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Alternatives to Canon's 600EXRT flash heads
  
 
Focus Locus
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Alternatives to Canon's 600EXRT flash heads


I get the value of radio versus line of sight.

But speaking of value, is there an equally effective but less expensive alternative available that permits one to remotely adjust the output value of a battery operated slave?

I'd like to run at least 5 slaves (no, not a confederacy dream... I'm talking about remote battery operated flashes), and that would cost $3,000 with 600s. I don't really understand how ETTL decides, so I usually just adjust flashes by value (ie 1/64 +.3 etc).

What I can't do now, but would like to do next, is adjust these values from the shooting position, without visiting each head to make changes.

What system, or combination of systems, will do that just as effectively as the 600s?


(I run across remarks about stuff made by "YN"?? Yongong can't spell it so I can't find it)



Jun 08, 2014 at 09:45 PM
BigIronCruiser
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Alternatives to Canon's 600EXRT flash heads


You could try the Cheetah V860C. It appears that the V860C offers eTTL when using a CellsII-C transmitter. A full description can be found here. You can also call Edward (214-734-1198) at Cheetah for additional information.


Jun 09, 2014 at 11:10 AM
gwaww
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Alternatives to Canon's 600EXRT flash heads


It's Yongnuo. You could get used 580 exii or 430 exii's and use Yongnuo 622c transceivers (40.00 ea.) Check out the Flash Havoc web sight there is some interesting flash equipment discussed there. Some Chinese flashes with built-in radio control.



Jun 09, 2014 at 11:23 AM
MNPNW
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Alternatives to Canon's 600EXRT flash heads


Even the V850 with proper triggers allow remote power control and HSS (at least for Canon). Biggest advantage of V850 / V860 is battery system.

I have 6 - 600EX-RT's and the ST-E3 RT trigger and am testing currently testing a V860c as a potential replacement for the 600's.

So far, battery of V860 is best feature. The 600's are nicer in many ways, things like lock switch, power less likely to get turned off when handing on strap, 200mm zoom, and IMO more consistent flash exposure during rapid firing.

Of course balanced with the price difference, the battery feature, and Edwards service, it looks like the V850 / V860 are pretty darn good.



Jun 09, 2014 at 03:29 PM
MNPNW
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Alternatives to Canon's 600EXRT flash heads


Considering the non-Canon options, the Cheetah (Godox) system seems to offer the best features IMO. I am not affiliated with Cheetah Stand in any way except as a customer.

The CL-600 (about to start selling), CL-180, CL-360, V850, V860, and the Cells trigger are all compatible.

For speedlight form factors, the lithium battery is really nice. Eliminates external battery packs.

With the CellsII trigger system, you have HHS with all of the products including the higher power CL-180, CL-360, and CL-600.

I'm still using my 600-EX-RT's and am considering a change over in the fall. Not 100% sure but looking like the full CL system will be worth it. Not considering the cost savings, the system still looks pretty good.

Having external radios is a bit of a pain, yet with the V850/860, eliminating external batteries more than compensates.



Jun 09, 2014 at 03:43 PM
MNPNW
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Alternatives to Canon's 600EXRT flash heads


And of course no Canon flash / radio combination exists with more than speedlight power.


Jun 09, 2014 at 03:44 PM
gwaww
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Alternatives to Canon's 600EXRT flash heads


Yonguo is said to be working on 600ex rt compatible triggers for studio type flashes.


Jun 09, 2014 at 04:43 PM
wsheldon
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Alternatives to Canon's 600EXRT flash heads


October 2014 is the latest estimate I've heard for availability of the YN600EX-RT, YN's 600EX-compatible flash. I got tired of waiting so I grabbed a good deal on 3 Canon 600's plus an ST-E3-RT transmitter for ~$1500 from B&H last Fall, but those deals all seem to have expired. Now it's $1200 for just 2 600's and an ST-E3-RT *after* instant rebate.

Not cheap, but a great flash system. No regrets at all.



Jun 09, 2014 at 05:15 PM
Focus Locus
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Alternatives to Canon's 600EXRT flash heads


MNPNW, gwaww, BigIronCruiser, wsheldon... you guys ROCK!

I feel like a coal miner who just struck a vein of like minded light seekers. I am so very glad I posed this question. I can't thank you guys enough for this discussion.

MNPNW, I am especially grateful for the details of your journey out of a full investment in 6x 600's... onto something else.

