It was not very long ago that if you wanted full compatibility between your flash and camera, you bought into a same brand flash unit. Problem is, same brand flash units are rather expensive. Now, in steps the likes of Yongnuo who on the surface can offer all the same facilities like TTL, but at a far cheaper price point.
Far cheaper but can do the same thing…hmmm. We’ve all heard that one before, so let’s have a look at the Yongnuo YN600EX-RT II and see if it can measure up to the standard Canon users are accustomed to, especially the Canon 600 EX II-RT.
I was looking forward to reviewing this new Yongnuo flash as I bought one of their models some time ago, the YN560 IV. Unknown to me until it arrived, the flash seemed to only work manually with my camera and remotes, but it works quite well as a backlight. So, onto the latest version with much more functionality and hopefully better compatibility.
At first glance, the Yongnuo YN600EX-RT II almost looks like a carbon copy of the Canon. Same button layout, same swivelly flash head, just with one or two minor details of difference here and there. The Yongnuo can be used as a master or slave unit and supports wireless flash shooting to trigger other YN600EX-RT II’s or Canon 600EX-RT II.
That being said, different camera bodies and previous versions of Canon flash units may work differently, so be sure to check the Yongnuo against your own setup. Yongnuo makes their own radio triggers if you need an off-camera setup. These will also be dependent on the flash units you use and your camera, so always check before buying.
Looks are more or less the same between the Yongnuo and the Canon, but the build quality between the two have a lot of differences. While the Canon feels like a solid hunk of plastic, ready to take some substantial knocks, the Yongnuo doesn’t feel anywhere near as robust.
The Yongnuo still feels relatively solid, but I wouldn’t risk it being dropped or even rained on – which the Canon can take in its stride. The diffusers have been known to break off and a few hot shoe mounts breaking on the Yongnuo. In other words, from build quality alone you can see how Yongnuo have made the cheaper price point for the same amount of functionality.
The Yongnuo YN600EX-RT II supports TTL/M/Multi flash, along with the usual host of Canon like features, such as High-speed Sync, auto and manual zooming – 20-200mm, and also firmware upgrades. The menu system is laid out more or less the same as on the Canon, making Canon 600 users immediately at home. There is no lock button for the head of the flash, which can get annoying, especially if you accidentally knock the head of the flash unit on a regular basis.
As the Yongnuo is a direct copy, it actually syncs up very well with other Canon 600 speedlights, but it may take a few tries. Overall, the functionality feels very similar to a Canon speed light, operating with the same level of functionality.
Although almost identical, the light put out by each unit can sometimes be slightly different. The Yongnuo can add some purple to the flare of the light at times, but apart from that, the light source is consistent.
How Does the Yongnuo YN600EX-RT II Compare?
The biggest contender to the Yongnuo YN600EX-RT II is the Canon 600 EX II-RT. It has a rock-solid build, being able to take the knocks of everyday photography. The Canon is a great all-rounder, with a fast refresh rate, full ETTL and can easily connect to other Canon flash units and the Yongnuo as a master or a slave.
The 600 EX is the go-to flash for most Canon users, especially those who want the peace of mind of full integration and a unit that will last for years. The Canon flash range just simply ticks all the boxes for a portable flash unit.
The only real downside, which is common to all flash units of this type is the four AA batteries, instead of one lithium-ion battery. This means that you can end up carting around loads of AA batteries like a huge bag of sweets, but this goes with the territory with these flash units. Otherwise, it’s down to investing in studio strobes.
Ultimately, if you don’t mind the extra cost of the Canon, it’s definitely the unit to buy for extra build quality and reassurance that it can produce the goods every time.
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The Yongnuo YN600EX-RT II has all the features of the Canon and produces some quality light power. It becomes a different story if you’re considering a flash unit to be used on a very regular basis.
If you need a flash unit to take the knocks of everyday use, then the Canon is the best option. It’s simply built for the task and you have that extra peace of mind, that it will work every time. However, if you’re just getting into flash photography, need a cost-effective main flash or even a few backups or secondary units, you can’t go wrong with the Yongnuo YN600EX-RT II.
You could argue that you could buy a few Yongnuo YN600EX-RT II units for the cost a Canon and this is definitely an option. But, as mentioned above the build quality and just that bit extra peace of mind the Canon’s work every time can be the deciding factor.