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The Canon 600 EX-RT Review
canon-600-ex-rt-review

I’m not one

to get into technology debates. Maybe that’s because I never feel like I’ve mastered anything enough to add my two cents… even though most of the debates that I hear are between people that don’t ever shoot WEDDINGS! So here I am shooting every weekend and yet I don’t want to offer my opinion about certain lenses or flashes or ISO settings because I feel inferior. Umm, I need to get over that!! I’ve shot over 100 weddings and so I THINK I should be able to have an opinion on some things. When I first started, I just listened quietly ….I read reviews on equipment, I listened to people rave and complain and I tried to take note of how people

felt about certain lenses and camera bodies!  The more I listened, the more I realized that EVERYONE’S opinion basically comes down to personal preference.  Some LOVE Canon… some HATE Canon. Some LOVE primes lenses… some think primes are the root of all evil and have ruined the industry because everyone is trying to shoot AT 1.2!  Some photographers LOVE Pocket Wizards and some love Radio Poppers.  Some photographers believe that OFC (Off Camera Flash) is the professional way to shoot a reception… while others use bounce flash and never thought twice about an OFC system. Whew! Do you see what I mean? Everyone has their opinion and what I’m learning is that I’m ALLOWED to have an opinion as well… but I want to have an opinion that is backed up with EXPERIENCE. I bought the Canon 600 EX-RT’s this past spring and rather than reviewing them immediately, I decided to shoot the whole summer with them and see what I thought! Welp! , it’s officially fall and so I’m going to share my findings!!!

 

I used to use Pocket Wizards and I started with the Plus II’s.  Hated them. Now to be fair, I never REALLY learned everything about them and so I was easily frustrated with their inability to sync and STAY synced. They were also SO inconsistent. So I went to WPPI and decided to try Pocket Wizard’s Flex TT5.  This was a better option. No more cords dangling everywhere, it was an easier setup but it still wasn’t consistent. I left receptions annoyed and frustrated with my flash performance. Sure, they worked OK… but I NEVER knew when they were going to decide to fire! It was very unpredictable and instead of wanting to learn more about OCF…. I found myself hating it!  So THEN the Mark III came out and I invested in that… and let me tell you, it was a SMART investment!  Definitely a worthwhile upgrade! Soon after, I saw Canon announced the 600 EX-RT’s. This is Canon’s latest flash system that comes with BUILT IN transmitters. What?! So no more Pocket Wizards?! Is this real LIFE?!! So I read Melissa Jill’s review and I invested in them… two of them.

 

HALLELUJAH!!! Seriously, I’m in love.  Fires EVERY. TIME.  Here are some reasons why the Canon 600 EX-RT’s are amazing:

 

- Consistency, constant firing no matter the distance. I’ve NEVER had an issue with a 600 not firing (except when batteries were almost DEAD and I didn’t know it!). Even in a MASSIVE ballroom with people in between me and my flash, it’s still consistent. Some say that you HAVE to have a direct line of sight for them to fire and that’s just not true! I have images to prove it! I’ve shot detail shots with one 600 Ex-RT in another ROOM and it still fires just fine.

 

- EASY setup and syncing… we’re talking ONE button ya’ll!

 

- Less to carry around, no cords, no nothing! Just the flashes and one light stand.

 

- Easier to understand. For me, my ETTL and Manual settings on the flash are easier to understand than my 580′s. Maybe that’s just because I have a good attitude about my 600′s! 

 

- Easy on the batteries. I know some have experienced the 600′s eating up batteries but I have yet to have this issue. I shoot Manual on camera and ETTL off camera for the most part (for those that were wondering!).

 

- One negative aspect of the 600′s would be that there are some limitations with the 600′s and the Mark II’s. This is unfortunate and I realize Canon made a whoopsie here. 

 

 

Now, for those of you that are new to OFC or are wondering if it’s necessary, here are some reasons why I LOVE it:

1. It creates a GLOW!! I hate harsh lighting in natural light and so I REALLY hate harsh FLASH at receptions! OCF softens the room and adds a “Glowy” effect!

