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Canon ST-E3-RT Speedlite Transmitter
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- Newly designed wireless system uses 2-way radio wave communication for enhanced communication among master and slave units.
- Achieves a transmission distance of up to 98.4 ft. / 30m, all at a 360 degree angle.
- Up to 5 groups, or 15 individual flashes can be controlled via 1 transmitter; 8 types of custom functions, 3 types of personal functions.
- Supports E-TTL II flash, manual flash, strobe and external flash metering.
- Dot matrix LCD panel displays all pertinent information simultaneously and backlit control panel means easy operation. It even features an internal sound emitter.
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Newly-designed wireless system uses 2-way radio wave communication for enhanced communication among master and slave units. Achieves a transmission distance of up to 98.4' (30 m), all at a 360 degree angle. Up to 5 groups, or 15 individual flashes can be controlled via 1 transmitter. Supports E-TTL II flash, manual flash, stroboscopic and auto external flash metering. Dot matrix LCD panel displays all pertinent information simultaneously and backlit control panel means easy operation. 8 types of custom functions, 3 types of personal functions. Improved hot shoe contacts for more reliable information transmission and operation. Slave operation confirmation: Green Light--Lit: Radio Transmissions Okay Red Light--Lit: Not Connected Blinking: Transmission Error/ Too many units (Master units + slave units = more than 16 units) Orange Light--Lit: Sub-master transmission Blinking: Receiving remote release shooting, linked shooting signal Not compatible with earlier Speedlite models such as 580EX II
From the Manufacturer
Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT
For sophisticated wireless flash setups, there's nothing like the new Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT*. Facilitating radio controlled, two-way wireless transmission up to 98.4 feet, among up to five groups or fifteen individual Speedlites, the ST-E3-RT represents the next generation in wireless flash systems. With operational controls similar to the new Speedlite 600EX-RT, including diverse flash metering options, and a number of flash modes, the Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT makes complex lighting setups simple. With a compact design and highly reliable construction, combined with a clearly laid-out information panel and buttons with back lighting and more, the Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT is an indispensible tool for advanced, professional flash photography.
*Because it does not have an optical transmission function, the Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT is not compatible with earlier Speedlite models such as 580EX II.
Newly designed wireless system uses 2-way radio wave communication for enhanced communication among master and slave units. Achieves a transmission distance of up to 98.4 ft./30 m, all at a 360 degree angle.
The Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT facilitates radio controlled, two-way wireless transmission up to 98.4 feet, for a reliable and robust connection among master and slave units. Communicating on 2.4 GHz frequencies, the Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT does not have the same directional limitations of traditional wireless optical transmitters. Where other wireless signals can be interrupted by physical obstacles, radio controlled systems excel. Fifteen transmission channels are available, selectable manually or automatically, and radio transmission IDs can be set to prevent misfiring in the event of signal interference on the same channel. With the extended, more reliable range afforded by radio transmission, ambitious photography is made easier.
Up to 5 groups, or 15 individual flashes can be controlled via 1 transmitter.
With the Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT, up to fifteen flashes in five groups can be controlled via a single unit. Each group can be set to a different flash mode, enabling multiple configurations for creative photography. For example, with the Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT, some flashes can be directed to operate according to the cameras meter reading, others can be set manually; groups can be set to overexposure or underexpose, and much, much more. With up to fifteen flashes under the control of one transmitter, wirelessly, complex lighting setups normally reserved for the studio are a breeze.
Supports E-TTL II flash, manual flash, stroboscopic and auto external flash metering.
For any number of shooting styles, the Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT supports E-TTL II flash metering, manual flash (1/1 to 1/128) and stroboscopic flash (1/4 to 1/128, 1 to 500 Hz). Auto external flash metering is even possible when the Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT is mounted to the EOS-1D X or the EOS 5D Mark III.
Dot matrix LCD panel displays all pertinent information simultaneously and backlit control panel means easy operation.
The Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT features an all-new dot matrix LCD panel (172 x 104 dots). This new LCD displays Flash status, flash settings and wireless configuration with more detailed information in comparison to previous systems. With its new screen combined with backlit operation buttons and even an internal sound emitter, the Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT is as easy to operate in the dark as in daylight.
8 types of custom functions, 3 types of personal functions.
To accommodate the demands of a number of different shooting situations, the Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT can be configured with eight types of custom and three types of personal functions. Custom functions include: auto power off, modeling flash controls, sound, illumination and more. Personal functions include display contrast and LCD panel illumination color for both master and slave flashes.
Improved hot shoe contacts for more reliable information transmission and operation; compact design is approx. 2.65 (w) x 2.42 (H) x 3.05 (D) in.
The Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT is built to the standards one would expect from professional Canon camera systems. A newly updated hot shoe contact ensures reliable communication between camera and transmitter. Dust and water resistance is excellent as well: all moving parts and areas surrounding the transmitters display and buttons are sealed for uninterrupted performance in harsh conditions. A new dust and water resistant adapter for the mounting foot creates a dust and water resistant seal between camera and flash. Compact and lightweight, the Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT is approx. 2.65 (w) x 2.42 (H) x 3.05 (D) in.
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First off, if you're a Strobist or an off-camera speedlighter, sell everything you own and get these. The RF signaling system and fully independent group controls right from your master device will change everything for you. Already using RadioPoppers or a PocketWizard FlexTT system? Welcome to a new world of reliability, simple setup, and battery life.
Going into "Gr" mode on the master flash, I can independently tell up to five different groups to operate in full eTTL mode (plus adjust each group's FEC) OR shift one, some, or all groups into M mode with full power controls on each group. I do this right from the flash itself, or from the screen on my 5d mark III.
