When I’m asked what is the cheapest strobist flash to start with, I usually say that the best flash for money in my opinion is the YN560II, but is there a cheaper flash to start with? Yes there are two flash units that answer all the strobist demands that you’ll need:
- Nice power.
- Low price.
- PC Sync plug in.
- Optical slave .
- Full manual mode.
Yn460II (By Youngno) – made by Yongnuo, one of the recent strobist and budget flash manufacturer. In my opinion they actually made the flash revolution rolling , while offering affordable strobist gear in prices that you could not imagine 3 years ago. The YN-460II has a very nice power output 38GN and you can get 7 power levels in one stop increments (1/64 to 1/1), but you can also fine tune it with 1/3 stops too.As most recent flashes it has the S1/S2 optical trigger mechanism and thats all you actually need for a simple strobist flash that costs less than 45$!!I
MK930 (By MeiKe) – This one is another strobist flash on the budget. Meike is a relatively fresh company, I tried their equipment only after a fellow photographer complained about his YN flashes and started to look for alternatives. Just like the YN460II it offers a decent power, GN42 a bit higher than the YN, it comes in a bigger body (as you can see in the header image), it has 8 power levels (the YN has “only” 7) and a way to fine tune output levels into 1/3 stop steps.
Lets start the dual between those two:
PRICE: There is a 10$ difference between those to, the YN460II manual flash costs on ebay about 45$ while the MK930 flash costs a bit more 55$. (Score YN leads 1-0 ).
BUILDING Q: In this category the MK wins by a clear margin! I was surprised by that. I’ve never used a MK930 unit before and actually expected building quality similar to the YN460II flash, but the win is awarded to the MK930 for a couple of reasons : 1. Size – The YN460II is a very light and small flash, a really small one, even smaller than Canon 430, while the MK930 is a big unit, probably because that its frame is used for other MK flash, bigger flash like the MK531 and so on.(Score 1-1).
HANDLING: They both have the same operation method:
- YN460II – The output power is adjusted by two buttons (+ and -), very easy to anderstand, and you can see the output level on 7 led indicators on the back screen. The Youngno 460ii has “only” 7 leds as it has only 7 output levels 1/1 – 1/64 (no 1/128.)
- MK930 – Adjusting the power is similar to the way you can do it with the 460ii, the only difference is that you have to choose from 8 power levels as the Meike 930 can get as low as 1/128th (1/1 – 1/128).
- Both flashes have a way to fine tune the power level by 1/3th stops. I have to say that it is a bit combersome way to do so, the reason is that you don’t have an normal digit display to see what realy goes on. so I decided to leave it to others and not use it.The advantage here goes the MK’s as they have a fine tuning botton, while with the YN you have to push two buttons ( MODE and then PILOT).Just know that if you want to fine tune the levels, its possible… No points are shared hre as they both do it the same. (Score 1-1).
RECYCLING TIMES: I can split the recycling test into 2 parts:
- High output levels – When those two are set to full power , they are about the same. At full power there is about 1/3th of a second difference, its a time you can notice, but its not that much of a deal.
- 1/2 full power and lower – thats where the differences start to be noticeable and might disturb you, the YN460II is much much more fast and it took me be surprise. I know that with their bigger models (YN560x) they are super fast, but this one is a little demon where it comes to recycling !At 1/2 power it is ready time after time almost immediately, not mentioning that at 1/4th and lower, it is ready to pop almost anytime, the ready light is green all the time, while the MK930 has to take its time (Score YN leads 2-1)
FEATURES: IN this category, the MK930 leads by far. As the YN is a very basic flash unit, the Mk has some more “advanced” features:
- The Mk930 is a bit more powerful than the 460II. MK930 has a nice 42GN (ISO100 105m) while the 460II has a 38GN (ISO100 105mm, Improved as the old YN460 produced 33GN).
- The Meike 930 has external battery socket, while the Youngno does not.
- MK930 has adjustable zoom head 24-105 while the YN does not offer this option.
- Both have the normal strobist flash specs : S1/S2/M modes (S2 will ignore pre flashes) , PC sync to conect triggers.
- (Score 2-2)
Bottom line – I liked the 460II here better.The yn460ii is priced for every pocket, if you want to start strobist around, this one is an amazing start. It is very small and light and offer super fast charging time.If you want a bit more advanced flash unit you can consider the MK930, that for 10 more bucks will get you a better building quality and an adjustable zoom head.
More Stuff: YN460II Manual (PDF) – Click to open in a new window or right click and save as, to download.
More similar flash reviews on http://www.diyphotographystuff.info:
- My review of the YN560EX - the best pure strobist flash out there.Definitely my pick for 100$ flash!
- My review of the YN560II great choise for 70$ manual flash!
- My review if the YN565EX – ETTL flash for a photographyer on the budget.