon camera bodies); no digital TTL support only really usable in manual camera mode “M” or “S” (all Nikon camera bodies); no digital TTL support

In full manual mode it can be used with any camera that has the standard ISO accessory show; but this flash wants to be off the leash in be used in wireless mode with radio triggers – that’s what it has become famous for.

YN 460 II Review Contents

Only Supports Manual Flash Mode

There is only one single flash mode available: the full manual mode “M” where you set the flash output by hand, and for every photo you take. 2 other flash (sub-)modes called “S1″ and “S2″ are also manual flash, but triggered through a built-in slave sensor instead of the flash foot.

With the mode button you can switch between the 3 available modes, each indicated with a corresponding orange LED:

  • M – manual mode
    flash triggers through the flash foot, 1/1 to 1/64 power available
  • S1 – simple optical slave mode
    triggering via light sensor on front side of the unit with the first light signal detected, 1/1 to 1/64 can be pre-selected
  • S2 – intelligent optical slave mode
    also triggered via light sensor, also 1/1 down to 1/64; but in this mode, the 460-II ignores the first light signal – which is the small pre-flash in digital camera TTL operation – and only triggers with the main flash

Not supported are: film-based TTL, digital D-TTL or i-TTL for Nikon, digital E-TTL or E-TTL II for Canon, stroboscopic mode = multi flash mode, “auto” mode.

Wireless Flash

The 2 optical slave modes are usable indoors but go blind with bright ambient light – this is the same problem with all speedlites in the 46x-series from Yongnuo. Only the YN-560 has an improved slave sensor, which I was able to use up to EV14 (a sunny day in the Bay Area).

So better always use the YN460-II with radio triggers. With its low trigger voltage of 3.26 V it works just fine with radio systems like the RF-602 (also from Yongnuo). In contrast to the bigger 560, there’s also no problem with blocking the On/Off switch of the trigger (works OK with both RF-602 and RF-603 systems).

Learn much more about wireless flash in the radio triggering & optical slave mode section below.
 

Basic information
Brand Yongnuo
Model YN460-II
Class mid-range
Cost (USD) 50
First introduction 2009
Successor none yet
Canon compatibility
Compatible with Canon cameras (E-TTL(II)) no
Supported Canon flash modes M
Canon wireless TTL slave / master no / no
Nikon compatibility
Compatible with Nikon cameras (CLS / i-TTL) no
Supported Nikon flash modes M
Nikon wireless TTL slave / master no / no
Manual mode
Manual power settings (on the flash) 1/1 – 1/2 – 1/4 – 1/8 – 1/16 – 1/32 – 1/64

 

Supplied Accessories

The YN-460 II, like the other models from Yongnuo’s 46x flash lineup, comes in a nice looking cardboard box. This box is usually shipped in a thin bubble wrap envelope which does not offer a lot of protection.

Yongnuo YN-460 II with Supplied Accessories

A second layer or a hard box would make for safer shipping, but luckily I haven’t had any damages yet. The packaging includes a good range of accessories – Yongnuo is quite generous in that respect:

  • YN 460-II speedlite (there are no dedicated Canon or Nikon versions)
  • instruction leaflet in Chinese and English
  • a feature comparison chart about the Yongnuo flash models
  • a soft bag
  • a flash stand
  • a flash bounce diffuser as a “free gift”.

The instruction leaflet can be found here on the site, it describes features and usage on 2 pages – that’s all the space needed to explain the small feature set.

The soft bag made of textile material is of good quality but it’s not comparable to the padded soft cases for Nikon flashes or the 580 from Canon, for example.

The flash stand is good, a better design than the cheap AS-21 that comes with the Nikon SB-900. It even has a metal tripod mount, and a hole for the flash safety pin.

The snap on diffuser comes as a “free gift” (depending on the seller you’re ordering from).

Yongnuo YN-460-II with Snap On Diffuser

Build Quality

Casing

The YN-460 II is a pretty compact flash, a bit higher than Nikon’s SB-600, but clearly smaller then the YN560 (left), the Nikon SB-26 (right) and the Vivitar 285HV (middle-right in the photo below).

