Tutorial: Yongnuo RF-602 Wirless Flash Trigger

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Yongnuo RF-602 Wireless Flash Trigger — The PocketWizard Killer?

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Video Transcript

Hi, Phil Steele here. And today we're going to test and review the Yongnuo RF602 wireless flash trigger. Now this is a low budget trigger made in China and it costs around $40 for the transmitter-receiver pair and there are a lot of low budget Chinese triggers out there but this one promises to be a little bit different. Now I've got to admit the Yongnuo company and I don't have a good track record. I only bought one thing from them in the past and it was this 30-foot TTL cable and from the start, it just never quite fit the hot shoe connector on my camera so it's useless to me even though it says it's the right model. And I forgot to get my money back before the refund period expired so now I'm stuck with the thing and it's basically a 30-foot bungee cord. Anyway, I have higher hopes for the RF602 trigger, partly based on good internet reports and partly based on… Well, come over and look at the packaging.

All right. So here's the box for the RF602 and you can see the version I have. It says "more suitable for Canon camera," which is encouraging since I have more of a Canon camera than anything else. But what's really exciting is here on the back where you can see it says, "unlimited, wonderful and easily grasped." I'm not sure if they mean mental or physical grasp. All in Yongnuo. Anyway, that's pretty exciting so I think we need to test this sucker out.

So this is the transmitter for the RF602. You can see it's nice and small. It does have a couple of minor disadvantages. It takes the CR2 style battery, as you can see there, which is not quite as easily obtained as AA or AAA kind of battery. And the other strange thing is when you put it on the camera it doesn't lock down. It doesn't have any sort of mechanism to keep it locked on the hot shoe. It just slides in and stays there all sort of by friction. And it fits pretty tight. It doesn't fall right off but I could easily see it getting bumped out of place so that it's not making contact or even knocked all the way off if you weren't careful. But aside from that, at least it's nice and small.

Now the receiver looks like this. As you can see it has a hot shoe here and both the transmitter and receiver have these little switches so you can set the frequency. And it has an on-off switch right there, which you can see. It blinks slowly when it's turned on. And on the bottom it has a cold shoe with both a tripod kind of mount and you can slide the shoe into something and you can see that I've already damaged it right there because I put it on an umbrella bracket and tightened a little screw down on it and because this thing is plastic it just dented the side of it right in. So it would be nicer to have a metal foot there instead of a plastic one but this is a $40 set. Overall the build quality of these seems much stronger than a lot of the low budget Chinese triggers that I've tried.

Now when you connect the flash to the receiver you run into one other little quirk. You put that on there and everything seems great. But if you've got a Canon flash like this 430 that I'm testing here, once you get it on there you can't really reach the on-off switch anymore and you have to get a car key or a pencil or something to poke it in there to turn that thing on and off. So that's another minor disadvantage but overall, so far the build quality of the thing seems pretty good.

All right. Now I'm going to take a few quick test shots. As you can see, I've got my 430EX flash mounted on top of the RF602 and I put them on a light stand. I'm just going to take some pictures of this guitar since I don't have a person here as a subject at the moment. But to test the sync speed a guitar is plenty good. So I'm going to start out at a 200th of a second and see if we can sync at that speed. And it looks good so I'll go to a 250th and that looks good. Let's try a 320th. Nope. We get a band at the bottom so we know we can't go up to a 320. We can only go to 250, which is not surprising. Now if I were shooting with a Pocket Wizards I might be able to go a little faster. With the new, souped-up Pocket Wizard transmitter I might be able to get it up to a 320 or maybe even 400. But I would have spent 10 times as much money for the transmitter-receiver pair if I were shooting with the Pocket Wizards, compared to what the RF602 cost.

So I'm going to take a few real fast shots now and see if I get any misfires if I just bang away at it, if my flash can recycle fast enough to keep up. Let's see if I get any misfires in that series. Nope. Not a single misfire. You probably can't catch them all on video because the video camera doesn't really pick up the flashes all that well but that was more consistent than I get with Pocket Wizards. Even shooting at close range indoors like this, when I use the Pocket Wizard system I would have some misfires usually. And that could be because the Pocket Wizards get interference from the Canon flashes. The Pocket Wizards work down in the 433MHz range, at least the North American ones, and the Canon flashes, especially this old 430EX and also the 580EX2, put out radio noise in the same spectrum. And it could be that's why I get some misfires with the Pocket Wizards. But so far I've had none with the RF602 and it may be because the RF602 works up in the 2.4GHz range--an entirely different part of the spectrum. So if you're a Canon shooter this may be yet another advantage to using the RF602.

Okay, now we're going to do the distance test. I've got the 430EX flash mounted to the RF602. I'm using the 430EX because it's the most radio noisy flash that I have. It's the one that would be making this difficult if I were using the Pocket Wizards so I want to give the hardest test to this RF602 that I can. So I'm going to park it right here and I'm going to walk as far away as I can get, which is maybe a couple hundred feet and take a shot with a telephoto lens and see if I can see whether this thing is triggering.

Okay, so now we're ready to do our test shot. That flash is down in a shady spot, a couple hundred feet away. And I'm going to see if I can shoot it with the long lens and tell whether it's firing from here and I've got my shutter speed set to a 200th because I think it should be able to sync at that speed. So let's see what happens. Okay, one, two, three.

Okay, I'd consider that a successful test. I've got no misfires whatsoever and it fired at a 200th of a second. It fired at a 250th of a second. I tried going up to 400th and it didn't mesh or synchronize but it did actually look like it fired but it shouldn't be syncing at that speed probably anyway. So far it's been perfect.

Okay, before we wrap up I want to tell you about one other test I made with the RF602, which was unsuccessful. Now this trigger is also supposed to be able to work as a wireless shutter release in addition to working as a wireless flash trigger. And I tried that on my other camera--the Rebel XT--they sent me a little shutter trigger adaptor that happened to fit this camera. I tried it on that one, never did get it to work so if I had bought the thing as a wireless shutter release I would have been disappointed. But since I bought it as a wireless flash trigger and it worked very well there, I wasn't disappointed at all. In fact, I was pretty impressed. As you saw, I got no misfires whatsoever. I don't think I've had a single misfire yet with the thing. And that's even better than I do with Pocket Wizards, which cost far more. I tested it at fairly long distance. I think it was approximately 200 feet, roughly 70 meters. The thing is rated to work up to 100 meters and it certainly worked flawlessly at the 70 that I tested it at.

So overall I'm really impressed with this thing. It has its little weaknesses and quirks so I don't know if I could quite call it "unlimited wonderful" but I would say it's pretty damned good, especially for $40. So I hope you find that helpful and I'll talk to you soon.