I recently discovered a set of high quality wireless radio triggers I want to share with you that can trigger speedlight flashes, studio strobes, double as a shutter cable release when needed, and all in one small battery powered unit for just US$15 each.


What I am referring to is the Yongnuo RF-603 II wireless radio trigger/transceiver. Some people might say that in many ways they offer a lot of the same functionality as a Pocket Wizard, and they do since each trigger can work either as a transmitter or a receiver, which is simply known as a transceiver, but for only a fraction of the cost. They also come with a free shutter release cable so they can be used as cable shutter releases for your DSLR as I mentioned, which is something Pocket Wizard doesn’t even offer you. You just need to make sure you buy the correct Yongnuo RF-603 II package for your camera brand and model because they offer a couple of different versions of the RF-603 II trigger depending on your camera model. The only difference between the 2 different triggers versions though is the shutter release cable they provide you in the box with the triggers. The RF-603 II is sold in pairs for around $30 a set and you can buy a pair of the Yongnuo RF-603 II triggers with the 3 pin cable for Canon shutter releases here. If you are a Nikon shooter then you can buy the Yongnuo RF-603 II version here for Nikon which contains a cable to trigger most Nikon shutter releases. In the photo below you can see an RF-603 II with the free shutter release cable attached to it for Canon cameras.


What’s great about Yongnuo speedlight flashes themselves is that for around $75 per flash they can be triggered by a radio frequency, act as masters or slaves, and without requiring any external receivers. Otherwise, with Canon speedlight flashes you can usually only use a Canon brand trigger in order to set off a Canon speedlite flash remotely. This makes it much more challenging to use a Canon brand flash in a group with other brands of speedlight flashes at the same time. I once tried to use a Canon trigger to set off a Canon flash with some of my Yongnuo flashes together. It did trigger all the flashes, but the sync was off on the Yongnuo flashes because the Canon trigger didn’t work right with the Yongnuo flashes and so it proved to be a useless solution. But these Yongnuo RF-603 II triggers can trigger many of the Canon, Nikon, and Sigma speedlight models individually or in a group. So it fixes the Canon proprietary trigger limitation issue I was having and allows one to shoot various brands of flashes and models all with one RF-603 II trigger, and with no additional receivers needed on the flashes.

I am currently using a set of 3 Yongnuo YN560-III Speedlight flashes that I bought here and all 3 of them can be triggered directly by one of the RF-603 II transceivers from my camera’s hot shoe together using the built-in radio receivers within the Yongnuo flashes. So no extra receivers needed on the flashes themselves. Just one transceiver on the camera and I am good to go with all 3 of my flashes on a shoot. In fact, I can trigger an unlimited number of flashes at a time with just one RF-603 II trigger as long as they are within a 100 meter range (330 feet) of the trigger. And since the triggering is based on a fully closed radio system, I don’t need to trigger any of the flashes in the group using an optical receiver. That is great because when either the flashes or the strobes are being triggered optically, there can be accidental flash pops that occur from other infrared light interference out on a location. So with these Yongnuo triggers many problems have been solved by being able to turn off the flashes’ optical sensors and switching to a closed radio system triggering method.

After you finish reading this post you may want read my other post titled Why I Got Rid Of All My Canon Speedlite Flashes and switched over to using Yongnuo brand speedlight flashes only. It was much more than just the trigger limitations with Canon speedlites that made me switch to all Yongnuos. In another one of my posts, I talk about using my Yongnuo speedlights on location and I show them being used with some cheaper radio triggers, which caused me issues with infrared light interference because I had only placed one of the radio receivers onto one of my Yongnuo flashes and then the other Yongnuo flashes were being triggered by the first Yongnuo flash optically. I no longer have those problems now that I switched to a radio frequency trigger for all my Yonguo speedlight flashes, nor do I need to use optical trigger methods anymore now that I got these Yongnuo RF-603 II radio transceivers. See my post titled Using Speedlites Wirelessly On Location Shoots here to understand more about the issue of using other types of radio triggers and receivers with Yongnuo flashes and why they don’t work as optimally as the RF-603 II triggers.