Yongnuo 460-II next to YN560, 285HV, SB-26

The YN-460 mark 2 is a typical representative of the Yongnuo 46xs line: it is a bit rough around the edges, but a sturdy construction with thick plastic and a rather elegant casing that feels OK in your hand. Clearly not as good as a Nikon or Canon or the Yongnuo 560, but a bit better than the cheap feeling Vivitar 285HV.

Flash Foot

The standard plastic flash foot – a metal construction since 2011 – fits well in my cameras’ hot shoes, radio triggers and flash stands. There is only 1 single electric pin on the flash foot, used for receiving the trigger signal. The additional, non-electric safety pin is connected to a traditional locking wheel, which has a nice large size and moves smoothly.

Yongnuo YN460-II Flash Foot

The advantage of a locking wheel over some of the quick release solutions is that it also squeezes the flashes against the shoe mount, in addition to the safety pin locking action.

No PC Sync Socket, no External Power Source

Apart from the foot there is no other socket or connector on the outside of the Yongnuo, so you need to rely on the flash foot for both mounting and triggering. It’s only the Yongnuo 560, with identical output at 35mm but an upgraded casing, that features a PC sync socket and a connector for an external battery pack.

Yongnuo 560 Frontal View with 460II

Flash Head

The flash head is unchanged from the YN460 and is also the same as for the YN465 (and the ‘exotic’ YN462). It was a smart design choice by the Yongnuo engineers to give their 460 series flash heads front elements’ the same dimensions as the Nikon SB-600 and SB-800 so there is an abundance of stofens, lightspheres, grids, snoots etc available.

Yongnuo YN-460-II Swivel

Adjustment

There is 270 degrees swivel plus 90 degrees upwards tilt, and negative tilting goes down to -10 degrees. Negative tilt is useful, e.g. for close-up work or for pointing the beam closer towards the center of an umbrella. As a plus there is no release button that needs to be pushed for rotating or tilting the head. It still holds tight enough in every position and operation is smooth at the same time – well built for such a cheap flash!

Fixed 35mm Reflector

By default the flash covers 35mm in full frame (about 24mm for APS-C); There is no zoom feature on the YN460 mkII, neither motorized nor manual, so you don’t get a higher guide number when you use the flash with a tele – it can’t zoom with the lens. If you need zoom (and want an all-manual flashgun from Yongnuo), get the YN560.

Wide angle coverage

With the flip-down wide-panel the coverage extends from the default 35mm down to 18mm in full frame or 12mm for APS-C / Canon EF-S. Built into the flash head is also a reflector card or catchlight panel that can be pulled out for bounced flash applications.

Yongnuo YN-460-II with 18mm Wide Panel

Test: Wide Angle Coverage

The actual pattern of the light falloff was tested with an 12mm APS-C lens on a Nikon D90. The amount of vignetting is ‘average’ on the YN460-II, the flash is not among the best but also not bad in this discipline.

Yongnuo YN-460-II vignetting and light falloff at wide angle

The whole test is maybe a bit less relevant for this flash as it will mostly be used off-camera, and more often than not with light modifiers such as umbrellas or reflectors. In these cases, the vignetting matters to a lesser extent.

Operation

The Yongnuo design relies on 5 soft rubber buttons to operate the speedlite:

  • On/Off power button
  • Mode button
  • Pilot button for test flash
  • Combined “Plus” / “Minus” button

Yongnuo YN-460-II with Buttons

The buttons are a bit wiggly and very soft. There is also not much of a pressure point, and there are some user reports where they even lost contact and the flash couldn’t be operated anymore. On the upside, the buttons are clearly labeled, and they have a good size. The YN-460 Mark II is also responsive, there is no delay between pushing a button and the corresponding setting to change. Accept that there is some compromise you need to make when paying so little, and the “mushy” buttons are on of the few.

