YONGNUO YN12AF AF-assistant – Focus Assist Light for Canon

YongNuo have announced the first simple stand alone Auto Focus Assist Light available for Canon cameras in the new YN12AF AF-assistant.

The AF-assistant is powered by a built-in rechargeable battery, which is recharged through a USB cord to any 5V source, like a laptop etc.


YongNuo YN12AF AF-assistant


With full ETTL contacts on the foot, the AF light can be switched on and off through the camera menu on late model Canon DSLR’s.


YongNuo YN12AF AF-assistant


There is no locking ring on the AF-assistant’s foot, though it should hold in place reasonably well, as similar RF-602 transmitter units have done in the past. This keeps the AF-assistant very compact and low profile on the camera.


YongNuo YN12AF AF-assistant


We will have to give the new AF-assistant a try once its available though, as I’ve found the latest AF light in YongNuo’s latest YN-E3-RT transmitter is not as good as earlier versions. This is because YongNuo have increased the size of the pattern projected so far that the cameras AF points can easily fall in between the pattern.


AF Light


A stand alone AF assist light is one of the main things I had been lobbying manufacturers for from many years ago now. And if I remember correctly YongNuo’s response was that it would not be in their interest to provide such a product.

Ironically the AF-assistant is likely not going to operate on top of any of YongNuo’s current flash triggers like the RF-603 and RF-603 II. That is because they do not have a full TTL pass through hotshoe to provide the signal to turn the AF light on and off as the camera tries to focus.

So the AF assistant should help with rival triggers like the Pixel King Pro, and Phottix Strato II etc, which have a full TTL pass though hotshoe on top.


YongNuo’s TTL triggers like the popular YN-622C, not only have their own AF assist light built-in already, but they can also be used as a stand alone AF assist light as well.

And because they have a TTL pass through hotshoe on top they are much more versatile as an AF light, because radio triggers without their own TTL pass through hotshoe can be mounted on top. I have discussed that in more detail previously in this post.


YN-622C AF Light


So the AF-assistant looks like an interesting product, but its not quite the versatile AF light I would have hoped for to use with even YongNuo’s own RF-603 II triggers.

Using the actual RF-603 II case for the AF light, with a pass through hotshoe, AAA batteries, and a simple on-off switch, would have been a more desirable AF light option.

The other suggestion I have always made was to have a double power option/switch for when there were longer distances to the subject.

The YN12AF AF-assistant is at least finally a start though for a stand alone AF Assist Light option.


Price and Availability –


The YN12AF AF-assistant price is not yet know, but I wouldn’t expect more than $20 to $30.

They should be available soon in the  YongNuo Ebay Store.


  1. Shlomi Cohen 7 years ago

    The problem with the AF light on the YN-622C (and most Yongnuo flashes, too) is that it’s not centered properly with the focus points. It is always too high, especially when shooting close subjects.
    I found this problem on 4 units of YN-622C, 2 units of 565EX and 1 unit of 568EX, when put on a 5DIII and also a 60D, so I’m pretty sure it’s not just “a bad copy”.
    Hearing what you have said about the YN-E3-RT is actually a relief, I’m actually intrigued to try it out to see if the AF light would work better for me.

    • Author
      Flash Havoc 7 years ago

      Hi Shlomi,

      I know what you mean, but luckily a couple of my YN-622C are actually aligned better than the others. So I have marked those as transmitters.

      Rest assured the larger AF pattern of the YN-E3-RT is a pain in the arse. But it would be better than the old version if you can’t manage to get that to line up in the right area at all.

      The solution is really to have a pattern with long vertical lines like the Canon units. 2 beams with a second horizontal pattern may be asking too much, but one would at least solve the current issues.

      • Shlomi Cohen 7 years ago

        Definitely agree.
        Another minor thing that bugs me with Yongnuo’s AF light is that it looks like it is laser powered. While it is an advantage for being concentrated and reaching far, I don’t like the thought of shooting lasers into the eyes of my clients, or even worse – my friends and family. I have once contacted Yongnuo and have asked them to confirm it is indeed a laser, but they denied and said that it isn’t. I find that hard to believe, though.

        • the Flasher 7 years ago

          If its is low powered laser then it will cause no damage.

