Protog YN460II Flash, Wireless Trigger, Stand, Holder, Umbrella Kit [CTR_460KIT] Review
So at the start of this month it was my birthday (march 4th for those of you who didn’t know…just sayin’) and with my Birthday/Christmas/any special occasion that involves gifts comes money that I put towards camera gear. This year I decided to go with some flashes, light modifiers and stands so I can set up a little studio that can get moved around with relative ease. As always, I looked around for the cheapest deals that I could find and I think I did a pretty good job. I managed to turn about $350 into:
- 3 x light stands (one 200cm and two 280cm)
- 3 x brackets to attach flashes and umbrellas to the stands
- 3 x wireless flash trigger receivers
- 2 x wireless flash trigger transmitters
- 2 x flashes (a YN460II and a used Sunpak Auto 260)
- 1 x 36” white shoot through umbrella
- 1 x 33” white shoot through umbrella
- 1 x light stand bag
- 1 x 33” silver bounce umbrella
- 1 x 36” bounce brolly box
Good deal, yeah? All of it brand spankin’ new, except for the Sunpack flash. So how do you get such a good deal? Well I ordered from 6 different companies and it took a month for it all to get here, but the one I was looking foreword to the most was from an Australian company called PROTOG.
Protog has put together a YN460II Flash, Wireless Trigger, Stand, Holder, Umbrella Kit [CTR_460KIT] package including:
- 1 x 200cm light stand with carry bag
- 1 x flash bracket
- 1 x Yongnuo YN-04 II wireless flash transmitter and receiver set
- 1 x Yongnuo YN460II flash
- 1 x Shoot-through white umbrella
Basically everything you need to start learning about off-camera lighting. How much?
Well it’s $199.00 from their website with the option of paying $14.95 for registered post or $24.95 for express post, But I payed just $169.00 plus 12.95 for shipping from their eBay store. I don’t know why there is a price difference, everything looks the same, but either way it’s a great deal.
So, I’ll review all the elements individually, then sum up with a review of Protogs’ service.
200cm light stand
First some specs:
Maximum operating height: 205cm (fully extended).
Minimum operating height: 72cm
Collapsed length: 72cm.
Maximum Load 2.5kg
The stand feels really solid. It’s surprisingly light thanks to the aluminium, but still doesn’t feel flimsy. At first the legs felt quite stiff and hard to expand (heeheehee) but after using it for 3 weeks it’s loosened up a bit and now it just feels sturdy. I needed something to put in these pictures so you can get an idea of the size, so I used my 1950 re-issue “summer vibe” telecaster (it is a BEAUTIFUL guitar).
The legs are released by the traditional spinning bolt but the levels of the stand are release by a Manfrotto style clip system. The clips are really strong and when they are closed it really feels like it’s not going anywhere.
On one of the legs you’ll find the only bit of branding with a little Protog stamp and on the bottom of the legs you’ll find some nice rubber feet. This is a big plus in my books because other cheaper stands just have plastic on the bottom and on my wooden floor they slide around more than Tom Cruise in Risky Business.
Here’s a shot of it all set up and at its lowest height –
And at its highest –
I’d be happy to use this outdoors with a sandbag on the base, but not expanded all the way up. I’d be happy to use it all the way up indoors though! Good stand, happy with it. Wish I had spent a little more cash and gotten two more of them instead of the other two taller ones that I got from OZplaza because of the build quality AND the OZplaza stands don’t have screw threads on the top, so you can pretty much only use them with brackets if you’re using little strobes like me.
The flash bracket is made of plastic and while at first you might think that this is a mark of being cheap, it’s actually a good thing. When it comes to putting lights on stands you want to try and save weight where ever you can. While it is made of plastic it’s pretty strong, holds position well and feels like it’s built to last. The umbrella goes in easy and while the screw looks pretty dinky, it does the job of holding it in place. If this bracket was going to break, this is where I could see it happening.
Now bear with me because I’m about to say “bracket” a lot. At the top of the umbrella bracket there is the flash holding bracket. This pops in and out so you could put something else in the top if you wanted to. The bracket that secures your flash to the umbrella bracket is pretty tall and when you put your flash on it feels really unstable, but this is done for a reason. The bases of all flashes and wireless triggers are built differently in different sizes and thicknesses. By keeping the bracket wide and deep it ensures it’s compatibility with more flashes. If you only use one type of flash you can easily get out some pliers, put your flash on the bracket, then SLOWLY pinch it closed for a tighter fit. But that’s if you’re only ever planning on using flashes that will fit that size. Other wise most flashes and triggers these days come with a spinning wheel that tightens up for a nice secure connection. Use that. It doesn’t have a little hole for secure pin (those of you who have flashes that have locking pins on the base will know what I’m talking about) but It does have a plastic strip down the middle which is a big deal. Some cheap brackets have metal bases and it’s easy to forget that your flash has metal pins on the bottom that transfer information when connected to your cameras hot shoe. Metal pins on a metal bracket can short out or damage your flash. If you have a cheap metal bracket (like the other ones I ordered from china) simply put down some electrical tape and you should be safe.