No LCD Display

Another compromise is the lack of an LCD display, but this is a surprisingly small one as you’ll quickly discover. The speedlite always shows you the one piece of information you need to know, and that is the current output level. Therefore, it uses a battery of 7 bright yellow LEDs, which are even easier to read than the usual small digits on a low contrast LCD panel.

YN-460-II with LEDs

The other light is the flash ready LED, which uses “green” to indicate the Yongnuo is ready for the next shot, and “red” for recycle – this is reversed from Canon and Nikon flashes (but the same logic as used by Nissin, for example).

Apart from mode selection and output level setting with the “Plus / Minus” button, there are no other settings to be made on the YN-460 mark 2. The 3 flash modes will be discussed on the off-camera review page.

Power Supply

No changes here from the initial YN460: The flash still takes 4 AA batteries or rechargeables, I’ve used the speedlite with alkaline batteries and Sanyo eneloops. As noted above there is no socket for an external battery pack, so Yongnuo’s own SF-17 or SF-18 can’t be used.

 

I keep repeating myself in all 460 series reviews: the weakest spot in the construction is the battery door with its primitive plastic hinge. Everybody dislikes it and nobody seems to have had a real problem ever. You simply need to figure out the technique to get the batteries into their place without too much “battery cell mikado”.

Yongnuo YN-460-II Battery Loading

Once you mastered this it’s a trouble free exercise. There are large stickers in the battery chamber with polarity symbols which helps.

Test: Flash Recycling Times

Modern flashes have full-power recycle times between 2 and 6 seconds, depending on their maximum power and battery type. Speedlights.net recycle times are tested according to ISO 2827; see details.

4.2 / 2.1 Seconds with Alkaline and NiMH

Tests of recycling time show a significant improvement in the mark II model compared to the original YN-460, which was really slow with alkaline cells. The YN460-II is strongerand a lot faster: 4.2 seconds with fresh Duracell alkaline batteries isn’t bad (official spec says 4.0 seconds), and only 2.1 seconds with eneloop NiMH is really quick.

Yongnuo YN460-II flash recycle time

The Yongnuo YN 560 is even a bit faster in the tests, recycle time is 1.6 seconds with NiMH batteries and 3.4 seconds with alkaline AA’s.

Overheating Protection

Overheating protection, also known as ‘thermal cut-out’ is a feature found on more and more flashes today. It is a good thing as it protects your flash head from melting down when over-using it, but this is achieved through locking your flash, typically for a couple of minutes. This was (or is) a real problem with the SB-900 from Nikon.

The YN-460 II features an overheating protection feature too (which is undocumented in the instruction manual). The chances that you’ll run into problems are low, but I’ve seen it during one of the extended testing sessions so it is confirmed to be there on the test unit.

Test: Flash Output and Guide Number

The guide number (GN) of an electronic flash is a measure of the maximum light output – visit the test details page to learn more.

Official specification: GN 38

Compared to the precursor and first speedlite from Yongnuo, the YN460, the guide number has been increased to give you more power. GN is specified as 38 at ISO 100 at the default 35mm setting for the YN460 Mark II, while the original YN460 had GN 33 – at least on paper.

GN 38 means the flash would be on the level of a Canon 580EX II or the SB-26 from Nikon, and clearly stronger than the Vivitar 285HV for example. But we’ve seen in previous tests of Yongnuo speedlites that the real world guide number is lower than the specified value. The tests outlined in the next section will reveal how things look like for the 460 mk2.

Flash Meter Results

All flashes are tested using the same standardized method using a Sekonic flash meter in a controlled environment. Speedlites are never tested alone, but always together with re-tests of other models to guarantee consistent results between sessions. The image below shows the Yongnuo’s YN-460 Mark II together with some competitors like Yongnuo 460, the Yongnuo 560, Vivitar 285HV and SB-26 from Nikon in one of these testing sessions. The table shows the f-stops recorded by the Sekonic L-358 light meter, converted into decimal values:

Model Light meter reading
Nikon SB-26 f22 +6/10
Yongnuo YN 460 II f22 +2/10
Yongnuo YN-560 f22 +2/10
Vivitar 285HV f22 +0/10
Nikon SB-600 f16 +9/10
Yongnuo YN-460 f16 +6/10

 

What can be seen from these readings is that the YN-460 II is a powerful flash, clearly stronger than its precursor and on the same level as the more expensive YN-560.

