Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Canon 600EX-RT Wireless Real World Test

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no Joe McNally or Syl Arena, so when my second Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT flash arrived from B&H today, I did what I think most of my readers would do – I asked my wife to walk outside with me (with no explanation so should couldn’t say no <g>), and I took her to a spot where I asked her to take a photo of me. I set the camera up and ran to the other end of the block and yelled “okay honey, shoot.” Again. Again. Again. Again. Again. <g>

I’m standing at 115 feet (35 meters) which was the farthest I could go to get a reliable flash
My 24-105mm lens was zoomed to 105mm so this was a decent range

Unbeknownst to my lovely wife what I was really doing was a quick distance check with the radio wireless range of the new Canon 600EX-RT flash system. I had one mounted to 5D Mark III (with the 24-105mm lens zoomed out to 105mm) as the master and the other in my hand as a slave for a very unscientific, but practical real world sanity check.

My test shots outdoors were taken during a light on and off drizzle near sunset (7:00 PM Pacific). What I discovered is that I could reliably get the flash to fire at a straight-line distance up to 115 feet, and a maximum of 125 feet. Now I’m not sure how much that lamp post was interfering or how the rainy day may have impacted things, but overall I thought this was reasonable for my needs. It was shorter than I expected though, so I was a little disappointed. I’ll try again with a new set of batteries (these batteries were 1 year old Enloops that had been fully charged the night before), but I’m not expecting something drastically better here. I may try a park to see if it helps to have less interference.

Around the house

With the obstructed flash in the downstairs living room I went as far as I could go upstairs
and fired the flash – worked 100% reliably and ETTL was bang on

Inside I just tossed the flash in the formal living room in the center of the room then went upstairs as far away as I could. I fired and it worked flawlessly – repeatedly. In fact, I found that the ETTL behaved better than the Pocket Wizard MiniTT1/FlexTT5 system I reviewed. The shots above and below are the same room just from different angles upstairs where I was shooting. Try as I may, I could never trip it up.

The formal dining room (aka the playroom) next to the dining room was well lit too

The Closed Door Test

Solid doors – no problem

I figured if that worked well then I should see what it did behind closed doors, so I tried both the french doors and solid doors – again it was spot on every time.

French doors – ha, ha, ha – don’t insult me says the 600EX-RT!


I had to go back to being dad and spend time with the family, so I didn’t do as much testing as I would like. However, I learned what I wanted to know – the wireless system works pretty darn well. No shields or any fancy stuff was needed – this is a straight out of the box test so you should easily be able to mimic my results in your environment.

These flashes are also growing on me too as they are very well built and everything is integrated, so durability and weather resistance are a given. In fact, I was testing in the rain today with a 5D Mark III and everything worked fine – no leaks or malfunctions.

At this point I’m giving these flash a highly recommend rating with the only gripes I have are the obscene price and the lack of gels included with the adapter. For those coming from Nikon, these are basically like SB-910’s with wireless radio triggers built in, so they are pure goodness.

Order your Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT flash from B&H today!

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I was provided units to review from B&H that I returned when I was done. I may get a commission if you make a purchase using the links in this article.

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