I was given the chance to test out the first batch of the new cactus v5 radio trigger system. I have been testing it for 3 weeks now and I have to say they are a large improvement over the Cactus v4 that was released in 2009.
The cactus V5 comes in the same style packaging that the cactus v4 came in It is in a nice black box with foam. This is quite useful and I normally when traveling to shoots keep the triggers in their original boxes.
- 2x Cactus v5 transceivers
- 2x Flash stands
- 1x 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable
- 1x 3.5mm to pc cable
- 1x 6.35mm adapter
- 4x AAA batteries
- 1x When Light Dances 2 album
- 1x User Manual
- Working Radio Frequency: 2.4 GHz
- 16 channels selectable
- Support sync speeds up to 1/1000(subject to cameras native sync speed limitation)
- Maximum effective distance: 100 meters (328feet)
- Operating temperature: -20ºC to +50ºC
- Dimensions: 82mm(L)x70mm(W)x37mm(H)
- Weight: 58g
- Power input: 2x AAA 1.5V batteries
- Flash voltage handling: up to 300V
- Camera voltage handling: up to 6V
- EXCLUSIVE! Frequency Self-Tune (FST)
- NEW! Support for maximum sync speed
- NEW! Multi-channel triggering
- Solid Performance
- Transceiver design
- Two hot shoe ports
The Cactus V5 transceiver will intelligently and automatically adjust its frequency under extreme conditions.
The Cactus V5 is designed and tested to obtain any sync speed, so long as it is supported by the camera (e.g. 1/1000s for some Nikon Models “ie D40″, and 1/250 for Canon “Rebel series and 10D-60D” some high end Canon models limited to 1/200.
Trigger up to 4 sets of flashes separately or all at once. Simply switch the transmitter to Channel “1″ to trigger all flashes whose receivers are set to Channels 1 to 5.
Maximum range of 100 meters and operating temperature of -20ºC to + 50ºC
Cactus V5 can be used both as a transmitter and a receiver. Operating mode is changed through a mode switch on the side.
Cactus V5 can operate as a either a wireless flash transceiver or a wireless camera shutter release. This includes auto focus and bulb functionality on select cameras.
Apart from triggering wireless flashes, you can also fire a flash on top of the transmitter, simultaneously.
The Cactus V5 is designed as a transceiver meaning that it can be on camera as a transmitter or off camera as a receiver. Because of this some design features had to be a certain way. However first let me get to the positives. We all like good news first right.
The ability to have a flash on top of the transceiver while on camera is a nice feature. It allows for run and gun types of situations along with the ability to do on axis fill lighting setups. This is a big + for me.
The battery compartment has been re designed It seems more solid and easy to access. Also it does not take any weird expensive battery. Instead it takes the common AAA 1.5 v battery. It is a click lock kind of design. Kind of like how you remove the pcmcia cards on laptops.
The hot shoe on the top and bottom are both metal adding for strength and stability.
The switches the channel dial and the mode switch are easy to access on the side of the transceiver.
The design aspects that I do not like is the placement of the screw mount. It will not work on my tripod plates or my light stand. The fix to this is to use a cold shoe on the light stand to mount it. After talking to cactus they were not able to put the thread at the same height as the shoe because on certain Olympus cameras it would of prevented the ability for the transceiver to fit on the camera. It seems like the thread was just an add on not a main design feature. The Pocket Wizard TT1 does not even have a tripod thread on it so even high end triggers do not have that as a main design consideration.
Another down side to the v5 is the added size because of the additional circuitry. Its not to the size that it is unusable it just is bigger than the v4.
The cactus V5 will not trigger cactus V4 receivers so they are not compatible. I have a non supported work around more on this in a later post.
Battery Compartment demo:
I have had the triggers since December 17th and I have done some tests and have used the triggers many times.
The triggers are very reliable I have not had one miss fire since testing. Although I never had miss fires with the v4 also. The move to the 2.4GHz looks to be a good improvement.
Locked down the transceiver seems solid on both the camera and on the cold shoe of the light stand.
Demo of strength and stability… I risked my 400+$ Canon 580EXII in this test and the v5 did not let me down..
The Cactus v5 is rated for 100m reliability and they win that easy. I was able to sync at 100% 1/250 at 100m (328 feet). I was able to trigger the flash successfully well beyond that range to 630feet. My building at work is 600 feet long. I ran out of room im sure it would of triggered beyond that distance. I was about to fall in a ditch so I stopped walking. However because of the fact that the sun went down not thinking I dropped down to 1/40 to get my test picture nice and exposed. So I am going to retest the sync speed at 100-200m range. Note on minimum usage. The cactus v5 was not designed to work at very close range. They will not trigger 100% if transmitter and receiver are less than 6 inches apart. Have yet to test if this still is effect with both in receiver mode. Need additional transceivers to test.. This is as designed and normal.
See the following review for Pocket Wizard vs Cactus V5 testing. The test results are quite impressive. http://www.flickr.com/groups/strobist/discuss/72157625637331217/
Image from Microsoft maps.
A nice new feature of the cactus v5 is the ability to control the shutter remotely with an extra cable. The way it functions is if you half press the button it focuses the camera. Then if you press the button the rest of the way it fires the shutter. This is designed to act the same way the default button works on your camera. The shutter release also has the ability to go into bulb mode. If you hold the button all the way down until the light goes off in bulb mode it will hold the shutter open until you press the button again. This is nice if your going to go out and shoot long exposure a tripod at night. A nice side effect of this is if you set the camera to rapid fire and you hold the shutter release down it will keep firing until you push the button again . The speed is of corse limited on your camera the settings and how much your buffer can handle.
The price is very reasonable for the feature set that is included with the trigger system.
Cactus Wireless Flash Transceiver V5 Duo
Retail price: USD 59.95
Cactus Wireless Flash Transceiver V5 Single
Retail price: USD 34.95
The Cactus V5 Duo is a vast improvement over the cactus v4 and v2 series flashes. It is a more flexible system with more features. I definitely am going to be buying another set in the near future.
If your looking for a trigger system to move to or to start out with check this system out its definitely a worth the money.
- Reliability 2.4GHze operational frequency. No longer issues with Canon EX flashes..
- Range 100m+ even in cold weather
- Ability to select flashes group or single
- Works as wireless camera trigger
- Ability to use flash on camera while triggering off camera flashes. Good for on axis fill.
- Move to AAA standard batteries
- High Voltage compatibility trigger voltage of 0-300V
- Low batter indicator light
- Hot shoe lock down
- High max sync speed
- Free flash stands
- Tripod thread location makes it not compatible with some stands and tripods. Cold Shoe solves this.
- Larger size
- Issues transceivers within 1-6 inches of each other firing reliably(I have not verified if this changes when in receiving mode.) So for micro use a cable.
- Incompatibility with cactus v4.. See work around here.
- Higher power consumption compared to the v4. Unfortunately more features new frequency more power.
- No on-camera TTL pass through for transmitter was left out to reduce price point.