Yongnuo RF603 II Wireless Flash Trigger: Should a beginner buy one?
I have not been doing photography for a long time but it has been my life-long dream to fulfill my passion for it. Ever since I realized how amazing cameras can be, I asked my parents to buy me one. The first digital camera I had was a Chinese brand and only shot photos that have the quality of what the cheapest of smartphones can do today.
After that, my fascination for photography just got more intense. Back in 2015, my wife bought me my first DSLR camera and after that, I have not stopped shooting photos. Over two years, I have gathered some of the most basic accessories for photography up to the advanced ones. Some of them were essential and some I have only used once.
The Yongnuo RF603 II Wireless Flash Trigger, however, has been one of those purchases – as a beginner, that I did not regret buying because it has helped me UP my photography game a lot.
So the question you are probably asking as a newbie is this: Should I buy the Yongnuo RF603 II wireless flash trigger?
The quick and simple answer from a fellow BEGINNER is YES. Read on to find out the reasons why.
It is CHEAP and extremely easy to use
I bought my Yongnuo RF603 II from eBay back on December 26, 2016, and I know it’s not the latest model but as a beginner, you can’t really be buying the most expensive stuff right at the start. You have to try something cheap first because you never know what you’re going into. Sure there are lots of tutorials and reviews out there but that’s always going to depend on personal experience. What someone rates as 10 might just be a 3 for you so be careful when buying stuff when you’re just starting.
So anyway, back to the reason why it is cheap. I bought the wireless trigger for AU $49.50 (I checked the same product from the same seller again and it got cheaper by AU $5) and for a beginner like me, the features and functions it offers is really worth the price. If you’re in the US, I looked at Amazon US and found the cheapest one for US $29 at the moment. Click on the image below to take you to the Amazon website. Follow this eBay Partner Network Link as well if you want to buy one from eBay.
It’s really not bad if you want to try how one can help you in your goals but trust me, it has more functions than it looks like especially if you want to achieve certain styles of photography which I will discuss later.
The reason why it is cheap is finished so now we go to the reason why it is extremely easy to use. For a beginner, having this kind of device can really overwhelm you especially because you have never used one before. Fear not because without reading the manual, I can tell you in a few steps, you can get this thing going.
The first thing you need to do after you buy the Yongnuo RF603 is to get two pairs of AAA batteries (that means four of them). Next thing you need to do is open the box and take out the two Yongnuo RF603’s and open the battery compartment at the bottom of the device. Insert the two batteries by following the correct placement of the “+” and “-” signs on the battery. Do this for both triggers. Turn the devices on by switching them both to TRX mode.
Attach one of the triggers to your camera using the shutter release cable that came with it by connecting the trigger to the camera’s hot-shoe. Plug the release cable on the side of the trigger and plug the other side to the shutter release slot on the side of the camera. (NOTE: Buy the one that comes with a shutter release cable, it should come with it for free)
Turn your camera on and now the two should act as a wireless shutter. This means you can just trigger the shutter without any physical contact with the camera. You can be up to a 100m away (transmission distance as advertised by the product manual) and still be able to trigger the shutter. I have not personally tried this yet but I imagine this would make one great long distance selfie.
Now that’s how easy it is to set-up and use. You didn’t even have to read the manual. (Because I never read it)
My understanding of Macro Photography as a beginner is that they are photos of objects, which are normally minute in size, that are blown up to look bigger in the photo. This makes you see the subject of your photo in a whole new aspect as you can see all the fine details on the subject just like putting it under a simple microscope.
The thing about macro photography is that once you have a macro lens and the closer you are to the subject, the distance between the nearest and the furthest objects giving a focused image (depth of field) is reduced resulting in only small parts of the image being in focus.
The only way to combat a narrow depth of field is to decrease your aperture to something like f10 or even lower. This, in turn, will decrease the amount of light coming into the sensor making the image darker.
You will then need to compensate by exposing your subject to more light. There are a few options to fix this issue. One, you could add more lights to your subject by using a LED light or you could use a flash. We will discuss using a flash this time as this is where we can make use of our Yongnuo RF603 II.
When taking macro photos, you will need an external source of light – not just the on-flash camera. You need it because your aperture is so slow, that only a small amount of light can go through the lens making the image darker.
With an external flash, you can create a brighter and properly exposed image resulting in a better quality macro photo. Of course, you can attach the external flash to your camera but so that it triggers when you press the shutter button but it doesn’t always result in a great photo.
What you will need to do is to have the flash situated somewhere else around your subject, not just in front of it. Having the flash fire off directly in front of the subject makes the image look flat.
You can either place the external flash at the back for some backlighting or on the sides to give more depth to your subject/photo. This is where the Yongnuo RF 603 II wireless flash trigger comes in (and probably why it was called that way in the first place).
Connect one of the RF603 units to the camera hot shoe mount and the other to the external flash. Turn on both triggers to TRX mode and you’re good to go. Once the shutter button on the camera is pressed, the flash will also trigger and fire.
