For the last 10 years I have been using a Canon MT 24 EX Twin-lite macro flash, taking 1000s of images with various macro lenses at magnifications up to 7X as well as using it as a fill flash, and mixing flash and long exposures. Earlier this year after 10 years of continuous use it expired, and could not be repaired economically. I was bereft, I considered buying another Canon unit, but with a price tag of £880 it was far more than I wanted or was able to spend, and anyway they were unavailable from my usual suppliers for some reason. I brought out my old Stroboframe bracket and went back to using the 2 flashguns and cable setup which I had used before I purchased the Twin-lite unit. It only took a few minutes to remember how awkward this setup is to use compared with the Twin-lite, and how glad I was to pack it all away 10 years ago.
Canon 7D and Yongnuo YN24EX Macro-flash 1/250th second, f/14. Using the flash as the only light source
I was still persisting with the Stroboframe bracket and wondering how to afford another Canon Twin-lite when I came across a new rival on Amazon. The Yongnuo YN24EX Macro Flash Speedlite retails at around one sixth the price of the Canon so I felt I had little to lose by purchasing one of these instead.
I have been using it for 2 months now and have been much impressed by the way it works. I have mainly used it to photograph insects, the unit is easy to operate, and has produced consistent results at different levels of magnification. It is effectively a copy of the Canon even down to the name, it looks more like a conventional flashgun with wires and separate heads, but it is very much a copy in the concept and the way it operates, the flash-heads even fit the Canon lens mount from the MT 24 EX.
Recycling is rapid enough with rechargeable batteries to take images continuously at 1 or 2 a second. The LED focusing lights, essential with the Canon 65mm MPE lens, are bright enough even at the lower of the two light levels, much better than the single bulb on each of the Canon’s flash-heads. The unit seems well made, and although it is slightly bulkier than the Canon it weighs about the same so balances well on the camera. The lens attachment system is a bit big, especially on lenses with a smaller diameter barrel, but is robust enough, and has the advantage over the Canon of fitting a wider variety of lenses. However as it also works with the Canon lens mount I have been using that, as I then only need an adaptor for the 100mm L Macro lens.
One feature that is seems completely original is the ability to mount both flash-heads on the main body of the unit and use it as a conventional flashgun, I have not really used it like this yet, but can see circumstances where it would save carrying a second unit around.
I have taken photographs using the flash as the only light source, and as a fill-flash in a wide variety of lighting situations with it performing as I required all the time.
The only negative compared with the Canon is the lack of a wireless slave master function, which I realise I was using quite a lot now I don’t have it. It will trigger slave flashes, but only in fully manual mode, as the Canon pre-flash will trigger the slave flash before the shutter opens.
Having used purchased it I cannot see why anyone would buy the Canon unit instead. And given the exorbitant cost of the Canon, and of having it repaired if necessary this unit will pay for it’s self after a couple of years of use.
Canon 7D and Yongnuo YN24EX Macro-flash 1/160th second, f/10. Using the flash as a fill light