Using the Yongnuo YN685 TTL Flash as an Off-Camera Flash

The Yongnuo YN685 TTL flash works much the same as many other flashes, but there are some quirks to using it, especially wirelessly. Here are some tips.

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Filed Under: Speedlights
Topics: Yongnuo

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Radio-controlled flash is a wonderful thing, but the way it has been implemented is often infuriating. Every flash seems to need a different transmitter system, and even flashes in the same brand don’t necessarily work with all of that brand’s transmitters. It’s something companies like Godox are trying to do something about, but for now it’s a little like the Wild West. Unfortunately, that means it’s not quite as simple as picking up any flash and transmitter and launching right into some off-camera flash shooting.

One of the most popular budget brands for flashes is Yongnuo. And for good reason–they make good, capable flashes that sell for a fraction of the price of the ones from the big name manufacturers. The YN560-IV manual flash is perhaps the most popular–and I have several of them. But while they have built-in radio receivers, they don’t have TTL or high-speed sync. If you’re looking for those features, you might want to step up to the Yongnuo YN685 Speedlite.

In many ways, the YN685 does what many other flashes do. But there are some quirks to using it, especially when using it wirelessly. It also does some things different from other Yongnuo flashes, including the popular YN560-IV, so it’s not entirely intuitive even if you’re stepping up from other Yongnuo flashes.

So I’ve put together some tips for working with the Yongnuo YN685 Speedlite. Because as much as I like Yongnuo flashes, clear instruction manuals are definitely not among their strong suits.

But let me say up front that this is by no means intended as a comprehensive guide to using the YN685. I’m not so much interested in the straightforward aspects that work basically like any other flash. What I’m focusing on here are some of the quirks and gotchas that I’ve come across in the hope that by sharing them it might save someone else a little time solving the problem or the aggravation of trying to find features the flash doesn’t have. Because the YN685 is a good flash, but it’s just not always as intuitive to use as it could be.

Yongnuo YN685 Features

First, what it has:

Built-in 2.4 GHz Radio Receiver for Wireless

According to the manual, it can be triggered wirelessly by these model numbers: YN-622N, YN622N II, YN622N-TX, YN660, YN560-TX, RF605, RF603II, and RF603.

I’ve only used it with the YN622N-TX and YN560-TX II transmitters. With those combinations, there are some things to know and watch out for–there’s more on that below. Your mileage might vary with different transmitters.

TTL Compatibility

You can use TTL on-camera and off-camera (with a compatible controller).

High-speed Sync (HSS)

With a compatible camera and transmitter, it’s capable of high-speed sync up to 1/8000 second.

Firmware update

You can download firmware updates from the Yongnuo website and apply them to the flash.

What the Yongnuo YN685 Doesn’t Have

  • Optical slave mode. There’s no optical sensor, so you can’t trigger this flash wirelessly using the light from another flash.
  • Master unit. You can’t use this as a master controller.

Quirks of the Yongnuo 685 with the YN622N-TX Wireless Setup

If you’re using the YN622N-TX, there are some things to watch for.

622 R. Slave Trigger Mode. Put the flash into 622 R. Slave mode by holding down to the Mode button until the mode is flashing and then using the wheel to scroll through the options.

That’s unnecessarily confusing, because on most other flashes, including others by Yongnuo, slave mode refers to optical slave mode where the flash is triggered when it sees the flash of light from another flash unit. But the 685 doesn’t have an optical slave mode, and in this case the 622 R. Slave setting is actually referring to putting the flash into wireless receiver mode. Even more confusing, the instruction manual refers to this as “Remote Control Mode.” It would be much clearer if they just dropped the use of “slave” here and called it 622 Receiver or 622 Remote mode.

622 R. Slave vs 622 M. Slave. The 622 R. Slave mode allows you change the intensity and zoom wirelessly from the transmitter. The 622 M. Slave mode (or multi mode) locks the intensity setting to what you’ve set on the flash unit itself and acts more like a standard dumb wireless trigger. You can, however, still set the zoom remotely in the 622 M. Slave mode.

