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Customer Review

217 of 223 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing for Strobists, Event Photographers, June 20, 2012
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This review is from: Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite Flash (Black) (Electronics)
I sold all of my previous flashes and bought these. Previous flashes include Canon's 580exII, 580ex, and 430exII.

The Good:

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.

The Neutral:

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.

The Bad:

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

In Conclusion:

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.)
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Showing 1-10 of 23 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 30, 2012 10:09:31 AM PDT
ATB says:
Excellent review - thanks for your time!

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 30, 2012 11:52:01 AM PDT
You're welcome, ATB. Thanks for your comment!

Posted on Jul 6, 2012 11:11:23 AM PDT
Dennis R says:
Thanks for the review. I tend to use an Einstein on location (with CyberSync) as a key and use non-Canon speed lights when I need to optically slave other lights. I too wish Canon would simply integrate a "dumb" optical slave mode. For now, any other brand will do.

Posted on Jul 24, 2012 12:16:26 AM PDT
Rex M Gigout says:
Thanks for this review! I shoot crime scene photos at night. Often, it is outdoors, and sometimes, indoors but in very large buildings. Artificial lighting that I cannot control, such as very powerful street lamps, is often a challenge. The specific details in your review are helpful, as I ponder whether to add one or more of these new flashes to my equipment. (I currently use 580EX, 580EX II, 320EX, and Nissin Di866 II flashes, and an ST-E2.) I will probably deem the 580EX II to be quite good enough, but having plenty of information is a good thing. (The improved weather resistance of the 580EX II, alone, made it a worthwhile upgrade over its predecessor, but it seems to generally work better, too.)

Thanks again!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 24, 2012 10:20:17 AM PDT
Hi Rex. I'm glad it was helpful. I know no more about crime scene photography than what they show on TV (which I'm sure means "zero.") If it's true that you work strictly with a single on-camera flash, then the 580EXIIs are probably no different from the 600s.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 20, 2012 9:02:37 PM PDT
The Producer says:
With the light leaks around the gel-holder...would a little gaffer's tape plug the leak?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 21, 2012 7:52:09 PM PDT
It's not just a leak, the gel holder holds the gel about 1/4" away from the flash head by design. Sure you could go to work on it with some gaff or electrical tape, but it's easier for me to just go back to my old way of attaching them.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 21, 2012 9:03:18 PM PDT
The Producer says:
Thanks. Great review by the way.

Posted on Sep 21, 2012 12:20:04 AM PDT
Frank R. says:
I've only begun to use off-camera flash in the past year, but the frustrations are driving me nuts. Like swiveling the slave's receiver towards me, then losing the signal when I want to switch sides. Or just losing it behind the softbox. Or. . .whatever. Didn't want to spring for that whole PW system, either. It's really good of you to take the time to write this very complete review.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 21, 2012 4:29:03 PM PDT
My pleasure, F.J.

Yup, sounds like you're experiencing all the classic problems that plague IR-based systems. Anything RF-based would alleviate those troubles, but so far my best experience with a TTL-capable system has been these. (Classic PocketWizards if you just need 100% reliable dumb triggering.)
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