You guys have been so helpful, I should explain a bit more about what I already use, what I'd like to add or subtract in order to do a better job in my work.

I need lots of lights, but not a lot of light, if that makes any sense. And the lights must be light to carry (flying), and lightning quick to deploy and decoy (hiding in almost plain sight in my frame).

With the improved sensors nowadays, I don't need more power. If a job requires a lot of lighting power, I plug in. I have 4 x 1000w power supplies, each is wireless with built in PW's, 4 multimax transceivers, 8 Heads, and a grip truck full of modifiers, boxes, umbrellas, and stands... over 300 lbs in just sandbags alone. When I need lots of light, I can bring it on. But that's not what I need.

What I have been doing currently is using those multimaxes with a small squadron of 580ex2's, and before that a mix of 580s and 550s. While the multimax's are useful in SELECTIVE triggering when multiple flashes are deployed, I've been living with making the rounds resetting the lighting values of each head individually by hand. Vivitar 285s would have been a less expensive alternative, but without HSS... which has been useful in single flash usages with that 5 pin coil cord (forget what Canon names it, but I have a couple).

So that being said, I'm not unwilling to buy 5x 600's, take the rebates, sell off the 580ex2s to soften the blow, and enjoy not having to rubber band a PW to each flash, only to have to unwrap it all mid shoot just to swap the batteries (I use lithium AAs because of their light weight... it all adds up on the plane).

But as I was about to pull the trigger on a fleet of new 600's just for the built in radio, I kept thinking back to about 10 years ago, when I was upgrading the 550's, and thought about going with the Vivitars. In retrospect, I should have, because in all these years shooting I still don't quite understand how ETTL decides, so I can't predict how it will output from frame to frame for the look I want, so I crib back to what I know, which is manually setting power outputs.

I really want to be able to make and CHANGE those settings on the fly remotely, in a multihead flash package (lots of lights, not a lot of light) that I can set up and take down in minutes, flys well, can be hidden in frame, can be easily snooted, gelled, etc.

I haven't read those promising looking links yet... I just wanted to hop on here and thank you guys for the info so far. Please, keep it coming. I appreciate learning from you.






Jun 09, 2014 at 10:37 PM
MNPNW
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Alternatives to Canon's 600EXRT flash heads


I fly with 5-6 Canon 600's about 12 times per year and one of the reasons I have not consider switching to Godox is until recently they did not have a small form factor. All in the carry-on with 4-5 lenses and 2-3 bodies.

The V850-860 swap out space in the bag - radios for external batteries so are under consideration.

Many of my uses are low power units in multiple spots so the speedlight power has been adequate. For more power, I use VML - Einstein (typically do not travel with these).

So if the Godox - Cheetah system proves to be good, one has the small speedlight to medium sized CL-600 with Quantum size in-between so perhaps will replace all my location set-ups. Only use Einstein for studio...

We'll see how it goes.



Jun 10, 2014 at 12:25 AM
 

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Focus Locus
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Alternatives to Canon's 600EXRT flash heads


I've had a chance to look at the CheetahStand website. Wow, that guy means it when he says "no marketing". There isn't even so much as a description of what he sells. No specs, no stats, no songs of glory. Just the part number, a photo (sometimes), and the price. Done. Take it or leave it.

Equally non informative to me at first glance is the Yongnuo website. I KNEW I should have elected Mandarin in school. By picture only, Yongnuo looks almost as if they are the OEM manufacturer for all of Canon's flashes, but for the different buttons.

It looks like more research is needed on my part... looking at reviews, if I can find any that are not paid advertiposts. I am in search of user reports. Here are some of the questions that come to mind...

1. For the V850 (I never found the V860 on the Cheetah site), it appears that the lithium ion battery pack is proprietary, right? In other words, Cheetah is the only source I can get replacements? Or is the same pack used in other devices, which broadens the options of supply and availability?

2. How is this battery pack recharged? How large is the charger? I'd have to figure that into the packing equation.

3. For those who have used the Canon 600 extensively, and who have also used the 580ex2 and 580 and 550, how does the battery life compare? Im wondering if the radio transmitter in the 600 make it use up battery life substantially quicker? If the convenience of a built in radio is cancelled by the inconvenience of short battery life? At least with external radios, the electrical load is distributed to two discreet battery groups.

