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I'm considering buying a flash for my Canon DSLR. I noticed the 600EX recently came out. What are the pros and cons of the new 600 flash versus the other two mentioned in the title?

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How you plan to use it will play a large role in determining the added value of the extra features you get in exchange for the higher price of the 600EX-RT over the 580EX II and 430EX II. What type of setup do you intend for the use of a flash? –  Michael Clark Mar 13 '13 at 18:33
By the way, nowadays there is also 600EX (without RT). See photo-tips-online.com/review/canon-600ex-vs-canon-580ex-ii and photo-tips-online.com/review/canon-speedlite-600ex-rt-vs-600ex –  Jukka Suomela May 10 '13 at 18:34

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Price vs Radio wireless, I have a 600EX-RT and I love it. The wireless radio is the big upgrade. It should support far more complex wireless flash operation, though currently it only works with more of the 600EX-RT flash units. (Presumably there will be more devices in the RT line down the road.)

I don't know if the flash bulb moves to adjust the guide number in the 480EX or not, but I believe it does in the 580EX. I know it does in the 600EX-RT which is a pretty nice feature. The menu system on the 600EX-RT is also very nice and will work very easily through the camera's menu system as well on newer cameras.

So main pros for the 600EX-RT that I notice are the newer design (backlit LCD screen with easy to use controls), wireless radio sync (no line of sight limitation/longer range/more control) and cons are higher price.

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Don't forget the ST-E3-RT transmitter/controller, which is basically the 600EX-RT without the actual flash part. It's (just about) a couple of hundred bucks cheaper than the flash unit itself, so if you want to do off-camera radio TTL and don't need flash from the camera position, it's a good alternative. (Note: you also need the 600EX-RT, of course; you just don't need two of them for a single-light off-camera setup.) –  user2719 Mar 13 '13 at 18:13
The 430EXII also uses "zoom" to adjust the angle of light to match the focal length of the lens. –  Michael Clark Mar 13 '13 at 18:30
@StanRogers - yes, thanks for mentioning the ST-E3-RT. I had been debating whether or not to mention that particular unit or not. –  AJ Henderson Mar 13 '13 at 19:22
I'm asking because online the 600 is actually cheaper than the 580EX (both in brand new conditions). –  Bob Mar 13 '13 at 21:18
@Bob - where are you looking? I see the 580 for ~$510 from a reliable retailer where as the 600 is $550 to $560. You may be comparing a grey market 600 to a local market 580. –  AJ Henderson Mar 13 '13 at 21:46

If you plan on taking advantage of the radio wireless TTL capabilities of the 600EX-RT, either now or in the future, you will either need another 600EX-RT or the ST-E3-RT to use as a transmitter. Some third party wireless triggers, such as those offered by Pocket Wizard, will also allow wireless TTL operation of Canon flashes including all three that you mentioned in your question. Each option adds considerable expense to the price of a single 600EX-RT.

If you plan on using the flash mounted on camera or connected by a hot shoe cable the 580EX-II or the 430EX-II offer more bang for the buck. The biggest difference between the 580EX-II and 430EX-II is the maximum flash power for each unit. The respective guide numbers for the 600EX-RT, 580EX-II, and 430EX-II in feet @ ISO 100 are 197, 190, and 141.

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