However, it is not as powerful as the old professional line from Nikon, represented here by the SB-26. It also can’t quite compete with a Canon 580 or the SB-800 from Nikon, if that is what you’re looking for; but these flashes are different animals in many respects, both feature- and price-wise.

Calculated Guide Number: 34

The calculated guide number is obtained by adding exactly 1 f-stop to the flash meter test results. Learn more about this method on the test details page.

In the tests, the Yongnuo 460 Mark II misses the specification of GN 38, the speedlite reaches guide number 34 instead at the default 35mm reflector position. With wide-flash panel flipped down the GN even drops to only 18; that’s quite a loss but rather typical with the additional screen.

Yongnuo YN-460 Mark II guide number test results vs specs

Speedlights Power Index

The light blue bar in the Speedlights.net Power Index shows the official 35mm-GN, and the dark blue bar indicates the test results. Go to the test details page for more information on the Speedlights.net Power Index.

Speedlights.net Power Index Manual Flash
All flashes from Yongnuo are less powerful than you would think from the official specs. With a real guide number of 34, however, there’s still a good amount of light energy available with the Mark 2 version of Yongnuo’s 460, even when used with shoot-through umbrellas or other light modifiers.

460 mark II versus YN560

  • at the 35mm zoom position the YN460-II and the YN560 are equal in terms of maximum output. This is not true for other zoom reflector positions on the YN-560; remember the YN-460 mk2 is not able to zoom
  • at 105mm the YN560 is clearly stronger with a guide number of 49 while the 460 mk 2 is ‘stuck’ at 35mm and the default GN of 34.
  • at 24mm, the YN560 has a guide number of 27. On the 460 Mark 2, you have to use the wide-panel for that focal length which comes with GN 18.
  • at 23mm and below, the YN 560 must be used with wide-panel also, and then it’s a tie: GN 17 (560) versus GN 18 (460-II).

Test: Effective Output Range

From 1/1 down to 1/64 power there are 7 possible settings for manual output adjustment which means – on paper – a 6 stop range. In reality, this range is a full stop smaller: the test shows f22 + 2/10 at full power and f4.0 +2/10 at the minimum power setting, which results in only 5 stops as the output range.

 

Yongnuo 460 Mark II output range spec Output range from tests
6 stops 5.0 stops

 

The difference is only a half stop rather than a full stop between 1/1 and 1/2, a fact that has been discovered by multiple owners of the flash. In addition, there’s also only (about) a half stop between the 1/32 and 1/64 setting.

Test: Continuous Shooting Output

The normal guide number test process requires a a 60 seconds waiting time between the shots, which is certainly not how you’re using the flash. To test the continuous shooting power a rapid series of full power flashes gets fired. For this minimum recycle time scenario the guide number is then determined. Here’s the result:

A speedlight typically loses about 1/2 stop of its maximum guide number in continuous firing as opposed to observing some waiting time between the flashes. This is pretty much inevitable, and holds true for all the compact speedlights tested so far.

Model Calc. guide number at 60 sec wait Calc. guide number at continuous fire Difference in f-stops
Yongnuo 460-II 34.3 30.9 -3/10
Yongnuo 560 34.3 26.9 -7/10
Nikon SB-600 30.9 25.1 -6/10

 

For the flash under review there is a loss of only 3/10 of a stop, which means the effective guide number goes down to 30.9, which is still the normal level of the Nikon SB-600.

Test: Flash Duration

Flash duration is the time between the beginning of the flash and the end of the light emission. Go to the speedlite test methodology page for information on t0.5 versus t0.1 flash durations and the method used here on the site.

