phottix-strato-vs-yongnuo-rf602-70583

Comparison: Phottix Strato vs Yongnuo RF-602

After reviewing both the Phottix Strato and the Yongnuo RF-602, here’s the $64,000 question: Are the Strato worth the premium compared to the current reigning budget champ?

Both offer very similar specifications (2.4GHz spectrum, four-channels, hotshoe receivers, etc), but there are important differences that set these two systems apart.

Naturally, one shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but I do think that the packaging for the two might be of interest to some nonetheless. Above are the packages for the transmitter-receiver sets for the Strato and RF-602.

But let’s get to the real matter at hand – what’s inside the boxes themselves.

By the numbers, on a basic level, the Strato offer very similar specs to the Yongnuo RF-602. And, on the surface, the two 2.6GHz triggers perform very similarly. However, I think that there are some key differences for anyone looking at these two wireless flash triggers.

TTL-Pass Through


The TTL-pass through capability of the Strato is one of the features that Phottix touts, and I think that it’s a nice little bonus that opens up a lot of possibilities. Aside from the ability to mix the Strato triggering system with Nikon’s CLS or Canon’s eTTL IR triggering systems, the pass-through hotshoe opens up the possibility of using the AF-assist lights from external flashes.

Advantage: Phottix Strato

Max Sync-Speed

Advantage: Phottix Strato

Both the Yongnuo RF-602 and the Phottix Strato promise a max flash sync speed of 1/250, depending on the limit of the camera. In my experience, the Yongnuo triggers fall a little short, with only 1/200 clean triggering with my cameras.

This point of triggering at 1/250 with my Nikon D3 and Nikon D700 is more of a dis on the Yongnuo RF-602 than anything. Here, Phottix simply delivers what it promises, with clean frames at a full 1/250 compared to the 1/3-stop slower 1/200 with the RF-602.

Build Quality

Advantage: Phottix Strato

The Phottix wins for build quality against the Yongnuo hands down. While the RF-602 has a pretty good build quality on the receivers, the transmitters feel like the cheapest part of the package. Overall, the build quality of the Phottix Strato is strictly superior. In particular, the battery doors on the Strato units are much more solid, with solid closure and locking. While I have no complaints about the build quality of the Strato, I can’t say the same about the Yongnuo.

User Interface

Advantage: Phottix Strato


In addition, The Strato wins for a simplified interface, with more solid-feeling buttons and a sliders for setting the remote channels – both an upgrade from the Yongnuo RF-602′s dip-switches and flimsier feeling on-buttons.

All the important switches on the Strato receivers are on the units’ side, compared to being on the top of the Yongnuo receivers, earns the Phottix bonus points.

Connectivity

Advantage: Phottix Strato


For me, one of the most impressive parts of unboxing the Strato system was that the transmitters and receivers come with absolutely everything I’d need to get rolling. From the male PC-sync cables to use with small flashes instead of the hotshoe to 1/4″ adapters for studio flashes, the Strato come with it all. And add to that the simplicity of 3.5mm miniplugs instead of proprietary jacks, and Strato wins again.

One thing I do like about all the Yongnuo accessories is that the cables are coiled, while only the shutter release cable of the Phottix offers this feature.

Batteries

Advantage: Phottix Strato

When it comes to batteries, both receivers units of the Phottix and  Strato ship with brand name AAA batteries. With the abundance of rechargeable AAA batteries like the Sanyo Eneloop AAA NiMH, it’s great to see this battery size in use.

Where the Phottix Strato system pulls ahead is in its use of the AAAs in the transmitter as well. For it’s transmitter, the Yongnuo RF-602 uses uses CR2 batteries. While rechargeable CR2s are available, these batteries are going to require a dedicated charger. In contrast, the Ansmann Energy 16 Charger that I use for my AA batteries will also charge AAA batteries as well.

Price:

Advantage: Yongnuo RF-602

One of the biggest differences between the Strato and the RF-602 is their respective prices, and here the Yongnuo RF-602 hold a clear and large advantage. Depending on the source for the RF-602s, (I prefer Yongnuo’s official store), they’re going to come in at roughly half the price of the Phottix Strato.

The RF-602 can be bought directly from Yongnuo for roughly $39 USD shipped, with additional transmitters costing about $24 USD when bought individually. If you buy multiple receivers with the kit, the price per-item becomes even cheaper.

The Phottix Strato, on the other hand, carries a premium. A transmitter-receiver kit weighs in at $74 USD , while an individual receiver costs about $51 USD.

In purchasing a set of two transmitters and six receivers, my Yongnuo kit came in at $142, including shipping. To build a comparable kit of the Phottix Strato would cost twice that amount.

