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.
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
- Guide number 60 (m, ISO 100, at 200mm)
- Radio triggering with 30m range
- Use up to 15 units together
- Infra-red wireless functionality
- Remote camera triggering
- Bounce-and-swivel head with zoom control
- White-balance correction filters
- Fast, quiet recycling
Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT Key features
- Radio frequency remote flash trigger
- Fire selected Speedlites from 30m away
- Controls up to 15 flashguns
- Remote camera triggering
- 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.