I investigated the Yongnuo Speedlite YN467 as an alternative to Canon Speedlites, which I jokingly call “Spendy-Lites”. Jokes aside, the Canon Speedlites, like the 430EX ii and 580EX ii, are still the gold standard for external flash units to use with Canon products.
But the price tag. Ouch. $270 for a 430EX ii and up to an eye-popping $468 for a 580EX ii. For sure you get a lot of nice features for that kind of money. Wireless e-TTL and Canon’s reputation for quality and reliability. Every time you push the button, you’ll get fabulous results.
Still, the price point nagged at me, so I set out to investigate the alternatives and turned up a diamond in the rough. For just over $70, you can get a Yongnuo YN467, a very decent flash unit that’s compatible with Canon’s e-TTL, though you’ll have to use a sync cord if you want to use it off camera. Even with the cord, the package comes in at less than $90.
I didn’t run a full scale flash test, just mounted it on the camera and shot some test shots to get the feel for the unit. I wasn’t expecting much and was pleasantly surprised by the results.
The build quality is better than expected. Solid, heavy and well fitted, it comes with a soft carry bag and table stand. It’s got a built-in bounce card and flash diffuser. When it comes to power, it will light up your life. You might not get 250 feet outdoors like a 580EX, but I was able to blow out a large, dark interior pretty effectively.
The only ding on fit and finish is the battery compartment door which slides back and opens out feels a little flimsy. It’s got a small plastic locking tab that looks like it would be easy to break. I wouldn’t get in a hurry changing batteries.Where it counts, the YN467 works like a champ. As soon as I mounted it on my 7D, the camera and flash synced up and worked together flawlessly. Matched up with a $20 FC-311 cable by Pixel, Inc. I was able to hold the flash off to one side and still use the e-TTL features. I wasn’t able to out run recycle times, even in burst mode.
This is not the flash unit I’d get for studio work, but then I wouldn’t use a 580EX for that, either. For that I’d look at floor units like Paul C. Buff’s Alien Bees line. But as an on-camera flash for $70, it’s tough to beat.
Make the most of this list of recommended photography equipment for successful shooting under low lighting conditions.
Camera – The best DSLR cameras for low light photography posses a high maximum ISO, burst shooting capabilities, exposure compensation capabilities, RAW file format capabilities, and multi-point auto-focus. The Nikon D7000 is an excellent choice, as is the Canon 5D Mark II and the Pentax K-5. For more entry-level photography, choose a Sony Alpha A580 or a Canon Rebel T3i.
Lens – A lens is considered “fast”, or most capable in low-light photography, if it has a very low maximum aperture. Anything below f/2.8 is fantastic for photography in dim settings. Also, look for a lens that has image stabilization or vibration reduction capabilities. Many Canon fans swear by the 35mm f/1.4L or the 50mm f/1.4 prime lenses. The Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS is a great walking-around zoom lens with image stabilization capabilities. For Nikon enthusiasts, the equivalent prime lenses are the (expensive!) Nikkor AF-S 35mm f/1.4G and the Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.4G. For a great walking-around zoom lens, choose the Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8G.
Tripod or Monopod – Choose a quality, sturdy tripod with a ball head and quick release to provide excellent support and flexibility for low light photography. Grab a monopod for functional stability while on the go. Personally, I am a big believer in Manfrotto products.
Remote Shutter Release – Use a remote shutter release with a tripod-mounted camera to eliminate any potential for camera shake while photographing.
External Flash – Speedlites are all the rage for providing off-camera flash that is flexible and portable. Canon’s lineup of Speedlite flashes offer a range of functionality and affordability. Nikon has their own lineup of speedlights as well.
Reflectors – Reflectors work great for capturing and directing even the smallest amount of ambient light. Choose a reflector that is silver on one side and gold on the other in order to provide cooler or warmer light quality. Lastolite has a great lineup of quality products at affordable prices.