A look at Canon’s New Twin-Lite MT-26EX-RT Macro Flash

The new Canon Macro Twin-Lite MT-26EX-RT. Image from Canon USA

The Canon MT-24EX Macro Twin Lite Flash has long been a mainstay for Canon macro photographers, especially those using the Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x macro lens. However, it has not been without some issues (such as poor durability, bulkiness and lack of diffusion) so it is good to hear that a replacement is now on the market. Just what makes the new Canon Macro Twin-Lite MT-26EX-RT an improvement over the earlier version? Here’s a comparison table that I’ve pulled together from Canon sources.†

FeatureMT-24EX MT-26EX-RT
DimensionsControl unit: Approx. 74 x 125.9 x 97.4
Flash head unit: Approx. 62 x 56 x 49
Control unit: Approx. 69.5 x 112.5 x 90.0mm
Flash head unit: 62.3 x 55.8 x 49.1
Head Adjustment from standardVertical: 45° up and down. Horizontal: 60° in and 30° out.Vertical: 45° up and down. Horizontal: 60° in and 30° out.
Guide Number
(with both tubes firing at full power)
72 ft / 22 m, at ISO 100 85.3 ft/26 m at ISO 100
TTL FlashE-TTL/E-TTLIIE-TTL/E-TTLII
Manual Power1/1 to 1/64 in 1 stop increments 1/1 to 1/512 in 1/3 stop increments
Manual Flash Speed"1/1400 or shorter" (from manual) estimated 1/340001/1300 - 1/67000 sec
High-speed sync.Yes.Yes.
Recycle time to full charge after full discharge
Alkaline batteries
7 sec.5 sec.
Modeling lampIncandescent. 20 second durationLED. 5 brightness increments for 20 to 60 seconds.
Ratio control8:1 ~ 1:8 8:1 ~ 1:8
Wireless spec'sOptical. Master flash for up to 4 groupsOptical/Radio. Master flash for up to 5 groups/15 units.
Diffusers includedNoYes
Custom funtions98
LCD panelBacklight with 1 brightness level.5 different brightness levels. Green or orange backlight.
Weight without batteries.9 lbs/ 404 g1.25 lbs / 570 g

Canon also mentions the following improvements to the control unit :

Image from Canon USA

“A new selection dial, set and function buttons, plus backlit operation buttons provide more intuitive operation, while new locking mechanisms help ensure continued, error-free use. The Macro Twin Lite MT-26EX-RT’s metal mounting foot also features a new locking pin and a one-touch lever for secure attachment and speedy detachment that helps prevent dust from interfering with the electric contacts. Finally, a new lock release lever has been added to the battery cover to help ensure the power stays on.”

My observations on the new flash:

While I have not had the opportunity to use the MT-26EX-RT, I do have some observations about this new macro twin flash release. The improvements are appreciated: faster recharge time, more manual discharge settings, a smaller control unit, and improved modeling/focus lights. But is this enough to justify purchasing it if you are already an owner of the older model? Some aspects of the flash are still inadequate.

  • The first disappointment is that the flash heads are still corded. I was expecting something more like Nikon’s wireless macro flash system to be in the new release.
  • The new diffusers are a nod to complaints that many have had with the old twin flash, which forced most users to develop their own home-made diffusers. Surely they could have come up with something better than clip-on diffusers that do little to enlarge the light source?
  • Another complaint about the old model was that for many purposes (i.e. with using low magnifications or long macro lenses) the flashes were mounted too close to the lens, leading many users to develop their own risers. Canon could have added plastic risers to make the flash unit more adaptable without adding greatly to the cost.

Conclusion

Considering the cost and the relatively limited improvements, it is doubtful if the new MT-26EX-RT flash is worth trading up to if you are the owner of a working model of the old MT-24EX flash. Those considering purchasing this flash should perhaps wait until more in-depth reviews are available and to see if there are any reliability issues.

Have you used this flash, or do you have any further information to add? Comments always appreciated.

†For more information:

To purchase:

As an affiliate of B&H, any flash units purchased at the links below will contribute to supporting this website.

Canon MT-24EX Macro Twin Lite

Canon Macro Twin-Lite MT-26EX-RT

This entry was posted in Canon, close-up, Equipment, Flash, Links, macro, MP-E65, photography, Season, Winter and tagged , , , .

6 Comments

  1. Annie Pang 6 December, 2017 at 1:00 AM #

    Great to see you blogging again Adrian. Always great information to read on your posts.

    • Adrian 7 December, 2017 at 5:48 AM #

      Thanks, Annie. With winter coming in, more of my posts will be on the other blog (www.adrianthysse.com), which has also been neglected lately. Hopefully, I’ll drag myself out of the doldrums soon.

  2. David 6 December, 2017 at 10:48 AM #

    I have read that the Nikon flash is a lot more battery hungry because it is wireless, perhaps for that reason Canon didn’t follow suit.

  3. Brent Bristol 16 January, 2018 at 10:44 AM #

    I tend to use the MT-24EX at magnifications above 3X and use the manual flash exposure option to get more consistent lighting from shot to shot for focus stacking purposes. With the MT-24EX one can only manually change the exposure in full stops. It appears that one can change the exposure in 1/3 stops with the new MT-26EX. That seems like a worthwhile refinement.

    • Adrian 16 January, 2018 at 2:40 PM #

      Thanks for picking up on that, Brent. I have updated the table.

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