Aperlite YH-700 Flash
Aperlite YH-700 (4-AA, ISO 100 measured guide number 80'/24m at 35mm, 2.2s measured recycling time; shown for Canon, also comes for Nikon, about $90.)
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Aperlite YH-700C for Canon.
Aperlite YH-700C for Canon. (reads in feet if you set that in your camera's flash menu)
This Aperlite flash is a low-price, off-brand, full-sized and full-featured flash for Canon or Nikon. I have the Canon version, and presume all should be the same for Nikon.
For a fraction of the price of a real Nikon or Canon flash, it pretty much works the same. It has all the same crazy features like repeating flash and wireless control as the Nikon and Canon full-size flashes, for a fraction of the price.
All the features and camera-controlled menus work flawlessly with my Canon 5DS. It exposes well and has plenty of power for portraits in broad daylight, and it recycles ultra-fast.
I'm very impressed. Rarely do I try any off-brand items and find that they work great. Usually there's something that doesn't work properly or they feel like they are going to fall apart immediately, but this bargain flash just keeps pumping out the light and responding perfectly.
What you lose is that it probably won't last as long and doesn't feel as precisely made as Nikon or Canon's flashes (It does have a metal foot), and that while it's the same full size as the Nikon SB-910 or Canon 600 EX-RT, it only makes as much power as the mid-sized Nikon SB-700 or Canon 430EX II.
The difference in power doesn't really matter (it's only an invisible half-stop); what does matter is if it recycles immediately from a full-power dump, and it does. I measure only 2.2 seconds to recycle at full-power with Sanyo eneloop, and that's with fully or partially discharged cells. If you're shooting long and hard, the batteries will get very hot as they should; this flash can really suck the power out of my batteries just as well as Nikon and Canon's newest flashes.
One thing that wasn't as good as Nikon or Canon's flashes is that when firing multiple full-power manual bursts for in indoor shoot, it did get hot enough that it wouldn't always fire because it was trying to cool down. I've never had that happen with Nikon or Canon, while the Aperlite flash simply wouldn't always fire for every shot after a while. That's just as well, because otherwise it would start to melt something.
One other thing is that the battery box is not marked clearly. You'll need a flashlight to see the tiny black-on-black + and - marks, while Nikon and Canon mark this much more clearly with big white painted icons.
It has a pull-out 16mm wide panel and white catchlight card. The wide panel works great, but my white card keeps sliding back into the flash instead of staying up.
Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor (IGBT)
190'/58m at ISO 100 at 105mm.
Canon: E-TTL II, E-TTL, TTL., Manual and multiple repeating
Nikon: i-TTL, TTL, Manual and multiple repeating
Wireless Modes: Wireless TTL, S1, S2
Wireless Slave Groups: 3 groups (A, B and C)
Wireless Channel: 4
16mm with wide panel.
Vertical pitch: -7º ~ +90°
Horizontal yaw: 0º ~ 270°
4 AA batteries
Up to 3 seconds
1/200 ~ 1/20,000 second.
Manual Power Adjustment
Full to 1/128 in third-stops.
Stand with metal ¼-20" tripod insert.
3.07 x 5.75 x 4.67 inches.
78.0 x 146.0 x 118.5 mm.
13.8 oz. (390 g).
Stately Home, 18 June 2015. Canon 5DS, Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L II at 25mm at f/8 at 1 second at ISO 100 with Aperlite YH-700C flash at full power, shot as normal JPG and processed in Perfectly Clear V2. Full 50 MP resolution.
Ryan and Katie at the park with dad, 18 June 2015. (Canon 5DS, Aperlite YH-700C flash, Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM, f/20 at 1/200 at ISO 400, Perfectly Clear V2.) Perfect fill-flash in broad daylight from 20 feet away! bigger.
Ryan and Katie talking into the air conditoner fan, 18 June 2015. (Canon 5DS, Aperlite YH-700C flash, Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM, f/14 at 1/200 at ISO 400, Perfectly Clear V2.) Perfect fill-flash in mixed daylight and shadow. bigger.
