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Author Topic: 600ex-rt vs PocketWizard Flex TT5 Setup  (Read 11455 times)

roadrunner

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600ex-rt vs PocketWizard Flex TT5 Setup
« on: April 24, 2013, 06:17:25 PM »
Hey everyone, I'm sure this question has been asked a million times before, but I couldn't find anything specific too my scenario. I'm looking for someone that has extensive experience with both Canon's 600EX-RT and PocketWizard's Flex TT1/TT5/AC3. PW's system is unreliable at best in my experience, with the AC3 failing to control zones properly at times. I shoot primarily weddings, engagements, and couples.

Here's my current setup.
Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 7D
Canon 580 EX II
2x Canon 480 EX II (I mainly use these as the range is much longer due to no interference)
3x PocketWizard Flex TT5
PocketWizard AC3 Zone Controller

I'm looking into selling all the flashes/PocketWizards on ebay (I should get between $1100-1200 for everything) and replacing them with 3 Canon 600 EX-RTs or 2 600 EX-RTs and ST-E3-RT. What is everyone's recommendations? How are the Canon's to work with as far as convenience, control, and reliability go? I would like to get rid of the 430 EX IIs so I have a more powerful flash, but I can't use all 580EX II's due to the RF interference. Thoughts? Thanks in advance.

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600ex-rt vs PocketWizard Flex TT5 Setup
« on: April 24, 2013, 06:17:25 PM »

neuroanatomist

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Re: 600ex-rt vs PocketWizard Flex TT5 Setup
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2013, 07:06:50 PM »
I have both the PW system and an ST-E3-RT with three 600EX-RT flashes. I use the PW setup with a PowerMC2 for an Einstein monolight. If I'm not using the monolight, the PWs stay in the case and I use the ST-E3-RT.

Since you don't list a monolight among your assets, I'd go Canon RT.
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privatebydesign

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Re: 600ex-rt vs PocketWizard Flex TT5 Setup
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2013, 07:20:15 PM »
The Canon RT system is a dream to work with. I have three 600's and an ST-E3-RT and they just work, every time, perfectly.

In your situation, having used the RT system for a while now (and having played with and been completely unimpressed with the Flex) I wouldn't hesitate, sell it all and get the RT. The 600 is $499 at the moment too so it is an excellent time to buy them.

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Re: 600ex-rt vs PocketWizard Flex TT5 Setup
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2013, 07:57:28 PM »
Agree Neuro & privatebydesign, I have a pair of 600EX RT with the ST-E3 and I'm a Boob when it comes to Flash (found the PW and my 580EX units a mission to Mars every time I used them), the 600EX/ST-E3 set up just works, simple (fortunately for me) straight forward, and the 600EX RT units zoom to 200mm which is great for my Wildlife stuff with the 200f/2 & 300f/2.8 V2 Lenses, I use the RRS Ring Bracket set up, cant beat it, but having said all that, remember I class myself as a learner in this area of Flash Photography.
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photo212

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Re: 600ex-rt vs PocketWizard Flex TT5 Setup
« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2013, 08:56:30 PM »
I use multiple 580EXII, a 580EX, and 550 flashes on flexTT5 all controlled with a miniTT1/AC3. I have not have the problems some seem to have. I do not use the socks or the hard shells.

Something that I was taught seems to make the system more reliable:
1. turn everything off
2. turn on a flash, then its FlexTT5 to the proper channel
3. Repeat step 2 for each flash. Flash first, FlexTT5 second.
4. Then turn on your mini TT1
5. now, turn on your camera.

Easy way to remember: Turn things on, top to bottom.

Since some of my flashes are hidden inside a softbox, the radio trigger is required. Once I started practicing the top-to-bottom method, I've not used the socks or hard shells.

roadrunner

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Re: 600ex-rt vs PocketWizard Flex TT5 Setup
« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2013, 09:36:52 PM »
I have both the PW system and an ST-E3-RT with three 600EX-RT flashes. I use the PW setup with a PowerMC2 for an Einstein monolight. If I'm not using the monolight, the PWs stay in the case and I use the ST-E3-RT.

Since you don't list a monolight among your assets, I'd go Canon RT.

Thanks for the response. I don't currently have any monolights, though I may pick up an Einstein or two for studio/formal portrait work at weddings. So that does worry me a bit, but I also feel like I need something more reliable for weddings that the 580/430/PW setup I have now. Sounds like the 600 EX-RT fits the bill. If I do get an Einstein, is it possible to use the 600EX-RT's together with the PW system? IE: Flex on the camera, 600EX on the flex, 600EX triggering other 600EX's, and the PW triggering the Einstein?

