I preface every review with the same disclosure. I am not a professional. I do not shoot test charts. I do not try every lens with every camera. All opinions are my own, and are only based upon my own experiences with the gear. I haven’t had a ton of gear, or all of the expensive gear. I won’t list every specification or test for every specification. My review is not meant for professionals – if you are a professional, you shouldn’t need a review from an amateur. The information below is simply my own observations while doing normal photography, and is for other car enthusiasts and amateurs like myself.
The new Yongnuo YN-622N-TX flash controller just was released and I immediately ordered one. Already owning four of their YN-622N transceivers, and four Nikon SB-800 flashes, it was a no-brainer.
Up until now, I have been using a Nikon SU-800 flash controller mounted on top of a YN-622N to accomplish TTL radio control over my Nikon SB-800 flashes. Up until Jan. 28th 2014, that was the only option for what I wanted to do, with the equipment I had. When Yongnuo released the new YN-622N-TX controller, I knew that I wanted it, and wanted to compare it to the Nikon SU-800, with the plan to replace the SU-800 if the YN-622N-TX turned out to be good enough at TLL flash control.
Yongnuo has been very clear from the beginning that the YN-622N-TX is an iTTL wireless flash controller that is compatible with it’s YN-622N Nikon -compatible receiver units, and is not compatible with the YN-622C (for Canon), or the YN-603 non-TTL units. I see lots of questions again and again asking about that, but it is clear that they will never be cross brand capable.
Over the next few days, I will update this article with what I find in comparing the two TTL flash controllers – Nikon SU-800 vs Yongnuo YN-622N-TX.
The Yongnuo box arrived wrapped in a light layer of bubble wrap, and covered in a heavy paper – it was not enclosed in another box. Cheap, but it was effective in protecting it. I had no issue with it, as it arrived without harm.
Included in the box was the flash controller, a small paper user manual, and two connection cables. One was a LS-2.5/N1, and the other was a LS-2.5/N3. It does not come with the (2) AA batteries that it needs to operate.
The user manual instructs you to first upgrade the firmware when you receive the TX. When I received my transmitter, mine was shipped with v.1.03, so no firmware update was available when I received it. Since then, v.1.04 has been released and I am happy to report that the Yongnuo Firmware Update Utility works perfectly, with no issues.
If you want to check the firmware version on your TX, simply turn off the unit, then hold down the Mode button and turn the unit on. That enters the unit into firmware mode and displays the current version.
If you do need to update the firmware, you will need to go to the Yongnuo support page and download the latest firmware, and the YN Trigger Updater software. I went ahead and downloaded both to verify that they worked, and installed the software on Windows 7 64-bit.
First, install the YN Trigger Updater software by unzipping it, and then running the executable. Follow the onscreen instructions. Second, unzip the firmware to it’s .dfu file format. Then follow the firmware upgrade instructions on the Yongnuo support page at: http://www.hkyongnuo.com/e-detaily.php?ID=339
Update (12/31/2014) : I finally got around to updating to the 1.05 firmware. It fixes/corrects manual output by +1 EV.
Update (02/25/2014) : The 1.04 firmware has been released and it adds Free Mask support. Press and Hold the Group key for a few seconds to disable the A/B group. Press and Hold the Group key again to enable the A/B group. Also, it is reported to improve the AutoFocus Lamp.
I tested the Free Mask functionality, and it works. I simply press and hold the Group button to disable channels A and B, then then press and hold again if I want to enable them again.
INITIAL POWER UP
The first thing that you have to do when powering it up for the first time is to cycle the channels through on the transmitter. It will start off on CH 1. You need to keep pressing the button until it has past CH 7, and gone back to CH 1. Mine would not work until I did that. After I did that, it worked immediately.
It’s easy to see and read, and it’s green. It really is quite functional and clear.
It displays if you are in HSS mode, if you have rear curtain sync enabled, the current channel it is on, and what each of the flash groups are currently set to. It also displays the amount of battery life that it has left, and if the AF-assist beam is active. You can also see if what zoom each flash head group is set to.
This is one of the most important things to me – ergonomics. Yongnuo keep it simple and clean, and without complications. Each button is clearly marked, and does it’s task. You don’t have to hit combinations of buttons to do things, so it is a breeze to work. Since there are only a few buttons, and they are easy to feel, I believe that I will have no trouble using the controller in poorly lit areas, simply going by the feel of the buttons. This is probably one of the TX’s most important features – its simplicity.
YN-622N’s support i-TLL, manual, and super sync – and you can use different modes for each group. Haven’t seem support for AA mode yet, or for flash ratios, but I never use those antiquated modes. If you need those modes, you will want the Nikon SU-800 mounted on a YN-622N, as it does support AA and flash ratio.
