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This is somewhat a multi-part question, mostly related to my split-decision on weather to buy a YN560-II (or a several of them) for much less money than buying Canon alternatives (one Canon 580EX II and another or multiple Canon 430EX II).

I'm concerned on maintenance and repair and weather if it is possible or justifiable to repair Yongnuos if something goes wrong versus repairing Canons.

To some it may sound like nitpicking, but I would like to get into multi-light off-camera photography and as I am just starting budget is an issue.

My actual questions:

  1. What are most common issues that would require repair of a speedlite?
  2. How often did you need to repair your units? I know this is too general, but a ballpark figure, yearly, once in 5 years or never would give me a good idea...
  3. As Yongnuo should be "a copy" of Canon is it much different for maintenance and repair? Because what's good about a cheap flash which no one will repair when it breaks.

I plan to use these to shoot something around 500 exposures or less a month. And TTL is not an issue because I prefer to use manual mode.

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2  
The problems that I hear about the yongnuos (which I haven't had with mine luckily) are cheap capacitors breaking. If you know how to replace one of those, then a fix for the main problem you have to worry about is easy –  Dreamager Jun 11 '12 at 18:36
    
@Dreamager - You should make that an answer. –  John Cavan Jun 11 '12 at 19:49
1  
Indeed, he should make that an answer, though it might be sensible to add the caution that if you don't know how to repair/replace the HV capacitor, you can be very seriously injured by the voltage. IMHO if you don't know what you're doing, this is a bad place to try to save money :-/ –  djangodude Jun 11 '12 at 20:52
    
I'm even more interested in problems with Canon's speedlites and their repair and how often and what breaks with them, because I'm thinking that a new YN560 can probably cost as much as a repair job of a Canon. But I could be absolutely wrong... –  Miljenko Barbir Jun 11 '12 at 21:00
1  
I personally wouldn't know how to fix it or if they have any other problems, and I know nothing of any inherent Canon problems so I thought it best to leave it a comment rather than an answer as I'm lacking plenty of info. As djangodude pointed out, I may well have forgotten to warn people about capacitors and had someone killed ;) –  Dreamager Jun 12 '12 at 1:05

4 Answers 4

up vote 2 down vote accepted

About two years ago I bought a set of three YN460II flashes (only manual, no TTL) to use alongisde a Canon 430EXII, mostly for taking portraits. I bought them for about $40 each considering them pretty much disposable.

To my surprise, all of them are still going strong. I have dropped them many times (by accident of course, not for fun!) and so far none of them broke.

As a side note, I have found the simple +/- buttons and LED interface of the YN460II much simpler to use than the full blown LCD interface of the 430EXII. Consider that you can see the power easily in the dark and from a distance, whereas on the 430 you have to get close and turn on the LCD backlight first.

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As this is not exactly a direct answer to my question, but does provide most info on the raised questions, I'd like to add a few points. Judging from the answers and comments Canon's speedlites don't break much, but even on the other hand, Miguel pointed out that YN's seem pretty disposable at their price, and if they are as reliable as I'm getting the impression (if they last more than 2 years, I'm more than happy) I think that they are the way to go, mostly because at this time budget is a big part of the decision for me... –  Miljenko Barbir Jun 19 '12 at 10:29

I have a Canon 580EX, 580EX II, and 430EX. They've been fired a number of times. How many? I have no clue. I've used them professionally since they've been introduced. I've never had any of them fail.

That said, if you're only using them in manual mode, I'd look at some older Vivitars. No point in spending money on technology you won't use. You can buy a brand new Vivitar 283 for $80, and it will work great on manual mode.

Why do you prefer manual? TTL has quite a bit of a learning curve, but once mastered, it's a lot faster than manual. :)

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Why I prefer manual: mostly price, then habit, then IMHO having most control over conditions. What advantages does TTL offer over manual (I've created a question, so feel free to answer there)? –  Miljenko Barbir Jun 12 '12 at 5:06

Yongnuo no longer support their flashes - only repair. Earlier they simply replaced with a n new one. It almost seems that they at first collected the experience of their flashes ability to break, then understood the main weak place(s) and just changed this/these element(s) all the time.

This means that you have to wait approximately 1 month while the item come to you after being repaired. It's sad.

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Hello Stan, welcome to the site. Could you please add some references to your answer? –  Francesco Jul 22 '12 at 7:20

Here are answers for your questions based on my YN-465 and all the research I did before getting it:

  1. What are most common issues that would require repair of a speedlite?

    The number one cause of speedlight damage is dropping it - if you drop it and you are unlucky it will break.

    The "professional" series (models 5xx) are supposedly much better at surviving impact than the older 4xx model.

    The original yongnue flashes had 3 major problems - plastic foot, bad battery door design and sometimes a bad capacitor - all of those has been fixed in the later models (both later 4xx models and all 5xx models).

  2. How often did you need to repair your units?

    I have an older YN-465 that has the plastic foot and bad battery door I mentioned above, I only got it a few months ago and I use it a lot, a few days ago I dropped it (it fell from a lightstand to the floor) and damaged the battery door - but it still works perfectly (the radio trigger receiver that was attached to it did not survive).

    When it breaks (probably when the battery door stops closing due to the damage from dropping it) I'll buy a new one, maybe a newer model with the new battery door design (and also an optical slave and zoom reflector that the 465 doesn't have).

  3. what's good about a cheap flash which no one will repair when it breaks.

    First, it's good because you can get a complete 3 point light setup including lightstands, umbrellas and radio triggers for about the price of one Canon 430Ex flash

    If you get the really cheap YN-460:

    YN-460: $40 each on eBay 
    Westcott 750 lightstand: $30 each on Amazon
    Cheap generic umbrella holder: $4 each on eBay
      (or you can get a better one for about $7 and not have
      your flash fall to the floor like mine)
    Radio trigger transmitter and 3 receivers set: $26 on eBay
      (or you get get one receiver and use the optical slave for about $15)
    Umbrellas: $5.50 each on eBay
    
    Complete 3 point setup: $264.50
    
    One Canon 430EX: $279 on sale on Amazon right now
    

    Second, the most expensive YN manual flash costs about $75 (the cheapest costs $40) at that price buying a completely new flash will probably costs you less than the repair cost of a Canon flash.

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