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Off-camera flash is a key technique that can really differentiate your photography style and make you and your imagery appear more professional. The tools needed to achieve off-camera flash are relatively simple, consisting of just a flash unit and a cord or triggers to connect the flash to your camera. While a cord is by far the cheapest and most straightforward option, it’s also inconvenient since it physically binds you to your camera. Wireless triggers are a simpler solution, but they tend to be pricey, especially if you opt for Pocket Wizards. Enter a budget option: the Yongnuo RF-603 wireless flash trigger.
Priced at under $35 for a set of two, the Yongnuo RF-603 works as both a wireless flash trigger and receiver. It can also function as a remote shutter release for your camera.
One of the triggers attaches to your off-camera flash unit via the hot shoe mount. Ihe other slides onto your camera’s hot shoe mount and also connects via the included N1 shutter release cable. Then you simply turn the triggers, camera, and flash on and you’re good to start firing away!
You can also purchase additional Yongnuo transceivers to trigger multiple flashes at once. To use the Yongnuo RF-603 as a shutter release, simply attach one unit to your camera’s hot shoe mount, turn both units on, and use the second unit to remotely fire your camera.
Besides being very reasonably priced, these Yongnuo triggers are powered by two normal AAA batteries. They use the battery power very efficiently, meaning you won’t have to constantly switch out drained ones. The triggers are also very slim and lightweight in size at just three inches long, making them easy to slip into a bag or pocket. These triggers are compatible with most DSLR cameras, but double check to make sure you order the correct model that is compatible with yours.
Another point to note is that these Yongnuo triggers use a 2.4GHz wireless frequency, and the remote control distance is up to approximately 100 meters (328 feet). Synchronization speed can reach 1/320, but may only reach 1/250 depending on the exact scenario you’re shooting in.
When shopping around, you might notice that there are two Yongnuo RF-603 models: RF-603 and RF-603 II. The older, original version looks like it has recently been discontinued by the manufacturer, but it is still available for sale. Thus, it’s important to note several key differences between the two models, and why you’ll probably want to opt for the newer version. Also note that the original and newer transceivers are compatible with each other, so you can mix and match if you happen to have both versions.
The original trigger has the on/off button on the top surface, which means it is completely covered up when attached to your flash. Thankfully, Yongnuo fixed this problem in the second version, and moved the on/off button to the side of the trigger. The newer version also includes the option of designating the trigger as off, in TR mode or TRX mode, rather than simply on or off.
If you’re a photographer looking for a low-cost way to experiment with off-camera flash, Yongnuo triggers and even their own brand name flash units are highly recommended. Based on multiple user reviews and my own experience with Yongnuo products, they are dependable, efficient, and incredibly easy to use despite being considered budget options.
The only downside to these Yongnuo RF-603 triggers lies in their simplicity. Since this base model trigger only has a simple on/off button, you still have to manually adjust your flash settings if you want to tweak the flash power, flash zoom, etc. Upgrading to a more sophisticated trigger system such as the Yongnuo 622N TX ($85 for a pair approx.) gives you the full power of adjusting flash settings without having to even touch your flash. However, given the extra cost and complication of the Yongnuo 622N, only opt for this version if you truly need the extra features (in other words, stick with the RF-603 if you’re a beginner or on a budget).
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