The flash duration is not unimportant as a long flash duration can limit the ability to freeze action scenes when using the flash. According to the instruction manuals, all Yongnuo speedlites from the 46x series are specified at 1/800 second at full power output while the YN560 specs say 1/200 seconds for that speedlite model.

t0.1 Time Metering

For this review, t0.1 flash duration was tested with the Broncolor FCC. Full-power flash duration for the Yongnuo under review is quite short with 1/435 seconds. As can be seen from the table below, these times tend to be usually a bit longer, between 1/200 and 1/300 seconds.

 

Model flash duration spec at 1/1 power (sec) t0.1 metering result (sec)
Canon 580EX II 1/833 1/285
Nikon SB-900 1/880 1/230
Yongnuo YN-560 1/200 1/325
Yongnuo YN-460 II 1/800 1/435
Canon 430EX II unspecified 1/350
Vivitar 285HV 1/1000 1/285
Nikon SB-600 1/900 1/265
Nikon SB-700 1/1042 1/305

 

t0.1 Flash Duration Times Table

The next table shows the test results for all partial output levels down to 1/64.

 

Output level Manufacturer spec t0.1 metering
1/1 1/800 1/435
1/2 na 1/1070
1/4 na 1/2800
1/8 na 1/4300
1/16 na 1/5600
1/32 na less than 1/8000
1/64 na less than 1/8000

 

Tech Specs

Following is a table with specifications and test results for the Yongnuo 460 Mark II flash.

 

Model Information
Brand Yongnuo
Model YN460-II
First introduction 2009
Successor none yet
Output Specs
Guide number spec
(35mm, ISO 100, in meters)
38
Guide number test result 34
Manual power settings 1/1 – 1/2 – 1/4 – 1/8 – 1/16 – 1/32 – 1/64
Flash duration (full power) 1/800
Recycle time spec
(at full power)
4 sec alkaline
Recycle time test result 3.8 sec alkaline, 2.0 sec NiMH
Triggering
Flash foot material, type metal (2011), standard ISO
PC Sync Port no
Optical Slave 2 modes (1 w/ pre-flash suppresion)
Other Trigger no
Trigger Voltage 3.26 V (measured)
Standby Mode 4 min fixed, but instant wake-up
Flash Head Features
Swivel -180 to +90 degrees
Tilt -10 (older models: 0) to +90 degrees
Manual Zoom Head (18) 35mm fixed
Auto Zoom (18) 35mm fixed
Bounce card / 2nd reflector yes / no
LCD Display no
Power Supply
Batteries Used 4 x AA
External Power Source no
Nikon TTL
D-TTL no
i-TTL no
CLS Wireless Slave no
CLS Wireless Master no
Canon TTL
E-TTL(II) no
E-TTL(II) wireless slave no
E-TTL(II) wireless master no
Other Flash Modes
Stroboscopic Mode no
Auto Mode no
TTL Features
AF Assist Light no
Exposure Compensation in TTL Mode on the Flash unit no
Rear Curtain Synchronization yes
High Speed Synchronization no
Sensor Size Detection (DX, FX, etc) no
Modeling Light no

 

No Wireless Nikon i-TTL, no wireless Canon E-TTL Slave Mode

Nikon’s wireless TTL system is called AWL = advanced wireless lighting. Canon’s system is basically the same, but has no special name. Wireless TTL let’s you use your speedlight off-camera, but still with automatic exposure control through the camera body.

Both systems work with the infrared part of the spectrum in flash light. Commander flashes can be the built-in mini flashes in Nikon’s middle class bodies and upwards, the mini flash in the Canon 7D, special master-enabled speedlights (e.g. Canon 580EX II, Nikon SB-900, Nissin Di866), or the special wireless transmitters SU-800 from Nikon, or Canon ST-E2 (and new Yongnuo ST-E2).

The YN-460-II does not work with these systems, for two reasons: (1) it has no TTL mode at all, so can’t even do automatic exposure when attached to the camera, and (2) it lacks the built-in logic to decode and understand the special trigger signals. Read further below about the optical slave mode S2, and in how far that is an alternative.

Wireless Flash: Radio Triggering and Optical Slave Modes

The Yongnuo YN 460 Mark II can be used as a remote flash in these configurations: (1) (radio) triggering through the flash foot and (2) with the 2 non-TTL optical slave modes “S1″ and “S2″.