          You must have been to an event or nightclub that uses lasers as effects, well this is the same as long as the mW rating is low enough, it will be safe to use for the milliseconds of time the light is actually on.

  2. Gareth 7 years ago

    The af beam on my YN-622n causes missed focus. You are right in that the af beam points are too far apart and the focus point can easily fit between them. But even when it is bang on it seems to miss focus.

    I did a test and in light low enough to trigger the beam, but not so low that the camera struggled (1.4 lens) the focus was much better with the YN af off. Strangely, the focus was better in af-c than af-s.

    I don’t think the Yongnuo pattern is a good one at all and just turn off. I forgot to mention this to yongnuo when I told them about auto iso not working, I will do so now. If the yn-622n-tx af beam is like this then it could be a serious issue.

    I wonder what pattern these will have.

    • Author
      Flash Havoc 7 years ago

      Yes a number of people have mentioned the YongNuo AF beam causes misfocus, and I have no doubt it does with certain gear combinations etc.

      This was mentioned to the YN engineer in a Q&A on the Chinese strobist blog where he basically dismissed it. After that I tried to explain that the issue can be very real and a number of people have reported it with the YN light as well. But I don’t think they believe it.

      So yes I would definitely let them know, because they will need numbers of reports to take any notice.

      I really don’t know what the issue is, but its been known to happen with other AF lights as well, and even third party lenses with the Canon AF light. It doesn’t happen with all lens / camera combinations though, so not everyone is seeing this issue.

      I pretty much knew that was always going to be an issue for some people unfortunately. But its not worth throwing the baby out with the bath water, because the AF light can be extremely handy for many applications too. It would be great if they knew why this happens though and how to resolve it.

      At this point we still have a basic misalignment issue which is plain too see what the cause is.

  3. plevyadophy 7 years ago

    This is (partially) wonderful news!!!!

    I say partially because (1) I have been waiting for what seems like a lifetime for a standalone AF Assist for my Canon cams and here it is but (2) it would have been way way way better and a lot more flexible if it had a pass-through hotshoe so as to attach a radio or optical wireless flash transmitter.

    Flash Havoc, i note your comments above regarding the YN-E3-RT where you say “Rest assured the larger AF pattern of the YN-E3-RT is a pain in the arse”. Is there a typo there, or are you really saying that the YN-E3-RT is problematic with regards to AF assistance? If yes, can you please describe the problem.

    @ Shlomi Cohen, re laser. To be honest, your concerns are unfounded even if the AF lamp is laser powered. Firstly, the low powered red type of laser that would be used for AF and would be on for a fraction of a second to allow focus lock is not a problem (apparently, it’s the high powered green (or is it blue? I can’t recall the colour) lasers that are used by some clubs/music venues that are the ones people need to worry about. Secondly, I have a camera, a Sony F717, that has a laser AF assist lamp and it’s just wonderful and like I said, it’s only ever on momentarily. The problem is, because of ill-informed fears about these lasers some companies don’t bother to use them because most people prefer to believe in myths than actual evidence so folks will believe that there is a grave danger no matter what the manufacturers say (so we are left instead with pretty useless wimp-like LED-type lights for AF)


    • Author
      Flash Havoc 7 years ago

      Yes the YN-E3-RT AF beam pattern is spread out much wider now, so that it still covers the viewfinder area whether you’re up close or further away from the subject.

      That’s fine, but then the small lines have quite a large space between them, so any single AF point can easily fall between any of the lines.

      If you use a number of focus points that should be ok, but using a single focus point you have to adjust your distance to the subject to make a line line up with your selected AF point.

      You can twist the YN-E3-RT from side to side in the hotshoe (as there is plenty of movement) to get the horizontal alignment needed. And you can also even push down on it for vertical alignment as there is movement in the shoe there too, but that doesn’t stay in place.

      If you happen to be at just the right distance to the subject though it works like a dream 🙂

      • plevyadophy 7 years ago



        Thanks for the detailed description of the YN-E3-RT autofocus assist issues.

        To my mind, the ease with which the device moves around in the hotshoe doesn’t bode well with regard to build quality.

