Cactus V5 Wireless Trigger Review

When it comes to wireless flash triggers you have the big names like Pocketwizard and Radio Popper but on the other side of the scale, one brand has been known for its reliability and on-going innovation, and that’s the Cactus brand. My Cactus V2’s have been with me for years and still work so when folks at Harvemetst One, the company behind the Cactus brand, asked me to try out the upcoming V5’s, I jumped at the chance.

Full Disclosure

Let’s be clear on one thing here, I sell a competing product to the Cactus triggers. My triggers are quite affordable, work well, support 4 channels, and have a range of about 90 feet. The reason I am pointing this out is not to pimp out my own products but to be honest about it and I promise to be as fair and unbiased as possible during this review.

Features

Most low cost wireless triggers have a transmitter and then separate receivers. The Cactus V5 only come one way, as transceivers. Each transceiver can be either a transmitter or receiver depending on how you are using it.

A nice feature change from my old V2’s is the use of standard AAA batteries. Push on the back and the tray pops out. Replace the batteries and push it back. No more ordering strange and expensive batteries for the receivers.

Specifications (each V5 transceiver)

  • Working radio frequency: 2.4GHz;
  • 16 channels selectable;
  • Support sync speed: up to 1/1000 second (subject to camera’s sync speed limitation);
  • Compatible with all DSLR and SLR cameras with standard ISO hot shoe or PC sync output;
  • Compatible with portable flashes and studio strobes;
  • Low battery indicator;
  • Maximum effective area: 100 meters (328 feet);
  • Operating temperature: -20°C to +50°C (-4°F to 122°F);
  • Flash voltage handling: up to 300V;
  • Camera voltage handling: up to 6V;
  • Power input: 2 x AAA 1.5V batteries;
  • Connection port: 3.5mm (1/8″) mono mini-phone;
  • Dimensions: 82mm (L) x 70mm (W) x 37mm (H);
  • Weight: 58g;

On the left side you have the TX/Off/RX swide switch while the opposite side has a 16 position rotary dial. Again, a nice step up from sliding DIP switches. While this does make it easier to change channels, it also makes it easier to accidentally change it. The left side also has a 1/8″ port that can be used for connecting to PC Sync fired flashes or for remote firing of a camera.

Probably the biggest change is that each unit, being a receiver, has a hot shoe mount to fire a speedlite, but this also allows you to use a speedlite on top of your camera while also using the transmitter. If you are using an off-camera light for a key light, then you can have a flash on-camera for some fill light.

On the bottom the Cactus V5 is outfitted with a metal hot shoe which is really nice to see on a budget piece of hardware. There is also a 1/8″ threaded  port so you can attach the V5 to a light stand.

On top of the hot shoe mount is the clamping wheel. While the threads on the wheel are fairly fine, which helps keep it secured to a swivel mount, the wheel size itself is pretty small and I have some difficulty in adjusting it with my large fingers.

The build quality is very nice has a very professional feel. If you didn’t notice in the specs, the Cactus V5’s use the 2.4Ghz Spectrum allowing for close to 300 feet in range.

Does it work?

The big question is does all these new features and upgraded specs add up to an improved product? The answer is “it depends”. The Cactus V5’s certainly have an exceptional range. I tested them out and ran out of space at right at 300′ and they still working fine. Will you ever need to use a flash 300 feet away? Most likely not but the theory is that you will always have a strong signal that is less likely to suffer from interference.

The Big Question

So the big question, especially considering that I already mentioned that I sell a competing product, is would I recommend the Cactus V5. Let’s break it down and see where the Cactus V5 stacks up.

  • 2.4Ghz for longer range and less interference
  • 16 Channels
  • Easy channel change via rotary dial
  • AAA Batteries for easy replacement
  • Metal hot shoe
  • Hot shoe passthru
  • Ability to work as a remote camera trigger (not at the same time as flash trigger)
  • Up to 1/1000 sync speed (dependent on camera body)
  • Retail price of $59 for two transceivers

Given the features and price point I have to give the Cactus V5’s a big thumbs up. In fact, if I can buy them at wholesale I will sell them myself. Can you save a few bucks with less expensive triggers? Of course you can and while they may work just fine there are certainly situations where the cheaper units can misfire with certain types of interference and the 2.4Ghz and 16 channels can certainly help avoid that.

The metal hot shoe and good lock down screw will help keep your gear more secure and the hot shoe pass-through is something unique to Cactus V5. For the price, the Cactus V5 is an excellent value.

