How Effective is the Wireless of the Canon 600EX-RT vs.?

Darter02Darter02 Major grinsMount Horeb, WIPosts: 946Registered Users Major grins
edited September 22, 2014 in Weddings
How Effective is the Wireless of the Canon 600EX-RT vs. the 580exII that are controlled by Pocketwizards?

When I use the PW MiniTT1, with an AC3 Controller mounted on my camera (5d MrkIII), which controls any number of flashes, all 580ex IIs triggered by FlexTT5s, I find my range is super limited. I know that's a known issue, there's a sock & adapter for all that...

I don't have time for dealing with mounting extra gear all the time. I think I need to learn more about this new model of flash. Does anyone here have practical experience actually using Pocketwizards, and then comparing them for the new flash?

I imagine this thread will be very short as PW is one of those brands you either love or hate...

For me it was the ability to update the firmware as needed. Now, I think it's time to look to see how I can get better, more reliable range.
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Comments

  • Darter02Darter02 Major grins Mount Horeb, WIPosts: 946Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 1, 2014
    BTW, the reason this is in the wedding forum is because I'd like to specifically hear from other wedding shooters.
  • jasonscottphotojasonscottphoto (I'm not Jason...) Posts: 697Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 1, 2014
    We had nothing but problems with the pocketwizards (flex tt5 with plusx receivers) plus 580ex ii combo. Constantly had to resync them, etc.

    Swapped them out for 600ex-rt's instead and everything runs smoothly.
    Posts by Allyson, the wife/assistant...

    Jason Scott Photography | Blog | FB | Twitter | Google+ | Tumblr | Instagram | YouTube
  • Darter02Darter02 Major grins Mount Horeb, WIPosts: 946Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 1, 2014
    Cool beans. I think I'll sell them off and buy the new flashes.

    How far away from the master does the wireless triggering of other flashes remain consistent?
  • Darter02Darter02 Major grins Mount Horeb, WIPosts: 946Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 1, 2014
    BTW, that is some really solid wedding work you have there on your site. How many shooters are in your pool, or is this all from one person?
  • kdogkdog artistically challenged San Jose, CAPosts: 11,506Administrators moderator
    edited September 1, 2014
    I've never owned Pocket Wizards, but I use the 600 EX-RT flashes for my event business. I'm up to four of them, plus an STE-3 controller. They are simply wonderful in their simplicity, especially given the amount of fine-grain control that they offer. Having no cables or extra gadgets is a huge win during the pressure of fast pace events. I've never tested their maximum distance, but I can tell you I regularly frame large groups at 70mm focal length without a hitch. Not sure how far that is, maybe 20' or further? Honestly, they get rave reviews everywhere. If you can afford them, you won't regret going with them.
  • jasonscottphotojasonscottphoto (I'm not Jason...) Posts: 697Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 1, 2014
    Darter02 wrote: »
    Cool beans. I think I'll sell them off and buy the new flashes.

    How far away from the master does the wireless triggering of other flashes remain consistent?

    Not sure, honestly. We use them mostly for family beach portraits, shooting w/70-200mm - master is usually hmmm... maybe 3-5 yards away from the slave? Not sure. We've never had a problem with it firing though.
    Posts by Allyson, the wife/assistant...

    Jason Scott Photography | Blog | FB | Twitter | Google+ | Tumblr | Instagram | YouTube
  • jasonscottphotojasonscottphoto (I'm not Jason...) Posts: 697Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 1, 2014
    Darter02 wrote: »
    BTW, that is some really solid wedding work you have there on your site. How many shooters are in your pool, or is this all from one person?

    Thanks :) Just us - my husband (Jason Scott) is the photographer and I (wife/assistant) take some photos occasionally.
    Posts by Allyson, the wife/assistant...

    Jason Scott Photography | Blog | FB | Twitter | Google+ | Tumblr | Instagram | YouTube
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaPosts: 14,434Super Moderators moderator
    edited September 1, 2014
    Canon states that the distance capability is 98.4 feet per B&H website.... -- http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/847537-REG/Canon_5296B002_Speedlite_600EX.html

    And the Canon USA website says the same 98.4 feet on 2.4 GHz - http://shop.usa.canon.com/shop/en/catalog/lens-specials-168257-1/speedlite-flashes/speedlite-600ex-rt
    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • Darter02Darter02 Major grins Mount Horeb, WIPosts: 946Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 2, 2014
    Here's another question.