        What’s your take on the build quality of this device; is the hotshoe movement something to be concerned about or irritating? Does it even stay securely in the hotshoe?



        • Author
          Flash Havoc 7 years ago

          The YN-E3-RT build quality is pretty good in general. The LCD screen is much brighter and tiny be larger than the Canon versions which is much better than the Canon.

          The movement in the hotshoe is not really a problem with the YN-E3-RT, but I think it will be a big problem with the flash if they don’t do something about it before that is released.

          The foot is the same size as the current YN flashes, its just that the level lock can’t provide as much clamping force as a locking ring. YN have always made the foot a little smaller in width, and now it needs to be as thick as the Canon foot as well. I think it will only be an issue once you start twisting the flash head a lot on camera. Especially if it doesn’t have a head lock button and is quite stiff like current YN flashes.

          The YN-E3-RT is fine though, it seems like a pretty good unit in general.

    • Jase 7 years ago

      They do make an AF assist light with TTL passthru it’s the YN622C, it also has an optional radio trigger function that some people use.

      • pwp 6 years ago

        Great question, this is exactly what I am after. All I use the YN-622C’s for is AF Assist & pass-through is 100% essential.

  4. Sam 7 years ago

    I just did a test of my YN-E3-RT mounted on my EOS 6D with an EF 50 f/1.4 set to f/1.4 in manual and center-point focus.

    I tried focusing (AF) with the lights off in a dark room (there was a night light in the room and some light coming in from the hallway, if that helps.)

    Good news for YN-E3-RT owners: the AF Assist light is a tremendous help in this situation (and, presumably, others).

    Without the YN-E3-RT, and therefore its AF assist light, off, the camera did not focus. When I switched on the YN-E3-RT (and, thus, AF-Assist), it locked on pretty much right after those AF-Assist lights went on.

    This is a nice bonus functionality.

    Bottom line: the AF-Assist pattern of the YN-E3-RT is demonstrably helpful on my EOS 6D versus not having that AF-Assist.

    • Author
      Flash Havoc 7 years ago

      Hi Sam,

      Thanks, yes it works great provided the projected lines happen to be covering the AF point. Try moving back or forward until the line it not covering the AF point and you can see it will do nothing then.

      Its definitely much better than no light at all, and you can make it work in any situation if you need to, its just that it shouldn’t be that much of a hassle.

      If they put the same AF light in the coming YN-600XE-RT flash, I would say that is a significant disadvantage to the Canon flash. Which will be super frustrating for people that want to use the GR group mode for pre 2012 cameras. As slave flashes to the 600EX-RT they will likely be a bargain.

      • Sam 7 years ago

        Thanks, and thanks for the site.

        I was fairly close (10 feet or so), so I’m not sure about any other distances.
        My goal was to see if the lights are merely a toy; as you wrote, it seems that they definitely could help.

        I wouldn’t really mind how good the AF lights are in the YN-600 EX RT as I would plan to use those to replace my 2 off-camera 430 EX II and Phottix Strattos IIs.

        If the price is reasonable for the YN 600 EX RTs then I think I would buy two of them and sell the 430 EX IIs and maybe keep the Strattos IIs for remote triggering (which doesn’t involve the hot shoe IIRC).

        BTW, although I haven’t tried it yet, it’s nice to have read that people are successfully stacking the YN E3 RT on top of the Stratto transmitter. Good to know, if it works. But it would be even better to be able to change the power of all the flashes right from the camera.

    • Gareth 7 years ago

      Did you chimp the shots to make sure they are actually tack sharp? The Yongnuo af assist has a bad habit of fooling the camera af into thinking it’s locked on.

      • Sam 7 years ago

        I wasn’t looking for that, and I actually use a pretty slow shutter speed so I’m not sure I will be able to tell if it was OOF or just motion blur. If I can figure out definitively then I’ll post back.

  5. Meddin Studios 7 years ago

    Im still holding out for a Godox TTL with AF light. Honestly, my 622’s have been pretty decent but the pattern is a little spotty depending on the application and the laser type beam can be distracting to certain clients and events. Also, I’ve had two 622’s go down on me. I’ve owned as many as 12 or more so perhaps my % chance of failed units is greater than most.

