Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT: (r)evolution in portable flash industry

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Mar 03 2012
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Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT Flash

The just announced Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT has been long awaited by Canon photographers around the globe. With its new flagship flash gun, Canon has made a revolutionary move towards built-in wireless radio technology. None of the direct competitors offers such a technology yet.

Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT: front view Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT: back view, controls

The only company that offers similar technology is Quantum, which sells Qflash TRIO flashes that can control remote Qflash units with radio signals. The Quantum flashes, however, are more expensive, larger, and powered only by external battery packs. While they can be a great alternative to flashes made by Canon, it is probably fair to say that they are in a different league.

Besides the radio triggering technology, Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT brings the number of other significant improvements over its predecessor Speedlite 580EX II:

  • Much more intuitive user interface and controls (thanks to the new dot-matrix LCD)
  • Extended zoom coverage of both ends: 20-200mm
  • Improved weather (dust and water) resistance
  • Redesigned flash contacts for flawless communication
  • Improved flash head durability
  • 5 wireless groups and 15 channels
  • 61-point compatible AF-assist beam
  • Additional custom and personal functions
  • Included gel holder for color correction and special effects

Like the model name suggests, the Guide Number of Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT is 60. However, the flash does not offer more power. The Guide Number of 60 is listed for 200mm flash zoom. At 105mm, the Guide Number is 58, which matches the Guide Number of 580EX II.

Even though we called the introduction of 600EX-RT a revolution, it was quite obvious to many people that radio triggering would eventually become a standard feature for hot-shoe flashes. So, Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT can be perceived as a logical step in the evolution of technology. Either way, the new flash unit is a game changer in the industry. It is soon likely to affect the third-party flash market, as well as the market of radio triggers.

Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT is currently priced at 629 USD, which is quite a bit more than Speedlite 580EX II sells for, but it is still less than Quantum flashes. While there seems to be no official word yet about the non-radio version of the new flash, Canon Europe has Canon Speedlite 600EX (non-radio) listed on their web-site. Hopefully, the news about this flash and its pricing will follow shortly.

For information please refer to Canon USA.

If you have any questions or comments, please post them below.