Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT shoots longer, simpler; EF-M 28mm Macro sports clever built-in ring flash


posted Tuesday, May 10, 2016 at 11:01 PM EST


Alongside its consumer-friendly PowerShot SX620 HS long-zoom pocket camera which launched today, Canon has also revealed two further new products aimed a little higher up the photographic food chain: The Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM lens, and the Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT flash strobe. We'll be looking at both in this article, and we'll start with the strobe since it likely has broader appeal, especially in the US market where Canon's EF-M mount has yet to gain significant traction.

The Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT flash replaces the earlier Speedlite 600EX-RT, which launched four years ago alongside the Canon 5D Mark III camera body. (How quickly time flies!) The new strobe shares a lot with its predecessor, including the exact same 20-200mm coverage and top-of-the-line guide number of 60 meters (197 feet) at ISO 100. It also retains the interesting dual radio / optical transmission support for wireless flash control in up to five groups, and has very similar styling, controls and display to the earlier model as well. (That's good news, because it should make the transition rather smoother for existing 600EX-RT owners.)


So what's new? Well the key change is better thermal management, which shows itself in a claimed 1.1x to 1.5x improvement in the number of shots possible in a burst, or as much as a 2x improvement with an optional battery pack. [Note: An earlier version of this item stated that the improvement was in recycle time, based on incorrect info provided in Canon's press release. Apologies for any inconvenience!] And that pack, the CP-E4N Compact Battery Pack is also said to yield increased battery life over the standard AA cells, although we don't yet have specific figures. Another new optional accessory is a set of hard, clip-on type color filters in place of the easily-damaged flexible gels and holder used previously. And Canon tells us that the new strobe also boasts improved weather and dust resistance, although it doesn't provide specific details as to the degree of improvement made. Finally, we're told that the menu system for radio functions has been overhauled for better ease of use, and also now allows you to see the battery level of remote strobes.

Pricing for the Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT flash strobe is set at around US$580, with availability from June 2016.


Moving on, the Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM lens is the first macro lens to have been specifically designed for Canon's fledgling EF-M lens mount, and it's also pretty unusual for some other reasons. For one thing, it's exceptionally small and light for an interchangeable macro lens, and it's among the first to feature its own built-in macro ring flash. (Not the very first, though, as Nikon had a lens with built-in ring light many decades back.) That's an interesting design choice: It means the ring flash can't be shared with other optics or replaced without the lens should it stop working, but it also allows for a more compact design and likely cost Canon relatively little to add to each lens. It has a two-segment design with two-step brightness control for each segment, and can fire both segments together or either individually.

The lens itself has 45mm-equivalent coverage on a Canon EF-M body, and sports an optical formula including one UD and two aspherical lenses. Maximum magnification is 1x by default, or 1.2x in Super Macro mode, and a near-silent STM autofocus motor means this optic is also conducive to video use. Also included is a Hybrid IS system as in the 100mm f/2.8L Macro, which also corrects for tilt motion.


The Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM lens also goes on sale from June 2016, priced at around US$300 including a lens hood. Click here for more info and full specs.