Cactus V5: transceiver-based triggering for the masses?

We review the Cactus Wireless Transceiver V5, Gadget Infinity's latest flash trigger. How do the new transceivers compare to other flash triggers?

Cactus V5 Transceiver

Conclusion

Cactus V5 Transceiver

To summarise, the Cactus V5 has its weaknesses but is all-round good at what it’s designed for, and that’s basic flash triggering. Moreover, it’s clear that the manufacturers have chosen not to follow the crowd when designing the V5. This feels like a unique trigger that’s blazing a trail of its own. Multi-channel groups need another couple of iterations before they lead the market, but their first foray is not without merit. The manufacturer says,

Multi-channel triggering has been included in V5 for us to “test the waters”, so we had implemented it in a manner that is simple and practical, yet will not interfere with those who will not use it.

If the ability to use a flash on-camera is a big deal for you, I’d recommend something with full TTL pass-through, such as the Phottix Strato or upcoming Pixel Bishop. However, if the convenience of a transceiver-based trigger is what appeals, and you aren’t put off by the size, Cactus V5s are excellent value for money.

Advantages

  • Reliable up to long distances
  • Any unit can act as transmitter or receiver
  • Price
  • Hotshoe on top of transmitter
  • 3.5mm sync socket
  • AAA batteries
  • High safe sync voltage

Disadvantages

  • Awkward position of tripod socket, and no socket on the included flash stand
  • No TTL pass-through or flash wake-up
  • No locking pin hole on hotshoe
  • Channels dial difficult to read
  • No indicator lights in RX mode to show unit is switched on
  • Bulky
  • Cannot trigger reliably at very close distances

What improvements will we see in the mass production version? The female hotshoe will be changed somehow so that a Nikon SB-600 can be attached securely. The locking ring on the foot won’t be as stiff. Other than that, what you see in this review is a reasonably accurate representation of the final product.

Where to buy

Cactus V5 transceivers are priced at US$34.95 per unit and $59.95 per pair at Gadget Infinity. They are due to be released later this month (January 2011).

David Selby
Based in Paris, France, David Selby is editor of Lighting Rumours, a part-time photographer and a quantitative analyst.
selbydavid.com