TTL supports +3EV to -3EV, in 1/3 EV increments, just like on the SU-800. What is interesting is how Yongnuo gave the user a way to change it. If you use the up/down buttons, it changes in 1/3 EV increments, just like on the SU-800, but if you use the left/right buttons, it changes in 1EV increments, making it faster to change larger EV amounts. It’s a simple thing, but very effective.
As with all TTL controllers, you need to know what the FEC is set at on the actual flash, and the Yongnuo user manual make reference to checking that as well.Exposure Compensation is a cumulative process, so you need to know what your EC value is on the camera, and the flashes, as well as on the controller.
Manual flash adjustments are from 1/128 – 1/1, and again, the left/right buttons are larger adjustments, and the up/down buttons are smaller adjustments.
SS (Super Sync) is the other mode that is offered, and it appears best suited for studio strobes. I currently do not own any studio strobes, so I have not tested this flash mode, or the PC sync port.
(Update 7/27/2014) – (I haven’t revisited this review in awhile, but a recent email got me to look at it again and update it.)
The YN-622N-TX appears to support Nikon’s TTL-BL mode when it displays “BL” on the TX’s screen when your camera is in Matrix or Center Metering modes when you power up the TX. If you are in Spot metering and power up the TX, it will not show the “BL” on the LCD screen. If you change modes without powering down the TX, it continues to show whatever mode you initially powered it up with. Regardless, it is not working in TTL-BL, rather it is in TTL, just like CLS does. Your flash will still show TTL, not TTL-BL, as that is the real mode that it is in. TTL-BL assumes that the flash is at the same distance from the subject as the camera, and does not have a way to know what distance the flash is from the subject if it is not mounted on the hotshoe.
High Speed Sync
One of the first things that I check was to see if the TX allowed HSS, like it claimed. It easily did so, and it was obvious that it worked. My D600 only has a 1/4000 shutter capability, so I could not test it all the way up to 1/8000. The TX displays “FP” on the LCD screen when you are in HSS mode. You have to enable it in the camera first though before you can enter the HSS mode. In Nikon, that means setting the flash sync to one that is “Auto FP” (FP stands for focal plane). At that point, your flash acts more like a continuous light, rather than a bright strobe. It’s not as good for stopping motion, but it is very good when you need to lower the ambient light, and keep the exposure of the subject lit properly with the flash.
Flash Value Lock (FLV)
FLV works fine with the D600, the YN-622N-TX, YN-622N, and SB-800. I have my FN button set to FLV (hold), so once I hit the button, it holds that value until I hit it again.
Modeling Flash (w/SB-800)
I noticed that the TX allows the Preview button to pass the modeling flash control to pass through the TX to the SB-800. Basically, when I hit the DOF Preview button, it works the modeling flash in the SB-800. It isn’t listed as a supported feature in the User Manual, but it works just fine.
Rear Curtain Sync
The TX claims to support rear curtain sync and displays an icon on the LCD screen when it is in that mode. I have checked to see that it appears to recognize that rear sync is selected, but I have not tested this function completely though, so I cannot confirm yet if it works 100% correctly.
One of the things that I noticed is that when I have the YN-622N-TX on the hotshoe (and on), if I use the D600’s flash button (press and hold) to adjust the FEC and the flash sync modes, then the popup flash does not popup and stays down, just like when you have a Nikon flash mounted on the camera hotshoe.
With the Nikon SU-800 mounted on top of a YN-622N receiver, the popup flash would always activate and hit the bottom of the YN-622N, and I would have to manually push it back down. It was an annoying thing, but one that I always noticed. Of course, Nikon designed the popup flash to recognize the SU-800 and its own brand of flashes, and not third-party manufactured items.
It works, just like expected in TTL. It is easy to see it go up and down with a simple press of the button. It allows + 3EV and -3EV, just like on the SU-800. I took some shots with the SU-800, and some with the YN-622N-TX as the flash controller, both of the same subject, with the same distance, settings, etc. Both sets of photos came out the same, meaning that the YN-622N-TX appears to do the job of controlling the flashes as well as the SU-800/YN-622N combination.
The TX supports 3 groups, just like the SU-800, and seems to work the same way, except even easier to control and with more options.
To go to a group, just press the Group button one time and it goes to the next group. An arrow indicator points to the current active group. When it is pointing on the group that you want, you can use the Mode button to change the mode for that group. It’s really easy, and faster than using the Select button on the Nikon SU-800.
I only have done a quick check using my SB-800s, but I could manually zoom the flash heads,, but they have to be done as a group – all flash heads in a group zoom to the same setting.