The Cactus V5 is available now from Gadget Infinity: http://www.gadgetinfinity.com

KerryG

Kerry Garrison lives in Castle Rock, Colorado with his wife and two dogs. With 10 years of experience shooting products and 5 years of experience in the wedding industry, Kerry brings a good deal of technical know-how and can explain topics in easy-to-understand terms.

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18 Responses

  1. David says:

    Would definitely be interested if you could start selling them!

  2. unclejerry says:

    I have the V4 and like them for the most part. I was one time on a job and for some reason, they would not fire, switched out for fresh batteries, changed the signal channels, nothing seemed to help. Tried them again a couple of days later, worked perfectly.
    But my biggest complaint with the V4's is the fact that the receiver unit does not hold the flash very tight. My Nikon SB600 has a loose fit in the hot shoe. If i'm shooting into an umbrella and have it at a steep angle, they seem to come unseated from the hot shoe. They haven't completely fallen out, but have come close.
    If this is something you dont notice a problem with, might consider upgrading to these.

  3. Roger says:

    anybody know if you can use 1/1000 sync speed on a canon 7D.

  4. Andrew L says:

    I can't tell if the V5s have a retaining hole for the Nikon lock on an SB-600? Do they? Or is it something else they left out like the couple extra pins that could have kept the TTL capability of an on-axis flash? Too bad, they could have made the Phottix Strato obsolete with the pass-through TTL capability.

  5. Bob Foley says:

    I just received two V5's and shutter cable for the Canon 7D last night. I have the old Vivitar 283 (~220 volts), and it worked great, both on the hot-shoe of the receiver and using a sync cable.

    However, I tried for a couple hours to get the remote shutter to trigger the camera. Half press got the orange LED lit, and auto-focus would happen but fully pressing the release just would not release the shutter. A couple times the Red Eye/Self timer light was on, but still nothing I Tried switching units, re-seating the sync cable, verified the channels never changed, set the lens to manual focus, camera to Auto, TV, AV, Manual. I tried with the receiver both on and off the camera. Tried with live view. I even tried video mode knowing that I can release the shutter when a video is being recorded.

    I just read another post regarding holding the button for a few seconds puts the shutter into Bulb. If so, I still did not get any shots. Another post mentions what to power on first (camera or receiver), tried this on my own. Batteries were all good, take that out of the equation.

    If anybody knows what I have missed, please help before my jumping into the abyss is considered ;>)

    I did send the issue to Gadget Infinity support before posting here, so maybe a non-issue when time zones roll around.

    A few notes (with all the wisdom of my three hours of use):
    — The battery compartment looks and feels as though it could be a weak link. The clip feels like it won't live long, or take too many bumps.
    — From someone Else's post – "battery life is not great – but this is attributed to the higher frequency and greater transmitting distance".
    — The Test / Shutter release button could be better made (again, feels a little flimsy.). I found the half click to fully depressed was a "learned" feel.
    — The tightening ring on the shoe mount could be bigger. It is a little hard to get at when mounting on the camera.
    — I mounted one of the sync's on my tripod (no quick release used) and it fit fine.
    — Cosmetically, I like the low profile when on the camera.
    — The Orange/Green LED is large and bright (at least indoors), easy to see.

  6. derrick says:

    Are your going to be carrying them? If not that's ok as I am planning on purchasing your Nice units with 2 receivers and 1 transmitter

  7. Steven says:

    I recently bought the Cactus V5 and am so impressed that I am buying another set. I like that I can set up four flashes on individual channels and independently control them for metering purposes and then simply switch the transmitter to channel 1 and fire them all at once when I begin shooting. I have not tested their distance out for myself yet, but I am sure I will not be disapointed.

  8. Sylver says:

    If I mount the camera on a tree and can't physically be up there, could I trigger the shutter with one of the V5 units from below?

  9. Dana says:

    Kerry, I realize this is revisiting an old post but when the Cactus V5 is used with a 580EII can it be controlled via the menu on a 5D MarkII?

  1. January 28, 2011

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Photography News and Photography Help, Mario Faustino. Mario Faustino said: RT @PhotogNews: CameraDojo: Cactus V5 Wireless Trigger Review http://bit.ly/e9uMfS Full http://bit.ly/dGPZQB […]

  2. January 30, 2011

    […] Cactus V5 Wireless Trigger Review | Camera Dojo – Take better … Full Disclosure. Let's be clear on one thing here, I sell a competing product to the Cactus triggers. My triggers are quite affordable, work well, support 4 channels, and have a range of about 90 feet. The reason I am pointing this out is . some difficulty in adjusting it with my large fingers. The build quality is very nice has a very professional feel. If you didn't notice in the specs, the Cactus V5′s use the 2.4Ghz Spectrum allowing for close to 300 feet in range. […]

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