With this setup, you can now have different positions and distance for the flash allowing you to get the look that you want on your photo. The positioning can give more depth and unique looks to your photo while distance can affect the area covered by the flash. Take for example having a macro shot of something but you only want the light to focus on the middle of the photo so you set your flash as close to that part as possible and fire away.
Macro photography takes blurry images to the next level because everything is magnified. Everything being magnified includes movement as well. A very subtle shake of the camera can be an earthquake for the image causing blurred images and out of focus subjects. Another factor to consider is when you press the shutter button, the pressing movement can shake the camera as well no matter how careful you are.
You can always combat the shakiness by increasing the shutter speed but take in mind what the resulting photo will look like. Increasing the shutter speed also decreases the amount of light that reaches the sensor by opening and closing the shutter rather quickly.
Now, like what I said before, macro photography needs a lot of depth of field because of high magnification. You already have a very slow aperture so that means less light already. If you add another factor like a very fast shutter speed then you have even less light coming in resulting in a darker image.
This is where the Yongnuo RF 603 II comes in again to help with triggering the shutter to avoid any camera shakes. Like I said earlier, it is very easy to setup the RF 603 as a wireless shutter trigger (well not really wireless because you still need to attach the shutter cable to one of the RF603 and the camera).
Just like last time, after connecting one of the triggers to the camera using the shutter cable that came with the unit, turn both on to TRX mode. You can now lower the shutter speed to as low as you want and let go of the camera to remotely trigger the shutter using the second RF603. This method now allows you to require less light to expose a subject properly as you have more freedom with the shutter speed than opposed to having to trigger the camera shutter release button itself.
Since the triggers use radio frequency, you can trigger the shutter even if you are behind a wall.
Think of a scenario where you position your camera outside one of the windows of your house and you remotely trigger it from the inside giving you a housefie – a selfie of your house while you’re inside it. No need to set the camera shutter to delay to 10 seconds (which is by far the most I’ve seen in cameras today) and run as fast as you can so that you can reach your spot before the shutter releases.
Long Exposure Photography
Another important area where you can use the Yongnuo RF603 II is when you are doing long exposures. Long exposure photography means leaving the shutter open for as long as you want to achieve the desired goal for the photo you want. This results in more light coming into the camera causing any movement during the time which the shutter was open to become blurry depicting motion.
Take for example taking photos of fireworks. Fireworks shows only happen at night so your environment will be very dark. In order to capture the most stunning images of fireworks, you will need to leave the shutter open for longer periods of time.
The reason for doing this is that if you shot your fireworks, let’s say, at shutter speed 1/60; aperture f10; and ISO 400 (minimum ISO is best especially if you are shooting at night to avoid grainy photos) – the resulting image will be dark and very boring. BUT, if you left the shutter open for a bit longer even at the same aperture and ISO, you will get an awesome fireworks photo. Just take a look at the examples below.
As you can see, even without post-processing, the photo on the right already looks usable while the one on the left is pretty boring. The only difference between the two photos is the shutter speed. One is at 1/20 sec while the other one is 2.3 sec. (It is also important to take note of the aperture. I chose an aperture of f11 to have as much depth of field as possible BECAUSE it is very hard to focus on fireworks, not to mention the sky is so dark and there is nothing to focus on. One tip is to focus into infinity or better yet, when the first sets of fireworks come out, quickly try to focus on them and set your focus to manual, never on autofocus PLEASE.)
Now imagine if you were holding the shutter open for 2.3 sec and your finger was on the shutter button for the same amount of time. You have to admit that you cannot stay stationary, your finger or your hand will have to move even subtly.
Subtle movements during long exposures can drastically change the quality or output image. This can result in blurry and unusable photos. If you are really that skilled and can pull off shooting long exposure photos without the use of external triggers then you, my friend, are not a beginner.
Here are some photos I took of the Sydney Opera House during the Vivid Sydney Lights Festival held every year during May to June. I put my camera on a tripod and used the Yongnuo RF603 II to trigger the shutter which I left open for around 10-20 seconds at a time depending on the effect I wanted.
By the way, there are different ways you can leave the shutter open for long exposures. One is to set the shutter speed for up to 30 seconds open. This means you only need to press the shutter button once and the camera itself will close it automatically once 30 seconds has finished.
Another way is to use Bulb Mode. In bulb mode, you press the shutter button and the camera opens its shutter and will leave it open until you press the shutter button again. This means the camera will be moved twice increasing the chances of getting a blurry image but with a Yongnuo RF603 II, you are eliminating the action of touching the camera thus minimizing blurs.
If you’re a beginner and you want to try out long exposure photography, the Yongnuo RF603 II Wireless Flash Trigger can help you on your way to producing professional looking photos.
Stop Motion Animation
After I discovered that my Nikon D5500 had its own internal interval timer, I got hooked on timelapse photography. It wasn’t as hard as I thought even though I was only beginning to do it. After I’ve learned more about it, everything that takes a long time to do, I would do a timelapse of it.
