Review: Cactus Wireless Flash Trigger V2s

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One of the least expensive ways to get started with off-camera flash photography is by using the Cactus Wireless Triggers. The Cactus is also referred to as the Ebay trigger since this is where it first caught the attention of photographers all over the world. This wireless RF flash trigger is distributed by Gadget Infinity and we bought ours directly from their website for $32.95 excluding shipping.


SPECIFICATIONS
  • FCC and CE accredited
  • 4 channels selectable
  • Work with V2/V2s wireless receivers only
  • Designed for flashes which (1) comes with a trigger voltage lower than 12V and (2) could not be triggered by V1 or V2 receivers
  • Tested effective area: 10m (open area without interference)
  • Response time: 1/500s – 1/1000s (actual sync speed varies from 1/125s to 1/600s depending on the sync speed of flash / strobe)
  • One PC sync cable (PC male to 3.5mm plug) is included
  • Receiver comes with PC sync port
  • Radio working frequency: 433MHz
  • Net Weight: 78g

The set includes a transmitter that directly mounts on your camera hot-shoe. It has a small test button at the top with a LED indicator lighting when the transmitter is activated. The channel selector is found at the bottom of the unit. The transmitter also came with the type-23A 12V battery pre-installed. The transmitter is tiny compared to other RF units like the Pocket Wizard. It sits unobtrusively on the top of your camera.


The receiver also directly mounts on your hot-shoe flash. The photo above shows the Cactus attached to a Canon 430EX. I love the convenience of this since other receivers will require you to connect a PC sync cable to your flash and if your flash doesn’t have a PC port then you will need to purchase a PC to hot-shoe adapter.

The on/off switch is found at the front of the unit with the LED light on turning flashing when the receiver is triggered. The receiver also comes attached to an aluminum L-bracket that you can mount to a light stand or tripod. The receiver body is made completely of plastic and it feels a bit wobbly when it’s mounted on a stand with a flash attached, but it’s secure.


The left side of the receiver also features a PC sync socket so you can trigger non hot-shoe flashes. The unit also comes with a short PC sync cable.


The back of the receiver comes off so you can install the lithium CR2 3V battery. You can also find the channel selector inside.

PERFORMANCE

When you go through other websites, you will find the occasional complaint about the Cactus not working with Canon flashes. It is worth noting that those were written about the Cactus V1 and V2. The V2s was specifically produced to address these issues. The units work seamlessly with our Canon flashes and cameras. I’ve used the triggers for over 1,200 shots and they have only misfired once.

Other photographers have also found out that the main cause of the misfires and relatively short range (compared to other RF triggers) is that the antenna on the transmitter is a bit weak. Some have found a way to fix this problem. You can find a simple antenna mod tutorial here. A more advanced mod that also improves the receiver performance by well over a 100 feet was also done by Kuster.

What we would love to see in future versions is a more accessible channel selector on the transmitter. You will need to remove the transmitter from the hot-shoe to change the settings. It would be perfect if you could do this on the fly so it would be easier to use a multi-channel setup.

I would definitely suggest that you give the Cactus V2s a try if you’re looking to start off-camera lighting without breaking the bank. Adding a light stand, shoe mount clamp and an umbrella with these triggers will give you a very affordable and portable studio lighting kit.

Two thumbs up from Beyond Megapixels.

Related Reading:
Flash 101: Off-Camera
Light Modifiers 101
Some Lighting Tips for Beginners

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