    When I shoot a wedding I have two cameras on me, both hung on a Blackrapid double strap. Each one has a MinniTT1. Both are set to the same channel, and fire the same set of flashes.

    Can you have two of those Canon ST-E3-RT Speedlite Transmitters doing the same thing, both firing the same set of flashes?
  • kdogkdog artistically challenged San Jose, CAPosts: 11,506Administrators moderator
    edited September 2, 2014
    From my experience, you can only have one master at a time. You need to shut the other one off or it will get confused.
  • trooperstroopers Major grins Posts: 317Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 2, 2014
    Nikon shooter here...FWIW, I've never had issues with my TT5's, TT1 and AC3 (multiples of everything).
  • Darter02Darter02 Major grins Mount Horeb, WIPosts: 946Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 2, 2014
    troopers wrote: »
    Nikon shooter here...FWIW, I've never had issues with my TT5's, TT1 and AC3 (multiples of everything).

    Yeah, it's a problem that is very brand specific. They have to include a "sock" with a special adapter that is supposed to combat the issue. The only problem I have with it is not only does it add anther couple of steps to the set up, the adapter often makes the flash head sit too high for it to fire through speedrings, and if you need to access the flash controls manually you have to pull the "sock" down. P.I.A.

    I'm very sure I'm going to sell all my PW stuff, and a few of the 580ex IIs and then buy into the new flash system.
  • trooperstroopers Major grins Posts: 317Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 2, 2014
    ^ that's odd...I don't think I have ever noticed the "sock" before.
  • Darter02Darter02 Major grins Mount Horeb, WIPosts: 946Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 2, 2014
    OK, this may sound crazy but I've know of folks throwing it out without ever even seeing it. It's a black tube of material that blocks out radio frequencies. They shipped in your FlexxTT5 box, usually rolled up tight, and then tucked inside the bottom of the vacuum formed plastic that holds the radio in place. I couldn't find mine at first, and knowing it was supposed to be in the package I was just about to contact B&H when my kid knocked the box on the floor, spilling out the packaging. That's when I found it.
  • Darter02Darter02 Major grins Mount Horeb, WIPosts: 946Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 2, 2014
    Here's a link. Pocketwizard AC5

    I hate using them. Until I swap systems I guess I've no choice...
  • trooperstroopers Major grins Posts: 317Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 2, 2014
    I don't think the sock is included in the box for Nikons. I've never seen the sock in use with a Canon speedlite though.

    If the sock was required with Nikons, I hate them too and switch systems...I'm with ya!
  • Darter02Darter02 Major grins Mount Horeb, WIPosts: 946Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 2, 2014
    So about those using the new Canon flashes. I've been reading the reviews, checking out the gear. I'm planning on also reading the manual with my morning coffee tomorrow. That said, I appreciate any input about these tools.

    The most important thing to me is being able to control two or three heads mounted off camera. In a dark room there are times I forgo my current off camera set up, using the Pocketwizards, and just use a flash mounted on a Newton bracket. I do this so I can get the autofocus assist-beam because without it I can't always get the focus I need.

    Now, as I understand it, you can use either a dedicated radio ST-E3-RT transmitter, or use an actual flash. If I used a third, or fourth flash mounted on the camera, set to control the other using wireless radio, and to only emit the assist-beam but no flash, will it work?
  • jasonscottphotojasonscottphoto (I'm not Jason...) Posts: 697Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 3, 2014
    Not sure. We use one on the camera and one or two off camera. No transmitter, just the flash on the camera.
    Posts by Allyson, the wife/assistant...

    Jason Scott Photography | Blog | FB | Twitter | Google+ | Tumblr | Instagram | YouTube
  • kdogkdog artistically challenged San Jose, CAPosts: 11,506Administrators moderator
    edited September 3, 2014
    Darter02 wrote: »
    If I used a third, or fourth flash mounted on the camera, set to control the other using wireless radio, and to only emit the assist-beam but no flash, will it work?
    Yes, that is an intended use. You can switch the on-camera flash tube off completely and just use it for the AF assist-beam and radio control of the remote flashes.
  • Darter02Darter02 Major grins Mount Horeb, WIPosts: 946Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 3, 2014
    Cool beans. I'm sold. It'll be my next investment.

