Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite Announcement

One big news that nobody seems to be paying attention to at the moment due to the much-anticipated Canon 5D Mark III release, is the Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite announcement. Why big news? Because it is the first flash unit (speedlite in Canon language, speedlight in Nikon language) that actually has a built-in wireless radio capability. Historically, both Canon and Nikon used flash units that would communicate wirelessly only via infrared signal. While infrared works fine in some environments, it has problems with daylight (sun rays), range and it often requires direct visibility. Because of this problems, many photographers, including myself, have been relying on external radio transmitters and receivers such as PocketWizard for a more enhanced and reliable communication between flash units.

Canon 600ET-RT Speedlite

With the introduction of the Canon 600EX-RT flash unit and the Canon ST-E3-RT transmitter, Canonites no longer have to rely on third party radio triggers for reliable communication between flashes. Now you can use all flash features, including TTL flash and trigger up to 15 wireless flash units at a range of 30 meters, without worrying about potential communication issues. Considering that Nikon has had a lead on the flash technology for many years, it is surprising to see Canon release a radio flash first. The bad news for Nikonians is that Nikon has recently updated its high-end flash line with the Nikon SB-910, so we might not see a Nikon flash with radio capability any time soon…

Where I believe Canon goofed up, is they did not include the capability to trigger these radio flashes through the newly announced Canon 5D Mark III. It would have been nice to be able to trigger flashes via radio, even without a built-in flash unit on the camera.

Below are the Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT features, along with the press-release:

Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT Key Features

  1. Guide number 60 (m, ISO 100, at 200mm)
  2. Radio triggering with 30m range
  3. Use up to 15 units together
  4. Infra-red wireless functionality
  5. Remote camera triggering
  6. Bounce-and-swivel head with zoom control
  7. White-balance correction filters
  8. Fast, quiet recycling

Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT Key features

  1. Radio frequency remote flash trigger
  2. Fire selected Speedlites from 30m away
  3. Controls up to 15 flashguns
  4. Remote camera triggering
  5. Weather sealed against dust and moisture.

London, UK (March 2, 2012) – Canon today extends its range of acclaimed accessories, unveiling a number of new models designed to offer enhanced flexibility and new creative control to its professional and mid-range EOS Digital SLRs.

Sitting at the top of Canon’s range, the Speedlite 600EX-RT is Canon’s first flash unit to feature inbuilt wireless radio connectivity and replaces the advanced Speedlite 580EX II. Partnering with the new Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT , this new model offers enhanced opportunities for photographers wishing to explore creative lighting techniques. In addition, Canon is also launching the BG-E11 battery grip, Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E7 and GPS Receiver GP-E2, which complement the newly-announced EOS 5D Mark III – offering increased versatility across a range of shooting situations – from studio portraits to field-based shoots – with a compact lightweight and affordable configuration.

Speedlite 600EX-RT: Taking creative flash further

The Speedlite 600EX-RT is a high-performance TTL flash unit designed to meet the expanding creative needs of modern professionals. Integrated radio frequency triggering, in addition to standard infra-red wireless flash control, allows photographers to achieve exciting results with complex on-and-off-camera lighting set- ups. Using one master 600EX-RT or the new ST-E3-RT radio-frequency wireless Speedlite transmitter, up to 15x 600EX-RT flash units, positioned up to 30m away, can be remotely triggered – offering great potential to experiment with more creative lighting techniques and effects. EOS cameras with a connected Speedlite 600EX-RT can also be triggered remotely by either model, allowing photographers to explore more extreme shooting angles to produce surprising and inspiring creative results.

Subjects over a wide range of distances can be lit creatively or evenly exposed, thanks to an increased guide number of 60m*1 and wide lens coverage of 20 – 200m. For wide- angle shots, a diffuser adapter can also reduce the focal length to 14mm and the bounce-and-swivel flash head creates more flattering, shadowless effects. Ideal for shooting portraits, a catch-light panel produces natural catch-lights in the eyes of a subject when shooting with bounce flash. Additionally, custom flash coverage options provide more creative scope by using guide number priority to light the subject, while creating slightly darker edges to the frame.

Like its predecessor, the Speedlite 600EX-RT communicates white balance settings to the camera through the hot shoe connection. However, to further balance flash and ambient light, a new colour filter adapter and two supplied colour gels can be fitted to balance the temperature of the flash and create a more natural effect when shooting around tungsten or mercury lighting. When shooting in dark conditions, photographers can also employ the AF-assist beam for accurate autofocus with lenses of 28mm or longer, ensuring the subject remains in focus when the flash fires.