Manual Mode. To use a wireless setup, the flash itself has to be in Manual (M) mode even if you actually want to shoot with TTL flash metering. This isn’t unique to the YN685, but it seems counterintuitive at first. And you’ll find that when you change the trigger mode to 622 R. Slave, it will automatically change the flash to M. You can then use the YN622N-TX transmitter to switch to TTL (it will still say M on the flash unit itself) as well as dial in any flash intensity compensation up to 3 stops in either direction.

Remotely Controlling Intensity and Zoom. The YN622N-YX can set the flash’s intensity and the zoom in the 622 R. Slave trigger mode (or just the zoom on the 622 M. Slave mode), but there’s a quirk in the way these are refreshed on the flash’s LCD screen. If you change the zoom on the transmitter, you can have this change reflected on the flash’s LCD screen by half-pressing the shutter (you should immediately get a blue light on the back of the flash to show an active link, but it doesn’t stay on long as a power-saving feature). You’ll then hear the flash head zoom in or out to whatever focal length you’re using and the value will be shown on the back of the flash.

But if you change the intensity setting on the transmitter, you won’t see that reflected on the flash even with a half press of the shutter. You’ll only see that change when the flash is fired, either by fully pressing the shutter or by using the transmitter’s test button. [Note that this behavior is different if you’re using the Yongnuo YN560-TX II controller; more on that below.]

Controlling Zoom Wirelessly. To control the flash’s zoom using the transmitter, you’ll need to make sure the flash zoom setting is set to auto. The way you do that is to press the zoom button on the flash (far left of the row of white buttons) and then use the wheel to scroll through the manual focal lengths until the small M changes to a small A. That A signifies the flash is in Auto Zoom mode.

Wireless TTL. If you look up the flash’s instruction manual on how to use wireless TTL, you’ll come across this:

If you need to use the off-camera TTL mode, please switch to the remote control trigger mode. [p.22]

It took me a few moments to figure out what it meant. So let me rewrite it in clearer way that actually corresponds to the flash’s settings:

To use wireless TTL, use 622 R. Slave trigger mode.

It doesn’t work in 622 M. Slave trigger mode because the flash ignores intensity instructions in that mode.

Using the YN685 with the YN560-TX II Controller

The biggest thing to know with this controller is that it won’t give you TTL–it’s a manual flash controller, after all. But there are a couple of other things worth knowing.

You can still control the flash intensity and the zoom (with some limits) and work with groups and channels.

603 Slave Trigger Mode. This is the mode that you put the flash in to make it receive the radio signal from the RN560-TX II controller.

Updating Settings on the Screen. The issue I mentioned above about how the settings are updated on the flash’s LCD screen isn’t an issue when using this controller because they’re updated in real-time. So when you change the intensity on the controller it shows up immediately on the flash LCD screen. Same for zoom.

Zoom Range. The YN685 flash has a zoom range from 24mm to 200mm, but the YN560-TX II controller only has a zoom range from 24mm to 105mm. So you won’t be able to zoom right in when using this controller.

David Coleman / Photographer
by David Coleman

I'm a professional freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my travel photography here. More »

27 thoughts on “Using the Yongnuo YN685 TTL Flash as an Off-Camera Flash”

  1. I have a combination of YN685 with D7500 and D780. Everything works perfectly for the D7500. I also use direct deployment of the YN622N-TX. The problem occurred with the D780, which Yongnuo no longer tested and support was terminated. If I deploy YN685 on D780 for manual mode ok. For iTTL mode, the devices communicate (zoom, etc.), but the flash does not fire. In manual mode, the flash fires as it should. When using YN622N-TX iTTL function works fine. The Yongnuo service center told me they wouldn’t help me. You have no idea. Eda.

  2. I’ve just recieved a pair of YN685Ns and they do the dang pre-fire flash (like the red eye reduction in built in flashes) it does this in every mode when its on camera, or off, and the delay this creates is maddening… any help?

  3. Hi, thank you for your article.
    I’m very disappointed with this flash.

    I have a Nikon D750, a flash YN568exIII (that works fine) and 2 622N II and this strange 685 speedlite
    One question, is there a way to use this 685 flash in ttl mode with radio mode? In particular without buying the 622n tx?

    Thank you

  4. THANK YOU!!!!! I was getting desperate where to find the 622 Remote setting that is all over the Internet… didn’t expect it to be the 622 R. Slave.

