The $1000 Flash and Transmitter System


I enjoyed reading Sly Arena's first impressions of Canon's New Speedlite 600EX-RT & Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT. But then I calculated the costs. The 600EX-RT flash can be preordered for $629 from B&H, plus the Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT will run you another $319. Add shipping and the tax we're supposed to pay at the end of the year, and you have a $1,000 flash and trigger system.

As David Hobby wrote on his Strobist site: "Official price for the Canon 600EX-RT speedlite was set at: 1 Paul Buff 640WS Einstein + 8" hi-output reflector + 2-grid set + 64" soft silver PLM + 64" diffusion fabric."

I think that sums it up.

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They are expensive, but to be fair, any comparable radio trigger solution is pricey. Even if you buy a 580EX ($425), add a comparable PocketWizard ControlTL mini and flex ($429), plus the AC3 zone controller ($79) it costs almost exactly the same for an equivalent set of features (excepting the 600EX has a better LCD, better menus, and integrates better with the master unit with remote ready alert). And no plethora of parts and PC cables to put together. Trust me, this will be a lot easier to use in a Westcott Apollo than what I've been doing, with no dangling PWs, PC cords that short and I can't even see the ready light. And that's a nice Einstein kit David Hobby referenced tongue-in-cheekly, but I'm sure even he realizes comparing a monolight system to a nimble, lightweight TTL system is apples and oranges. If he wants to adjust that monolight remotely, well, he should add in the cost of the PocketWizard AC3 controller ($79) and PowerMC2 receiver for the Einstein ($99). Even then, it still won't do TTL at all. Plus now you need a battery pack ($250 on up) to power it outdoors and something beyond a nimble Lowepro 202AW to carry it all ($75), more like an X300 ($350). Oh - and a heavy stand with sandbag or two to support the Einstein. One can compare it to a monolight, but do the full comparison :-)

Its certainly not cheap, but apples to apples, its certainly not out of line with the equally reliable alternatives with comparable functionality.

You make great points, Steve. And I think you bring a professional perspective to this conversation. Appreciate your words here.

What's interesting to me, is that if you shoot with a 5D Mark II or 5D Mark III, both popular portrait cameras, your options are much more expensive than say with the 60D, which has a built-in optical flash transmitter.

Personally, I would have preferred a built-in controller for the 5D that I can use with the 580EX (which is nearly $200 cheaper than the 600EX), then, if I need that next level of functionality, consider the $1,000 system we talk about here. BTW: many photogs feel that Pocket Wizzards are overpriced too :)

And quite honestly, I'm still feeling that all of the recent gear announced by Canon (24-70 II, 5D Mark III, 620 EX) is priced a bit high for the current market. But that's what makes economics what it is, right? I vote with my credit card.