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210 of 243 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2012
For what it's worth, this transmitter does control off-camera Canon brand speedlites... And that's all it does. Which is a bad thing. It no longer has the autofocus assist beam for focusing in low light conditions -- and low light conditions are possibly a principal reason you're using this equipment. It no longer has the optical transmitter function -- and some of your speedlites may be legacy devices. The interoperability of this device is lacking with other Canon and non-Canon flashes currently on the market; and these flashes will continue to be on the market for a long time.

Frankly, it makes a lot more sense to purchase a 600EX-RT and use it as a master transmitter with the flash set to not discharge on exposure (yes, you can use the 600EX-RT as a low-light autofocus assist or transmitter without flashing. It's an in-camera external speedlite menu item at the bottom of the menu options.) The 600EX-RT gives you the same master transmitter controls as the ST-E3-RT, but in addition you get the autofocus assist beam, a backwards compatible optical transmitter capability, and a flash bulb. For just a little bit more in price.

I've also heard a few people in the industry comment about the placement of the screen facing upward rather than to the rear. I can see how this would be an inconvenience while shooting becaues it requires you to drop your camera off the tripod or monopod to chest or waist height to look at the screen or make adjustments with your free hand. It's a relevant design choice to be aware of. But it's an ergonomic consideration and not one of the design oversights that I'm addressing here. I'm just bringing it up because more than one person has mentioned that it was awkward to make group flash adjustments when they had it held at their waist level. If you are shooting from a lower position, you'll never notice this.

There are many people who seem to take the Kanye West approach to reviewing this radio trigger: "Hey 3rd party accessory vendors, I'm gonna let you finish... But Canon makes one of the greatest radio flash triggers of all time... One of the greatest radio flash triggers of all time." That ignores the omissions of important features many of us need in varying applications for our work. What about Pocketwizards? This has virtually the exact same functionality as a Pocketwizard, but the Pocketwizards are cheaper. And other items here on Amazon (the NPT-04 transmitter and receiver radio package is insanely cheap for someone who wants basic radio triggers) like the "4 Channels Wireless/ Radio Flash Trigger Set With 2 Receivers" are much better for amateurs. Yongnuo even reverse engineered this by creating their own model, the "YN-E3-RT". BUT - they added the AF Assist beam that everyone wants and GR mode works for pre-2012 camera bodies! Really Canon? This is a no-brainer. Skip the ST-E3-RT and wait for Canon to release the ST-E3-RT Mark II update that also includes the autofocus assist beam and the legacy optical transmitter functionality. If you want to use only Canon gear for wireless flash, you can use a 600EX-RT as a master transmitter; and even have the option to drop the power down to 1/128 with a light color gel and add a subtle stylistic drama. Canon could have definitely made these better.

So Canon. I summarize my suggestions to you for the Version 2 with three points: 1. Add an AF Assist beam to this product. 2. Add a swivel head screen to this product for horizontal and vertical viewing. 3. Add an optical transmitter functionality so we can use our older gear with this.
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2012
I don't know what canon was thinking when they released this with no focus assist beam.
Even though the 5D mark III has a AF sensitive down to -2EV, it's still not enough for low light places.

Could have been awesome, but we are forced to buy another 600EX. It still works awesomely when you dont need an AF assist beam.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 2012
Doubtless, all of your off-camera-flash (OCF) strobists are wondering if it's worth the money. In short, yes. Whether on-camera or off, this is the Ferrari of flash guns. If you can afford it, buy this along with a Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT Flash and don't look back. Yes, cheap, knock-off triggers with manual flashes will do exactly the same thing in the right hands (Phottix Stratos, Cactus V5, Yongnuo, Cowboy Studio, etc.). Yes, there are even cheaper options offering ETTL and features not found on the ST-E3-RT such as AF Assist (Phottix Odin, Yongnuo YN-622). For users of one of the new camera bodies (5D Mark III, 1D X), the lack of AF Assist is not a huge deal. I very seldom have a problem locking focus with my 5D Mark III, even in low light. For users of the 5D Mark II and older bodies this will be a bigger issue, but only if very low light is a common situation for you.

Canon really did their homework and have hit a towering home run. It's not just the features, but the little things. For example:

- It's not just pretty with it's dot matrix display, but incredibly useful, intuitive, and fast to use. I usually read the manual the instant I get a new product, but this commander is completely self-explanatory for an experienced photographer. It's a mirror image of the 600EX-RT control panel, and that's a REALLY GOOD THING.
- Dedicated buttons for the most important camera functions (e.g. MODE -no ore holding the ZOOM button!), with four buttons that change labels and function as required.
- Dedicated "LINK" lights for instant visual confirmation. Customizable, color coded screens for master/slave that are easy to read.
- Dozens of Custom (CFn) and Personal Functions (PFn) to further customize the way it works, e.g. allow the wheel to change FEC without pressing a button first, and enable the DOF button as a MODELING light.
- Up to FIVE groups using the "Gr" mode, allowing you to mix ETTL, manual, and other modes with different groups.
- One integrated, weather sealed unit rather than PC cords and radio triggers dangling everywhere or stacked on your hot shoe.
- It has a subtle tilt that allows it to be viewed easily while not sticking straight up like a sore thumb.
- The hot shoe connection has just enough clearance to make mounting/removing a snap.
- Two-way communication so the flash can feed information back to the camera. This is no dumb flash trigger, it feeds information back from the slaves via the Intelligent Gel filter holder with 1/2 CTO and full CTO. This communicate back to the camera for automatic adjustments (e.g. White Balance) with compatible bodies. Yes, I'd like it if there were more gels (e.g. window green and more hues), but no more orange backgrounds. I hated velcro-ing my old flash guns.
- Good (but not great) range. If you really need more than 100ft. (I think this is very few of you), then consider the Pocket Wizard 801-130 Plus III Transceiver. I've used it, and yes, it's better than any of the cheaper manual only triggers. And it's not a knock-off.

