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I’ve been puzzled why I couldn’t get the 600EX-RT Speedlite flash to keep up with my Canon 1D-X at 12 fps when the flash is in E-TTL mode. There’s even a Canon video saying that it can (Action Photography with the Speedlite 600EX-RT). But try as I might, the flash slows down the fps to about 6-7 fps. If the flash is on manual, there’s no problem, but on E-TTL, no go.
I chatted with Scott from Canon Professional Service and he and his colleagues confirmed the following. E-TTL can’t keep up with a 1D-X because each image requires a pre-flash to meter. But, the good news is, you can use Flash Exposure Lock (FEL) to get E-TTL to meter the scene, hold that reading for 16 seconds, and then fire off a burst at full speed. You’ll need to press FEL again after you release the shutter, but this technique allows you use E-TTL at the full speed of the 1D-X. For more info, read Canon’s article on FEL and Compensation.