End Notes

Want more info on these triggers? Be sure to check out my reviews of the Phottix Strato and the Yongnuo RF-602. For me, the major distinction between the Phottix Strato and the Yongnuo RF-602 is the price. Both systems have their place at their respective price points, and offer feature set accordingly.

For photographers just dabbling in off-camera flash and looking for reliable wireless flash triggers on the cheap, the Yongnuo RF-602 perform so well at such a low price that they can’t be ignored. In terms of real-world performance, the only thing I can knock the Yongnuo on is the more limited flash sync at 1/200.

At twice the price from the Yongnuo RF-602, are the Phottix Strato twice as good? In terms of triggering your flashes, I would say no. Both perform to similar distances and similar triggering reliability (even if the Yongnuo don’t trigger cleanly at 1/250 while the Strato do).

However, when you start to factor in all the other details about the Strato, from the TTL pass-through, better connectivity, superior build quality, better battery system, simplified interface, and everything else, the Phottix triggers are easily worth their price. Ounce for ounce, the Strato are simply a better wireless flash trigger and have a price tag to match.

Where To Buy:

Get the Yongnuo RF-602 directly from their eBay store: HK Yongnuo Photo Equipment

Get the Phottix Strato from their official store: Phottix Store

Purchasing through my affiliate links keeps me hopped up on the green tea that fuels these reviews and my photo editing late at night after the rock show.

Help Support www.ishootshows.com

If this article or any other content on www.ishootshows.com was helpful to you, please consider supporting this site and grabbing your next photo gear purchase through one of my affiliate links:

Simply clicking through any product links on this site helps me bring you free content like the photography tips and gear reviews regularly posted on www.ishootshows.com, and naturally it doesn't cost you a cent more. 

Donate

If you want to donate directly to pay for the hosting of this site (and if there's any leftover, keep me stocked in high mountain oolong tea), you can contribute money to www.ishootshows.com via PayPal.



There are 54 comments

Add yours
    • Todd

      Hey Wolfgang,

      Glad to hear, thanks for the comment. If budget is a big concern, the Yongnuo win. But if you’ve got the money, I think that the Strato is such a solid system, it’s worth the premium.

  1. Michael

    Hi Todd,

    The RF-602s work rock solid for me, but clean sync is limited to 1/160 on my D90. 1/200 has random shutter banding along the edge of the photo. In fact, being able to push sync speed higher is the only reason I want to eventually upgrade my trigger system.

  2. Alexis B.C.

    Thanks for the reviews and this side to side comparison. I finally got to try radio transmitters recently (Cactus v4) and was starting to think about buying a kit, but not knowing which brand. Your three articles were in a good timing for me, really informative and will help me a lot on my final decision of which ones to buy.

    I do love your pictures posts, but I also really enjoy articles like this and the one you did about understanding Lightroom sharpening. Keep them coming, I’ll keep reading! :D

  3. Dave

    hey, Todd. thanks so much for this comparison. i was on my way here to check your Yongnuo review, stop by your flickr, and lo-and-behold – you’ve done another great write-up on the Phottix, which i hadn’t heard of.

    both of these prices absolutely crush a set of pocketwizards for saving money. here’s my question, though. would you say that i could definitely use these semi-professionally INSTEAD of pocketwizards? or should i look to upgrade at some point in the future?

    • Todd

      Hey Dave,

      I would say that you could buy the Strato instead of Pocketwizards. The build quality is as good or better and they work just as well. I would have no problems using the Strato for professional work. Unless you need HSS/Auto FP and TTL control like the latest triggers, the Strato are excellent.

      The Yongnuo on the other hand are fantastic budget triggers, but they do come with caveats. The only real fault, as I mention before, is the clean triggering at less than the 1/250 max of my cameras. For me, the issue about build quality is moot, since they’re so cheap that if they break you can just replace them half a dozen times and still come in cheaper than Pocketwizards.

  4. jakob de zwart

    Hi Todd,

    Fantastic work once again, your reviews have been really helpful. They’re exceptional well written and technically easily understood, now with the added bonus of seeing these 2 being re-reviewed side by side has definitely sold me on getting the phottix stratos.

  5. Rüdiger

    Hi Todd, well founded and informative review as always! As my D700 triggers the SB900 only under certain conditions I was in need of one and ordered the Phottix because of the TTL pass through for AF.

    Yesterday the Phottix arrived and I’m a bit confused as the manual says in the very first Note: Strato receivers are designed to work in Manual Exposure mode and have no TTL functions. Is there an error of reasoning by me?

