New Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite: A Flash Powerhouse


The 600EX-RT Speedlite, Canon’s newly announced successor to its cutting-edge 580EX II, enhances the best features of the 580EX II, and then throws in some fresh ingredients that sweeten your picture-taking experience.

First, in with the new: the 600EX-RT smoothly pivots into precise lighting control with a new wireless flash system using radio-wave communication that’s able to give you mastery over as many as five groups of flashes. To heat up your creative efforts, a new color filter holder is included that handles Canon as well as third-party gelatin filters—so, no more taping filters to your flash. To help you add color to juice up your next shot, a light orange and a dark orange filter are included.

Plenty of already-existing features have also been given a significant boost: the guide number jumps up to 197' at ISO 100, the zoom flash head now covers a significantly wider 20-200mm range (35mm format), and the updated AF assist beam is compatible with Canon’s new 61-point High Density Reticular AF. To make the 600EX-RT more nimble than its predecessor, a dot matrix LCD panel and backlit button deliver much better visibility for all flash controls. Redesigned hot shoe construction, increased dust and water resistance and improved body strength are built in. And the 600EX, of course, supports E-TTL II, which is highly effective, especially with high-contrast subjects. The Canon 600EX-RT gives you one less thing to worry about at your next shoot.

Guide Number 197' (60 m) at ISO 100
Zoom Head 20-200mm
Swivel +/- 180°
Dimensions 3.1 x 5.6 x 4.9" (7.87 x 14.22 x 12.44 cm)
Weight 14.99 oz (425 g)

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I've been saying this for years ever since Pocket Wizard came out with the Plus II systems. I'm a Nikon Photographer and I'm today giving Canon kudos for making the move. I hope Nikon hears the call now and release an upgrade to the SB900 other than SB910.

Well, what I want to know is how this will work with my 580s with RadioPopers? I am glad to see Canon adding the radio transmitters built in! Wish thay had done it 3 years ago before I purchased a bunch of Radio Popers. Oh well,....

This seems totally not worth it, as their party radio transmitters are much better and cheaper. According to a canon tester, you can get just a transmitter, but it cost $470. This radio system can only control up to 15 flashes, and the range is limited to 99meters!


I am pretty new to this so please bare with me.

I have a 580ex ii and I wold like to purchase a 600 flash. In order to have them work in this 2 next scenarios what else would I have to purchase?

1 st scenario: one of them on camera, the other one off camera mostly of the time across the one on camera sometimes one of them in a soft box an the other behind a couple.

2 nd scenario: both of them off camera.

Thank you!

I know it was two years ago but: "...can only control 15 flashes." LOL! How many do you need to control?

While the Canon 600EX-RT and the ST-E3-RT both are able to be triggered wirelessly using radio transmission, as most manufactures do not use the same radio frequency to trigger each other (and often purposely often use different radio frequenciens to prevent interference with each other), I do not see the 580EX II flashes with RadioPoppers currently being compatible with the S-600EX-RT or ST-E3-RT's wireless radio mode.  Canon does not list their equipment as being compatible with RadioPoppers' wireless radio frequency, and until there is either compatibility testing or until more informaton is released on the 600EX-RT or ST-E3-RT's radio transmission specifications, I cannot state the items will be compatible.

I only want to know one thing - does the high-speed-sync feature still function when using the radio transmission as opposed to line-of-site infrared?

That seems to be the only benefit of this new setup, minus the ability to control flash intensity from your camera, (which is technology already mastered by radiopoppers.)

I can't seem to find this information, no matter how intuitive my Googling gets. :-P

(Excerpt from Canon USA's website):
"For radio-based wireless E-TTL, the only cameras that allow hi-speed flash sync will be the EOS 5D Mark III and EOS-1D X (as of March, 2012). It's not possible with any other previous EOS camera bodies, when combined with the radio-based wireless flash system.

(Hi-speed sync is possible for both E-TTL and manual flash exposure if a single 600EX-RT is used on-camera with previous EOS models, as well as during optical-based wireless E-TTL.)"

Wow, I was saving for radio poppers and was happy to see this, but would all the flashes have to be the 600EX-RT?  I am assuming that since it is radio waves, the receiving flashes would also need to be designed to receive radio waves. For someone who does not want to buy 4 new flashes in this economy, is there a way to make the new 600EX-RT work with the 580EX?