4. Radio range. I'm used to PW, which claims 1,600 feet. I haven't verified that claim, but I haven't had any reception or range issues in any of the ways I have used them. These new options will introduce me to a new radio system, and I would like to know what to expect. I'll pay for more reliable communication, but I will not assume that just because LPA has been around longer, that they are better. There are probably some science (frequency range) and licensing (FCC) issues surrounding this question that, just like radio waves, will likely go over my head, but I do need to know what to expect performance wise in an alternative system.

5. Radio Poppers... there is another thread on these. There is so much white noise about various products out there that promise this and that, I tune it out as gimmickery. Have I ignored a good option here, will Radio Poppers allow me to manually set power levels on a speedlight when shooting outside in bright blinding sun?

6. Pocket Wizard TT5... another product I've ignored up to this point. Not because I thought it was a gimmick, but because I already had a bunch of PW MMs. Will the TT5 enable remote manual power level adjustments of speedlights, or does it only extend the ETTL functionality of the units?

I'm kind of daunted by all the research required to understand the options here, so if someone sees that I'm heading down any wrong road here, just yell.

Edited on Jun 11, 2014 at 05:02 AM · View previous versions



Jun 10, 2014 at 08:30 PM
rico
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Alternatives to Canon's 600EXRT flash heads


If you want to explore the user experience of Cheetah/Godox, here is the mother of all threads:

http://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthread.php?t=1270039

You can find related topics on the first page of the POTN lighting forum:

http://photography-on-the.net/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=35



Jun 11, 2014 at 12:12 AM
MNPNW
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Alternatives to Canon's 600EXRT flash heads


https://www.cheetahstand.com/category-s/1943.htm for V860c
No photo, lower left corner...

Battery from Cheetah or other Godox sellers. I've been supporting Ed (Cheetah) since he is giving such great service and isn't much more than Amazon Godox sellers.

Charger is same as shown in photos of V850 kit.

I haven't used their radios yet, just testing one V860c.

Canon 600 radios: I never tested the range; however, Canon quotes about 30 meters, much less than other external radios. For my use at events and portraits never an issue, but I can envision scenarios where the range would be too short.

600EX-RT battery use: Not really an issue for me, never bothered to figure out if less than 580EXII,

Used Radio Poppers before 600EX-RT. They worked okay, but 600EX-RT system much better. I did not like all the separate battery types needed, prefer the AA only use in the 600's. Note: did not have range issues with RP or 600's, but I don't set-up long distances.

Pocket Wizards: Never tried due to RF issues., so not sure if they ever found a good fix.



Jun 11, 2014 at 04:47 PM
Roland W
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Alternatives to Canon's 600EXRT flash heads


The PocketWizard Flex TT5 units can be remotely controlled for manual power to each of several lighting groups, so it is not just limited to ETTL. They also offer an accessory unit called an AC3 Zone Controller that makes the power control pretty easy using three lighting zones and adjusting using an old fashioned rotary switch, rather than fighting through menus.

But the Flex TT5 and the whole Flex system has its issues, and one of them is limited range and interference, including especially with the 580EX2 flashes, which you have. The system also has quirks, including at times getting confused unless you follow a specific power on sequence. But if the limitation are acceptable, and you get it in its grove with all lights working, it can be very easy to use and fast to adjust power using the AC3.

The Flex TT5 system also can I believe trigger other non Canon flashes and strobes using Flex TT5's as receivers, or can send to Multimax units as receivers.

At the moment, going to Canon 600RT flashes is likely your best bet, but before Canon offered radio, the Flex TT5 system was a useful solution.



Jun 11, 2014 at 05:29 PM
Focus Locus
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Alternatives to Canon's 600EXRT flash heads


Roland, everything that you said jibes with and reminds me of what I had inadvertently gathered in recent years by hearsay and osmosis, but had not fully researched before, until now. Thank you for summing up the road behind, and the road ahead, in terms of the TT5+580ex2 versus the 600 option.

MNPNW... Ok, I'm rolling up my sleeves here trying to understand the alternative flash market better, and found a new outfit called "Bolt Flashes"... www.boltflashes.com ... advertised in the B&H catalog. The Bolt flash products, including the proprietary battery packs, appear IDENTICAL to the items that Edward Tang is selling with the CheetahStand brand name.

My intent in pointing this out is not about supporting or not supporting Cheetah. It is more about making an assessment of how ubiquitous a product is, so that I can get parts/repairs/supplies for it in a pinch, which is the only time I ever seem to need things. Anyway, it does appear as if there are multiple sources of the same batteries and accessories for the "speedlight style" flash system, sold under the Godox / Cheetah / Bolt / your brand goes here products.

