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12-21-2015, 01:15 PM   #1
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Cactus optical triggering w/ P-TTL HSS flash - settings

I thought it would be helpful to have people post their settings that have worked, optically triggering a cactus HSS flash with a pentax HSS flash. You can gain gleams of this throughout the forum, but it's hard to find.

I'll start:

Camera: K3
Lens: DA 18-135 WR
Main flash: AF540FGZ (not II) flash in HSS mode, pentax 6' P-TTL cable (on camera flash? no thanks!)
Cactus settings: Local, HSS mode, S1 optical trigger, delay of 115ms (will confirm this tonight). This seems higher than recommended, and as such took forever to figure out.

I tested up to 1/2500 of a second with this, at f8, seemed to work great. Not a lot of light left at that setting (ISO 200) though, would recommend a lower f stop or higher ISO for that combo.

---------- Post added 12-21-15 at 03:38 PM ----------

I will say, you can train your eyes to see which way you need to move the delay # to get close. This gets irritating though, sunglasses would be handy gear for this.


Last edited by bobbotron; 12-21-2015 at 01:21 PM. Reason: Updated title, added camera
12-21-2015, 03:38 PM   #2
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I'm just starting to experiment and discover the slave modes and delay things myself ... Wish it was as easy as Pentax dedicated flash !

I'll post more when I know more .... But one thing, you said you had the RF60 in Local. Mode ...I thought that was just for on-camera work? You're working it as a slave, so should that be S Mode instead ?
12-21-2015, 05:49 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by bobbotron Quote
Cactus settings: Local, HSS mode, S1 optical trigger, delay of 115ms (will confirm this tonight). This seems higher than recommended, and as such took forever to figure out.
This is a high delay, indeed.

I guess it is owed to the extra delay the K-3 adds when using P-TTL.
12-21-2015, 05:57 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
Wish it was as easy as Pentax dedicated flash !
What you are used to operate always seems easier.

A couple of days ago, for testing purposes, I tried to get my Metz 58 AF-2 to be optically triggered from my K-5 II and it took me ages until it finally worked. Not only had to do some non-intuitive menu diving with the Metz, but I also had to change the flash mode on the K-5 II. I haven't done this in a long while so I had forgotten that the normal flash operation won't do it (even though it uses a pre-flash as well).

When it didn't work, I thought perhaps the channels weren't matching, so I had to mount the 58 AF-2, to do the channel matching and then unmount it again. Talk about cumbersome.

For a while, I was unaware that the flash wasn't working because the output of the on-board flash, even in "controller mode" was quite strong (whereas it should ideally be invisible).

When I use my Cactus gear, I simply pop the V6 on the camera and off I go. Done.

I almost never use HSS, so there are no further complications. And if I need it, I can get it to work instantly (in case the settings of the P-TTL flash aren't messed up. ).

QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
I'll post more when I know more .... But one thing, you said you had the RF60 in Local. Mode ...I thought that was just for on-camera work?
For optical triggering, any mode is fine.

The "Slave" mode is only needed for radio control (via a V6 or another RF60).

12-21-2015, 08:31 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
I'm just starting to experiment and discover the slave modes and delay things myself ... Wish it was as easy as Pentax dedicated flash !

I'll post more when I know more .... But one thing, you said you had the RF60 in Local. Mode ...I thought that was just for on-camera work? You're working it as a slave, so should that be S Mode instead ?
You can use the HSS optical trigger in any mode. I think I chose L because it gave me the least other options. I'm a computer programmer, I like to reduce the variables when I'm debugging.

Tonight, I took some more with a delay of 109ms, f5.6, 1/2000. My dog Finn provided some practice.

FWIW, if you accidentally turn off HSS mode on the cactus, you can kill a lot of electrons before figuring out your problem.



---------- Post added 12-21-15 at 10:32 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Class A Quote
What you are used to operate always seems easier.