    Anyone want to buy a couple of 580s and some Pocketwizard stuff?? Laughing.gif
  • Matthew SavilleMatthew Saville Wedding Photographer Southern CaliforniaPosts: 3,352Registered Users, Retired Mod Major grins
    edited September 3, 2014
    We had nothing but problems with the pocketwizards (flex tt5 with plusx receivers) plus 580ex ii combo. Constantly had to resync them, etc.

    Swapped them out for 600ex-rt's instead and everything runs smoothly.

    Ditto. PW Flex / TTL was complete crap, nothing but problems, I loved Radio Poppers much more. Now that the 600EX is here, though there's really no reason to use anything else.

    You might also try the Phottix Odin or Mitrios or Neewer (sp?) or whatever models, they're basically knock-offs of the 600EX and if you don't abuse your gear that much, they might last. But either way, yeah the 600EX is awesome.

    =Matt=
    My first thought is always of light.” – Galen Rowell
    My SmugMug PortfolioMy Astro-Landscape Photo BlogDgrin Weddings Forum
  • kdogkdog artistically challenged San Jose, CAPosts: 11,506Administrators moderator
    edited September 4, 2014
    The downside the 600EX-RT system for me is no interoperability with non-Canon flashes, like my Alien Bees for example. Someone could make a lot of money (from me anyway) by inventing a 600EX-RT compatible receiver that could control monolights seamlessly with Canon flashes. Man, that would be a hell of a system. deal.gif
  • Darter02Darter02 Major grins Mount Horeb, WIPosts: 946Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 4, 2014
    So, since we're talking about flashes, what're some folks experiences with battery packs vs. rechargeable AAs? Right I know I have two power sources.

    For most day to day, and some wedding stuff, I have those Sanyo Enloops. So far I like them, but I if try to horse them a little too much they tend to get real hot. That's in addition to also loosing recycling time. Out of the two problems, the hot batteries get's my attention. They've made me jump when the only place I had to put them during a quick change was my front pocket.eek7.gif

    For my heavies, and I mean that literally, I use two Quantum Instrument QB1s. They hold a lot of juice, and their rugged, but they're far too bulky. I like to move fast while covering a wedding. When I use them I also have to wear my Lowepro harness and belt to balance out the weight. They also use honking big power cables. Lately, I've been using them less and less, only as power for pole mounted flashes.

    Any real world, hands on, any brand of flash experience with a miracle power sources out there I've not hear of yet? Super light, lots of juice, quick recycle, and easy to mount?
  • kdogkdog artistically challenged San Jose, CAPosts: 11,506Administrators moderator
    edited September 5, 2014
    Wow, lead acid is still around? eek7.gif

    I'm not in your league, so take this with a grain of salt. For outdoor formals, I've been shooting mostly with an Alien Bee 800 with a collapsible shoot-through umbrella powered by Vagabond Mini, all mounted to a stand that I can haul around with one hand. The Vagabond is Li-ion and is light and compact. I use cheap RF603 triggers which have served me well. I forgot my Alien Bee the other day and ditched the Vagabond and used two 600EX-RT flashes cobbled up to the one stand instead along with my ST-3 on the camera and this worked great too.

    I use the newer Eneloop 2400 mAh batteries in my flashes. I own two external battery packs as well but don't use them any more. I usually just set my remote flashes about a stop over ambient at receptions and use high ISO and my batteries last all night. Not sure I need anything else. ne_nau.gif
  • Matthew SavilleMatthew Saville Wedding Photographer Southern CaliforniaPosts: 3,352Registered Users, Retired Mod Major grins
    edited September 5, 2014
    Darter02 wrote: »
    So, since we're talking about flashes, what're some folks experiences with battery packs vs. rechargeable AAs? Right I know I have two power sources.

    For most day to day, and some wedding stuff, I have those Sanyo Enloops. So far I like them, but I if try to horse them a little too much they tend to get real hot. That's in addition to also loosing recycling time. Out of the two problems, the hot batteries get's my attention. They've made me jump when the only place I had to put them during a quick change was my front pocket.eek7.gif
    I'm a huge fan of Eneloops. I also have had great success the past two seasons using a different brand of Eneloop-style (low self-discharge) batteries called Tenergy, they're working great as well.