    • Todd

      The TTL pass through feature basically gives you a hotshoe w/ TTL ability on top of the Strato. No TTL info is conveyed by the transmitter at all – it’s simply transparent, as if the flash on the Strato’s hotshoe were connected directly to the camera.

  6. DanLaw

    Thanks for your great review…just curious to know… have you try to use the Phottix Strato’s transmiter to trigger the Yongnuo’s receiver or vice visa….are they compatible? Thanks

    • Todd

      Hey Dan, Even though they’re both 2.4GHz systems, the two aren’t compatible. You can, however, use them to piggy-back each other, if you put a Yongnuo RF-602 transmitter into the hotshoe of a Strato receiver.

  7. James Conkle

    Just wondering: I have a Nikon SU-800 and want to trigger my SB-600 and alienbee at the same time. Will the TTL-pass through allow the SU-800 to act as a iTTL dcommander to the SB-600 and then will the strato trigger the AB800?

    • Todd

      Hi James,

      Yes, you can put the SU-800 on top of the Strato commander and plug in the Strato receiver to the AB800 for a mix triggering system. The SU-800 will only be acting via infrared, though – not using the 2.4GHz Strato signal in any way.

  8. Venura Herath

    Hi Todd,

    By any chance did you compare these with cactus V4?
    I am still trying to understand the concept TTL pass through,
    So far i use Nikon CLS. this is kind of new for me,
    Nice reviews and comparisons.
    keep up the good work

    Venura

    • Todd

      Hi Venura,

      I did not compare either to the Cactus – but if anyone wants to send me a set, I could test them.

      As far as the TTL pass through, just think of it as if the Strato transmitter weren’t even there. Using the hotshoe on the Strato TX is just like putting a flash on your camera’s hotshoe. There is no relation between the TX hotshoe and the radio signal, so no CLS info is being sent via the Strato.

      Hence the “pass through.” It’s like the transmitter is invisible and doesn’t have any effect on the attached flash. Does that make sense?

      • Venura Herath

        Hi Todd,

        Thanks for the quick reply. I use my popup as the commander for my SB600 and 900. So hypothetically if i set Sb900 and 600 wireless with strato receiver and try to use pop up as the commander (also the transmitter at hot shoe), will i be able to control my remote units with camera menu rather than setting each unit manual. Since you use D700 as your second body, hope you can answer my question.

        Many Thanks,

        Venura

  9. Jonas Rogert

    I got the rf602 and they work perfectly at 1/250 no banding at all. Maybe its the camera thats different i got a d300s. My rf602 have 4^2 channels, it looks like yours have 16 channels as well.

    Great review!

    • Todd

      Thanks for the comment, Jonas. Yes, the camera does affect compatibility. I’ve heard that the D300s works just fine at 1/250 from other people as well – just depends on the model.

  10. SamTheMan

    Great review Scott, thanks for sharing so much. Currently, I use the RF-602′s and changing the channels on the “fly” are a problem. Also, the transmitter doesn’t fit securely on your camera’s hotshoe. I’ve had it fall off several times when shooting on location. Other than that, they’ve been great.

    But, after reading your review I want the Strato’s. Unfortunately, when I click on their website nothing comes up beyond the homepage. Is there another trusted site you can recommend?

  11. Ibrahim

    Hi Todd,

    I’m doing book photography and would like to capture two pictures (both sides of a book) simultanously using two Canon 550D/T2is. Yongnou doesn’t seem to have a 2.5mm jack for working with 550D, Phottix doesn’t seem to support 550D either, PocketWizard is just too expensive.

    I really like Phottix but not sure if it will work, and/or which product(s) should I buy to accomplish my requirement.

    I’d really appreciate any help.

  12. Tony

    Hi, awesome site and great content!
    If my understanding of the TTL-pass feature is correct, it means that the remote flashes fire during the TTL-preflash then a second time during the actual exposure?
    Then the strato phottix seems to be a winner for wedding and event photographers.
    Cheers
    Tony

    • Todd

      Hey Tony,

      Think of the TTL pass through as completely separate from the wireless radio triggers. It’s just like your have a flash on top of your camera – and with all the same functions and limitations.

      Essentially, you get a hotshoe back – and this does make it great for wedding and event photogs!

  13. Alexander

    Have you tested triggers using the pass-through flash in commander mode, combining a set of TTL remote flashes with a set of radio-triggered remote flashes all at once. It should work in theory, but have you done it in practice. Will flashes fire simultaneously???

    Thank you for your review!