A couple of days ago, for testing purposes, I tried to get my Metz 58 AF-2 to be optically triggered from my K-5 II and it took me ages until it finally worked. Not only had to do some non-intuitive menu diving with the Metz, but I also had to change the flash mode on the K-5 II. I haven't done this in a long while so I had forgotten that the normal flash operation won't do it (even though it uses a pre-flash as well).

When it didn't work, I thought perhaps the channels weren't matching, so I had to mount the 58 AF-2, to do the channel matching and then unmount it again. Talk about cumbersome.

For a while, I was unaware that the flash wasn't working because the output of the on-board flash, even in "controller mode" was quite strong (whereas it should ideally be invisible).

When I use my Cactus gear, I simply pop the V6 on the camera and off I go. Done.

I almost never use HSS, so there are no further complications. And if I need it, I can get it to work instantly (in case the settings of the P-TTL flash aren't messed up. ).


For optical triggering, any mode is fine.

The "Slave" mode is only needed for radio control (via a V6 or another RF60).
The V6 would be nice, but I thought why not figure out the gear I have. I figured others with the same gear might be helped out by this info.
12-22-2015, 02:38 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
I'm just starting to experiment and discover the slave modes and delay things myself ... Wish it was as easy as Pentax dedicated flash !

?
Yep never use any of my cacus gear as P-ttl repeaters it just to 'static' fro my dynamic shooting style .... I often change foal length aperture iso etc etc as I shoot.

The cactus stuff (3 v6.s + RF60) works great for me

1 full manual ('X' setting) 1/180 , where the on body control of remote flahs power is brilliant and convenient
2 Ambient control - with a mix of ttl and auto flashes with P-ttl pass through for fill lights

But is I'm shooting above 1/180 the cactus get switched off and the P-ttl flash guns I use either get used as optical P-ttl or tethered to the aokatec transceivers.

With no othe options the HSS sympathy mode is usable but just to convoluted for me to bother with on a day to day basis.

If cactus brings out their rumored HSS capable system and it is indeed V6 compatible I may spring for it as a means of integrating the two styles I use today.
12-22-2015, 03:36 AM   #7
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I didn't want to raise any more 'P-TTL vs Manual' debates here ..... But hey, thanks to you Awaldram, and ClassA, I'm in both camps now . I think its clear enough that in isolation the Dedicated System approach offers the 'easiest' HSS solution with the obvious downsides of extra cost. Lets face it, the really major advantage that we all are crying out for is radio triggering for HSS .... and thats the one thing that neither Cactus (nor any other manual system) can yet offer us!!

Its radio triggering that can transform practical HSS working, which is going to be mostly outdoors in bright light. Its the bright light that causes the problems for optical triggering and severely limits the range we can work at. Am I right to say that this issue is one that only Pentax can resolve by engineering a trigger signal above 1/180th sec without an HSS flash on the hotshoe ? Or could a third party devise a 'workaround'? I must say I am a bit bemused by the V6 optical solution .... (turn the control flash to face the V6 sensor ... ?? Huh?)

In any case, thanks to bobbotron for raising this. The issue of which optical slave mode to use and what delays to set is still a confusing mush to me ..... and I suspect to many others as well ...... I really hope we can dig down into it here and lay out some clear and consistent guidance.

(Edit ... sorry, I wrote clackers before, not awaldram ... must have been thinking of another thread!)

Last edited by mcgregni; 12-22-2015 at 04:33 AM.
12-22-2015, 03:54 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
I didn't want to raise any more 'P-TTL vs Manual' debates here ..... But hey, thanks to you Clackers, and ClassA, I'm in both camps now . I think its clear enough that in isolation the Dedicated System approach offers the 'easiest' HSS solution with the obvious downsides of extra cost. Lets face it, the really major advantage that we all are crying out for is radio triggering for HSS .... and thats the one thing that neither Cactus (nor any other manual system) can yet offer us!!