After this fascination with timelapses, I sort of got myself into stop-animations. It is a type of photography not suited for impatient people. It takes a lot of time and effort. Hours of work on animating may only give you a few seconds of animations. It is hard work.
Stop Motion Animation is basically shooting photos of inanimate objects and moving them in increments before taking another shot to create motion once the photos have been stitched together in post-processing. The resulting sequence of images will make it look like an inanimate object is moving on its own.
If you think about it, one second of stop-motion animation can be made up of a different number of photos depending on the look that you want to achieve. The movies that we see are shot at 24 frames/second meaning that in one second of film, it is made up of 24 still images.
Taking math into the equation: If you want to do a 1 minute stop motion animation, you will need to take 60 seconds and multiply it by 24 (if that is the look you want to go for) equals to the number of images you have to make which is (opening calculator) 1,440 images. Now that’s why it’s hard work.
The next thing you have to imagine (yeah, this post is for people who have great imaginations) is pressing the shutter button 1,440 times. Not only is it tiring but there is also a high probability that the camera will move during the shoot. And a moving camera in stop motion animation is a big no because slight movements will be noticeable in the finished production and it will not look good for your project.
That is where the Yongnuo RF603 II comes in to save you from all the hassle of pressing the shutter button every time by using the RF603 as a wireless shutter release. This not only saves you from inadvertently moving the camera but also makes it easy to take shot after shot after shot.
I am no expert in stop motion animation but what I usually do is that I edit my scene first and create a story in my head (ideally you would want to create storyboards). Once I’ve figured out how the story is going to go, I would then place my characters on the scene, take a shot, move them a little, take another shot, move them a tiny bit again, and take another shot and so on.
Since I have the Yongnuo RF603 II Wireless Flash Trigger, I can now easily move my characters, remove my hands from the scene and press the trigger which I always keep on my left hand. I use my right hand to position the characters or both hands if need be. The trigger is small enough to fit in my hands so at the same time I can adjust my figures as well without putting the trigger aside.
So if you have the patience and creativity to do stop motion animations, the Yongnuo RF603 II might be able to help you out.
I have never been good with people as I think I am more of an introvert and interacting with people, especially at parties, tires me quite easily. With that in mind, I am not very keen on doing portrait photography but I do know some beginner stuff that could probably help you out.
I find Portrait Photography or taking portraits of people a bit more challenging because it involves other people and that you have to keep in mind that they are human beings and they have feelings too.
Anyway, in Portrait Photography, you will need some light to help portray the image of a person in a sense that would not only look beautiful for you but also for the subject of the portrait him/herself. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder so what may look beautiful for you may not look remotely close to pretty for them.
Normally when you shoot portraits outdoors, you would only need to make use of one source of light which is the sun. Once you’ve got that settled, you can now ask your subject to pose away.
This isn’t the case when you’re shooting indoors though. Have you ever had portrait shot in a studio where the only source of light is from the room lights and the on-camera flash? I bet you there is no studio that you would go into if it only had those light sources.
If you’re a beginner and you want to shoot portraits and all you can afford is one external flash and of course the Yongnuo RF603 Wireless Flash Trigger, then this might be able to help you.
If you have a wireless flash trigger, you can position your external flash somewhere else inside the room and not just attached to your camera for it to fire. This is extremely useful if you want to get a clear shot of the person’s face and not create harsh shadows.
All you need to do is attach one of the Yongnuo RF603 II on to the camera and one on to the flash. Position the flash on top of a shelf or a tripod if you have one (I bet you have one by now because most beginners kit sold out there has one in them) and shoot your photo like you normally would. This would add more depth to a person’s face because another source of light is hitting it.
Now you can avoid those flat portrait photos you see on Facebook.
CONCLUSION: Should you still buy Yongnuo RF603 II Wireless Flash Trigger?
Now that you’ve read all I have to say and experienced as a beginner user of the Yongnuo RF603 II, would you still buy one? The answer is YES.
If the above-mentioned uses and ideas for usage of the RF603 still don’t convince you that you need a wireless flash trigger (that could double as a wireless shutter release) then don’t let that hinder your imagination or creativity.
There are probably more things you could do with this unit other than being a wireless flash trigger as the product name suggests.
Get out there and be creative, nothing can stop you except yourself!
If money is an issue, then do something about it. I’ve heard of other people who have low-income jobs but are still able to buy the things they need for what they are passionate about.
If photography is your passion then money is not going to be an issue. Make a plan and reach your goals by thinking big. It all starts with the small things like saving a small amount of money every month to buy a pair of Yongnuo RF603 II. Remember, savings = 20% of your salary and not savings = salary – expenses.
Also if you like to travel alone or you have no choice but to travel alone, then you can make use of the Yongnuo RF603 II Wireless Flash Trigger to take selfies on your travel eliminating the need to ask someone else to take a photo of you in front of a landmark.