Canon 600EX-RT vs Canon 600EX II-RT

The Canon 600EX II-RT was released in June 2016 and improves upon the Canon 600EX-RT which was released in 2012. However the updates are minor and most photographers will find it difficult to tell the difference between the two versions. They look exactly the same and the maximum power output and recycle time at full power seem exactly the same (flash recycle time stated in both user manuals is 0.1-5.5 seconds).

The main difference, as far as I know, is in the design of the cooling of the electronic circuits which allows an increase in the recycle time when shooting continuously at high frame rates, something I don’t usually do anyway. This improvement in continuous recycle time is only really noticeable if you use the speedlite in conjunction with the updated CP-E4N battery pack. (see Continuous Flash Firing below)

The Canon 600EX II-RT also offers a faster more intuitive menu system and button press interface, now consistent with the Canon 430EX III-RT.

Canon 600EX II-RT new display menu
Improvements to the menu: When the MODE or Wireless buttons are pressed, instead of having to cycle through small icons on the flash’s LCD panel, the Speedlite 600EX II-RT changes the display on its LCD panel to a larger one, clearly showing the available settings. And, instead of multiple button presses to select the user’s choice, when the appropriate button is pressed once and the display appears, turn the Select Dial on the flash to highlight your choice, then press the flash’s SET button to lock it in, and return to a standard flash LCD panel display.
recycle charge indicator
A recycle indicator appears during recycle period, showing relative level of recycle

Improvements

  • Faster continuous firing during high framerate shooting. Improves continuous flash firing times by 1.1 to 1.5x when using AA batteries and up to 2x with a new CP-E4N add-on battery pack. The improvement to continuous firing is credited to better heat dissipation and firing algorithms.
  • Simplified menu system
  • New, specially designed accessories supplied include a bounce adapter SBA-E3, colour filter SCF-E3OR1, colour filter SCF-E3OR2.

Changes to Linked Shooting

The Linked Shooting function makes it possible to trigger several remote cameras from the Master Speedlite or Speedlite transmitter. This makes it possible to capture images from several angles at once by simply pressing one button. (It’s not a function that I’ve ever needed to use and probably not that important to most photographers)

The 600EX II-RT cannot be used with older “slave cameras” introduced before 2012*.  (600EX II-RT has no socket for optional SR-N3 connecting cord to camera’s remote control socket, which was required with older cameras and previous 600EX-RT.)

* EOS cameras introduced in 2012 or later (compatible with Linked shooting and Speedlite 600EX II-RT):
— EOS Rebel T4i and above;  EOS Rebel SL1
— EOS 70D and above
— EOS 7D Mark II
— EOS 6D
— EOS 5D Mark III;  EOS 5DS and 5DS R
— EOS-1D X and above

Continuous flash firing

Speedlite 600EX II-RT introduces a series of design changes to increase the number of continuous shots that can be fired, without interruption, before the advent of any heat-protection measures.  For example:  at full, 1/1 manual power level, with flash head zoomed to 35mm position:

•     Speedlite 600EX II-RT:  100 flashes before Level 1 firing restriction
•     Speedlite 600EX-RT:  74 flashes before Level 1 restriction

Changes that make this possible include a newly-designed flash head with a fresnel lens designed to resist heat build-up from the flash tube;  new heat radiating materials surrounding the flash tube;  and a change in plastic materials throughout the flash head to further resist heat build-up during repeated flash firing in demanding shooting situations.

Summary

There’s definitely no reason to upgrade from a Canon 600EX-RT to a 600EX II-RT as no new features have been added and recycle time remains exactly the same apart from for continuous shooting but I haven’t really noticed a big improvement.

canon 600EX II-RT showing the bounce adapter and the colour filter
Bounce adapter and colour filters for the Canon 600EX II-RT

External Website Links

www.usa.canon.com – Canon 600EX II-RT product page with link to manual

www.canon.co.uk – Canon 600EX-RT support page with link to manual

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