Before I discovered these Yongnuo triggers though I was using a couple of different kinds of cheap, no-name radio triggers I bought from eBay sellers as I mentioned and mechanically they worked okay. Because they were inexpensive compared to a Pocket Wizard, I didn’t worry about them getting lost or breaking, but they were also cheap build quality. These Yongnuo RF-603 II triggers cost the same as the cheap ones I was buying before on eBay, but are much better quality. Also, the strength of the radio signal had limited range on the eBay ones, batteries wore out quickly, and I had to use one type of trigger for my studio strobes and another type for my speedlight flashes. So my camera bag was filled with all kinds of triggers. What a mess it was before.

Also, many of these other trigger models I was using would use a mix of different battery types, including those small 23A 12V batteries which can be hard to find replacements for when they wear out, especially when you may be shooting in a location outside a major city. The Yongnuo RF-603 II transceivers just use standard AAA batteries, and that’s it. Of course you can use rechargeable AAA batteries with them too if you want and they have a standby time of up to 45 hours on a single set of AAA batteries. Great!


Another small feature that is really handy about these triggers is that they have a hot shoe mount on the top of the trigger itself. So when I mount the trigger on the camera’s hot shoe I can then still add a spirit level on top of the camera using the hot shoe on the RF-603 II as you can see in the photo above. With the old triggers I was using I used to have to switch back and forth on the camera hot shoe between the trigger and the spirit level which could cause the camera position to move a little bit and is not good if you are trying to capture multiple exposures in order to layer a shot together in post of an architectural interior for example. Some of the other specs on the RF-603 II include having 16 different radio channels that can be changed manually using 4 dip switches within the battery compartment on the RF-603 II triggers and they also have a max sync speed of 1/320 second (but this depends on camera brand and model).


With the RF-603 II it is very easy though to change the trigger from being a transmitter to being a receiver. You simply put the switch into the TX position for being a transmitter and into the TRX position for being a receiver. If you are using an RF-603 II with a Canon or Nikon speedlite flash that has a built-in radio receiver, then the RF-603 II can trigger it without any receiver added onto the flash. If it is an older model flash, like a Canon 550EX Speedlite for example, then you can put one of the RF-603 II transceivers onto the older speedlite in TRX mode and the other transceiver onto the camera hot shoe in TX mode to trigger your older speedlite flashes that way.


I also mentioned the RF-603 II can be used in the same way as with speedlights in order to radio trigger studio strobes too. So now I use the RF-603 II units with my Elinchrom strobes as well. All I did was simply buy a short cable which has a 3.5mm plug connector on one end to plug them into my Elinchrom studio strobes. On the other end of the cable it has what is known as a PC sync plug which connects into the top of the Yongnuo transceiver itself. You can see the strobe sync cable connected to the RF-603 II in the photo above.

What I used to do in the past though was connect only one radio receiver to one of my Elincrhom strobes and then let the other strobes trigger from the first strobe using the strobe’s infrared sensors. This is the same thing I was doing when shooting with my 3 Yongnuo YN-560 III speedlight flashes prior to getting the RF-603 II transceivers. But the problem is that if you are shooting on a location where there is other infrared light being emitted around you, then it could trigger your other strobes unexpectedly. To avoid this problem with my strobes I now bought a couple extra of these RF-603 II transceivers and I connect one of them to each of my Elinchrom strobes. Then I turn off the infrared sensors in the strobes and this makes my whole strobe setup a closed radio system and avoids any misfires from any other sources of infrared light. You can get those 3.5mm to PC sync cables if you need them for only $8 here on Amazon. But I don’t need to use extra transceivers with each of my Yongnuo speedlight flashes because they have the radio receivers already built into them as I mentioned.

Yongnuo also makes another model radio trigger called the YN560-TX which has a lot more features. It is more useful if you are using Yongnuo brand speedlight flashes and want to be able to place them into groups. It also is able to change the power output settings manually for each flash in a group right from the trigger. These triggers only work as transmitters though and not transceivers. They are priced at about $40 each and come in Canon or Nikon versions as well.

So I think that covers all the great and relevant benefits of these inexpensive flash triggers. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to post them below as always.