Thinking about Canon radio flashes

divamumdivamum Registered Users Posts: 9,021 Major grins
edited December 6, 2013 in Accessories
So, here's how it goes:

2009: STE2 + Canon flashes = great ETTL, but line of sight can sometimes be a pain.
2012: add Pixel King triggers = great ETTL that works beautifully with my Mk I flashes, but no ratios between flashes from camera menu; terrific for a one-light setup, but awkward for two-lights.
2013: add Pixel King Pro triggers = excellent ETTL feature set, ratios, groups, the works, but they only offer all features with Mk II flashes, and I really miss being able to control FEC from the camera menu (you have to change it via the trigger's LCD screen/buttons, regardless of flash model)

Am considering taking a very deep breath, selling everything I've got and getting (I can't believe I'm saying this) 2x 600rt and an ste3. A 3rd 600rt (or, if they FINALLY release it, a 400rt, which would be entirely sufficient for me) could be purchased in time. If they had 400rt models out now, I could save some money and skip the 600-series altogether, since I seldom need the extra light power/throw they offer.

Thoughts? Studio strobes simply aren't an option for me; my space is too small to use them, so speedlights serve me very well, in addition to being fully portable. Yes, I like ETTL. Of course I could just shoot manual, but I find that I am SO fast with in-camera FEC - and the results so good - that I'm reluctant to give it up, especially when an ETTL setup can always be switched to manual... but the opposite is not true.

Thoughts? Even selling everything I currently have (580ex, 430exII, 420ex, STE2, Pixel King trigger+2 receivers, King Pro+King X) I'll still need to drop some fairly serious bank on switching unlesss I hit an AMAZING January sale.................

Tech boffins, user reports... would love to hear from all of you :) :thumb

Comments

  • cmasoncmason Registered Users Posts: 2,506 Major grins
    edited December 4, 2013
    Ah hell, go for broke (literally). Sell it all, get a new rt compatible body, and two 600rts!
  • divamumdivamum Registered Users Posts: 9,021 Major grins
    edited December 4, 2013
    Will the radio function ONLY work on the newer bodies?? Even if using the STE3?????? If so, that's a dealbreaker. ne_nau.gif
  • mercphotomercphoto Registered Users Posts: 4,550 Major grins
    edited December 4, 2013
    The radio function works with any body when using the STE3. I found this out from my local photography store when I asked him about the new 70D with the 600RT flash. He said it works with the radio trigger accessory STE3. A 5D Mark III, of course, has the radio transceiver internal to the body itself.
    Bill Jurasz - Mercury Photography - Cedar Park, TX
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  • divamumdivamum Registered Users Posts: 9,021 Major grins
    edited December 4, 2013
    Actually, the 5d3 does NOT have a built-in trigger (just looked this up). It may have a more funtcional interface to control them from the camera body, but it doesn't have the hardware to do so.

    The 5d3 is in my future for sure, but not until the price comes down and/or I have a sudden influx of unexpected cash.... :D
  • ziggy53ziggy53 Super Moderators Posts: 23,715 moderator
    edited December 4, 2013
    A problem with the Canon ST-E3-RT is that it does not have an AF Assist light to help in low-light situations. I'm afraid that's a major problem for many social situations and event shooting.

    Neil van Niekerk agrees; "I do agree that the lack of AF-assist is a negative. I rely on it in low light."
    (Comment #12, http://neilvn.com/tangents/review-canon-st-e3-rt-transmitter-and-canon-600ex-rt-speedlite/)
    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • cmasoncmason Registered Users Posts: 2,506 Major grins
    edited December 4, 2013
    Hmm, looks like I sent you on a wild goose chase: it seems the 70D (Canon's newest) offers built in support for the OLD system, not the new radio system. Very odd. Of course, this means that any camera without a flash (looking at you 5DMk3) of course wont support the old system. WTF Canon?

    Anyway, here is an alternative:

    Get two 600rt, get rid of everything but one flash. This would allow you to have optical control of two off camera flashes (600rt supports both optical and radio control), or radio control of one off camera flash, at least until you stumble onto a big bag of cash.
  • ziggy53ziggy53 Super Moderators Posts: 23,715 moderator
    edited December 4, 2013
    I moved this to Accessories. Seems a better fit.
    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • kdogkdog Administrators Posts: 11,680 moderator
    edited December 4, 2013
    ziggy53 wrote: »
    A problem with the Canon ST-E3-RT is that it does not have an AF Assist light to help in low-light situations. I'm afraid that's a major problem for many social situations and event shooting.
    Do you typically wander around shooting at dark events with remote lights only? Seems to me that even with remote lights you're still going to want some on-camera fill when you're roaming around shooting. Maybe that's what Canon has in mind there. I usually use the ST-2 when I'm doing formals at events or in a studio. Both of those are environments where there's generally plenty enough light for focus.
  • divamumdivamum Registered Users Posts: 9,021 Major grins
    edited December 4, 2013
    Speaking for myself, 95% of my speedlight use is as studio flashes; as I mention above, their diminutive size makes them the only option for me, really. While the two-wedding-streak I've had this autumn means I will at least consider any others that come my way (and I'd consider seconding for sure), it's not my focus. Meaning that event work is a lower priority than portraiture. I've occasionally used the STE2 as a focus assist (eg during theatre shoots, althoug the red blinking bugs me almost as much as flash in that environment), but not often.

    Cmason, that's not a bad idea, actually. I don't really like having a big ole flash on my camera as a commander if I can avoid it (the 70-200 2.8 is is more than enough weight!!), but it would be an option, I suppose.

