As many of you know, I've recently upgraded to Canon's 600EX-RTs and love them. You can read a review I wrote about them here if you missed it. These speedlites have radio transmission built in so they are basically a standard speedlite and pocketwizard in one. Brilliant!

These flash units have a ton of capabilities and options, so their settings are more complex than my former 580EXs. Not being a super-tech-wiz myself, I have spent some quality time with my trusty manual and wanted to share with you how I got these babies set up to work for my off-camera flash set-up described in this post.

First off, these speedlites work with all Canon bodies, but they have limited capabilities with any bodies made before 2012. I recently upgraded to a 5D Mark III and thankfully it allows the 600EX-RTs to work with their full spectrum of functionalities. As explained in my review of these units, I don't think the fact that you aren't able to upgrade to a 5D Mark III right now should stop you from purchasing and using these speedlites if you want to, you just can't use one on ETTL and one on Manual mode simultaneously like I prefer to do. You have to use them both either on ETTL or both on Manual. But that's not a big deal.

The settings I'm going to be sharing in this post are for the set-up I use with my 5D Mark III, with my on-camera flash on ETTL mode and my off-camera flash set on Manual. So let's dive in to settings! (Queue exciting music) :)

First off, you will want to set up each unit's custom functions so that they don't power off automatically when not in use for 90 seconds. SO annoying when that happens (instructions from pgs. 92 & 95 of manual):

1. Hold down the "Zm/C.Fn" button continuously until the screen displays the Custom Functions screen.
2. Click the center "SEL/SET" button to select the first custom function
3. Turn the round dial to select option #1 - OFF
4. Click the center "SEL/SET" button.

The rest of the set-up instructions I'm going to go over in this post deal with setting up the radio transmission between the units and can be found in Chapter 4 of the manual starting on page 47. In order to save time, I'm going to mainly share page numbers from the manual instead of retyping the instructions. But if anyone runs into issues and needs additional help, let me know and I'll be more explicit.

Take note of this handy zigzag button circled in red:
This is the button you will use to access the radio transmission settings menu. It is also used to set one of your units to "master" and one to "slave". Push it multiple times and you will see that it scrolls through two different master settings and two slave settings and then returns to normal flash settings -- clearing the wireless settings. Follow the instructions on page 52 of the manual to designate one of your units as the master and one as the slave.

Next, on page 53 of the manual, follow the instructions for setting a channel and wireless radio ID for your units. I recommend leaving your channel on auto since the manual says on page 54 that when you do so, the channel with the best reception signal is automatically set. That's one thing that is so cool about these units -- they have built in scanners that are able to test the strength of each channel and pick the best one for you. Notice that when you set-up these settings correctly, the "link" light on each unit turns green. That's reassurance that your speedlites are communicating wirelessly. If these lights at any time are not green, you will know something is wrong and will need to check to make sure they are on the same channel and have the same wireless radio ID.

Next, using the unit you have designated as the master, follow the instructions on page 65-66 of the manual to put your master in Group ("Gr") mode and set up the groups so they match the screen of the master unit on the left:
Note -- group "A" is the settings for the master flash -- your on-camera flash. It should be in ETTL mode, and I like to start with my flash compensation set to +1. Group "B" is the settings for your slave unit -- your off-camera flash. It should be in Manual mode. And I like to start with it set at 1/64 power.

With your slave unit, follow the instructions at the bottom of page 65 to set your slave unit to group B so that it looks identical to the screen of the unit above right. Once you set it to group B, if it doesn't show the 1/64 power, don't worry about that, it will change once you fire your flashes once. Or, you can go to the "menu 2" screen and push the test button and it should change then.

Note that you will be able to control both units from the master flash screen. Familiarize yourself with how to quickly change the flash compensation of the on-camera flash (group A) and the flash power of the off-camera flash (group B) quickly so you can do so on the fly when needed.

Once you have all of these settings complete, follow the instructions on page 56 of the manual to save them in the memory of each unit so you can quickly retrieve them when you turn your speedlites on at a wedding. Once you have that set-up, all you will need to do in future is turn each unit on, hit the zigzag button, scroll through to menu 4, then hit "menu" and "load". Your settings will be retrieved and you will be good to go!

That's it!

One more setting to note is on page 55. If there is an instance where you don't want your on-camera flash to fire but you do want it to wirelessly trigger your off-camera flash, you can turn off your on-camera master flash quickly and easily. So cool!

I hope this all makes sense and that you find it helpful! Please feel free to post any questions below and I will do my best to answer them!

If you found this post helpful, and are interested in learning more, click here to opt-in for my free video series -- 6 Hacks to Eliminate Boring Low-Light Photos and Get You Creating Reception Image you LOVE! In it I share my best 6 tips for shooting with flash. If you are intimidated by flash and wanting to conquer it once and for all, this is a great place to start!
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