I know most are reviewing the Canon 5D Mark III, and that is an amazing camera, but I think the flash that Canon released, the 600EX-RT is the real gem.
Yesterday, March 1st, Canon released both the camera, flash and the ST-E3-RT transmitter. The Mark III was highly anticipated, but because I’m a Nikon user, I haven’t been following the rumors from Canon. I seen some info about the Mark III as I was browsing the net before bed, but I thought I’ll just look at it in the morning. This morning I get up and WOW!! Sorry I’m getting a head of myself.
Canon’s 580EX II has always been a great flash. As of yesterday, that has been dethroned as Canon’s flagship flash and is dwarfed by the capabilities of this new flash.
What’s so great about the 600EX-RT? It has radio lighting control built in!! This gives you full control over up to five different groups of flashes.
Why is this so important to me? I have always loved the Nikon CLS system, but it has some flaws in it. It’s a line of sight based system which means you can’t hide a flash behind a wall, unless you have another flash placed perfectly to relay the signal around the wall. Also at times in bright light, the system is less than reliable, which when you’re shooting a wedding or even outdoors, can be a little frustrating.
Alternately, for years, photographers have been using radio triggers that have a greater range and can work in situations such as around corners or out of line of sight. The inexpensive triggers have been unreliable in the past, although there are some that are better than others and the reliability has been improved as technology improves. On the higher priced end, companies like PocketWizard have had simple triggers, such as the Plus II and just announced Plus III, as well as newer technology such as the Flex and Mini TT1 that transmit all the information from the camera to the flash. That is a great system, but take the Nikon SB-910 and the Flex/TT1 combo for example.
A SB-910 at Henry’s here in Canada is $579.99 on their website. (No disrespect to Vistek or other retailers, I just picked one.) Add on PocketWizard Flex TT5 Nikon transceiver, $249.99 and a Mini TT1 Nikon transmitter, $219.99 and you’re up to $1,049.97 before taxes for one flash with the radio trigger!!! And normally you’d have at least two or three flashes minimum. For a second setup, based on already having the Mini TT1 Transmitter, you’d only need a flash and the transceiver, so that comes to another $829.98 before taxes! So you’d be dumping $1,879.95 for only two flashes with the radio trigger functions.
Let’s look at this new setup from Canon. The 600EX-RT is estimated at $629.00 and the ST-E3-RT transmitter that mounts on the camera is estimated at $470. You only need the one transmitter so the same scenario as above with two flashes will cost $1,728. That doesn’t sound like much, but let’s take this a little further. Most photographers that work off camera have at least 3 – 4 flashes. The two flash set up is approximately $150 cheaper for the new Canon set up, but add one flash to three flashes and you save approximately $350 and if you add another to have a four flash system you save approximately $550. To add to the savings, you’re also saving yourself on the extra batteries, space and weight to carry around the extra triggers. While the weight may not be much, I know space is a premium for myself. I don’t want to take more than I need (although I often do, ‘just in case’).
Now I know that most people are thinking this is just crazy. At that point you’re spending in around the $3,000 mark for just the flashes and triggers, but if this is what you do for a living, then that $550 difference is almost a price of another flash or some other piece of gear. And I’m guessing that in the future, Canon will add this technology into the higher end camera bodies, reducing the cost even more. I just wish that it was something available to me at this point.
Enough of my dreaming away of future times, I just have to say, I tip my hat to the Canon camp for releasing this system!
Edit: All that ranting and I forgot to mention that this is a more powerful flash as well. With a GN number of 60, this edges out the Nikon SB-910. I’m sure I’ve missed some items, but I think that’s enough from me at this point.
Please let me know if you have anything to add or if you have a review you want from me!