Yongnuo YN-460-II Works With X Sync Radio Triggers

Triggering in general is the same as for the original YN-460: you can trigger the flash via any standard radio trigger that features a hot shoe. Trigger voltage is safe and far below critical levels, the test shows 3.26 volts.

Yongnuo YN-460-II Low Trigger Voltage

For the review, I’ve tested and used the YN-460 II with both Cactus V4 and Yongnuo’s own RF-602 triggers and it works like a charm: The radio transmitter goes in the camera hot shoe, the radio receiver (Cactus V4 in the photo below) goes on the flash foot, power everything on, and that’s all what you need to fire the flash with the shutter release!

Yongnuo YN-460-II with Cactus V4 on Nikon D80

What’s not available on the YN-460 mark2, but on the more expensive YN560, is the optional beep signal indicating full recycle and readiness to fire the next shot (the sound icon button on the YN560 can be seen in the photo below) . It’s a nice feature – I think it’s really useful, but you can live without it. The flash has around 2 seconds recycle time with NiMH batteries, so there’s not a long wait time anyways.

YN-460-II vs YN560 back panels

Manual Mode Operation with 7 Step Output Control

Manual mode works like on the precursor: Press the ‘Mode’ button until the ‘M’ LED lights up and dial up or down from 1/64 to full power with the controller button. This is super fast and easy, I find it easier and faster than on my SB-600 or the Canon 580 mk2, despite the ‘mushy’ buttons.

The 7 steps for output control in M, S1 and S2 are as follows: 1/1 – 1/2 – 1/4 – 1/8 – 1/16 – 1/32 – 1/64. In the photo, you can see the 1/16 power setting with 3 of the 7 LEDs lighting up.

Yongnuo YN-460-II in M mode 1/16 power LED

Improvement over YN-460: YN-460-II With Partial Output Levels

New is the option to fine tune the output in 1/7 steps. This seems a bit weird given other brands use 1/3 or 1/2 steps, but it can be explained by the fact that there are the 7 power level indicator lights that need to be used for the partial increments too.

Setting the partial output level is quite complicated; it is actually the one of the 2 features I was not able to figure out myself on Yongnuo speedlites ever, and there is no indication on the back panel about it.

To activate you have to press “Mode” and “Pilot” together until the middle power output LED starts flashing. Then use the +/- button to dial it up or down, and press “Mode” or “Pilot” again to lock it in. This is not an elegant implementation, but at least the feature is there (other speedlights don’t have it). The photo shows the +3/7 step for the 1/16 setting above, so output level is 1/16 +3/7.

YN-460-II Partial Output Setting mode M

The YN-460-II does not have a memory that would store the current power level. So when you’re switching between modes, or when you power the unit off and back on, it starts at the minimum level every time. At least it has the minimum level as default, and not the 1/1 setting – which would cause more trouble.

Other Triggering Options – Optical Slave Mode Review

The flash does not feature a PC port but it has the 2 optical slave modes again which were first implemented on the Yongnuo 460. One big improvement has been made however: the sensor has been moved away from inside the flash head (pretty much the worst location you can imagine) to the (fake) AF assist window at the front, underneath the Yongnuo logo.

Yongnuo 460-II fake AF assist window for optical slave sensor

With this new design you now can finally twist the flash body at the triggering light source while the flash head points at the subject (the TTL models YN465 and later have the optical sensor in the same location, but they feature also an AF assist light).

Simple Optical Slave Mode S1

Optical slave mode S1 is the simple mode: the flash triggers together with any other flash that gets fired nearby. This mode is for use with non-TTL speedlights or studio strobes.

Yongnuo YN-460-II S1 optical slave mode

 

It’s the same as the optical slave mode “SF” on the Nissin Di622 Mark II, or like the simple SU-4 mode on some of the Nikon speedlights (the new SB-700 will have this too, but you don’t find SU-4 on the SB-600).