    I’ve had pretty good success with the V850 beam. The issue I have is that you need somewhere to put the CL-Tx or TT1 or whatever. This makes this new AF light useless for those applications. Also, the V850 AF does not auto fire with the shutter, you have to push the button and it is set to “always on”

    I feel like the longer I wait, the more I’m let down for a true 580EX/600EX replacement (sadly).

    How is the AF Light on the Mitros+? I only used mine for studio work before swapping to more Cheetahs. Or how about the TT680 Godox? I’m really considering buying one for $65.

    • Author
      Flash Havoc 7 years ago

      The Mitros is like the Canon flash with 2 separate beams of horizontal and vertical lines.

      Neither the Mitros or 600EX-RT are anywhere near as bright, or sharp, as the YongNuo lazer style light, but it doesn’t seem to matter. Even in bright light where I can hardly see the beam, on a plain white wall, AF light on – focus locks straight away, AF light off – and there is nothing for the AF to lock onto.

      The Godox TT680 is like the Witstro, which have not contrast projection. So they are pretty much useless for AF light use.

      But Godox have an ETTL version of the V850 coming soon, which I would expect will have the same AF light as the current V850, but with automatic on / off as you would expect.

      I haven’t really studied the V850 beam, its very similar to the YN obviously, but I haven’t compared the size and spread of light in the camera viewfinder yet. Obviously it will be pretty important with the TTL model though.

      The problem is that there has been no AF light components like the Canon system has which Chinese companies can purchase off the shelf. Phottix are the first Chinese company to go through and develop their own for the Mitros.

      I would imagine these lazer style lights are fairly inexpensive though, maybe they should use 2 of them like the current YN-E3-RT has and have them overlap.

  6. Donald 7 years ago

    Hi Elv, You may recall that I found an AF assist solution for Odin.

    Just wondering if by chance a similar solution might allow the use of the YN12AF with 603 (or similar) triggers. It would involve trying a Pixel TF-321 underneath the YN12AF and that combo sharing an Ishoot dual Hot-shoe TTL cord, with the 603 being in the other female hot-shoe.

    Bit of a longshot – but that (slightly random) workaround has been good with my Odin setup – when needed. Cheers

    • Author
      Flash Havoc 7 years ago

      Hi Donald,

      Thanks for that. If it could work with the Odin and YN12AF it would certainly be onto something interesting.

      I found also the Odin will work in remote manual only on top of a YN-622C just as AF assist. Its not TTL but its still very handy for remote manual use.

  7. frederic 7 years ago

    No news?

  8. Lisa 7 years ago

    Where can i purchase one of these?? I love shooting low light without flash, been looking everywhere for this solution!

    • Author
      Flash Havoc 7 years ago

      Hi Lisa,

      The YN12AF are still not available as yet.

      When they are posted on the YongNuo website that usually means they will be available within a month or so. YongNuo’s production of new products appears pretty slow now, though they could emerge any time. Thanks.

      • Mike 6 years ago

        I live here in China and can’t find availability or mention of them anywhere also. I guess they’re pulling a Canon – make an announcement then actually release 6 mos. – 1 year later……

  9. Tiago Alves 6 years ago

    Thanks for your posts, they are great!

    This is the best af assistant light for use with the Pixel King Pro?
    Or is the YN-622 better?

    Thanks from Brazil!

    • Author
      Flash Havoc 6 years ago

      Hi Tiago,

      The YN12AF are not available yet, so we don’t really know how compatible they will be with the King Pro etc.

      But as mentioned here, the YN-622C do work as an AF light when mounted on top of the Canon version Pixel King Pro at least.

      So its likely the YN12AF may work in the same way, but we won’t know for sure until they are available.

      • Tiago Alves 6 years ago

        I’ll wait for the YN 12AF because the YN-622 is still too expensive here.

        Thanks for listening!

  10. Alexander Konovalenko 6 years ago

    Is there a Nikon version of this?

  11. Tiago Alves 5 years ago

    Any news about these AF Assistant?
    I would like to add them to my Pixel King PRO.

    Thank`s from Brazil!

  12. Mark Konkolski 4 years ago

    I wonder why this article is still online, this product is not available for purchase and never has been since it was announced…

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