To control the zooming, you have a dedicated button on the TX called Zoom. Pressing it makes it toggle through the three groups, and the selected group flashes when you are able to control it. You change the zoom by using the up and down buttons on the TX, and you can manually set the zoom anywhere between 24 and 200mm; however, your flash has to be able to support the range also to go this far (you are limited by your flash). There is also an “AU” setting, which is automatic zooming, which is tied to the zoom of the lens. Both ways worked for me.
Just like on the YN-622N transceivers, the YN-622N-TX has an autofocus assist beam. It works quite well, and helps you get focus in low light situations. I have not had any issues with using it, and have been able to nail focus every time quickly when using it.
One of the great things about the AF-assist beam is that you can quickly turn it on and off when you want – and it displays it’s current state on the LCD screen. If you want it on, just press and release the AF/SS button on the TX and you will see the icon turn on the LCD screen. To turn it off, just press and release the AF/SS button again, and the indicator will go off. The indicator is in the lower right corner of the LCD screen. They could not make it any easier to use.
Flash Wake-up and Test Firing
There is a Test button on the YN-622N-TX, and it works to test fire the flashes. Even better, it is a fast way to wake up sleeping transmitters. If you haven’t fired your flashes in a little while, the transmitters go to “sleep” to save battery power. Simply press the Test button on the TX once to wake them up. It worked for me, and is a nice feature.
I haven’t had a chance to fully test the working range of the TX yet. It has to be better than Nikon’s CLS optical system though, and hopefully lived up to its reported range of 100 meters.
Remote Shutter Release
Updated (02/25/2014): The shutter release feature does work (I had problems getting it to initially). I did a factory reset, and it started working, still on firmware v1.03. I got to test the range of it tonight – so far, it was reliable at over 50 feet with no issues. I shot around 50 frames without a problem at that range while shooting a couple of cars.
For me, I put the TX on the hotshoe, and connect the shutter release cable to the camera and the TX. Then I use a YN-622N and long press (press and hold) the Test button on the YN-622N. Pressing the Test button gets it to autofocus, and releasing the Test button releases the camera shutter.
I still prefer the radio shutter release of the Pixel RW-221 DC2 Oppilas wireless shutter release, which not only supports the single shutter release like the Yongnuo, but it also has continuous, bulb, and timer modes. I have one, and at under $25 shipped, it is much better and cheaper option for a shutter release. But, the Yongnuo works as one, so if you already have it, then that solves one issue for you.
Comparison of the YN-622N-TX to the Nikon SU-800
In order to use the SU-800 as an i-TTL radio flash controller, you had to mount it on top of a YN-622N. It works fine, but it is bulky. The Yongnuo is easily smaller, and not having to have the bulky SU-800 on top of a YN-622N to be able to use radio TTL is a huge improvement.
The SU-800 is just over $250 new, and the Yongnuo is $65. It’s not even close. Buy two YN-622N-TX’s and you have a backup – and you still have only spent half of what a SU-800 cost. Need I remind you, the SU-800 technology is close to a decade old.
eBay sellers are trying to sell the YN-622N-TX for up to $200 on eBay. Don’t do it.
I got mine from EachShot.com and I used a coupon code that I found on FlashHavoc.com. Mine was $63 shipped. They are regularly under $67.
Features and Functionality
The Nikon SU-800 with a YN-600N is a solid combination when you are looking for a radio control system for Nikon flashes, but when compared to the Yongnuo YN-622N-TX, it appears that the YN-600N-TX has a few more of the newer features, and the SU-800 supports more of the older flash features.
The SU-800 supports AA mode and flash ratio mode, and the TX does not.
The TX claims to support TTL-BL, and the SU-800 does not.
The YN-622N-TX supports both automatic and manual flash zooming from the transmitter.
The SU-800 only supports automatic flash zooming on the transmitter. You can manually zoom on each flash, but not from the transmitter (I have never found a way to do it.).
The SU-800 on a YN-622N usually wakes up the other YN-622Ns, but fails to wake them all up at times.
The YN-622N-TX has a dedicated button to wake up the other YN-622Ns.
Summary of Comparison
Basically, my D600 has a CLS commander for 2 groups already, so if I want to use CLS, and have an optical line of sight, I still can. All I have to do is use my popup flash as commander, and be limited to two groups instead of three. For me the SU-800 simply adds the ability to add a third group to CLS.
Considering that I can get four YN-622N units, and one YN-622N-TX for the cost of one Nikon SU-800, my initial opinion is that I expect the YN-622N-TX to be my new flash controller of choice.
I suspect that I will sell my SU-800 very soon, and probably get a spare YN-600N-TX as a backup unit.
Below are some pictures of how it arrived.
The Yongnuo YN-622N-TX support page is located at: http://www.hkyongnuo.com/e-detail.php?ID=339
A direct link to the YN-622N-TX User Manual in English is : http://yongnuo.com.cn/usermanual/pdf/YN-622N-TX_Usermanua_EN_CN.pdf