Digital Optical Slave Mode S2

Slave mode S2 is the ‘digital’ slave mode. In this mode, the optical trigger ignores the first light signal from the other flash and only fires with the 2nd one. The pre-flash suppression is important as it filters out the digital TTL exposure metering flash that comes before the actual main flash.

Yongnuo YN-460-II with Buttons

If the speedlite did fire with the pre-flash, you would not see its light in the picture, as this pre-flash is fired before the shutter opens.

Slave Mode Reliability

The optical slave sensors on the Yongnuo 46x line are doing their job – as long as the ambient light is not too bright. Don’t rely on them on a sunny day outdoors, the chance they don’t fire is high. In fact, they stop working at around EV 8 – EV 9. It’s less of a problem of decreasing range, but they stop triggering altogether, even if you fire another flash directly into the light sensor.

If you need a reliable optical sensor for outdoor use you should get the YN-560: this upgraded Yongnuo flash has a greatly improved optical slave sensor, which even triggers at EV14 and with a range of up to 30 meters. But I use always radio triggers, not optical slave sensors, so for me this is not a big deal overall.

Standby

The standby mode has been improved over the YN460 too: it is still there and it can’t be configured or switched off, and it is even entered after 3 to 4 minutes (3 minutes according to the instruction leaflet, 4 minutes in the tests).

But this is Yongnuo’s ‘intelligent’ standby mode. The flash goes into power-saving state, but it still fires immediately with the first trigger signal from a radio transmitter, so you don’t miss a shot during wake-up.

To test this behavior I put the flash next to me with RF-602 receiver attached. When I looked at it after 3:54 minutes I saw the mode light and the power level lights started flashing – standby was entered. So I pressed the shutter release on the RF-602 once, and the mk2 fired immediately.

Repetition with a Cactus V4: firing with the radio transmitter and starting the stopwatch, and waiting: again after 4 minutes the standby flashing. Now pressing the test flash button on the V4 transmitter, and it fires as well at the 1st release. So this does not work with Yongnuo RF-602 only!

Mounting on Light Stands

With its standard ISO flash foot, the YN460-II fits on common hot or cold shoe adapters, light stands, and radio triggers. With its locking wheel plus safety pin it’s easy to securely attach the flash. The YN460 has the same layout, and so do YN560 and the old Nikon flashes like SB-26, but the Vivitar 285HV lacks a safety pin for example.

Yongnuo 460-II on RF-602 and umbrella adapter

Swivel and tilt allow pointing the flash head in a desired direction without adjusting the mount adapter itself. Especially handy is the negative 10 degrees tilt when used on a light stand, as it allows you to better aim at the umbrella’s center.

Off-Camera Flash Must-Haves

The YN-460-II is a good flash for off-camera shooting. Others have more triggering options (Nissin Di622 Mark II is probably the record holder at the moment with 5 ways to trigger the flash), or a zoom reflector, but this simple speedlights is powerful, has a quick recycle, and it works fine with radio triggers.

But the best is that it is so cheap that you can afford more units for the same budget, and that gives you more lighting options. At the same time, if something breaks, you don’t lose much. Therefore, a review rating of AA+ is deserved.

  • manual mode
    • has manual mode: yes
    • minimum manual power: 1/64
    • all full stops from 1/1 to 1/64: yes
  • X contact firing: yes
  • flash standby mode: 4 min fixed, but instant wake-up

 

Hot-Shoe Use with Canon and Nikon Camera Bodies

There is no dedicated Nikon or Canon version of the Yongnuo YN460 Mark II available, just one single version with standard ISO flash foot. The YN-460 mk2 has no form of TTL support built in – it is a fully-manual speedlight, not really designed as a hot shoe flash. If you want a Yongnuo with TTL, you should go for a YN465, the YN467 or a YN468. Or the upcoming YN-565.

Yongnuo YN465 YN467 YN468 TTL Flash

If the 460 mk2 is used on a camera, there is a whole list of limitations to live with.

First and foremost, you always have to manually adjust the output level on the flash, as the camera is unable to control its exposure, no matter which modes you select on camera or speedlite.

