[Note the date I posted this article (March 2010)]
I held off buying a new flash. Whilst I love the tech specs and build quality of the Nikon SB range, new they are just a bit too rich for my blood. (I subsequently bought 2x SB-800′s 2nd hand ). I have been using older manual flashes (Minolta and Vivitar) triggered either via sync cable or optic slave mode (indoors).
I have been watching this brand, YongNuo, with interest for the past few months, and read write-ups on the Strobist site as well as on Flickr about their various models.
Many good reviews and as usual a few not so good, by mostly “reviewers” who gave no satisfactory reasons for their dislike of the product. Take those reviews with a Pinch of salt.
I held one in my hand recently, the YN460II at a local supplier, and tested it. optically triggered by a basic DSLR popup flash, it fired flawlessly in all directions optical slave mode and felt pretty solid, when it’s used as a manual off-camera flash, being fired either by light (optic slave mode) or by a radio trigger, like a Cactus 3/4, a Phottix Tetra/Aster/Atlas, AlienBees or Pocket Wizard’s.
However as an eTTL I have no doubt it will function as well as the Canon original albeit with some small configuration and menu differences. Quality and durability remains to be seen by owners and regular users.
ETA: June 2010: I’ve since bought a new YN460II (and the 2 x 2nd hand SB800′s) and have carried it (the YN460II) all over Africa as a spare off-camera kicker or on camera hot shoe flash when I want to go totally [M]anual at events or need fill light. It’s WB temperature looks spot-on, it’s rugged and very efficient on Li-Ion or NiMH rechargeable batteries. It’s much simpler to use than my 2 x SB800′s on CLS! Recharge time on 4 x fresh AA’s is under a second on full power.
Here’s a sample image of a pre shoot lighting test taken with the YN460II on a D90. All I’ve done with this image is smooth Christa’s skin and a bit of softness to everything but skin. No light modifiers whatsoever. Very acceptable.
ETA: July 2011, YongNuo 460II still behaving perfectly.
ETA: November 2011, YongNuo 460II still behaving perfectly.
However, for my primary flash(es) I need more than just a manual flash with optic slave mode triggering or radio/cable triggering. Cactus, Phottix, AB’s or PW’s are great but I still would like the option of iTTL. The YN468 has it! The Canon version is expected April 2010 and the Nikon version in May 2010. (ETA July 2011!: when is the Nikon version being released?). I deduct that it will be shipped to the USA before we even sniff it out here in the RSA. There is no indication of pricing yet, but I expect not more than US $200-00, probably less. In South African Rands? Your guess is as good as mine, but typically less than an SB 800/SB 900, maybe by a 1/3rd less?