Canon’s ST-E2 flash commander, if you can call it that, is an ancient piece of equipment if you think about the last ten years of digital camera technology advances. If you compare Nikon’s SU-800, it’s like comparing an analog, mechanical computer with a quad-core machine today. It’s just that ancient!
So why did I get one? Well, I didn’t until I found a chinese copy on ebay. I wouldn’t pay more than US$90 for the real, original ST-E2, but I found this Yongnuo for less than that one eBay. Plus shipping. That sealed the deal. The Yongnuo ST-E2 can also be purchased directly from Yongnuo HK’s ebay store here.
Anyways, it has several advantages to the original. First is that it takes AA batteries. Not the harder to find 2CR5 lithium battery. This means I can use my Maha Imedions with it. Secondly, it can swivel left and right. The original Canon ST-E2 stays fixed, pointing forwards. If you’re not using a radio trigger like RadioPoppers (get them in Malaysia here), how often would you have your flash places in the forward 90-degree arc of your lens? One other advantage Yongnuo claims is that you can control their YN ST-E2 using the camera LCD. Well, that’s because the YN ST-E2 pretends to be a 580EX. However, with the limited functionality on the ST-E2 itself, there’s hardly much benefit to it. I mean if it has the same functionality as the SU-800 from Nikon then perhaps, the LCD control would be beneficial. Finally, the other advantages Yongnuo claims such as increased range, recycling time, etc are just extras to me.
Any disadvantages? Of course. Basically, this is a cheap Chinese copy. Manufacturing tolerances are going to give. Most apparent is positioning the focus assist beams to line up to my 5D Mark II requires a couple of seconds. Once done and the unit it locked down, it’s not a problem. Minor if you ask me for the price I paid for it.
Finally, most importantly to me is I want to use it with my RadioPoppers. The big reason I bought this is so that I can have my 3 580EX IIs doing something else rather than be a commander. Couple that with my 550EX and 430EX II, that gives me five lights to place in my scene. RadioPopper’s instruction to stick the transmitter on the batter cover is for Canon’s original ST-E2 but, for the YN ST-E2, you’ll need to place it a bit forward of the battery compartment. Other than that, it works flawlessly with my RadioPopper PX. Just make sure you gaffer up the transmitter part of the ST-E2 if your flash units are in the same room and can see both the ST-E2 IR and the radio commands from the Poppers…