Unfortunately, I see no current way listed that would allow the current design of the Canon 580EX or 580EX II to communicate with the Canon 600EX-RT when using the flash in radio transmission mode.  Canon USA's website indicates on the 600EX-RT's webpage under the "Features" tab that the flash has both optical wireless transmission as well as radio flash transmission, so the 600EX-RT should still be compatible with the Canon 580EX II when using the flash's optical wireless transmission mode.  However, I see no current information indicating the 580EX or 580EX II can be updated to work with the 600EX-RT or the ST-E3-RT.  Under the ST-E3-RT  "Compatible Items" link, only the 600EX-RT is indicated as being compatible with the radio wireless mode, which further leads me to believe there is no radio compatiblity with the Canon 580EX or 580EX II flash.

Speaking with a Canon rep yesterday at the launch, they advised RT receivers will be following soon to facilitate using the 580's with the ST-E3-RT ..

There's no reason Canon couldn't have implemented backward compatibility with earlier models. Unless it's present, and not mentioned in the specs, you'll have to buy a completely new set of flashes to take full advantage of the 600's capabilities.

Bad decision, Canon.

Ditto.... c'mon Nikon re RT flashes...

Finally!  Radio wave communication between camera and flashes.  Infrared signals are so limited - so influenced by line of sight and bright ambient light.  Come on Nikon!  Time to go radio too.  Til then I'll use my Radio Poppers.

Finally!  Radio wave communication between camera and flashes.  Infrared signals are so limited - so influenced by line of sight and bright ambient light.  Come on Nikon!  Time to go radio too.  Til then I'll use my Radio Poppers.

I have to say I am extremely happy to see them coming to market with a radio based system. But I am unbelievably unhappy to see that they've left Optical systems out of this model and the newly released transmitter. They've completely abandoned all the photogs who have committed to using their flashes. They should have incorporated Optical Transmission into the transmitter at the very least, to help out photogs who have existing multi-flash systems.

Canon lists both in the Press Release for the Canon EOS 5D Mark III / 600ST-RT / ST-E3-RT / GP-E2 / WFT-E7A and in the Features section of the 600EX-RT on Canon USA's website, the 600EX-RT remains fully compatible with Canon's legacy optical-based Wireless E-TTL technology; it has simply added radio E-TTL II Wireless transmission along with the ST-E3-RT.  The ST-E3-RT is RADIO ONLY, so it will only currently work with the 600EX-RT, but the 600EX-RT works both optically and radio with wireless compatibility.  The 600EX-RT can be used on camera as either a optical or radio transmitter.

Finally!  Canon comes out with a more cabable speedlight.  I have 3k invested in 3 580EXII's, radio poppers with brackets, gels and grids.  Will the 600EX work with the 580's with RPs?  Or even the 580's alone wirlelessly.  Will they replace the ST-E2 transmitter to work with this?  Glad to see a zoom feature to 200.  Been waiting for that for a long time.  Another disappointment in Canon wireless has been no rear curtain sync.  Hopefully, Canon fixed that too with this new offering.  If they did, they should mention it in the overview! 

Whadday mean no rear-curtain synch? Canon has supported it for years!  Either you or I are missing somthing here!   Glad to see RFI used -- although my IR ST-E2 worked fine in all my applications. Bad news for PocketWizards.

Canon Speedlite can do rear curtain sync with a single speedlite, but that feature is not available when the speedlite is in master (or slave) mode. 

Canon has listed no information indicating the radio frequency used in the 600EX-RT or ST-E3-RT being compatible with RadioPopper equipment.  The 600EX-RT will still be compatible with Canon's optical wireless E-TTL II system, so it will be copatible with your 580EX II flashes.  Canon has released an ST-E3-RT Speedlite Transmitter, however, as it only transmits radio information, currently, the only speedlite flash with which it will be compatible is the Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite Flash.  Multiple Canon flashes have previously incorporated 2nd curtain sync (or rear curtain sync as you call it - same thing, different terminology), including the Canon 580EX II Speedlite Flashes you own, as indicated in your 580EX II's Instruction Manual on page 26.

2nd curtain sync is DISABLED on the 580 EXII when used in wireless mode.    Regardless of whether you set it on the flash or camera 2nd curtain sync is disabled.  Only works in hotshoe or with OC cord.  It would be nice to finally have 2nd curtain sync capability in WIRELESS mode.

So, Manzell at B&H, are you saying that the 600EX-RT WILL trigger the 580EX II flashes?  How about just the 580EX (no II)?