2. OCF makes my light source EVEN. Normally, in this next shot, the girls would be significantly darker without the OCF to the right of them. The OCF lit the girls while my on-camera lit the bride.

Same here with the cake!
3. OCF challenges me. I’m my opinion, it makes reception shooting more FUN because there are more possibilities!

4. OCF can make ANY situation look awesome! I’m thankful for beautiful venues but in the event that there wasn’t a beautiful venue, OCF could save the day!

5. OCF imitates the type of light I like to shoot in naturally!
6. Because OCF is shot from the side, it catches shadows and creates DEPTH in the image… instead of FLAT subjects from direct flash.
I hope this helps!! Enjoy a few more!!!

Comments (32)

Comments

  1. Julia Seiler: ( )

    Hey Katelyn!

    So everything you shoot is off camera flash? I agree with you in the fact that I dislike the look of flash but I only shoot on camera flash (always bounce it) because I’m not amazing at flash yet. I’ve shot a couple weddings and I use ettl mode and sometimes it gives me a great even, non-harsh flash and other times it doesn’t and I don’t like it

    Do you have any advice about using on camera flash that looks flattering every time?

    Thanks!

    - Julia

  2. admin: ( )

    Bouncing flash is always going to soften images! That’s a great place to start! I actually learned a lot of flash and flash power by shooting manually for a while. Sometimes ETTL isn’t consistent and I didn’t love my results and so I started controlling my flash manually and I learned a lot that way! So I would continue to bounce the flash but maybe try manual sometimes when you’re not getting what you want! :)

  3. Kellie Penn: ( )

    Do you have one 600 on camera and one off? Or do you have 2 600′s set up off camera? I have to invest in this set up soon!!!

    (Would LOVE it if you could demonstrate it at the P31 conference!!)

  4. Candice Holcomb: ( )

    This was so helpful!! I have been shooting for 12 years and have needed to upgrade my flash system for receptions but did not know the best route to go in. Thanks so much for this information!!!

  5. Jamie K!: ( )

    Katelyn!! Thank you SO much for posting this review. I appreciate your willingness to share. :) I’ve been debating what route I want to take with OCF and this helped me decide!

    Love and Laughter,
    Jamie K!

  6. Nick T: ( )

    Enjoyed the review Katelyn! Have you created a process yet as to when you check or change your batteries for your flashes? Thanks!

  7. admin: ( )

    @nick If i’m shooting a 4 hour reception I normally change them about two hours in! :) And I always start with them fully charged! :)

  8. Julia Seiler: ( )

    Thanks Katelyn! I will try that! Flash is definitely something I hate because oh how badly I’ve seen it used sometimes looking so artificial, but I really want to be a photographer, much like you, that can give me a reason to love flash!

  9. Anna K.: ( )

    Thanks for posting this Katelyn! I am constantly frustrated with OCF but I am slowly learning!

  10. Rebekah Hoyt: ( )

    Oh Katelyn, your reception images make me want to shoot with OCF at receptions but I’m still SCARED! I use it for detail shots, but for some reason I keep chickening out every wedding! Your reception images are just so stunning that I think I’m going to dive into the deep end and try it at my next reception!!

  11. Annetta: ( )

    Thanks for this post, Katelyn. I have thought about OFC for awhile now and know that in the future I should invest in this. This might be the way to go.

  12. Danielle: ( )

    thanks so much for the share! i am still in the SUPER beginner stages…. can you tell me more about the light stand you use too?

  13. amanda Manupella: ( )

    Katelyn,

    I’m shooting with pocket wizards and a b400OCF….what’s the limitations you talk about with the mkii and the 600′s? I’d love to hear more about this!