Shooting a party with dancing? Want to have eTTL on-camera to bounce, and an off-camera light in the background on M for a little dramatic rim-lighting? No problem. All easily configured right from your camera.
Working outdoors at night with nothing to bounce off of? No problem. Tell the master unit on your camera not to flash, and it will simply operate as a master controller for the off-camera units. (If you often need a master controller with no flash, a Canon ST-E3-RT Speedlite Transmitter might save you a bit of money. )
If you get lost in the menus, use the configuration screen on your camera instead. I find this much easier to navigate, set modes, etc.
This is too expensive, you say? Consider that here on Amazon (as of this writing) a 580exII costs $530 + a PocketWizard Flex TT5 transceiver costs $230 for a grand total of $760, and you still haven't invested in the transmitter to go on your camera. PLUS you have to do on-site assembly, AND you have to deal with the finicky unreliability of that system.
Canon claims a range of 100'. I've used these in huge reception venues, and never run out of range. I guess the lawyers were setting a target they could defend? Read around the blogosphere, and you'll find people testing them to over 1000' out in the countryside.
Other changes that I love over the previous units I owned:
-They now clearly indicate when they are overheating. Both the backlight on the screen changes from green to orange, and two little "heat wave" wiggly lines appear above the speedlight's icon. (This may not affect many users, but event photogs doing bounce-flash in high-ceiling venues will appreciate this. Keep another cooling in your bag, and cycle them out.)
-When controlling off-camera flashes, the units are now aware of each other's power states. The "ready" light on the master will not come on until ALL flashes have finished cycling. Yup, they really talk to each other that much. Pretty cool.
Yes, these work with your existing CP-E4 battery packs.
If you do not do off-camera flash, then yes, this is probably a bit steep. You have to ask yourself how much the additional zoom range is worth (up to 200mm on this unit vs 105 on the 580 series.) You may not feel it's worth that much.
Be cautioned that if you do not own a 2012 generation camera or newer, you will not be able to use mixed-mode with these flashes. As of this writing this means you need a 1D-X or a 5d3. If you don't have one of these cameras, you're limited to setting all groups to M, or all groups to eTTL. I believe you can still control each group's power/FEC, but double check if this is important to you.
If you do a lot of studio work and are hoping to mix speedlights and studio strobes, be cautioned that this is a brand-new RF signaling system developed by Canon. It will not integrate with your existing PocketWizard (classic, flex, or otherwise,) RadioPopper, CyberSync, Profoto Air, etc etc system. I really hope that Canon will chose to release an inexpensive, "dumb" receiver with a generic miniphone plug that can be used to trigger studio strobes, but this is just my own pipe dream. That said, you may be able to use your studio strobes in optical slave mode and get basic integration that way.
If you're a gel-er, you'll hate the included gel holder. Initially I was excited. It's obviously designed to allow you to cut and use your own gels, which is a nice thought. Unfortunately, the way it holds the gel produces harsh, mixed light. The holder does not hold the gel flush against the speedlight head. Instead, it allows it to arch out in front of it. The frosted clear plastic of the holder along the edges not only allows, but encourages ungeled light out around the sides. What you end up with is a bit of an Omni-Bounce (Stofen Gold Color Omni Bounce Diffuser for Canon Speedlite 580EX Flash) look, but with CTO out the face, and daylight out the sides. It's a color correcting disaster. The provided gel holders now sit at home, and I'm back to my previous favorite combo: LumiQuest UltraStrap LQ-126 and HonlPhoto Color Correction Filter Kit
I love these for the kind of work that I do, and cannot recommend them highly enough. I'm on the fence as to whether I'll get two more, or one more and an ST-E3-RT. (I'm disappointed that Canon dropped the focus assist beam from the new ST-E3-RT. The previous ST-E2 had one, and is my only hesitation.)
To have good light you want something that can produce shadows that you can control. No shadows creates a "flat" look, but mild shadows creates some dimensionality to the subject. That means you need to get the flash off the camera so that the light comes from the side.
This flash can either be a "master" to control off-camera speedlite flashes (Canon E-TTL system) or it can be the off-camera remote "slave" flash. It can be configured to communicate either via visible light (optical trigger) or via radio. When it radio mode it is compatible with all Canon speedlite products that have "RT" in the name.... including other 600EX-RT flashes, the ST-E3-RT transmitter and the 430EX III-RT flash.
The head will tilt & swivel to put the light where you want it. It does have a slide out wide-diffuser panel (intended for use when shooting with a very low focal ratio lens) and it also has a slide-out catch-light / bounce card. The bounce card is a bit too small to be very useful (I use the large sized Rogue Flashbender as a bounce surface instead -- it works MUCH better.)
It also includes a gel holder and two gels including a standard CTO (color-temperature orange) gel and 1/4 CTO gel -- these are intended for use when shooting in a mixed lighting situation either with incandescent (tungsten) light bulbs which give off an "orange" like color or when shooting near sunrise / sunset and you want the color of the flash to match the color of the ambient light so you don't have wonky light color problems when you try to establish white balance.
I use the radio technology constantly and I love the rock-solid reliability of the system. The radio triggers fire the flashes EVERY time and since it's a Canon E-TTL system radio, you still have full on-camera control of pretty much every setting on the flash without having to walk over to the flash to change settings.
Bottom line: Good to have one or two Canon 600EX-RT in your bag, but if you need more, YN-600EX-RT will do the job.