Speedlite 600EX-RT: the next generation of portable flash
The new flagship Speedlite flashgun in the Canon range, the Speedlite 600EX-RT, has a guide number of 60 (metres @ 200mm, ISO 100) and offers full E-TTL flash metering with all current cameras. It also includes a Radio wireless slave transmitter.
Who is it for?
The Speedlite 600EX-RT has been designed to allow enthusiasts and professional photographers to take their flash usage to the next level. Offering increased control of your flashgun, more power than the previous flagship model (the Speedlite 580EX II) and a wider zoom range in the flash head, as well as Radio wireless slave flash control, the Speedlite 600EX-RT will excel in any task where you need portable light to improve your pictures.
- E-TTL flash metering
- Guide Number of 60
- 20-200mm Autozoom head with 14mm wide panel diffuser
- Wireless Radio slave function
- Wireless Optical slave function
- Radio camera remote control
- Stroboscopic flash
- Fast, silent recycling
- Colour filter attachment
- Dot Matrix LCD display
- PC Sync socket
- Weather-sealed to match EOS-1D X
Canon’s new flagship Speedlite 600EX-RT replaces the Speedlite 580EX II as the most powerful, most feature packed flashgun in the range and takes Speedlite flash functionality to a new level. It doesn’t matter what genre of photography you photograph, the Speedlite 600EX-RT will slot right in to your workflow and open up ways of shooting that you could not previously achieve. With a Guide Number of 60 it offers more than enough power for building a portable studio kit, and will provide an increased flash range for distant subjects, compared to previous models.
The Speedlite 600EX-RT features an autozoom flash head that now extends from 20mm to 200mm coverage and also has a wide panel diffuser that covers up to 14mm for use with wide-angle lenses. Whether you are shooting with an APS-C, APS-H or full-frame camera, the zoom head will move to match the angle of view and ensure optimum coverage.
A new flash Custom Function (C.Fn 21), called ‘Light Distribution’, allows you to modify the coverage of the flash head and to select between Standard, Guide Number Priority or Even Coverage. By using Guide Number Priority, the flash will provide maximum flash output, but the coverage will fall off across the frame. With Even Coverage the flash coverage across the frame will be even from left to right and from top to bottom, but may reduce the maximum flash output.
In a first for the EOS System, and for portable flashguns in general, the Speedlite 600EX-RT features two different modes of multiple wireless flash control. As with previous models, there is an Optical slave function where it can function as either a Wireless Master or Wireless Slave. The second method is completely new – instead of an optical transmission, it uses 2.4GHz radio frequencies to control Slave flashguns. This radio transmission removes two of the potential pitfalls with optical transmission; namely the limited range and the need for a line-of-sight connection between the Master and Slave. It also allows the use of up to five groups of Slave Speedlites, rather than three, with up to three flashguns in each group for a total of 15 slaves. Using the Radio transmission, the range is extended to around 30m and slave flashguns can be hidden behind obstacles or subjects without fear that they may not fire.
Another version of this flashgun is also available – the Speedlite 600EX, which doesn’t include the radio transmission features, is available for photographers who don’t require this function.
The Speedlite 600EX-RT can function as either a Radio Master or Radio Slave unit. If the Speedlite 600EX-RT is set as a slave unit it can be controlled by either another Speedlite 600EX-RT or the new ST-E3-RT Radio flash transmitter. So that you know when remote flashguns are ready to fire, the display on the back of the master flash will show a flash ready symbol when using the wireless radio transmission settings.
When used with an EOS-1D X or EOS 5D Mark III, the radio wireless settings allow very complex flash setups with the Group Firing Mode. This mode allows you to set different flash modes for each of the five firing groups, so Group 1 and 2 may be E-TTL, Group 3 and 4 set to Manual and Group 5 using Auto external metering with the built-in thyristor. With earlier camera models, the maximum number of groups is reduced to three and the remote Speedlites in each group will switch to E-TTL automatically.