I'll never forget my experience with "Pro Master"... another generic "house brand" of products sold in various camera stores. I didn't realize at the time that "Pro Master" was like "Impact" or "Bolt" or "Calumet"... house brands engineered to emulate name brand products... but at higher profit margins for the retailer, and lower cost to the consumer. Prior to buying a Pro Master cushioned camera strap, I've never had a strap fail. Not even those old thin cracked leatherette straps from the mid 70's with the tiny belt buckle style engagement. No failures.

When I felt the weight suddenly leave my shoulders, and heard my $15K rig hit the concrete floor, I wondered how I could have been so careless? As it turned out, my carelessness was not in the way I had strapped and handled my rig. It was in my product selection. The strap itself had failed in an area that not controllable by the user. It was made of cheap materials. It didn't feel cheap. It didn't look cheap. But it broke apart. Looks great, but very unreliable performance compared to any of my OpTech manufactured straps, either branded by OpTech or by CPS.

On the other hand, take the knock off Impact brand of light stands. How hard can making a light stand be? Yes, I paid the big bucks for Avenger, Manfrotto, and Matthews. But I see professionals happily get by with a lower cost of doing business in this new era of Alibaba bred imports. It almost seems criminal to waste money on higher cost items that do the same thing.

My local camera store pushes a lot of Leica products on the well heeled customers who wander in wide eyed with wallets open. After overhearing some of the sales pitches proffered, I sometimes want to yell outloud, "Customer, don't fall for that image quality sales pitch. To take better pictures, you don't need a Leica, you need lessons!" Anyways, I want to take my own advice and not fall into the trap of buying the best in order to be the best. It just doesn't work that way.



Jun 11, 2014 at 09:17 PM
Focus Locus
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Alternatives to Canon's 600EXRT flash heads


Rico... thank you for the links to POTN on the CL-180/CL-360.

I can't find it in this thread, but it might be on another on of the flash triggering threads I've searched and then bumped, but thank you to whoever mentioned the website FlashHavoc. A lot of options there.



Jun 12, 2014 at 09:41 PM
MNPNW
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Alternatives to Canon's 600EXRT flash heads


Bolt is Godox = Cheetah = Adorama Flashpoint = Amazon Neewer.

I think you can still find ProMaster, never bought any of that.

Some things I'll test and go cheaper, but not everything.

My first Godox product was the PB-820. When I bought it I already owned several Canon AA battery packs and a Quantum pack. Didn't sell anything until I tested the Godox pack (with the old reliable units at hand as spares).

Then the PB 960 from Cheetah. Now Cheetah V860c in testing. Still keep the 6-600EX-RT's but seeing how the V860c works and will probably buy one or two more along with their radios to keep testing.

I tend to keep a known product until I'm really comfortable with new / replacement option.

Everything is a compromise. Sometimes I'll spend more other times don't see the need.



Jun 13, 2014 at 01:21 AM
Focus Locus
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Alternatives to Canon's 600EXRT flash heads


Makes perfect sense MNPNW. Keeping what you know works reliably, while trying something new.

So will the real manufacturer stand up please? When I pick up the research shovel again, one of the questions I'm going to be digging up is which company actually engineers and manufactures this generic line of clone flashes?

Godox
Bolt
Cheetah
Flashpoint
Neewer

Are the foregoing each and all only branded resellers?

What company actually builds them?

I don't keep up with the latest gear like I probably should, and I don't suppose it should really matter, but companies like Quantum, Vivitar, Canon, Metz, were all around when I was a darkroom assistant 40 years ago, and are still around today. I just want to know where the buck finally stops on these new imports.



Jun 13, 2014 at 03:51 AM
rico
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Alternatives to Canon's 600EXRT flash heads


Focus Locus wrote:
What company actually builds them?

That is difficult or impossible to know when sourcing involves China. Rebranding items for a given product line has a long tradition. Even Profoto rebrands, e.g. fixtures from Bacht, Arri, and Dedolight. As always, we consumers rely on the brand, and the attention that the brand owners devote to protecting the reputation. Established brands are more expensive for this reason.



Jun 13, 2014 at 04:02 AM
MNPNW
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Alternatives to Canon's 600EXRT flash heads


Don't really know mfg., but Godox brand is first out with the stuff. Edward at Cheetah claims he has input into final product approval, but no idea how much...

I'm not as concerned about origin for these (Godox) products as I might be for something else.



Jun 13, 2014 at 06:54 PM
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