I use multiple 580EXII, a 580EX, and 550 flashes on flexTT5 all controlled with a miniTT1/AC3. I have not have the problems some seem to have. I do not use the socks or the hard shells.

Something that I was taught seems to make the system more reliable:
1. turn everything off
2. turn on a flash, then its FlexTT5 to the proper channel
3. Repeat step 2 for each flash. Flash first, FlexTT5 second.
4. Then turn on your mini TT1
5. now, turn on your camera.

Easy way to remember: Turn things on, top to bottom.

Since some of my flashes are hidden inside a softbox, the radio trigger is required. Once I started practicing the top-to-bottom method, I've not used the socks or hard shells.

Been there, done all of that, and then some. Tried a million different tweaks. There doesn't seem to be a rhyme or reason for when my AC3 decides to stop controlling things properly. And I have no idea how your 580EX II works without a sock/filter, I get about 10 feet max off of mine unless I use them (Which is why I purchased the 430EX IIs in the first place).

Thanks for the suggestions everyone.

privatebydesign

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Re: 600ex-rt vs PocketWizard Flex TT5 Setup
« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2013, 09:50:18 PM »
I too am testing out some Einsteins in a couple of weeks. My solution to using both 600's and the Einstein is to use the 600 via the hotshoe and run the Einstein via a PC cord from the camera PC socket, you can even use the Cyber Commander via the PC socket, full control over everything from the camera!

That is the way I would do it should I go the Einstein route.

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Re: 600ex-rt vs PocketWizard Flex TT5 Setup
« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2013, 09:50:18 PM »

veraphoto

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Re: 600ex-rt vs PocketWizard Flex TT5 Setup
« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2013, 10:09:51 PM »
Hello,

As it was mentioned by Neuro, The PW setup is it only worth keeping if you are going to use studio lights and want to control the power level on the strobes from the camera. If that doesn't happen in your case, sell all of the PW gear asap.

As far as using 600 ex-rt's, specially for events, I strongly recommend it. Canon has hit a homerun with its radio system. It is super reliable and fairly simple to use, once you get used to the key buttons on the flash (or directly on the camera, since you have a 5D3). We have been using the 600's for almost a year and it has been one of our best investments. We have 4 600s and 1 STE3 now.

My only additional suggestion, would be to consider using another 600 instead of the STE3 as the master. Since you do events, the AF assist light on the 600 is a savior for low light situations, plus the obvious fact that with the 600 you have a flash on top of your camera, giving you another option, beside the slave 600s. In my opinion, the STE3 is useful in more controlled enviroments (which is where we use it), but during a dimmly lit event, you need the AF to work as fast as possible.

By the way, looking forward to the 1.2.1 firmware for the 5D3. The AF when used with the assist light can really use more speed and that is supposed to come with this version.

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Re: 600ex-rt vs PocketWizard Flex TT5 Setup
« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2013, 10:12:45 PM »
I have never had PW but did have an assortment of flashes and Cybersync triggers. I sold all of that and purchased 3 x 600 RT and an STE3. I love it. Group mode is fantastic which is designed to work with your 5D3. Menu layout is excellent and the LCD lights up when you press any button on the flash. You can also set it to stay on all the time if you wish. Love those features.     

Only thing is the STE3 does not have an Af assist beam. When I need that I put the flash on the camera and the other two on stands. This is for wedding reception type venues. When not (in studio) I use the STE3.

The 5D3 is pretty good without the AF assist beam any many just leave it on AI Servo which disables the assist beam anyway. Some people are upset about the lack of assist beam but it has not phased me at all.

No off camera second curtain sync if that is important to you. 

One more thing. Canon RT only plays nice with Canon RT - so far.  I have not looked back and do not miss my old system.         

digital paradise

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Re: 600ex-rt vs PocketWizard Flex TT5 Setup
« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2013, 10:15:11 PM »
Hello,

As it was mentioned by Neuro, The PW setup is it only worth keeping if you are going to use studio lights and want to control the power level on the strobes from the camera. If that doesn't happen in your case, sell all of the PW gear asap.

As far as using 600 ex-rt's, specially for events, I strongly recommend it. Canon has hit a homerun with its radio system. It is super reliable and fairly simple to use, once you get used to the key buttons on the flash (or directly on the camera, since you have a 5D3). We have been using the 600's for almost a year and it has been one of our best investments. We have 4 600s and 1 STE3 now.

My only additional suggestion, would be to consider using another 600 instead of the STE3 as the master. Since you do events, the AF assist light on the 600 is a savior for low light situations, plus the obvious fact that with the 600 you have a flash on top of your camera, giving you another option, beside the slave 600s. In my opinion, the STE3 is useful in more controlled enviroments (which is where we use it), but during a dimmly lit event, you need the AF to work as fast as possible.

