Summary: Canon Speedlite 600EX vs. Canon Speedlite 580EX II

Found in: ReviewsSpeedlightsCanon
Aug 14 2012
Buy from
Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT Flash
Canon Speedlite 580EX II Flash

The new Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT gains more and more popularity among photographers word wide. It offers a lot of improvements over its predecessor, but it also priced higher. In this post, we summarize all the differences between Speedlite 600EX-RT and Speedlite 580EX II in a form of a compact list. For in-depth comparison, please refer to our full Canon Speedlite 600EX vs. Canon Speedlite 580EX II comparison review.

Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT advantages (not related to radio capabilities):

  • Improved flash head durability and weather resistance
  • Extended zoom range: 20mm - 200mm (compared to 24mm - 105mm)
  • Dedicated wireless mode switch
  • Redesigned hot shoe contacts
  • Better menus and controls
  • 30% larger dot-matrix LCD with a selection of green and orange backlight colors
  • Overheating indicator (LCD turns red)
  • Backlit buttons
  • Ability to lock controls to prevent accidental change of the settings
  • Compatibility with the 61-point auto-focus of Canon EOS 1D X and EOS 5D Mark III
  • Improved custom and personal functions
  • Comes with a filter holder for color correction and artistic effects

Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT advantages (specific to radio capabilities):

  • Extended wireless triggering range: up to 100 feet (30 m)
  • No line-of-sight limitations (flashes do not have to "see" each other)
  • "Unlimited" number of channels: 15 channels x 10,000 Radio IDs
  • Two-way communication between slaves and the master
  • Two additional wireless groups: D and E (available only with the latest cameras like EOS 5D Mark III and EOS 1D X)
  • Each wireless group can be controlled independently
  • Up to 500Hz frequency in Stroboscopic mode (compared to 199Hz)
  • Two 600EX-RT units can trigger a camera remotely
  • Linked Shooting mode (multiple cameras can be triggered at the same time by a button on a flash)

Canon Speedlite 580EX II advantages:

It is really hard to think of a reason why you would choose 580EX II over 600EX-RT unless if you can find the older flash cheap (especially if you already own advanced radio triggers like Pocket Wizard FlexTT5 and MiniTT1). Also, it seems like some users noticed that Speedlite 600EX-RT drains the batteries a bit faster than 580EX II, but the difference does not look like something to be concerned about.

Other notes:

  • 600EX-RT and 580EX II are equally powerful (when you compare the Guide Numbers at identical zoom levels)
  • Radio and optical wireless triggering functions cannot be mixed together
  • With Speedlite 600EX-RT, older camera bodies may not work in high-speed sync mode and may only reach the half of their sync speed in the radio triggering mode
Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT: front view Canon Speedlite 580EX II: front view
Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT: back view, green backlight Canon Speedlite 580EX II: back view

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