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Monday, July 18, 2011

Cactus V5 Duo Review

I have to say that the Cactus V5 are some pretty sexy transceivers. I am a big fan of how they look and feel.

Portland Photographer Jayesunn Krump

The Cactus V5 transceivers work on the 2.4GHz radio frequency and have up to 16 selectable channels. They have a max sync speed of 1/1000s, depending on your camera's max sync speed, and have a maximum working distance of 100 meters. They are pretty light and take AAA batteries. The units shipped with two table top stands for the transceivers, one 3.5mm cable, one PC sync cable, one 6.35mm plug adapter, batteries for both transceivers, a copy of “When light dances”, and the manual.

Portland Photographer Jayesunn Krump

The layout of the Cactus V5 is very intuitive. On the top of the unit you have the test button next to the status LED along with the female hot shoe. On the left side you have the X-sync port and the mode switch that you power the unit on and off with and also use to change between transmitter and receiver. On the other side you have the channel dial and can choose any one of 16 channels to work on. On the underside of the unit there is a standard tripod mount, hot shoe, and lock to secure the transceiver to the cameras hot shoe.

Cactus V5 transceivers do not transmit TTL information nor are they backward compatible with older Cactus units. They do have a pass through signal via the top mount hot shoe, so you can piggy back other units on top.

Portland Photographer Jayesunn Krump

With an optional shutter release cable you can use the Cactus V5's as a remote shutter release. All you need to do is connect one transceiver to the top of the camera and hook up the shutter release cable to the camera and the hot shoe mounted transceiver. Place the camera mounted unit to “Receiver” mode. Set the second off camera transceiver unit to “Transmitter” mode. When you push the button down half way down the camera will auto focus and then when you push the button down the rest of the way the shutter will release and take the picture.

The top mounted LED provides a lot of very helpful information. Green lights on good power and shutter release, Orange when you half press to auto focus, red on the transmitter when you have a low battery there and the LED will flash red when you have a low battery on the receiver. There is also a trouble shooting menu in the instruction manual that will use the LED display to help figure out what is wrong.

You can also use multi-channel triggering on these units, but I just don't ever use this option. For more information on that you can see your instruction manual.

Portland Photographer Jayesunn Krump

The Cactus V5 units are light, but not flimsy feeling. When they are mounted on camera they lock down very well and stay that way even when you mount a flash on top of the unit. I will often mount my Lumopro LP160 on top of the camera mounted transceiver and I do not worry about it coming off.

These units have been nothing but reliable. There was a small amount of the Cactus V5s that had a problem with Nikon cameras and flashes, but Gadget infinity made this problem known and will ship out replacement parts to fix this issue.

As I mentioned before the design is fantastic. Very well done and nice and sleek. However, I do have a few issues with the Cactus V5 transceivers. The first issue is that the transceivers do not have a hole for the lock down pin on Nikon flashes to fit into, and as a result on two different occasions my flash unit has fallen off from the transceivers.

Portland Photographer Jayesunn Krump

They use AAA batteries, but there is more than enough room inside of the transceivers to accommodate AA batteries. If I can figure out a way to modify them to take AA batteries I totally will.

The only other issue that I have with these units is the lock down wheel, and it is just a very minor gripe. The wheel could be just a bit bigger. I find it just a bit awkward from time to time loosening the lock down wheel.

All in all if those are the only pseudo complaints that I have about the Cactus V5s then they are doing a great job. If you are looking for some very reliable triggers that are reasonably priced then you should give the Cactus V5 a very good look. At only about $60 for a set it is well worth it to pick up a set and give them a spin.

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