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Wireless radio comes to Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT, Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT  
Thursday, March 1, 2012 | by Rob Galbraith
Alongside the Canon EOS 5D Mark III comes a new Canon flash and flash transmitter. The standout feature of the Speedlite 600EX-RT and Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT is the ability to command and trigger remote 600EX-RTs with a wireless radio signal, thereby eliminating the misfires associated with optical signaling. Plus, the interface for adjusting the exposure mode and output for up to five groups of remote Speedlites is a dramatic improvement over all of Canon's earlier flash products.

Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT

Canon's new top-end flash is generally similar in overall appearance to the Speedlite 580EX II (which continues for the moment in Canon's Speedlite lineup), except for the back, which has a larger LCD and all-new control layout. The 600EX-RT is the first shoe-mount flash to incorporate 2.4GHz wireless radio transmitting and receiving of control and trigger signals. Its range is specified to be 98.4ft/30m, and a wireless configuration can be comprised of up to five groups of remote 600EX-RTs (15 flashes in all). There are also 15 wireless channels, and it's possible to set up all units on a given channel with a unique four-digit triggering code as well.

The 600EX-RT is powered by four AA batteries, has both a PC sync and high-voltage socket and its zoom head's coverage range is 20-200mm. The includes a flip down wide panel, slide out diffuser and comes with a gel filter holder and gels.

The 600EX-RT can operate in optical wireless mode too, for compatibility with existing optical-only Canon wireless Speedlites and Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2.

While it's generally compatible with all Canon EOS digital SLRs, as well as the EOS-1V and certain other film cameras, only the EOS 5D Mark III and EOS-1D X offer flash configuration menus specific to the new model (the 600EX-RT can be configured entirely on the flash itself also). More significantly, when using wireless radio mode with remote Speedlite 600EX-RTs, only the 5D Mark III and EOS-1D X are capable of High Speed Sync operation as well as regular syncing at or up to their native x-sync speed (1/200 for the former and 1/250 for the latter). All earlier compatible EOS cameras are limited to a maximum sync speed of 1/100 or 1/125. Plus, the original EOS-1D and EOS-1Ds, and various other older Canon film cameras, are capable of manual output control only.

These older-camera limitations are restricted to radio signaling, and only when a wireless off-camera configuration is in use.

Additionally, the new Speedlite can act as a remote camera trigger. With a 600EX-RT (or ST-E3-RT) in the shoe of a 5D Mark III or EOS-1D X, or connected to other EOS cameras that have an N3-type remote socket (with the aid of Speedlite Release Cable SR-N3), pressing a button on the back of the triggering 600EX-RT or ST-E3-RT will fire the remote camera, once, with minimal delay says Canon USA Technical Information Advisor Chuck Westfall.

The company has also announced the Speedlite 600EX, a version of the new flash without the radio transmission abilities (this flash may not be sold in all countries).

Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT

The radio-only (it has no optical mode) ST-E3-RT has the same five-group wireless features as the 600EX-RT, and a nearly identical (and really nice) top LCD interface for setting up the wireless groups. It's powered by two AAs.

Price and ship date

The Speedlite 600EX-RT and Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT are also scheduled for end of March 2012 availability at expected street prices of US$629.99 and US$470, respectively, in the U.S.

Detailed information on the 600EX-RT is here.
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  • Canon opts for low-tech but effective solution to EOS 5D Mark III metering error (May 2, 2012)
  • Canon updates EOS 5D Mark III metering error advisory (April 24, 2012)
  • Canon posts firmware v1.1.2 for Canon EOS 5D Mark III (April 24, 2012)
  • Canon releases DPP with EOS 5D Mark III RAW processing fix (April 17, 2012)
  • Canon EOS 5D Mark III shipments halted in Canada (April 16, 2012)
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  • Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM now expected in early July (April 12, 2012)
  • Canon EOS-1D X ship date slips to middle of June (April 12, 2012)
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