By the way, looking forward to the 1.2.1 firmware for the 5D3. The AF when used with the assist light can really use more speed and that is supposed to come with this version.

I too am looking forward to this FW upgrade. I have been following all the threads on this from day one.

scottkinfw

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Re: 600ex-rt vs PocketWizard Flex TT5 Setup
« Reply #10 on: April 24, 2013, 11:19:17 PM »
I have the mini, AC3, TT5 X2 580EXII X2, and use it on a 5D2- almost daily.  I use the top to bottom technique too.  I have tried many tweaks.  What I can tell you from my experience is that it is always a crap shoot.  Usually I have to completely adjust camera, flash stand position etc., and finally put flashes on manual.  Sounds like I need to pony up for new flashes. 

Hello,

As it was mentioned by Neuro, The PW setup is it only worth keeping if you are going to use studio lights and want to control the power level on the strobes from the camera. If that doesn't happen in your case, sell all of the PW gear asap.

As far as using 600 ex-rt's, specially for events, I strongly recommend it. Canon has hit a homerun with its radio system. It is super reliable and fairly simple to use, once you get used to the key buttons on the flash (or directly on the camera, since you have a 5D3). We have been using the 600's for almost a year and it has been one of our best investments. We have 4 600s and 1 STE3 now.

My only additional suggestion, would be to consider using another 600 instead of the STE3 as the master. Since you do events, the AF assist light on the 600 is a savior for low light situations, plus the obvious fact that with the 600 you have a flash on top of your camera, giving you another option, beside the slave 600s. In my opinion, the STE3 is useful in more controlled enviroments (which is where we use it), but during a dimmly lit event, you need the AF to work as fast as possible.

By the way, looking forward to the 1.2.1 firmware for the 5D3. The AF when used with the assist light can really use more speed and that is supposed to come with this version.

I too am looking forward to this FW upgrade. I have been following all the threads on this from day one.
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roadrunner

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Re: 600ex-rt vs PocketWizard Flex TT5 Setup
« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2013, 06:13:45 AM »
One thing I forgot to ask - How quickly are you able to make changes to the remote flash units from the camera? I know you guys said it is easy and a dream to work with, but as someone that shoots primarily weddings, I really need to be able to dial in flash power (Manual or E-TTL compensation) within a second or two.

This is one thing I loved about my PW setup with the AC3 controller, as I could have multiple strobes setup at a reception and quickly change the output of my flashes or turn them off completely as I moved around the room, and you don't exactly have much time to make these changes. How is this on the 600-EX-RT? Thanks.

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Re: 600ex-rt vs PocketWizard Flex TT5 Setup
« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2013, 07:27:14 AM »
It is not as fast as the AC3, it isn't slow by any means and familiarity with the system will make a huge difference to your first attempts, but it isn't as quick or intuative as the AC3.

Personally I end up doing flash exposure comp  without taking my eye from the camera, I use the cameras FEC button and spin the QCD, whereas individual group control I do from the flash or ST-E3-RT, the one thing I hate about the ST-E3-RT is the screen orientation, when using a decent height tripod it is impossible to see! I slip it into and out of the hotshoe rather than mess with my framing.

But the system is very easy and quick to control, and it works, every time, no hassle, no drama, I found I just trust it and this makes everything else easier and faster.

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Re: 600ex-rt vs PocketWizard Flex TT5 Setup
« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2013, 07:27:14 AM »

roadrunner

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Re: 600ex-rt vs PocketWizard Flex TT5 Setup
« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2013, 09:23:10 PM »
Privatebydesign,

Thanks for your help. It sounds like you have a decent amount of experience with both systems. Is there anything you miss about the pocketwizard setup?

I'm really worried about the greatly reduced range and the speed of usability. In theory, the PW setup was absolutely perfect for me (Aside from having addition devices slapped on my flashes/camera) but it just works too inconsistendly. Are these two issues really ever issues for you in real world use?

neuroanatomist

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Re: 600ex-rt vs PocketWizard Flex TT5 Setup
« Reply #14 on: April 29, 2013, 12:32:26 AM »
I too am testing out some Einsteins in a couple of weeks. My solution to using both 600's and the Einstein is to use the 600 via the hotshoe and run the Einstein via a PC cord from the camera PC socket, you can even use the Cyber Commander via the PC socket, full control over everything from the camera!

That is the way I would do it should I go the Einstein route.

Not a fan of cords, or tripping over them. But I'll likely try the MiniTT1 in the hotshoe under the ST-E3-RT, or a FlexTT5 via the PC socket, to trigger the Einstein.
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Re: 600ex-rt vs PocketWizard Flex TT5 Setup
« Reply #14 on: April 29, 2013, 12:32:26 AM »