    Simply put, in my opinion, if you're blasting your flashes so much that the batteries are getting burning hot, then you either aren't doing it right, or you just need to double down on your flashes.

    First and foremost, I avoid trying to balance out bright sun. Even when I shoot in noon-day sun, I have subjects face away from the sun, and attempt to have a slightly shaded background, so that I don't have to pop at more than 1/4 or 1/2 power on my old Nikon SB80's.

    Or if I have to blast at 1/1 power, I simply shoot family formals a little more carefully and methodically.

    In candid situations, especially indoors with high ceilings, once again IMO if you're blasting your flashes to be red-hot, you're doing something wrong. If the ceiling is so high that you have to hit 1/1 power or 1/2 power to illuminate a scene, then get a bigger bounce card, or raise your ISO, or grab a faster prime, or whatever. Personally I very, very rarely find myself in instances where I need to shoot 1/2 or 1/1 power indoors, and again, if I do I simply make my shots count. Usually, I go an entire reception with my camera at ISO 3200, my lenses wide open at 1.4 or 2.8, and whatever shutter speed gives me the right amount of ambient light. This, combined with 2-4 off-camera flashes at 1/64, 1/32, or sometimes 1/16 power and then an on-camera flash either in TTL or 1/8 or 1/4 power, ...and my shots are consistently nicely exposed. If the ceiling is high, or painted flat black Laughing.gif, I just slap on my fong-dong or bounce card.

    To see the kinds of results I and my studio get / gets, without overheating flashes, check out: http://www.linandjirsablog.com/
    Darter02 wrote: »
    For my heavies, and I mean that literally, I use two Quantum Instrument QB1s. They hold a lot of juice, and their rugged, but they're far too bulky. I like to move fast while covering a wedding. When I use them I also have to wear my Lowepro harness and belt to balance out the weight. They also use honking big power cables. Lately, I've been using them less and less, only as power for pole mounted flashes.

    Any real world, hands on, any brand of flash experience with a miracle power sources out there I've not hear of yet? Super light, lots of juice, quick recycle, and easy to mount?

    Some of the folks at my studio who like to keep their ISO's a little lower, or who like to lay on their shutter a bit more than I do, will use camera-mounted quantum battery packs. Personally, I dislike these as they add a huge amount of bulk for my arms / shoulders / neck to bear, and I also have heard horror stories about battery packs "over-clocking" your flash and burning out the bulb. I suppose though if you have a backup flash ready, and if you just consider it a business expense to burn out bulbs a little sooner than most, you're welcome to knock yourself out with that. Personally, I try and avoid relying too heavily on my on-camera flash in the first place. For first dances, toasts, and general moments like that I try very hard to position a direct wireless flash. And even from across a huge reception hall, at 1/32 or 1/16 power, I can get great exposures using the apertures and ISO's I mentioned.

    Good luck, and hope this helps!
    =Matt=
    My first thought is always of light.” – Galen Rowell
    My SmugMug PortfolioMy Astro-Landscape Photo BlogDgrin Weddings Forum
  • jasonscottphotojasonscottphoto (I'm not Jason...) Posts: 697Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 5, 2014
    Darter02 wrote: »
    So, since we're talking about flashes, what're some folks experiences with battery packs vs. rechargeable AAs? Right I know I have two power sources.

    For most day to day, and some wedding stuff, I have those Sanyo Enloops. So far I like them, but I if try to horse them a little too much they tend to get real hot. That's in addition to also loosing recycling time. Out of the two problems, the hot batteries get's my attention. They've made me jump when the only place I had to put them during a quick change was my front pocket.eek7.gif

    For my heavies, and I mean that literally, I use two Quantum Instrument QB1s. They hold a lot of juice, and their rugged, but they're far too bulky. I like to move fast while covering a wedding. When I use them I also have to wear my Lowepro harness and belt to balance out the weight. They also use honking big power cables. Lately, I've been using them less and less, only as power for pole mounted flashes.

    Any real world, hands on, any brand of flash experience with a miracle power sources out there I've not hear of yet? Super light, lots of juice, quick recycle, and easy to mount?

