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New here: just a question regarding flash setup.

I just bought a Yongnuo YN600EX-RT flash. I would like to have a two off-camera flash setup. So my question is, should I just go ahead and buy two more 600EX-RT flashes, and use one on camera as master and two as slaves, or should I buy one more flash and a YN-E3-RT trigger?

Is there any advantage to the trigger setup over an all-flash setup? Since there is only a $50 difference between the trigger and flash, I am leaning towards the three-flash setup. Will I lose some functionality if I go that route?

  • Guys thanks a lot for your answers. It really helped me a lot. My thought process to get three flashes to have the third extra flash on the camera for the situations where I cant use off camera flash. I.E events photography. So my follow up question is that if 600 rt can be used as pure radio trigger? I mean, can you use it on the camera as master to trigger the slaves only by radio signal? – Jazz Khan Jan 15 '16 at 1:52
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Is there any advantage to the trigger setup over an all-flash setup?

  • price: The E3-RT costs somewhat less than the 600EX-RT as it's basically the same device without the flash tube, electronics (big capacitors and such) that make the flash tube fire, and half the housing.

  • size and weight: While you're shooting, it's nice to have a smaller, lighter device on your hot shoe. Before and after shooting, an E3-RT takes up a lot less space in your camera bag than a full 600EX-RT does. The E3-RT only needs 2 AA batteries compared to 4 for the 600EX-RT, which saves a bit more in terms of extra batteries to carry.

  • orientation: The E3-RT is oriented horizontally so that you look down on it, compared to the vertical back of the 600EX-RT. This probably isn't a big deal, but it does mean that there's less blocking your view when you look over the top of your camera.

Bottom line: If you're planning to mostly use the on-camera device just to trigger the off-camera speedlights, you might as well get the E3-RT instead of the 600EX-RT because it's smaller, lighter, and cheaper. If you think you'll use all three flashes at the same time with one on-camera, a third 600EX-RT will do everything the E3-RT does. You can also buy a ETTL cable that'll give you a 3-light off-camera setup, but that's still another thing to carry around.

  • Re: orientation. I find myself more frustrated by the horizontal control panel of my YN622C-TX. Especially if I'm shooting multiple shots for blending from a fairly tall tripod. I have to get a step ladder just to see and use the control panel! I've actually resorted to putting the YN622C-TX on the end of my off-shoe flash cord to avoid the step ladder. – Michael C Jan 14 '16 at 22:05
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    I will agree that when shooting handheld the smaller size and less weight does make a nice difference. – Michael C Jan 14 '16 at 22:07
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The only real difference between using the dedicated transmitter and another speedlight is whether or not you want on-axis light to come from the on-hotshoe unit.

In a studio setup, for example, not a lot of shooters want to use an on-camera light, but simply want to trigger the lights they've already set up. On-axis light can be problematic for typical studio looks. So getting a smaller, cheaper unit without a lamp in it may be a better way to go than with a flash with a lamp that you'll never turn on.

In an event shooting situation, on the other hand, if, say, you're a wedding shooter who prefers to mainly use an on-camera unit and bouncing with eTTL, but you want to add, say, a hairlight, or general room lights with additional off-camera units, then having an on-camera unit with a flash head you can use as an on-axis light can come in very handy.

The nice part about going with an all speedlight setup is that if any of the units go down, you have a backup.

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    If the Yongnuo version is like the Canon 600EX-RT you can always set the master to only transmit the pre-flash and fire commands and not fire the flash tube during the actual exposure, the same way you can with Canon's optical control system using a 580EX II to fire pre-flash commands to the off camera slaves without contributing any light during the actual exposure. – Michael C Jan 14 '16 at 20:51
  • This answer includes a diagram that shows the sequence in Canon's optical control system. The actual "fire" command precedes the opening of the shutter and includes a timing component that instructs the off camera flashes how much time to wait before firing. photo.stackexchange.com/a/72596/15871 – Michael C Jan 14 '16 at 20:55
  • @MichaelClark the point is, with a flash up top, you have the choice. With a transmitter up top, you don't, as it's essentially a headless flash. – inkista Jan 14 '16 at 21:49
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    Agreed. Buy your answer doesn't seem, at least to me, to make that very clear. It almost seems to be saying the opposite: That with a flash on the shoe you have to settle for the light whether you want it or not. – Michael C Jan 14 '16 at 21:59

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