Canon’s radio wireless flash system has three devices that can control slave flashes; Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT, Speedlite 430EX III-RT and Speedlite 600EX-RT. I have used the ST-E3-RT since it’s introduction, but can the Speedlite 430EX III-RT be a worthy alternative master?
When I use flash off-camera, I almost never use one of the lights on the camera hotshoe. Putting a light on the hotshoe means that it moves as I move the camera and changes the lighting on my subject from frame to frame. Since the introduction of the radio wireless system the Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT has been my chosen on-camera controller. With the introduction of the Speedlite 430EX III-RT there might be an alternative option.
The best master Speedlite
Considering the features of both the Speedlite 430EX III-RT and ST-E3-RT there are a lot of similarities, including:
- Control up to 15 radio slaves in up to five groups
- Selectable flash modes as a radio master: E-TTL, Manual, Multi, Group
- Group control: E-TTL, Manual, External Auto, Off
- High Speed Sync: YES
- Modelling light: YES
- Linked shooting: YES
- Remote shutter release from slave: YES
In brief: The Speedlite ST-E3-RT is smaller, lighter, weather sealed, has the same control layout and capability as the Speedlite 600EX-RT
- AF assist light: NO
- Weather sealed: YES
- Size: 67.4mm x 61.5mm x 77.4mm
- Weight: 162g (with batteries*)
- Powered by 2 x AA
- Same button layout as Speedlite 600EX-RT
- Trigger older cameras using SR-N3 release cable
- Price £234 Amazon UK / $263 Amazon USA
In brief: The Speedlite 430EX III-RT has an AF assist light, and can flash if needed
- Flash modes as a slave: E-TTL, Manual, Multi
- AF assist light: YES
- Weather sealed: NO
- Size: 70.5mm x 113.8mm x 98.2mm
- Weight: 399g (with batteries*)
- Powered by 4 x AA
- Different button layout than Speedlite 600EX-RT
- Price £249 / $299 – press release prices
* Set of four AA Eneloop batteries weigh 104g
Which is the best master Speedlite for you?
UPDATE: 14th July, I’ve managed to get some clarifications from Canon about the exact capabilities of the Speedlite 430EX III-RT.
Prices at the moment look to be comparable, so in the main it will be a choice of smaller size, lighter weight, maximum control capability, weather sealing (ST-E3-RT) vs an AF assist light, and the option to use it as an on-camera light (430EX III-RT).
Buying your first Speedlite?
If you are just starting to build your radio wireless flash system or don’t yet have a Speedlite then the 430EX III-RT is a great first step. You may can use the built-in Speedlite master of your EOS 600D / 650D / 700D / 750D / 760D / 60D / 70D / 7D / 7D Mark II to control the 430EX III-RT as an optical slave. You’ll need to make the decision about buying an ST-E3-RT as your second device or another 430EX III-RT. I might be tempted by a second flash rather than an ST-E3-RT. The best thing is that if you buy the Speedlite 430EX III-RT as your first Speedlite it will now be usable with the radio system in the future as you buy other flashes.
Already have a single Speedlite 600EX-RT?
If you already have a Speedlite 600EX-RT but no trigger, the ST-E3-RT has the same button layout, is smaller and lighter and is fully weather sealed.
External Auto metering and stroboscopic modes are missing from the Speedlite 430EX III-RT, I do use External Auto metering with some of my groups of Speedlites at times. If the 430EX III-RT can’t control a group of Speedlite 600EX-RTs in External Auto that would be a pain. In all honesty, multi / stroboscopic mode very rarely gets used in my work so I won’t miss it on the 430EX III-RT if it can’t do this as a master.
14-July: Stroboscopic modes are missing from the Speedlite 430EX III-RT unless it is a radio master or slave. However if the 430EX III-RT is a slave in a group set to Multi / Stroboscopic mode it can flash stroboscopically.
External Auto metered flash
What I’m still keen to find out is what happens when the ST-E3-RT is used as a master and a group of slaves with both 600EX-RTs and 430EX III-RTs is set to External Auto?
14-July: The Speedlite 430EX III-RT can in Group mode set a group to use External Auto mode. If the Speedlites in the group are Speedlite 600EX-RTs then the Ext A group will work as usual. Any Speedlite 430EX III-RTs in a group set to External Auto will not fire at all.
Already have several Speedlite 600EX-RT and an ST-E3-RT?
I think that as a backup the Speedlite 430EX III-RT makes sense, it can work as a backup to the ST-E3-RT in most cases and will also be a backup flash for the 600EX-RTs. You might be able to put the 430EX III-RT in tighter locations than a 600EX-RT.
Second curtain / rear curtain sync?
Lastly, and this could be the decider – I wonder if Canon managed to get second curtain sync to work over radio with the 430EX III-RT as a master?
14-July: No they haven’t added second curtain sync 🙁
Shipping date in Europe is September, same as USA 🙁