Yongnuo YN-04 II wireless flash transmitter and receiver set
I was less impressed with this item. I already had and love the PT-04NE style wireless radio triggers from eBay. These have a GREAT working distance (I’ve triggered them from different sides of a steal framed house before, about 30 metres away and through walls). Still, I was keeping an open mind when I got the Yongnuo triggers. I did like that the transmitter could also be a receiver. I did not like the on/off switch. It’s a button on the receiver and you hold it down to turn on the receiver and while its working it will blink every 4 seconds. If it goes onto sleep mode you have to turn it on again and to turn it off you just touch the button again. The batteries are kind of weird, a 3v and a 12v which come with the pack, but I’m not sure if you can get these in rechargeable form. On the PT-04NE it just uses rechargeable AAA’s for the receivers and no batteries for the transmitter. It does run on batteries, but there is no slot to put them in, I think you just have to open it up with a screwdriver. I don’t know how long the transmitter batteries last, but I’ve been using them for a year and it’s still going strong. Another plus for the PT-04NE triggers is that they have built in umbrella brackets attached to the side of the receivers. Also, not that it’s important, but Protog advertises a CTR-301P trigger and it came with the YN-04II. Not a real biggy, just something to know. Something else to note, even though the PT-04NE and YN-04II are both radio triggers that can operate on 4 channels (and sound like practically the same product) they will not work with each other. All that being said, they did work and pretty well. I liked that the transmitter could also be used as a receiver and if I didn’t have the PT-04NE triggers already, I wouldn’t have a problem using these.
Yongnuo YN460II flash
This one I was REALLY looking foreword to! I’ve heard a lot about the Yongnuo flash series. Very cheap flashes, but how well do they work? Surprisingly well! The YN460II doesn’t have TTL functionality, but they are kind of like cars. You pay more for more features and more power. This is good because you can get exactly what you want! I didn’t want TTL, I have an SB600 should I ever need TTL, I just wanted a simple manual flash. This one has a manual mode and two slave modes. The first one is just regular optical slave mode that will trigger when it senses a sudden increase in light, the second is a more sophisticated, but less sensitive mode that will ignore pre-flashes. A critique about the YN460II? Once the batteries are in, it’s a little difficult to close the hatch. Not a huge deal, but something that could be a pain in a pinch. Another nice touch is the built in flash diffuser AND built in bounce card. It’s tiny and I don’t know how well it will work, but it’s there. that Other than that, it’s a great flash. Pretty fast recycling time, good power with a reported GN of 38, light weight, VERY easy operation. I think I’ll buy another. Word of advice, the kit comes with everything you need to start using off-camera lighting, except batteries for the flash. Protog does sell batteries, but if you forgot you can always pick up some rechargeable 2450mAh energiser batteries for 20 bucks from the post office when the package comes.
Shoot-through white umbrella
When I first got the umbrella I thought, cool, it’s an umbrella, in white…awesome. It wasn’t until I got the cheaper umbrella off eBay that I noticed the marks of quality. While both of them have white, rounded tips on the end that may just help you avoid a lawsuit when your stand falls over and the model DOESN’T loose an eye, only the Protog umbrella comes with a little cone on the other end that REALLY helps guide the shaft into the bracket. The Protog umbrella has little white caps on all the ends of the spines as well, not sure if that’s going to save an eye, but it’s a nice touch. The Protog umbrella also has better looking stitching, stronger looking spines and is slightly bigger. All in all, the small differences are nice and one will probably last long than the other, but they are just cheap umbrellas. One more thing, the Protog umbrella comes in a nice tough plastic sleave that keeps the umbrella clean and puncture free. The eBay one came with a sleave too, but it’s crappy plastic that is basically thick cling film.
Unbelievable! The prices are some of the best I’ve seen in Australia and the parcel got here in just two days!!! The packaging was really thorough, thick plastic wrap and bubble wrap, it was a little hard to get open, but with Australia post the way it is these days, that’s a good thing. They also have a store in Mitcham, so if you want to see the merchandise before you buy it you can. I don’t have a car but otherwise I would have saved on postage and gone to the store. I accidentally ordered some batteries separately but they figured it out and shipped it all together. Another advantage is that they are based in Australia, so if something goes wrong you can go to them for replacements. I’ll definitely be buying from them again and I hope you’ll take a look too. No, they didn’t pay me for this post, but I like good service and I’ll promote people that offer it for free. One last time, their website is www.Protog.com.au. Check it out, and while you’re at it, why not friend them on facebook? http://www.facebook.com/protogphotographic will keep you up to date with their latest and greatest and it looks like they actually reply to their fans! Neat concept huh?
Oh that’s right! Results.
With just the flash its self –
And here’s one with a hair light and reflector –