    • Ole Thielemann

      They fire at the same time. Just tested it with my Nikon D700 / SB800 – The hotsshoe are asumingly 100% wired through so that you could actually use both a remote flash with the radio trigger and a flash on your camera – but one loses TTL with the flash which is fired via the radio trigger which on Nikon is so brilliant implemented and works far better than Canon… a shame that we did not get TTL via the radio transmitter as well – but then the price would probably have been a lot different :-)

  14. SamTheMan

    Hi Todd,

    Just ordered my first set, thank you again for the great review. One question – I noticed that there are different transmitters/receivers based on your camera’s body. I currently shoot with two different bodies. I’m assuming the TTL data maybe different between bodies and therefore the need for different triggers. In your experience is this the case? And, will the triggers work on any body for remote firing?

    Thanks again for all of the great information!

  15. SamTheMan

    Hi Todd,

    Well, my triggers have not arrived yet. Just wanted to ask if it took a long time for your set to arrive? Per the tracking information sent my triggers left HK on 1/18/11. Is that normal? Thank you again for the great review and for sharing these resources with us!

    -Sam

    • Todd

      Hi Sam,

      I think it will depend on the shipping you selected. EMS is going to be a bit faster and have tracking, but the normal postal service can be slower. I wouldn’t worry about it yet, and it seems like it got out before the Chinese New Year.

      • Samuel Barr

        Hi Todd,

        Thanks! They finally arrived, ordered on 1/8 and they arrived 2/22. I will definitely use EMS next time! I’ll let you know how it goes, thanks again for letting us know about these triggers. Be blessed!

        -Sam

  16. Ole Thielemann

    Hi Todd

    Thanks for the review.
    I’m having a lot of the same equipment that you own and actually bought the Yongnuo RF-602 for about six months ago. After having read your article about the Phottix Strato I thought that it would do the tricks shooting 1/250 with my Bowens flash equipment. But it’s a dead race. Performance from both units is equal. I’m only able to fire at 1/200 with both to avoid clipping on my Bowens and Bolin equipment (both flash torches). Used with my SB800 both units synchronize well at 1/250.
    I agree about your findings in build quality etc. Phottix Strato just feels better but taking in consideration that you will be able to buy one Yongnuo transmitter and two receivers for the same price as one Phottix transmitter and receiver could make the decision hard ….(Buy both).
    Question is if one really has to spent 5x the amount and buy some pro. Transmitter to get higher than 1/200? – p.s. they are using different frequencies so they are not compatible either.

  17. Roy

    I know most of you may be using Nikon..but as a Canon user who has been using the Rf-602 since they came out I would like chime in. In my experience I’ve noticed that the ability to sync at 1/250 depended on which camera I was using. On my 7D it works perfectly….on my 40D, not so much. The best it would do is 1/200. As far as the transmitter, the build quality would not be an issue if it locked down. I use a strip of gaffing tape to keep it in the hot shoe.

  18. Ole Thielemann

    Okay guys – just had a talk with one of my “trigger crazy” friends who actually bought a new Bowens flash kit last year and bought a pair of POCKETWIZARD radio controllers as well. He hasn’t been able to get these very expensive units to fire above 1/200 without banding as well. Seems like POCKETWIZARD’s have on trick up in their sleeves which mean that you can do some adjustments to make it synchronic at speeds above the “normal” synchronization speed – but since a torch changes speed each time you change the settings it’s probably a delicate process to adjust this (my friend has not tried this feature yet). Taking in considerations that a set of POCKETWIZARD will cost you 9 times more than a set of Yongnuo or Photix and does not perform better out of the box – I think one should be happy with these cheap and excellent working units.

    Keep up you trigger craziness….

  19. azamnecrone

    hi,
    nice review u had there.very-very detail i can see.but a little favour i wanna ask,..

    1. the port from strato receiver to flash (got pc sync cable),is it 2.5″ jack or 3.5″ jack?
    2. the port from strato receiver to camera (the remote wire),is it 2.5″ jack or 3.5″ jack?

    fyi,
    im using sony system.i also had modified some cables for my sony flashes to 3.5″ jack to be used with phottix aster/phottix atlas (PW compatible).

    here the picture (sorry,i wrote in malay coz im from malaysia.u can used google translator for it)
    http://azamnecrone.com/blog/memyselfandi/experiment/mod-kabel-sony-utk-pocket-wizard/

    so i need a clear clarification so that i can buy this strato to replace my aster..

    thanks in advance!

  20. Woo Young Sim

    Thank you so much for this review. I’ve been looking at a cheaper radio alternative to PocketWizards to use with my D300 and SB700+SB600, and this review hit the spot perfectly. I’ll be sure to use your affiliate link when I order.


Join in the Discussion