YN 660 Speedlite review
Today we are going to review the YongNuo speedlite 660 flash gun as used by shutterspeedmedia.co.uk
This gun can be ordered through various sites however we did find that Amazon was the lowest cost to us at the time of writing. We would advise using someone like Amazon as the guns are notorious for having faults and its just pot luck if you receive a good or bad gun. But Amazon are really good on replacements and honoring warranties. Amazon just have great customer service.
What do you get in the package
The speed lite comes in a cardboard box , which we were really glad about since Amazon have now decided to send items in brown paper bags instead of boxes. This is a little worrying since our package was a little damaged.
Come on Amazon , use some common sense when sending out electronics, Especially photographic equipment.
In the box is a real nice carry case which has a stand for sitting your flash on any flat surface. This is the same on all YongNuo devices. This is something that is real handy since it also has a 1/4 standard mount on the bottom to mount to any flash stand . Just for those days you forget a cold shoe mount ( Yes , we have had a few those days so thanks Yongnuo for your forward thinking here ).
The layout of the gun is a big improvement over the older 560 mark IV ( which we have 4 of by the way ) , and have found them very reliable indeed. A great gun. However it would appear that the LCD screen is identical to the 560 IV.
Here are the differences on the user interface and usability that we really loved :
Battery compartment now locks, and isn't as easy to accidentally open.
On off now is a switch and has a lock . No hold and wait as per previous models. Very fast response on power up.
Controls are now a dial instead of a cursor. Which is so easy to get the settings you need. No multi pressing button combinations to get to the feature you desire.
Its now much easier to jump through to the various modes and change the channels. No need to press 2 buttons at the same time.
Shoe Mount locking mechanism.
The hot shoe mount now comes with a locking mechanism , which is excellent. However you do have to be careful that you do not lose the rubber bush that the lock uses to mount onto your shoe . Wouldn't like to try and find a replacement , they maybe they are easy to come by.
You get used to having this new feature , to the point where the old style screw thread tension-er mount becomes annoying and you do ask why they didn't think of this before. It s a great feature.
Power and Zoom.
So down to business. What flash functionality am I getting on this model that would get me to fork out the extra cash ? Well , instantly you get better zoom range, putting this gun in line with canons which are way more expensive.
With a zoom of 200mm you can really get a tight light beam which is brilliant. Additionally the wide 20mm is fantastic for lighting white backdrops on full power. But wait, pull out the diffuser and you can go down to 14mm . This is just amazing on a white backdrop.
Here is a comparison of the various modes,
Lets take a look at a few examples of using the zoom.
Firstly the mandatory listing of the camera settings we used.
Camera settings :
Flash Power : 1/4
To get the best effect of using the zoom, we found that mounting the flash on its side is the best option, giving you a real nice tight beam of light.
Oh yes, nearly forgot to mention the extra power . Well Yongnuo has increased the power settings and man do you get a powerful flash gun. Just be careful for any overheat if you intent to run this on full power for long periods. We would advise that you use an external flash gun pack like the Godox GP-80
The extra power when shooting outside is great on a diffuser soft box or a reflective umbrella.
Speedlite or a High Speed Synch
There are many blogs on line discussing the merits of high Speed Synch and why you should invest in a gun that will deal with this.
Well , personally , unless you need to capture sports events and fast moving subjects, just invest in an ND filter and adjust your exposure with the filter. This is what we find works best , and since we always shoot manual, we never have the need for TTL on the cameras. But hey this is just personal preference .
No right or wrong. Just the way we like to shoot that works for us. We just don't like the reduced power on the guns when shooting HSS , and the reduction in battery life.
If we are indoors, we have never seen the need for HSS, and if outdoors , the ND filter has done the job most of the time.
Its up to you and how you take your photos at the end of the day.
But, I must own up here. We do actually have an HSS gun , the Godox which we actually do love using. So, it really comes down to your need, budget and personal choice.
Connectivity with remote
Here is a little problem we encountered. Not a big problem but a little niggle non the less. Basically , the TX 560 remote controller will connect but will only allow the zoom function to hit 105mm whereas the 660 can go all the way to 200mm and all the way down to 20mm zoom ( and as we have said 14mm with the diffuser extended )You will have to set this manually if you want to use the extra stops. This is an annoyance as we really like the TX unit allowing us to set up the guns inside the soft box and leave well alone during the shoot.
There are other more up to date remotes that will allow you to get the full range, however we are using the TX560 at the moment with no intention to change. ( we already have 4x560s ).
Now onto channels and groups. Since nobody we know actually changes the channels from the default , we don't expect that its all that important to have 16 channels , but the functionality is there is you need it. Along with 6 different groups ( personally we never need more that 4 guns on a shoot and thus 4 groups a-d but hey its another nice feature to have when the need arises ).
Pros and Cons
Here's what our opinion as to the pros and cons are with this flash unit.
360 degree rotation. More flexible flash head .
Faster recycle times, In fact 3 secs. Which is good enough for our needs.
PC port , which we just never use since we use the remote TX unit. However its still useful if you have a remove receiver that isn't compatible with the YN.
More powerful than the 560 IV
Zoom to 14mm
Zoom up to 200mm
Lock now provided on the shoe mount. No longer forgetting to toghten the slock screw. This securing locks into place.
External power supply connection.
Better user interface
More zoom settings , wider and tighter.
Build quality feels good. Although plastic it feels sturdy and well built.
Connectivity to existing YN flash guns and remotes.
Much cheaper than Canon or Nikon rival guns. In fact . If your gun should fail, you would have to replace 4 times before you reach the cost of one Nikon gun.
YongNuo always have issues with build quality. We had to return 3 flashes before getting one that actually worked longer than a week. Really annoying.
Overheat issues on full power.
Hot shoe adapter. The cover can actually slip off and is easily lost when on a shoot. So be careful.
No TTL , Its manual. Not an issue if you allready work in manual mode.
refresh time on full power is a little slow. This aint a strobe I know but even a few seconds seems like a long time during a shoot.
Why buy it ?
Why not ? this is a step up from the 560 IV which has been our go to for a while now. And it gives us extra luminosity with the increased power when we need it, along with a much easier interface. And most important to those on a budget, its much cheaper than the competion .
If you shoot manual, there is no reason not have one of these in your arsenal. Great value flash gun. In fact we have seen the old 560 IV going for more than the new 660 on some sites , which is down right crazy.
Look around and you will find the new 660 for a decent price on Amazon , B&H cameras etc . The usual go to places. We would try and avoid ebay as there is the possibility of a bad batch which we have personally experienced and you wont get the same warranty and returns support that you get with the big boys.
Good luck,. Happy flashing.