When using the optical Master mode on the Canon 600EX-RT, yes, it will trigger the 580EX, the 580EX II, the 430EX, and the 430EX II Speedlite flashes.

Not only that, If You already have a 430 ex II, 580 ex or 580 ex II  and Radiopopper Px systems, You can use the 600 EX-RT in Optical master mode with the RP transmiter atached to trigger the 430/580's with RP recievers.

Is this cost effective?????   Dont know that to tell You, but at least You dont have to get rid of your previous RP system yet (If You are only buying one 600ex-rt for now)

Hi Manzell, Can we use the 600ex RT to trigger the 430ex II in optical master mode AND use the ST-E3-RT on camera to trigger 600ex RT in radio mode?

Thanks in advance 

When the Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite Flash is on the camera's hot shoe and set as an "Optical" Master transmitter, it can be used to trigger the off-camera Canon 430EX II set on the "SLAVE" mode (as well as all Canon EX series wireless-capable flashes; the 600EX-RT, 580EX II, 580EX, 550EX, 430EX, 420EX, 320EX, and 270EX II Speedlite Flashes: all aforemenitoned flashes use the same Canon optical wireless system).

When using the Canon ST-E3-RT Radio Wireless Transmitter or the Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite Flash on the camera's hot shoe and set to the "Radio" Master transmitter mode, it can be used to trigger an off-camera Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite Flash ONLY.  At this time, the Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite Flash is the only Canon flash that has a radio transceiver built into the unit, and as such, is the only option that can be triggered off-camera when using the ST-E3-RT Transmitter or 600EX-RT as an on-camera Radio Wireless transmitter.

(Do note you may only use one flash or wireless transmitter on the camera's hot shoe at a time as a wireless transmitter.)

I want to know if it will trigger pocket wizzards?

Canon has not realesed any information stating their equipment to be compatible with PocketWizard Radio Remotes.

Nice features but costs an arm and a leg!

At close to $700.00 a flash!  That's more than my 50" LED HD TV!!!

You will need 3 or more.  Just sell your car & cat.

This will not be compatible with all EX flashes when you are using RT from the 600EX RT Flash. Canon knew it.

We have tested it. Canon didn't like us doing that during the show.

You will have to sell your flash(es) in Craigslist.  Or just scream using wireless ETTL II (line-of-site) junk in bright outdoors.

Like I said when the Mark ll came out , if I want a video camera I"ll buy a video camera. Where is the articulating screen? An outside mirror lock up so I don't have to go to the menu all the time. Come on Canon why don't you get serious a build a real serious still camera? Does this Mark lll hold the high lights like a Nikon ? I don't need 22 mega pixels . I have an aging 5d that I bought when it first came out several years ago and I was thinking of upgrading. But not to this . 

The future of still photographer is headed towards video. Canon is on the cutting edge of the curve, they know where the industry is headed and they are keeping up with it. Pretty soon, there won't be a job for those who don't learn how to do video in addition to stills. And if you think I'm wrong, ask the people who thought digital cameras would never take over the industry let alone be able to compete with film. It's all going to be a convergance soon and Canon doesn't want to wast their money and time investing in cameras that don't keep up with the changing industry. VIDEO IS THE FUTURE!! Our youth has a shorter and shorter attention span. How can we ask them to pay attention to one still when video is constantly moving, has sound and appealing action? 

What on earth are you smoking?

This anon person is absolutely true, and very wise as see the comment is 2 years old!! Feedback from 2 job rejections is the other person who got the job had more vid experience! 

This is a great first step.  It shouldn't be long before the RT version of the 430EXII comes out.  Yes, we are all going to have to unload our infrared 580's, 430's and ST-E2's and start over, but at least it's the end of getting ripped off by the Pocket Wizard folks.

I am hoping all the Canon 580 EX and 580 EX II users put their gear up for sale so I can buy them at a discount. I have the Radio Poppers. I do not need the Canon RF flashes which work only to 100 feet. For macro FP, the infrared works fine. Nobody makes you purchase Pocket Wizards, Radio Poppers, Cactus, et al. For water drop photography I still use my Vivitar 283's of which I have five. So, for $600 plus, what are you really getting? Not much.... Al.

" least it's the end of getting ripped off by pocket wizard folks." 

Well, the cost of the radio transceiver is built in to the price.   So rather than spending money and it going to pocket wizard more of it is going to Canon.  Is that really better?

I buy the 580EX and within a month or so the Canon 580EXII is released.

I finally break down and by the Canon 580 EXII and within a month the Canon 600EX-RT is released - this really sucks!