As part of the radio triggering functions, the Speedlite 600EX-RT can also be used to trigger the camera wirelessly. When using the Speedlite 600EX-RT with either the EOS-1D X or EOS 5D Mark III DSLRs, the trigger control will be sent through the hotshoe contacts of the slave flashgun mounted on the camera. As with earlier models, the accessory cable, SR-N3 attaches to the side of the flashgun and plugs into the N3 connector on the side of the camera. This allows you to trigger a camera remotely from up to 30m away without needing any further bulky accessories.
Following on from the simple radio camera triggering, there is also a Linked shooting function. Using several Speedlite 600EX-RT flashguns mounted onto any EOS digital camera, with the exception of the original EOS-1D or EOS-1Ds, you can trigger up to 15 Slave cameras from one Master Speedlite 600EX-RT. In this arrangement you can capture images from several different views at once. In Linked shooting, the Master flash will only trigger the camera. It will not transmit metering information to the flashguns, so these settings will need to be made on each flash individually.
Like the Speedlite 580EX II, the Speedlite 600EX-RT features a stroboscopic flash mode and both second-curtain sync and high-speed sync flash to allow very creative flash usage in a wide range of situations.
Mounted on the EOS-1D X or the EOS 5D Mark III, the Speedlite 600EX-RT allows access to not only the standard flash control screen in the camera menu, but also a Flash Quick Control screen that shows all active flash settings at a glance. As with previous Speedlite models mounted on recent EOS cameras, the flash settings can be made both from the transmitter or from within the Flash function settings in the camera menu.
To make settings easier to understand when using the flash rather than the camera menu, the screen is now a 172x104-dot LCD panel. This allows more information to be displayed more clearly at any given time and makes the menus easier and quicker to navigate.
Although it is compatible with all digital EOS cameras, when used with the EOS-1 Series cameras since the EOS-1D Mark III and EOS-1Ds Mark III, the extra weather sealing on the flash and the strengthened flash mount mate perfectly to retain the all-weather performance of these cameras. The body weather sealing of the Speedlite 600EX-RT now matches that on the EOS-1D X for use in a wider range of environmental conditions.
The hotshoe mount has also been modified to minimise dust and dirt on the hotshoe that may cause transmission errors. As the hotshoe lock is used, it causes the contacts to be wiped clean, preventing build-up of dirt and dust. The pressure of the locking foot has also been changed – it is now a variable pressure switch to ensure correct contact between the camera and Speedlite.
2.4GHz Radio transmission
Not relying on an optical signal, the radio transmission feature allows the Speedlite 600EX-RT to act as a wireless master or slave at up to 30m and with no line-of-sight connection between them.
The 2.4GHz radio transmission allows longer range, non-line-of-sight control of other Speedlite 600EX-RT flashguns. To ensure the best communication, and minimum interference from other radio signals, the 600EX-RT features a channel scan function that will test the signal strength on each of the 15 available channels. Once completed, it will automatically set the channel with the best signal-to-noise ratio.
The flash head will autozoom to fit the sensor size of the EOS camera the flashgun is attached to. This ensures no light is wasted by firing the flash over too wide an area, with the added advantage of faster recycling and longer battery life.
Colour temperature transmission
When used with an EOS digital camera newer than the EOS 20D, the flash will transmit the colour temperature it fired with to the camera so that the camera can set an accurate white balance (providing it is set to Auto White Balance or Flash White Balance).
When shooting in mixed lighting conditions the included Colour Filter Holder SCH-E1 and provided Color filters SCF-E1OR1 and OR2 allow you to match tungsten or mercury lights, or to fit other, commercially available, coloured gels to match other light sources. It fits over the flash head, giving complete coverage. When using the provided filters, a detection sensor will transmit the colour temperature of the flash with the holder to ensure accurate white balance and flash exposure settings on the camera.
Phase Detection AF-assist beam
To make focusing easier in very low light conditions the Speedlite 600EX-RT flashgun also features an AF-assist beam. This projects a grid beam onto the subject to provide contrast for the camera’s AF system to lock onto. It is compatible with the angle of view of 28mm or longer lenses and provides coverage for all 61 AF points of the EOS-1D X and EOS 5D Mark III DSLRs.
Technical product specifications are currently unavailable.