I started the new year with a new addition to my lighting toolkit–the next generation radio controlled Canon Speedlite–the 600EX-RT and its companion transmitter ST-E3-RT.
The price tag is pretty hefty, $890, the 600 EX-RT costing $570 and the ST-E3-RT $320.
Compare that to the price of a top-of-the-line Radio Popper radio slaved Speedlite $879 or mid-range radio slave Cybersync radio slaves—$655
Interestingly before Canon’s new Speedlite 600Ex-RT hit the markets, Radio Poppers kits of transmitter and receiver were priced at $250 a piece!
|Canon 600EX-RT||Radio Poppers||Cybersync|
|$570||$189 (transmitter)||$60 (transmitter)|
|$320 (Canon ST-E3-RT)||$189 (receiver)||$70 (receiver)|
|$890||$500 (580EXII Speedlite)||$500 (580EXII Speedlite)|
**Hotshoe adapter to connect to Cybersync radio receiver needed for older Speedlites–$25 **
Is the Price Difference Worth it?
After about a month of testing, I would say that the difference of $235 is worth it for me.
Please note, I said, for me. It comes down to what kinds of subjects you shoot and how quickly you have to work.
Canon’s literature suggests that unless you own their newer DSLRs manufactured in 2011, you won’t be getting the full benefit of this new system.
But of course!
Even if you don’t own a newer DSLR, like me, I have the Canon 40D and 5DMark 2, I found the new combo elegant, clutter-free setup so much more convenient.
I never need to worry about 2 sets of batteries any longer.
All I need to think about is the batteries for the Speedlite and its new transmitter which use AAs.
I’m very tempted to pick up a 2nd 600EX-RT Speedlite right now, that’s how much I love it.
- Canon’s previous Speedlite triggering system the STE-2 was based on line-of-sight infra-red system.
Longtime Canon Speedlite users who light or use their portable flashes off-camera with its companion Canon’s STE-2 optical or infra-red-based triggering system have complained for years.
That system when it worked was great in its simplicity.
The trouble was how the system needed the Speedlite acting as the slave to always be in line-of sight of the transmitter which sits on your hotshoe.
Good luck too if you were shooting in bright sunlight and outdoors.
That effectively meant you would have success indoors 80% of the time, maybe.
On the job, I can’t afford to be troubleshooting and wondering why my Speedlite is mis-firing.
Not only is that terribly unnerving, it doesn’t look good.
I don’t plan to abandon my Cybersync radio slaves. They work perfectly fine. They’ll be my backups, no doubt.
But I will always carry the hardwire cord to be safe.
I paid about $570 for my Speedlite and $320 for the ST-E3-RT transmitter.
Expect Nikon’s to cost 10% more.
My very early tests show Canon’s latest radio-based Speedlite triggering system works dependably but as with most gear, I have to use it more to understand its shortcomings.
I started using the 600EX-RT on assignments recently.
It fired each and every time like they’re supposed to, just like my Cybersync radio slaves when they are hooked up to my Speedlites.
Not having to deal with a hot shoe adapter and plugging in a receiver makes life a lot easier especially when I have quickly setup and light.
There are just too many parts to connect and disconnect when dealing with Pocket Wizards or Cybersyncs when using Canon Speedlites.
Then there’s the hassle how to secure the receiver to the Speedlite.
Leaving the receiver dangling is not an option since readio slaves are very delicate and don’t do well when dropped.
One feature I absolutely love is the ability to manually set the flash output of slaved 600-EX-RT Speedlite from the ST-E3-RT transmitter.
As we know, despite the technology iTTL (Nikon) or E-TTL isn’t foolproof, so having that ability to cut the power output without touching the off-camera slaved Speedlite from full power to 7 stops–1/128th is godsend.
Just find your hammer, take aim on your piggybank and swing away, Canon shooters.
Nikon fanboys, for the time being, let us gloat, but don’t fret.
When you guys get your version, it’s going to better and it will have the technology and features I wish this one has.