No it just means you didn't do your home work before making a purchase. Always study up on a major product purchase before spending the money. If you had you wouldn't have had this happen twice. Check manufactures, retail and forum sites to know whats going on.

I hear you. But... did your 580EX stop working with the 580EXii came out? Or the 580EXii stop working when the 600EX-RT came out? They do exactly what you were willing to part with those dollars when you decided to purchase them. There will always be a 2013 model automobile right after you purchased a 2012 model. It will cost more, have more features, but that doesn't make the 2012 obsolete. Buy what you need now, don't worry about whats on the horizon because if you wait to buy the 600EX-RT, you'll still be upset when the 620EX-RT replaces it ;)

I've got 40 580EXs, and they are still pulling their weight and are workhorses. When they start to die, I'll buy whatever its replacement is and not worry about it. It will probably be a 700EX-XI that will blow the 600EX-RT 's out of the water. I can wait, I'm still making money with the 580's and they have more than paid for themselves! ;)

Dude you have really bad timing. I got a full two years usage out of my 580EX IIs before upgrading to this new flash system. Unfortunately I didn't read the full reviews before purchasing and so I had no idea the new ST-E3-RT didn't have optical output. That was a stupid decision made by Canon. Why on earth would they take away features? I guess Canon figues radio triggering is the only way to go looking into the future.

500ft max range. This is MORE THAN ENOUGH FOLKS!!!

Time to pop those pocketwizards and Radio Poppers on ebay. This is going to lighten my bag and hassle time greatly.

Who cares if its $600 flash. Your equipment is deductable anyway and only pro's would be using such tools.

Does anyone have an idea yet if it is possible to use the wireless transmitter to contact this flash, and then have it act as master for 580s and 430s? Because that way, I could at least sometimes use my older flashes as part of a setup, even if I have to invest in a a transmitter and flash to have wireless at last. 

I'm really annoyed, though, that they build a transmitter now, but not a receiver. I'd rather invest in a couple of receivers (that understand E-TTL) for my existing flashes than having to spend all that money only to have just one flash to work with (or spend another boatload – no thanks). Not helping, Canon.

As the Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite Flash is still compatible with the optical wireless E-TTL II system, it (or the ST-E2, or the built-in master flash on compatible Canon DSLR cameras) can be used on the camera as a master transmitter to trigger off-camera 600EX-RT, 580EX/580EX II, or 430EX/430EX II flashes.  However, the master transmitter has to be ON THE CAMERA; you would not be able to use the setup you describe above to have the wireless transmitter contact the 600EX-RT for it to send a signal to other off-camera flashes.  The signal must come from the flash on-camera.  The ST-E3-RT only transmits radio information, therefore, it will not work with the optical system used by the 580EX and 430EX flashes.  You will have to still continue to use either the ST-E2, the 580EX/580EX II, the new 600EX-RT flashes, or the built-in commander mode on the Canon EOS T3i, 60D, or 7D cameras to trigger your flashes.  As these items have only recently been announced by Canon, we will have to simply see if Canon announces anything in the future to assist with compatibility.

My god i read all of this comments , about all of you  purchasing a vivtar 283 and using it in manual ,  and if money is no option ......

Then purchase a Quantum Trio  !!!!   or a beautifull Lumedyne head  with 400 watts power  all manual with their pack that is rock solid !!!! and I guarantee that you will never have problem with this one , no book to read .

and if money is not a options enjoy the new 600 exxxxx124337  just remember that 12 years ago we where spending just on lab fee the price of 600 EX77654321  just for  every wedding , men did you guys got really that spoiled.

If only the 5D Mark 3 and 1Dx have a built in RT controller, that would be the killer combo IMO!

The good thing is canon has used an international standard meaning I can buy the transmiter and 3 light cheeper when I'm in New York in the Autumn and sill add more when back in the UK without having to worry about compatability or leagal isues. Also works out cheeper than getting the 580EX II and Pocket Wizards I was looking at.

think simple . if the new 600 EX work  with the right way in full frame cameras ,because 580EX and 580exII in my eos1dsmarkIII  and 5dII   in most situations are 1stop down or 1and half . you can see the nikon's way for flash shooting . the radio slave is nice, but for every day use ,comes second to me.onlly in non full frame sensors the two 580 ex  work right.sorry about my bad engish...

One thing to note. There is no manual in the box and no manual to download from Canon's website for this flash. I guess Canon figures we should be able to guess our way through the controls.