    Decisions, decisions. It's hardly urgent since I have gear I CAN use, but I would love to streamline it - one set of flashes, radio or line of sight as preferred, no extra bits and pieces to connect, lose, or break. Boom.

    (PS thanks for moving thread - oops on my part!)
  • JimKarczewskiJimKarczewski Registered Users Posts: 969 Major grins
    edited December 5, 2013
    ziggy53 wrote: »
    A problem with the Canon ST-E3-RT is that it does not have an AF Assist light to help in low-light situations. I'm afraid that's a major problem for many social situations and event shooting.

    Neil van Niekerk agrees; "I do agree that the lack of AF-assist is a negative. I rely on it in low light."
    (Comment #12, http://neilvn.com/tangents/review-canon-st-e3-rt-transmitter-and-canon-600ex-rt-speedlite/)

    However.. YoungNou has reverse engineered the Canon Radios and their transmitters and flashes will work with the existing Canon 600RT's.

    The benefit? The transmitter contains an AF Assist beam, something not found in the Canon transmitter.
  • ziggy53ziggy53 Super Moderators Posts: 23,715 moderator
    edited December 5, 2013
    kdog wrote: »
    Do you typically wander around shooting at dark events with remote lights only? Seems to me that even with remote lights you're still going to want some on-camera fill when you're roaming around shooting. Maybe that's what Canon has in mind there. I usually use the ST-2 when I'm doing formals at events or in a studio. Both of those are environments where there's generally plenty enough light for focus.

    For some events it's useful to have some shots with side lighting and/or balanced lighting. The remote flashes are set either in opposite corners or left-right corners and triggered wirelessly. Yes, it's highly beneficial to have a device with an AF-Assist light on-camera to improve AF speed and AF accuracy in that case and especially in low ambient light. (To be honest I just use an older radio set with a simple trigger, "pc" connector and manual output flash for those instances, along with an external, hot-shoe flash with an AF Assist light. That explains why I have neither the ST-E2 nor the ST-E3-RT in my lighting kit.)

    For formals I greatly prefer manually operated studio strobes, with simple radio slave triggers.

    Otherwise (again at an event), I just use an external, hot-shoe flash with an appropriate flash modifier (generally either a Demb Flip-it! or DIY scoop).

    If Canon intended the ST-E3-RT to replace the ST-E2, as their advertising might suggest, then Canon really should have included an AF Assist light.

    My comment was meant as a caution for those situations where it might apply and might be a purchase consideration.
    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • kdogkdog Administrators Posts: 11,680 moderator
    edited December 5, 2013
    ziggy53 wrote: »
    For formals I greatly prefer manually operated studio strobes, with simple radio slave triggers.

    Ziggy, I shoot formals in manual using the ST-2 and 580EXII's. The ST-3 will be great for this as you can adjust the power output in manual mode as well as the relative ratios.

    To me this is a huge win over using simple remote triggers as all those extra cables and parts are extra setup complexity and failure modes that I just don't need.

    I do agree it stinks that Canon dropped the assist beam on the ST-3. But I figure I'll just use an on-camera flash in the situations where I need it.
  • divamumdivamum Registered Users Posts: 9,021 Major grins
    edited December 5, 2013
    Great feedback, guys. The yongnuo option might be ok for add-ons, too .... if they ever release it. 'Course, their reliability record is iffy, but if they're cheap enough, it might be a partial solution to 3x flasheads.

    Frankly, I just keep hoping for a SMALLER one with the radio features. I don't need the huge output or weather sealing of the flagship flash, and it's both costly and heavy to consider. What to do, what to do..............

    Between flashes and my continued frustrations with standard zooms (why aren't any of them as good as the 70-200 II, huh???? I am now SO spoiled lol), I feel a gear shake-up coming on............. Heaven help my bank balance. rolleyes1.gif
  • divamumdivamum Registered Users Posts: 9,021 Major grins
    edited December 6, 2013
    Next question:

    Can you control FEC on these from the in-camera flash menu on a 7d and 5dII? I know the 5d3 lets you use ALL features, but I would want to make these work the way I do an STE2+flashes - that is, ratios on the trigger, but FEC via camera menu/thumb dial. Any users here? Anybody know? By all means link me to threads elsewhere if you know one or come across one...........
  • kdogkdog Administrators Posts: 11,680 moderator
    edited December 6, 2013
    divamum wrote: »
    Next question:

    Can you control FEC on these from the in-camera flash menu on a 7d and 5dII? I know the 5d3 lets you use ALL features, but I would want to make these work the way I do an STE2+flashes - that is, ratios on the trigger, but FEC via camera menu/thumb dial. Any users here? Anybody know? By all means link me to threads elsewhere if you know one or come across one...........
    Yep, you can do it. I just tested it on a 5DMKII with my new ST-3. However, you're better off adjusting FEC directly on the ST-3 itself. It's super easy. Punch the "+/-" button, and it displays the FEC scale and spin the thumbwheel whichever way you want to go. Much easier than messing with camera menus IMHO.
  • kdogkdog Administrators Posts: 11,680 moderator
    edited December 6, 2013
    Wow, just stumbled across this. Yongnuo says they're releasing a 600EX-RT compatible flash. http://flashhavoc.com/yongnuo-yn-e3-rt-released-yn-600ex-rt-coming/

    These would make good "extra" lights for backgrounds and lighting up function rooms. I'd probably stick with the Canons for formals though.
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