Second, the flash does not even work in all camera modes. While it fires in P, A, S on the Nikon D90, there is no triggering in the green auto mode for example. Instead, the camera tries to pop out its own mini flash which then hits against the strobe in the hot shoe.

There are other shortcomings: The hot-shoe strobe lacks any form of AF assist, so it does not help the camera with focusing in low light. There is also no zoom reflector on the flash, so you have to live with the fixed 35mm reflector setting.

While there is no TTL in any form, neither Nikon i-TTL nor Canon E TTL, you can use the flash in manual mode in the camera shot-shoe. What you need to do for every shot is analyze the ambient light, make your own estimate of flash power needed, adjust the output level on the back panel of the YN-460-II using the Plus / Minus button, and then take the picture.

If you know what you’re doing this can work well. Sometimes it’s even better than trusting the exposure computer. But it’s not feasible in many other scenarios, especially under changing light conditions, as you are simply slowed down through the need of constant adjustments.

Flash Sync Modes and other Hot-Shoe Features

On a Nikon camera, any speedlite, Nikon or third party, can be used in normal sync and rear curtain sync mode, so this does work with the YN460 II. I’m quite sure this would not work on a Canon DSLR though (please let me know if you have an opportunity to test it out).

There is no HSS / FP sync mode support, and also no slow sync available – both modes require advanced electronics in the flashgun, and bi-directional communication with the camera body.

The flashgun has only one single electric contact on the flash foot – which is used for receiving the triggering signal. For advanced communication with a camera body, additional contacts would be needed

Yongnuo YN-460-II Electric Pins next To Nikon D80

Here’s another list of unsupported features: red-eye reduction, modeling light, flash exposure compensation, flash exposure lock (FV lock), flash bracketing (FEB).

YN-460 Mark II Review: Conclusion

Only a couple of months after the introduction of the original YN460 in 2009, Yongnuo has improved their bestseller in a number of ways making it a worthy upgrade and a no-brainer for people looking for a new low-budget “strobist” flash, especially given the very moderate price increase.

Yongnuo YN-460-II vs original YN-460

Above all, the added power is very welcome, but also the faster recycle: 2.0 seconds (instead of 5 sec) with Sanyo eneloops is really quite fast.

 

Yongnuo YN 460 II Positives

  • very low cost (around $55 new)
  • powerful with GN 34 (test result; YN460 only has GN 28 in tests)
  • short recycle times
  • very easy to use (apart from partial output setting)
  • covers the basic requirements for off-camera flash with 6 stop manual range (1/1 to 1/64)
  • standard size flash head (same as Nikon SB-800)
  • complete standard accessories (bag, stand, diffuser)
  • partial output levels available

Negatives

  • output not on specified level – does not reach GN 38
  • only 1/2 stop effective output difference between ‘full’ and ‘half’ settings (and also between 1/32 and 1/64)
  • rubbery buttons, simplistic battery compartment door
  • no zoom reflector, fixed 35mm coverage plus wide-panel
  • optical slave modes only reliable indoors
  • no PC sync built in

 

Recommendation

For an on-camera flash you should look at other models. This is not what the Yongnuo YN-460 II was made for.

Yongnuo flashes are also not designed for the most demanding professionals. But they are a good choice for photographers on a budget. They offer the features most needed for off-camera flash, at a great low price (around $55 from the manufacturer’s eBay store), and in a package of acceptable to good quality. That said, there are also professionals using these flashes in a support role, e.g. as a fill or background light.

Among the manual-only mode flashes, the original YN460 can be considered as outdated. The YN460-II is stronger, and offers faster recycling times. The YN560 adds a zoom reflector, a PC sync port and some other goodies, but it also costs more.

YN-460-II vs YN560 back panels

Other options include used Nikon speedlights, e.g. the SB-26, the Lumopro 160, or theVivitar 285HV (see photo below), which is a clunky piece of equipment with less output control (only down to 1/16 power).

None of these options can compete with the low price of the Yongnuo YN-460-II.

Vivitar 285HV next to YN-460-II


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