Designed for professionals, the Speedlite 600EX-RT and Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT feature a robust, weatherproof design matching that of the EOS-1D X, with a clear LCD display making it easy to select settings and switch between normal flash mode and wireless modes. Powered by four AA/LR6 batteries for added convenience, the Speedlite 600EX-RT offers fast, silent recycle times, allowing photographers to keep shooting and exploring creative lighting effects in all conditions.

Pre-Order Canon 5D Mark III and Accessories

Here are the pre-order links for the Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite:

  1. B&H Photo Video – Canon 5D Mark III for $3,499 (body only)
  2. B&H Photo Video – Canon 5D Mark III with Canon 24-105mm f/4L for $4,299
  3. B&H Photo Video – Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite for $629.00
  4. Adorama – Canon 5D Mark III for $3,499 (body only)
  5. Adorama – Canon 5D Mark III with Canon 24-105mm f/4L for $4,299
  6. Adorama – Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite for $629.00


  1. 1) Arthur
    March 2, 2012 at 5:56 am

    I think this is the most exciting announcement of today. While the 5DIII seems a great upgrade, this radio triggered flashes make me jealous with my Nikon system.

    On the other hand, flashes of €700 and a trigger of €320 are not in the category “cheap”…

  2. 2) Jason
    March 3, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    This is truly a fantastic innovation! It’s a great day to be a Canonite! Cameras that actually focus AND trigger off camera flashes via radio! :) Got the world by the tail now! All joking aside, this is tremendous. No more pocket wizards, extra batteries, sketchy PC connections, it’s a welcome upgrade to the industry. I was more excited about this new flash than the 5DMIII (which is basically a few minor, but welcome, upgrades). Anyone doing strobist work will readily pony up the extra cash for these flashes just for the extra convenience. I really hope Nikon takes the already awesome CLS to the next step soon. The flash race is on! :)

  3. 3) shoreline view
    March 4, 2012 at 11:02 am

    I was quite surprised Nikon punted yet again on the chance to radio-slave a flash. On the other hand, the range of the new Canon radio slave is about 1/8th that of a pocket wizard, while the price of the new unit is almost the price of a combination of a Pocketwizard and a Nikon flash. And better yet, the Pocketwizard-Flash-legacy camera combination still gives you full sync speed rather than cutting it in half as Canon does. To get proper flash synch speeds with this set-up, Canon forces you to get the 5DIII or 1DX for a camera body.

    For practical purposes I suspect the Canon system will work quite nicely for portrait photographers, but the range and sync speed limitations are unacceptable for sports, and it could be hit-or-miss for commercial and landscape.

  4. 4) Zesix
    March 4, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Let’s see up to 15 flashes and each runs about $700.00. That’s $1o,500.00!

    We can not shoot wireless radio ETTL II with our beloved ATG Nissin MG8k, Nissin Di866 Mark II; Canon 430EX/430EX II/550EX/580EX/580EX II; Metz 58AF-1/58AF-2 flashes acting as a slave.

    Yes, guys and gal, still has overheating problem & shut down just the the Nikon SB-910.

    Tested with ATG Nissin MG8K, ATG Nissin Pro Kim II, Canon 600EX-RT, Nikon SB-910, Nissin MG8000 Extreme, Nissin Di866 Mark II, Quantum Trio and Metz 58AF-2 with Nissin Power Pack or Quantum Turbo Power Pack Battery at 1/1 Full Manual Flash.

    And the winner is or are…?

    ATG Nissin MG8K
    ATG Nissin Pro Kim II
    Nissin MG8000 Extreme
    Quantum Trio.

    We all flavored ATG & Nissin over Quantum do to the following reasons.
    1. Battery needs not to be tethered 24/7
    2. Auto Zoom
    3. More power based when zooming while Trio is fixed at 35mm
    4. Can use just 4AA Battery or HV Power pack
    5. Wireless ETTL on Master & Slave
    6. Wireless flash for digital camera and film camera
    7. Over 155 1/1 Full Manual Flash without overheat & thermal shut down.
    8. Compatible for wireless radio ETTL II flash with Phottix Odin and Pixel King.

  5. 5) nick
    March 25, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    I don’t think Canon goofed up by not including radio trigger capability into the 5D3. I read somewhere that if they built radio technology into their cameras, they would lose the military and other security conscious organizations as customers. I personally would have liked to have it as built in option, but coming from where we were, i am excited and will be an early adapter. I think the guys at Pocket Wizards sould start working on other products or become like Kodak.

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