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Gadget Infinity Cactus V4

Reviews Views Date of last review
1 10,901 Tue April 6, 2010
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $39.95 8.00
Gadget Infinity Cactus V4


Description:
16-channel radio transmitter / receiver system to fire off-camera flashes.

Product image used with kind permission from Gadget Infinity.



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Pentaxian

Registered: August, 2008
Location: Wellington, New Zealand
Posts: 10,827
Review Date: April 6, 2010 I can recommend this item: Yes | Price: $39.95 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: inexpensive, 0-300 V trigger voltage, receivers take AAA batteries, hot-shoe & cable triggering
Cons: range not as good as professional triggers

This V4 version is much improved over the former V2 and V2s versions. One no longer requires an antenna modification for reliable triggering.

I love that the triggers have a trigger voltage range of 0-300V. You therefore do not need to pay attention to the trigger voltage of old, cheap flashes, unlike with some other triggers which will only operate in the ranges of either 0-12V or 12-300V. The triggers even work with positive and negative polarity voltages.

I also love that the receivers take ordinary AAA batteries or accumulators. Only the transmitter requires a slightly special battery (L1028 / 23A 12V) but this one is rated to last for a year.

One transmitter can fire an arbitrary number of receivers and with 16 channels to chose from you can easily avoid other shooters or interference from other radio sources.

Receivers can work as a flash stand in a pinch but also have a tripod screw mount. They can fire flashes via hot-shoe or with one of three cables (all supplied in the transmitter + receiver package): 3.5mm plug, 6.35mm plug, or pc sync cable.

I like the size and look of the receivers, triggering works at 1/180 without any problems (they could also easily handle 1/250 if our Pentax cameras could) and couldn't be happier except for the following downsides:

My triggers are usually very reliable but with the batteries supplied the range is 15m maximum, not the 30m specified. I've tried them outdoors and with freshly charged accumulators but could never reach anything close to 30m. Perhaps I'll get that range with a different set of batteries but I doubt it as I tried a new battery in the transmitter and freshly charged accumulators in the receivers. N.B., another reviewer got close to 100m out of their Cactus V4. I tried to avoid radio interference with other 433MHz devices but have no way of knowing how polluted my test areas are.

BTW, the review referenced above attests that the triggers cope with a 7FPS shooting frequency. I haven't performed such test myself yet.

A slight problem is that the transmitter must not be too close to the receivers, otherwise you'll get misfires. Normally, this isn't a problem -- why use radio triggers if a cable would do? -- but when I used the triggers in a macro situation where I have the camera in one hand and the flash in the other in a very crammed space, I sometimes got misfires because the transmitter and receiver end up being too close together (they were practically touching each other). I believe the same will happen with other triggers as well. Radio controlled model cars have the same property; you've got to have a minimum distance to them before they will react to the the remote control. For the Cactus V4 a couple of inches will do.

I consider it a design flaw that you cannot turn the receivers on/off if a flash is mounted on them. All my flashes block the switch when they are mounted. If you forgot to turn the receiver on, you cannot do it after having mounted the flash. Not a big problem but seems somewhat avoidable.

BTW, the service from Gadget Infinity is top-notch! They replied to all my queries in no time and were always very helpful. My experience with them was nothing short of excellent.

These are very inexpensive triggers and I believe you get a lot more than you pay for. Other systems will provide better range, support TTL, and may provide more rock-solid reliability, but they are also (an) order(s) of magnitude more expensive. For the budget-minded amateur these triggers are likely to be more than adequate.

BTW, note that Pentax flashes have a very low trigger voltage and while they are compatible with the Cactus V4 triggers under normal conditions, they may start playing up in very cold conditions. There is a tweak that solves this incompatibility between the Cactus V4 and Pentax flashes in very cold temperatures. EDIT: I understand that the manufacturer has worked on this issue and current units may not have a problem with the Pentax flashes in very cold weather anymore.

Final tip: If you find your flash fits in the receiver hot-shoe too tightly (I personally don't have that problem) you can easily remove an extra metal hot-shoe plate that acts like a spring in the receiver with a screwdriver.

Have a look at how the Cactus V4 triggers look like in the box and with flashes attached.

P.S.: The vast majority of flashes is compatible with radio triggers like the Cactus V4. There are a few which cannot be triggered off-camera with any similar radio trigger because they require dedicated data communication with a the camera. One example for such an exotic flash is the Pentax dedicated Centon FG105D, aka, Promaster 7000m and Quantaray PZ-1 DSZ (the Nikon dedicated version will work). If you've got such a flash and it has an optical slave function then here's how to fix the problem with a bit of DIY.
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