    We were using the CP-E4 battery packs http://amzn.to/1vW0eJZ Sooooo crappy - the little plastic parts that hold the batteries in snapped off over time and the batteries wouldn't stay in. Plus we were going through tons of AA batteries. (Tried using rechargeables a long time ago but had reliability issues)

    Now we're using Godox power packs http://amzn.to/1uCSo4n which hold a charge for a long, long time. Haven't tried them at a wedding yet to see how heavy they are to carry around for an extended time, though. They have belt clips, so that will help. They also come with shoulder straps.

    We bought one that powers one flash and one that can power two simultaneously - will use the double one at weddings to power two flashes (two cameras on a blackrapid double strap). For family portraits right now we're hanging one off the light stand (off camera flash) and one off the tripod (on camera flash).

    No more waiting for the flashes to cycle. We were running into issues at the end of a beach portrait session (AA batteries were starting to get low and we have to use high flash power at certain points in a beach portrait session depending on if we are shooting towards the sunset or not) but not any more.
    Posts by Allyson, the wife/assistant...

    Jason Scott Photography | Blog | FB | Twitter | Google+ | Tumblr | Instagram | YouTube
  • Darter02Darter02 Major grins Mount Horeb, WIPosts: 946Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 5, 2014
    Simply put, in my opinion, if you're blasting your flashes so much that the batteries are getting burning hot, then you either aren't doing it right, or you just need to double down on your flashes.


    I guess I should have been specific, the hot batteries only happen during a particular part of the night. As the day progresses my shooting style/gear change. If a couple keeps me all night, and the dancing gets SUPER hot, I'll basically turn into a strobe light at times, blending in with the DJ's light effects. People forget I'm there it seems. It can result in some interesting shots...

    Here's one the bride will never see. Laughing.gif

    i-vB4Jqcm-L.jpg
  • Darter02Darter02 Major grins Mount Horeb, WIPosts: 946Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 5, 2014
    Now we're using Godox power packs http://amzn.to/1uCSo4n which hold a charge for a long, long time. Haven't tried them at a wedding yet to see how heavy they are to carry around for an extended time, though. They have belt clips, so that will help. They also come with shoulder straps.

    I'll check them out. One one of the reasons I went with my Quantums is because they also have a circuit breaker. If I over use them by trying to take too many shots, too quickly they actually turn off. I have to plug them to get them to activate again. Do those have breakers as well?
  • Matthew SavilleMatthew Saville Wedding Photographer Southern CaliforniaPosts: 3,352Registered Users, Retired Mod Major grins
    edited September 5, 2014
    Darter02 wrote: »
    I guess I should have been specific, the hot batteries only happen during a particular part of the night. As the day progresses my shooting style/gear change. If a couple keeps me all night, and the dancing gets SUPER hot, I'll basically turn into a strobe light at times, blending in with the DJ's light effects. People forget I'm there it seems. It can result in some interesting shots...

    Here's one the bride will never see. Laughing.gif

    i-vB4Jqcm-L.jpg

    So, which time of day are you finding that you risk overheating your flashes / batteries? Broad daylight, or on the dance floor?

    A photo like that, on the dance floor, looks like it could be taken with all flashes, on-camera and wireless, no higher than 1/16 or 1/8 power, if you set your camera settings right and point your flashes in the right direction. Here's what I go for when I start playing around in those environments... http://www.slrlounge.com/dance-floor-motion-blur-how-we-shot-it/

    I hope this helps you get to the bottom of any issues, so that you can potentially lighten your load while still achieving exactly the style you wish!

    =Matt=
    My first thought is always of light.” – Galen Rowell
    My SmugMug PortfolioMy Astro-Landscape Photo BlogDgrin Weddings Forum
  • jasonscottphotojasonscottphoto (I'm not Jason...) Posts: 697Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 7, 2014
    Darter02 wrote: »
    I'll check them out. One one of the reasons I went with my Quantums is because they also have a circuit breaker. If I over use them by trying to take too many shots, too quickly they actually turn off. I have to plug them to get them to activate again. Do those have breakers as well?

    I don't think they do. I could be wrong though.

    My husband just wrote a blog post about the pocket wizards :)

    http://www.jasonscottphotoblog.com/2014/09/jason-talks-gear-why-i-stopped-using.html

    (Actually, he wrote it a while ago but it just got posted a couple days ago)
    Posts by Allyson, the wife/assistant...

    Jason Scott Photography | Blog | FB | Twitter | Google+ | Tumblr | Instagram | YouTube
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