Cactus Flash Trigger - Short review

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by Emil, Jun 4, 2010.

  1. Emil

    Emil Member

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    I recently bought a Cactus v4 wireless radio flash trigger and as I was researching the product online I found very little reliable information. (I am not going to provide specifications or any links to the product, as this is not an advertisement. Google it) So, if anyone are considering getting into wireless flash, here's what I found:

    Test gear: one Cactus v4 transmitter, two receivers, Olympus OM-1n, Ricoh 500G, Agfa APX100 film, Canon powershot G2 (It's not a digicam!! I prefer to think of it as a "visual lightmeter") and a Nikon D40 (okay, that's a digicam... guilty) National PE-3066G flash and Sunpak 3075G flash.


    Price:
    Easily the cheapest option. I did however have to pay a customs fee that was more than half the price of the product. Not a tax but a fee for customs opening the package and declaring that the value was to low for import tax. (stupid, I know)

    Build quality:
    Also very cheap. I would not want to use a heavy flash on the hotshoe, everything creaks and bends.

    Reliability:
    This is the critical part. I was worried about unreliable firing, but there have been nothing to report so far. Over the last month I have been using these extensively, and I have had no cases of the trigger not firing when triggered. I have had the flash not fire because the flash batteries were running low, but the wireless is not to blame for that. Only once has the flash fired autonomously, I do not know if it was the trigger or the flash that went weird.

    Range:
    The farthest I've tested is 20 meters outdoors. No problems.

    Sync speed:
    With the Ricoh 500G's leaf shutter I get sync up to the full 1/500 and I don't seem to lose any light even with a full power flash burst. With Canon G2 and Nikon D40 I get sync to 1/1000. At 1/1000 I lose a little light, but not so much that it isn't still extremely awesome to sync that fast esp. in full sunlight. At the next speed (1/1260?) it fails everytime.

    I hope this is useful to someone. I you have any questions, just ask!

    Emil
     
  2. alexhill

    alexhill Member

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    Also, very hackable
     
  3. mhcfires

    mhcfires Subscriber

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    I wasn't too happy with my Cactus triggers. They are too unreliable. The price was right, but I was not too happy with them. The final straw was dropping one to the floor and when it popped open I noticed that the plastic back had broken on impact. It only fell about three feet to a wooden floor. I saved up and bought some RadioPoppers. They are cool, work well and I can control the output of my Sb 800 flashes remotely.

    Broke but happy.

    m
     
  4. vdonovan

    vdonovan Subscriber

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    I've been using the Cactus triggers for a few months, on about a dozen shoots. No problems with missed shots once I replaced the stock batteries with real batteries. Because they are so cheap, I could afford several sets of transmitters and receivers, which I like because I use several different cameras on a shoot.

    I agree with Michael C. that they are flimsy. The battery cover regularly came off one of mine until I taped it down.

    Alex, how are you hacking these things? What interesting stuff are you doing?
     
  5. alexhill

    alexhill Member

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    I did a couple things which I believe are fairly common hacks. Mine are a few years old, so there might be design changes. I took out the stock battery (cr2 i belive)and put a female audio jack in the side wired up to the battery pick ups. Then attached with velcro a 2xAA battery pack to the back and wired them to a male audio jack. I use those 15min rechargeable batters and have 30 or 40 of them around at a time. All of my camera gear will run off of them- so I NEVER run out of batteries

    Also on the transmitter the broadcasting antenna was an improper length resulting is poor transmission and missed fires. FYI an antenna has to have a length that corresponds with the frequency. Also altering the antenna of a radio device is illegal in the US. After I added my antenna (coat hanger cut to length) onto the built in antenna My range is easily 500 feet. I didn't bother to test further distances.
     
  6. 6x9

    6x9 Member

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    I also put tape and foam around the body to handle the shock and awe I place on all my gear. 2 years and still solid and about 90% reliability. For the price, they are everything I expect.