Ryan contemplates his egg, 18 June 2015. (Canon 5DS, Aperlite YH-700C flash, Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM, f/20 at 1/200 at ISO 400, Perfectly Clear V2.) Perfect fill-flash to light Ryan's face that was in almost total shadow. bigger.
Ryan and Katie picnic at the park, 18 June 2015. (Canon 5DS, Aperlite YH-700C flash, Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM, Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM, f/22 at 1/200 at ISO 400, Perfectly Clear V2.) Perfect fill-flash in broad daylight. bigger.
Measured Power Output
* When zoomed to 50mm with wide panel. It has 1/6 stop more forward power when zoomed to 105mm, and 1/6 stop less when zoomed to 24mm with the wide panel.
I had no problem when firing it repeatedly at full power for these tests, but it did start misfiring presumably due to thermal limiting after I had been shooting it a lot at manual full-power while running some tests shooting an interior. It didn't tell me that this was why it was misfiring; it simply wouldn't fire as often as I'd like it to until it cooled.
Measured Recycling Time
2.2 seconds at full-power with Sanyo eneloop.
I measured the same with freshly charged cells or hot, worn, partially discharged cells, bravo!
It has a red AF illuminator that throws a pattern of red Xs across your subject. This allows you to focus even on a blank wall, but I found that since the flash is above my lens that often the illuminator was too high on my subject to align with my camera's AF sensors.
Everything works as it should. It's easy to figure out; much easier than Nikon and Canon's top flashes.
The power switch slides on and off as it should, there are no screwy buttons to hold down or levers with locks.
The LCD is a custom LCD, not a dot matrix, so it's easy to read. It is also well lit at night with green LED backlight. It's cleaner and easier to read than the dot-matrix screens of the Nikon SB-910 or Canon 600 EX-RT, and about the same as the dedicated screens of the Nikon SB-700 or Canon 430EX II.
The LCD is well lit, but the buttons are not lit at all.
The ready light is tiny. Oddly red means GO and green means charging.
When manually setting the zoom, it goes directly between 24mm and 105mm at either end. Just press ZOOM and click left or right, and you can run off either end.
The foot lock is simply a primitive screw lock, but it works easily and simply. It isn't as secure as the locking lock levers of Nikon and Canon, but it's easier and faster to use.
It's full-size, so it gets long when straightened out to put in a bag and may not fit some bags since it's longer than some telephoto lenses.
The swing and tilts have no locks, even though the styling imply it. I prefer this; locking flash tilts drive me crazy.
Everything talks 2-way between my Canon 5DS. The two are so smart that the 5DS won't mark a file as shot with flash if the flash misfires for some reason, for instance if the over-temperature sensor prevents it from firing even though the flash looks ready to go.
The only thing I could fool was that when I set my 5DS to tell the flash to take camera cropping into account for the flash zoom setting, that the flash didn't know when I used the 5DS' new variable crop feature. I don't know that any Canon flash could read that, either.
It goes to sleep by itself, and wakes right up when I tap my camera's shutter.
The repeating and manual flash are easy to set and work great.
I didn't try wireless or any of the crazier menus.
It's a little more crude-feeling than Canon and Nikon's flashes, but considering that it sells for only about a third of the price, it's a bargain.
It recycles just as super-fast as Nikon and Canon's state of the art.
If you don't miss a half-stop of maximum power, it has the same features as the top full-size flashes, and is easier to use and has an easier-to-read LCD.
I do this for a living, so the price of a flash is much less important to me than its quality, ultimate reliability over the years or size or weight. One missed shot 7 years from now could easily cost me more than I save with this flash.
I prefer the real Canon or Nikon flashes simply because small size and weight are also important to me. This flash has the same high performance as Nikon and Canon's mid-sized flashes, but has the size of their full-sized flashes.
If you want a powerful, fast and competent flash for a low price, this is one of the few times I do recommend a non-camera-brand flash. This flash works great and I've never gotten more accurate exposure with any other flash.
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19 June 2015