**Update - After having 2 of these these for a time, and only using them on a rare occasion both unit have just stopped working. I wrote Yongnuo and told them what happened, and how they just stopped, and that I rarely used them and they were stored in a climate controlled place, and they emailed back..."what is the problem?" Not helpful at all. Not recommending these anymore. Buyer Beware.
With waiting on the release of YN565, I needed to get my hands on a couple speedlights. So I purchased the Yongnuo YN560. This is not an ETTL-flash, and if you don’t mind some manual adjustment, these are nice flashes. When I received them, I was rather impressed by the quality. Solid unit, heavy feel, and doesn’t look cheap. I found mine online for about $63. Now I would have loved to get a few 580ex II, but that was out of my range. I also picked up external battery packs for $20, to allow for extended use. Now the Canon setup which I have 1, costs about $650 with Flash and battery pack. The Yonhnuo set up cost me $103 with 2700mAh NiMH rechargeable batteries.
Now that I have used them a bit, I like how they work. I plug them into pocket wizards I already own and have no problem shooting at different angles from the flash. They optical trigger works just fine, but for me, I like to know I don’t have to deal with any line of sight issues. So if you don’t have a wireless trigger system, you just need to make sure you have some line of sight to the sensors.
I do like the manual system. It really puts the ball completely in your game. You have to be aware of everything. With the ETTL system, you get the balance light, and though you can make adjustments, I think getting the full understanding of your equipment, only makes you a better photographer. If you end up in a situation where you get stuck on a manual system, you will have little adjusting to it.
Now the main question I had is, how does it compare to a 580ex? Well, sadly it doesn’t quite have the punch of the 580, but it still is a powerful flash, definitely more power than the 430ex. The YN560 will mount accessories designed for the 580ex like an omni-bounce The. power packs are interchangeable, and it has a pc port for trigger. The recycle time on the YN560 flash is actually a hair faster than my 580ex. I was quite impressed with the recycle time and pushing the flash a bit to see how it could handle it.
I have used the flashes both on camera and off. I would recommend the YN560 for those on a budget. I am guessing the New YN565, when released, will be a close comparison to the 580EX II with digital display, and trigger with camera’s like the 7D building trigger function. However, I am sure the price tag on the new YN565 will run a bit higher. I have seen a price range of $150-$250 for the upcoming YN565. So if you are in the market for an inexpensive, but dependable flash look at the YN560.