Canon recently announced an upgrade to its flagship Speedlite: the 600EX II-RT replaces the original 600EX-RT. My initial impression is that the new model is well-suited for power shooters who need faster recycle times. While the 600EX II-RT maintains the external layout of the 600EX-RT, the internal heat resistance has been improved to allow for longer runs of continuous shooting. For the fastest recycle times, you’ll want to pair the 600EX II-RT with the new CP-E4N battery pack.
Rapid-fire shooters also will be glad to know that the “Quick Flash” feature (which fires the flash when only partially recharged) can now be used when the camera is set to Continuous drive. Also, when the 600EX II-RT is used as a radio master, off-camera Speedlites that are recycled will fire when others are not yet fully recycled. Previously, the system would not fire any off-camera Speedlites until all had checked in as ready-to-go.
Another improvement is that the new Speedlite includes a snap-on dome diffuser and two amber-colored filters for shooting under tungsten light. Conveniently, the diffuser is sized to snap over the amber filters, so you can use both at the same time.
The dot-matrix LCD has been improved slightly. The exposure and wireless mode indicators are now a bit larger on the screen. A recycle indicator now shows the progress of the recycle (another feature for power shooters). Virtually all other features and specifications remain the same as the 600EX-RT.
All in all, these are welcome improvements. However, since I’m not a machine-gun Speedliter, I won’t be replacing my 600EX-RTs with the new model. That said, if I frequently shot events and needed the fastest Speedliting system available, I would upgrade my Speedlites and add the CP-E4N battery packs. Of course, if you don’t need the rapid recycle features, the original 600EX-RT is now more affordable than ever.