    Thank you!

  5. Hi
    I bought the 560TX PRO and for the life of me can’t find anyone who uses it with the 685 to obtain ttl (HSS) specifically. Do you have any info. I’ve already upgraded the firmware but the directions are limited on how to set up for TTL.


  6. Please help! I have two 685’s and 2 YN622C ll’s. I want to have one flash on my camera, and the second flash on a stand both firing at the same time. How do I do this?! I put the transceivers on both flashes and attached the first to my camera and the second on a stand. When I take a picture, their not firing at the same time. Are my settings wrong? I have them both in ETTL

  7. Many-many thanks. I have spent eternity trying to add a YN-685 as an in-flash optical slave. At least now I now know to stop trying and pull out another brand of flash to use in this scenario.

  8. Here‘s my saga with our two, YN 685‘s. We bought for in-home studio’use:

    1) they will not work with an optical slave attached. Confirm manual mode and radio off. I have tried two different brands of optical slave, and the result was the same no triggering. However, slaves worked just fine with my Nikon OEMs speedlights, And I confirm that I had Nikon built-in optical slaves switched off.

    2) the two Yongnuos Will not sync with each other using a Connected PC cord. One flash will not fire the other and vice versa. However this is where it gets screwy-If I connect one Yongnuo YN685!28 Nikon speedlight via PC cord, The Nikon can fire the Yongnuo, And the Yongnuo can fire the Nikon.

    Bottom line, a Yongnuo yn685 Will not sync with its exact twin using a PC cord, but It will sync with another manufacturer flash. And they won’t work with optical slaves under any circumstances. Function however it’s completely normal when using the YN 622 and TX system, Then everything stinks. This is been the maddening experience. Anyone has any ideas I would appreciate them. I wanted to stay to get I’m sure I know what I’m doing manual mode- radios off, Everything should be working as expected but it doesn’t. And the experience with the PC cords is just downright bizarre. I am sorry I bought these units

  9. Great article thanks.
    I’ve just acquired the 685 and am getting very confused.
    This article has helped a great deal to explain things though I am still struggling with the below.
    I trigger the 685 with the yn622 tx. I now get that the flash goes into M mode even for ttl functions.
    I’m finding however that if I leave the yn622 on ttl mode it doesn’t trigger the flash. The blue receiver lights up on the flash but it doesn’t trigger.
    If a change the mode on the 622 to Manual them it works fine but obviously with manual power settings such as 1/128 etc.
    The hss and rear curtain sync settings do work and change on the flash accordingly as does the zoom settings when altered via the camera/ 622 controller.
    It just seems the ttl metering function does not. I’m just wondering if I’m doing something wrong.
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  10. Please.can.i get some help, got two 685, just about to buy receiver, do I need shoes on both flashes or do the use infant ref to go of

  11. Hi. I have a YN685 for Nikon, and a YN622N-TX controller (that’s the one with the LCD). I cannot find the SYNC button that is supposed to be in the lower left of the flash’s screen. Yongnuo have not answered a query. I want to use HSS and also access 2nd curtain sync. By the way, the FEC button does not appear on the screen, either even though both are mentioned in the manual and are shown on most online tutorials. Does anyone have an idea what I am doing wrong? I have tried all possible combinations of button pressing and clearing, as far as I know. Thanks

  12. Thank you for the explanation of 622 R vs 622 M mode. I often shoot sports where I use YN622N transceivers on my cameras to fire YN685’s off-camera. I always just set the power manually because that works best for what I do. Through trial-and-error, I found that 622 M was what I needed to use.

    But I recently decided to move indoors and do some studio-type stuff, still just using the 622N transceivers with a series of YN685’s . That’s when I noticed I couldn’t set the flash to i-TTL mode. I was really confused. Searched online and found this page. Now that I understand everything a little more (no thanks to the owner’s manual), I’m picking up a YN622N-TX and will use 622 R mode instead.

  13. TTL flashes can not be triggered by other devices like optical slave speedlights because the pre-flashing during the TTL metering would fire each other. That’s why it is obvious that this model is remoted with radio signal.

    • It doesn’t only do TTL. It also does manual. And some newer flashes have a S2 mode that’s specifically designed to overcome the problem of triggering by the TTL preflash.


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