Radio Control At Last: The Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite

As much fun as it is to control remote flash units with an infrared transmitter, nothing beats radio control, and for the first time it is built into the flash unit.  You can say goodbye to need for buying add-on radio controllers.

I do off-camera flash with wireless infrared remote, and it is a great feature, but there are limitations. The distance is limited, you need a direct line of site from the infrared transmitter to the sensor on the flash, and the system doesn’t work well if there is too much ambient light.  In my own experience, I find my self pushing the limits iof the system so the remote flash doesn’t fire. I find myself wanting to put the remote flash farther to the side, or behind me, and the infrared beam no longer communicates with the flash.

The solution is radio control of the remote flash units. You don’t need line of site, you can put the remote flash (or flashes) where you want them, and the distance limits jumps from a practical 20-30 feet with infrared to around 100 feet with radio control, and you can use them in the day time.

The problem is the cost of the after market equipment. You can easily spend $500 for a quality radio set of one transmitter (for the camera) and one receiver (to attach to the remote flash). For more remote flashes, add hundreds of dollars more for a receiver for each flash.

Now all that is changed. Each flash has a radio transmitter and receiver built into the flash. Use one flash on the camera to fire one or more remote flash units, no extra equipment required.  You can even use one of the these flash units to fire a remote camera. With two cameras and two flashes, when you take a picture with one camera, the flash sends a signal to the remote flash to fire the remote camera at the same time.  Such a deal.

While there is a big gain in convenience, there isn’t a huge dollar cost savings.  When  you buy a Canon 600EX-RT, you will spend about the same amount of money as you would have spent on the Canon 580 EXII Speedlite (the previous model) and a quality add-on radio transceiver.

Canon ST-E3-RT Radio Transmitter

Canon ST-E3-RT Radio Transmitter

You can also use a Canon ST-E3-R3 radio transmitter on your camera to fire one or more remote flash units and/or cameras.

The Canon 600EX-RT is also compatible with previous Canon flash units equipped with the infrared system. If you want to go the infrared route, you still can and use your existing infrared compatible gear. But the 600EX-RT can’t do both at the same time. You have to go infrared or radio controlled, but not both.

This is a BIG step forward in ease and convenience for all photographers who use off-camera flash units.

Brief Field Review

Brent Stirton talks about the new Canon radio remote flash system on page three of his field review of the new Canon 5D Mark III.

Canon Information Links

Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT

Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT

Order Link

Pre-order the Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT at my photography store and get Amazon’s great price, service, and return guarantee.