Hands-On Review: Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT

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Canon’s recently introduced Speedlite 600EX-RT is the newest flagship flash unit and the successor to the popular 580EX II. This speedlight supports E-TTL II metering for an accurate, controllable flash and has a powerful zoom head that covers 20-200mm focal lengths with a guide number of 197’ (60 m) at ISO100.

This high level of output is further enhanced by the newly introduced wireless multiple flash system, which allows you to wirelessly control up to 5 groups with a total of 15 individual Speedlites. The two-way radio communication is effective for up to 98.4’ and works well even in indirect, non-visible situations where a traditional optical transmitter would falter. Among other notable improvements, the 600EX-RT is also compatible with Canon’s 61-point reticular AF system (in conjunction with the 5D Mark III and 1D X). In regard to the design, a reworked hot shoe contact construction and improved flash head durability, on par with newly introduced DSLR construction, have made this a much more rugged device than its predecessors. An integrated dot-matrix LCD has also been integrated into the design and significantly improves the efficiency and control one has over the flash. Further ease of use is aided by 18 different custom functions and 7 personal functions, allowing you to configure the flash to perfectly suit your own workflow.

Flash Type On-camera E-TTL II/E-TTL/TTL autoflash Speedlite
Compatible Cameras EOS DSLR
Guide Number Approx. 197' (60 m) at 200mm flash coverage, ISO 100
Flash Coverage 20 - 200mm (14mm with wide panel)
Bounce 90° right, 7° down, 180° left/right
Flash Time Normal: 1.8 ms or less
Quick Flash: 2.3 ms or less
Color Temp. Info Transmission Color temp. info transmitted to camera when fired
Color Filter Can be used
Exposure Control System E-TTL II/E-TTL/TTL autoflash, auto/manual external flash metering, manual flash, stroboscopic flash
Effective Flash Range Normal: 1.6 - 98.4’ (0.5 - 30 m)
Quick Flash Min.: 1.6 - 39.4’ (0.5 - 12 m)
Quick Flash Max.: 1.6 - 68.9’ (0.5 - 21 m)
High-Speed Sync: 1.6 - 49.2’ (0.5 - 15 m)
Flash Exposure Compensation +/- 3 EV in 1/3 or 1/2 steps
High-Speed Sync Provided (only cameras made since 2012 support wireless radio)
Manual Flash 1/128 - 1/1 power (1/3 steps)
Stroboscopic Flash 1 - 500 Hz
Flash Exposure Confirmation With lamp lights
Modeling Flash Fired with camera's depth-of-field preview button
Recycling Time Normal: Approx. 0.1 - 5.5 sec.
Quick Flash: Approx. 0.1 - 3.3 sec.
Flash-Ready Lamp Display Red: Normal
Green: Quick Flash
Compatible AF System 1 - 61 AF points (28mm or longer focal length)
Effective AF Beam Range Center: 2 - 32.8’ (0.6 - 10 m)
Periphery: 2 - 16.4’ (0.6 - 5 m)
Radio Transmission Frequency 2405 - 2475 MHz
Modualtion System Primary: OQPSK
Secondary: DS-SS
Radio Wireless Settings Master/slave
Radio Channels Auto, 1 - 15
Wireless Radio ID 0000 - 9999
Radio Slave Unit Control Up to 5 groups (A / B / C / D / E), 15 units
Radio Transmission Distance Approx. 98.4' (30 m)
Radio Flash Ratio Control 1:8 - 1:1 - 8:1, power 1/2 steps
Linked Shooting Provided
Optical Connection Method Optical pulse
Optical Wireless Settings Master/slave
Optical Channels 1 - 4
Optical Slave Unit Control Up to 3 groups (A / B / C)
Optical Transmission Distance Indoors: 2.3 - 49.2’ (0.7 - 15 m)
Outdoors: 2.3 - 32.8’ (0.7 - 10 m) at the front
(+/- 40° horizontally and +/-30° vertically, facing master unit)
Optical Flash Ratio Control 1:8 - 1:1 - 8:1, power 1/2 steps
Custom Functions 18
Personal Functions 7
Power Source 4x AA / LR6 alkaline, Ni-MH, or lithium batteries
Battery Life Approx. 100 - 700 flashes (with alkaline batteries)
Radio Transmission Wireless Shooting Time Approx. 9 continuous hours
Optical Transmission Wireless Shooting Time Approx. 1,500 times
Power Saving Power off after 90 sec. idle time (60 min. as slave unit, 5 min. linked shooting)
External Power Optional CP-E4 battery pack
Dimensions 3.1 x 5.6 x 4.9" (8.0 x 14.3 x 12.5 cm)
Weight 15 oz (425 g)

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