The list goes on and on, and adds up to a master-slave setup that can do ANYTHING. Get one immediately.

*UPDATE (12/27/2012)*:

- I DO miss the AF Assist light in the rare situations I'm shooting a very dark, low contrast environment AND using off camera flash. For this I ding 1 star. I carry a tiny flashlight in my pocket now.

*UPDATE (11/11/2013)*:

- I don't use the gel holder and supplied gels (I recommend the Honl system). Couple of issues here; (a) there are only two, and these are the only ones that work with the system. If you use any other gels you need to 'turn off' the gel detection in settings, (b) its a pain to get the gels positioned correctly in the holder when you're in a hurry or in dimly-lit venue, (c) there's light leak around the periphery of the gel since the gel is about a half-inch away from the flash head, and (d) who's going to take the time to cut gels exactly to fit this plastic contraption?
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on July 16, 2012
It has all the needed functions to drive the 600ex-rt flashes, but the thing that bugs me most is that the screen is in a fixed position pointing up. This means that you have to look on the top of the camera to change any of the settings. It would make more sense to have it be able to tilt up if need be. It is pretty much useless if it is above eye level and you don't want to move your camera to see it. If price isn't an issue, just get another 600ex-rt to use as a master.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2013
The ST-E3-RT transmitter is a great adjunct to my 3 600RT flash units. It works especially well when I need to photography large groups and separate the flash unite for even coverage.

The only possible downside is that it does not emit an IR focusing beam like the 600's do the 5Diii needs to have enough ambient light to focus on its own. Not a biggie, but buyers should be aware of that.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2012
For what it is, a 600EX-RT without the actual flash, this is a superb product, even for pre 2012 bodies despite Canon's warnings. By now everybody who is interested in one knows it does not have an AF assist beam, but why? The ST-E2 had one but then it needed a light emitting tube to communicate with the Slaves, but the omission from the ST-E3-RT smacks of a bean counters input or a near sighted oversight rather than a well thought out product.

Having touched on that one negative, and it isn't like the specs cover it up, I have nothing but praise for these units, slimline, same exact interface as the 600's, vastly improved functionality just make this a must have if you don't want on camera fill.

Killer new features that might prove useful for some would be, the ability to use slaves with multiple masters, anybody working a reception with two bodies or a second shooter will love this feature as you can share full control over one set of slaves, also the ability to fire the camera remotely via a flash when the ST-E3-RT is camera mounted, for fill flash and accent lighting on layered interiors this is a huge time saver, I can walk around the room and fire the camera from the flash I am holding and aiming!

As I mentioned, despite the warnings from Canon, this system works very well on pre 2012 bodies, in my case 1Ds MkIII's, HSS works at all speeds, max sync is maintained at 1/250 and whilst you don't get Group Mode you do get 1/3rd stop adjustment in Manual Mode and ETTL II works well if you understand what it is doing. As I have never had a Group Mode I don't miss it, but the only use I could see for it for me, would be at a reception with the Slaves on M and the on camera on ETTL, but this situation is irrelevant with the ST-E3-RT!

The only other slight negative is the screen angle, when mounted on the camera on a tall stand or tripod it is difficult to see.

All in all this is a superb tool, if you understand there is no AF assist and don't want on camera fill get one.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 2013
Amazing product! The radio transmitter works flawlessly around corners and distances unthinkable to cover with the old IR transmitter. The only thing I don't understand is what took Canon so many years to build radio flashes? After all, we are now in the second decade of the 21st century! To me this technology has been available for many years. Another feature I like is how you can control the power of the flash from the transmitter. They should have done the same about controlling the zoom remotely.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2013
As only Canon can do it, top themselves. I'm just beginning to explore off camera flash and this seemed to be the way to go. My experiments so far are working with photo tutorials but this flash pops anywhere you put it, bright sunshine or not. Woeks with my 5D Mark III and I'm gaining confidence with both on camera and off flash techniques.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2013
terrific transmitter packed with a lot of features. I love the fact the interface is exactly like the speedlite and there is a lot of cross over design unity. Battery life is great and it uses AA. It drives me nuts that some other transmitter systems still insist on using watch batteries.

Works great in bright light too.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2013
I have 3 600-RTs and the ST-E3-RT means I can use all 3 off camera and control all the features on each flash remotely from either the transmitter or from the in camera menus no more climbing up to or lowering flash units to make adjustments I love it.
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