  14. Amanda Hedgepeth: ( )

    I LOVE THIS! Yes everyone is different about equipment and I totally agree, some hate the equipment I love and vice versa, but I know what works for me. Thanks to your thorough reviews, so many of us have been helped and pointed in the right direction. My reception lighting needs a HUGE change, and this is it! :)

  15. Tina: ( )

    Loved this post! Very helpful. Thanks!

  16. Laura Elizabeth: ( )

    Thanks so much for the review! I now have something else to add to my wishlist! :D

  17. rebekah j.: ( )

    such a great post! you’re the man. i’d love to know what you usually set your camera/flash settings at? <3!

  18. Tanya Odom: ( )

    Bought two after we communicated a couple of weeks ago. Shot a bar mitzvah 2 days after and loved them! So easy to control each of them together or independently. Looking forward to this weekend’s wedding and using them more! Thanks for your direction on them!

  19. Blythe: ( )

    SO HELPFUL!! I had an AWFUL experience with a rental flash this past weekend and am definitely looking for a new one to try! Thank you! :)

  20. janine sept: ( )

    I NEEDED THIS! Thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to post this!!! SUPER HELPFUL!

  21. Deborah Zoe: ( )

    Love it girl! Great, great, post!

  22. Abby Grace: ( )

    I just started incorporating OCF in my weddings after attending J&M’s WTAW in June- LIFE SAVER. Do you always shoot with an on-camera flash as well? I started with just the OCF and I’ve started realizing it’s not always enough, but do you always shoot with both flashes on?

  23. Raya: ( )

    Hi! Just a question, I have a 5dmk3, do I still need to get the st-e3 transmitter to control the 600ex? Thank you! :)

    Ps thanks for this post. Never heard canon released a new speedlight system until I read this post! :)

  24. Christy Tyler: ( )

    I jumped on buying these as well after reading Melissa Jill’s post about them last spring, and I have to say that I’ve been so bummed – because I didn’t know you needed the mark iii to use them to their full capabilities – and as such have stopped using them all together until I can upgrade my camera body. :( I need to be able to use one on ETTL and one on manual – like you do – and it won’t let me with my mark ii. Sad! :( I can’t wait to get the new camera though! Because the consistency you’re talking about in this post sounds amazing compared to my pocket wizards right now!!! Thanks for the post!!

  25. Eryn Kesler: ( )

    LOVE this post! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  26. Meghan Hochgesang: ( )

    a big question i’ve had about these is if you can turn off your on camera flash and just use the OCF? sometimes i like that look, when the moment’s right, but i can’t find info anywhere about them working together.

  27. A few weeks | Virginia Wedding Photographer | Katelyn James Photography: ( )

    [...] today’s post isn’t directed just towards the 600′s because that post was done HERE. Instead, this post is about the actually PLACEMENT of OCF and how to shoot with a second light [...]

  28. anna hedges: ( )

    seriously, this was so helpful. cant thank you enough.

  29. KEIFER: ( )

    Hi, Loved the article, but was wondering if you could answer a few questions… Do you use 1st or 2nd curtain sync? How many speedlites do you use and do you keep them positioned in the same place or do you move them around depending on what’s happening during the reception? Thanks!

  30. I remember | Virginia Wedding Photographer | Katelyn James Photography: ( )

    [...] I bought my Canon 600 Ex-RT flashes, I was so frustrated with my Pocket Wizards.  They made it so hard for me to learn because half [...]

  31. Bino espinoza: ( )

    These are VERY nice samples of your shots with the 600ex-rt’s. Thank you for the GREAT post! Was this really two units on stands on opposite sides of the room? I love the results, I wanna do something like this!!

  32. Evian: ( )

    Hi Katelyn! Thank you for sharing this post. I have my first wedding coming up and I am a little nervous about using OCF. Do you normally set your OCF up in one corner of the reception area and leave it there all night or do you move it throughout the reception? Do you use a soft box or umbrella at all or is it just the flash mounted on a stand? I am renting the OCF equipment for the wedding and I want to make sure I have everything. Thank you!!!

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