Its radio triggering that can transform practical HSS working, which is going to be mostly outdoors in bright light. Its the bright light that causes the problems for optical triggering and severely limits the range we can work at. Am I right to say that this issue is one that only Pentax can resolve by engineering a trigger signal above 1/180th sec without an HSS flash on the hotshoe ? Or could a third party devise a 'workaround'? I must say I am a bit bemused by the V6 optical solution .... (turn the control flash to face the V6 sensor ... ?? Huh?)

In any case, thanks to bobbotron for raising this. The issue of which optical slave mode to use and what delays to set is still a confusing mush to me ..... and I suspect to many others as well ...... I really hope we can dig down into it here and lay out some clear and consistent guidance.
I think the device sat on the hot shoe only has to simulate HSS controll protcols ... So a third party could implement a HSS solution.

As I said on another thread it seems to me that with the fad of integrating WiFi into camera bodies (despite to low Bandwidth for image transfer) it woudl be great if the oem implemented a tcp/ip based flash.

I would in-vision two modes

1 infrastructure - flashes connect to Access point , Body connects to Access point
2 PtoP - Flashes connects to Body

This would need some pre thought as the WiFi body implementation would need AP capability to support multiple flash PtoP

As you pointed out HSS main use is outdoors and Optical starts failing just when its most needed (be it cactus slave or P-ttl)

The fact this thread is needed to document lens/aperture/delay clearly shows the issue with HSS sympathy mode though ClassA has some success with zero delay u pto 1/2000 which I sue he'll be happy to re-describe.

12-22-2015, 04:26 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by bobbotron Quote
The V6 would be nice, but I thought why not figure out the gear I have. I figured others with the same gear might be helped out by this info.
Absolutely.

I did not mean to address you at all.
12-22-2015, 04:48 AM   #10
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Sorry awaldram, I referred to clackers earlier, must have been thinking of another thread!

Yes, we need this thread and a clearer regime for optical mode selection and delay settings .... I'm amazed that it is not more clearly laid out as these Cactus products have been out for some time,,,,

There seems to be questions and variation surrounding both the choice of optical slave mode (1 or 2) on the RF60 and the effects of aperture plus shutter speed. I admit to presently being somewhat baffled by these factors for now .... I'm remaining positive though . The issue raised before about the actual timing between a pre-flash and the trigger signal depending on camera (eg K3 being longer) is only applicable to S1 mode I'd presume?

THere are other things that can come into play ..... I was puzzled as to why my (non HSS) triggering was happening with a pre-flash about 1 second before the main flash!! This was with a V6 on the camera, a Pentax flash on the V6, and the RF60 as a radio slave. I thought it was something to do with the V6. Until I poked around some more and found out that I had inadvertently set my camera flash mode to 'Red Eye Reduction' !!!
.
12-22-2015, 05:03 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by awaldram Quote
Yep never use any of my cacus gear as P-ttl repeaters it just to 'static' fro my dynamic shooting style ....
There is a good case for HSS sympathy mode, though, which is when you need more light than one or two speedlights can provide.

Outdoors, trying to match or even overpower the sun, and using HSS (where higher shutter speeds cut down on flash power as well as on the ambient light) it can quickly be useful to use three or four speedlights in combination, just to get the necessary power output.

Making such a system work, is a lot more affordable with the RF60, compared to paying P-TTL HSS prices for each of these speedlights.

QuoteOriginally posted by awaldram Quote
If cactus brings out their rumored HSS capable system and it is indeed V6 compatible I may spring for it as a means of integrating the two styles I use today.
Yes, this updated system would be a lot more convenient when one needs HSS or SCS (second-curtain sync).

But it really is just convenience, as it really is not a big deal to select optical triggering (and in some cases a delay value as well).

QuoteOriginally posted by awaldram Quote
As you pointed out HSS main use is outdoors and Optical starts failing just when its most needed (be it cactus slave or P-ttl)
If you use a V6 as an optical slave (to trigger multiple off-camera RF60s) then bright sunlight is not a problem, as the V6 can (and should be) very close to the (typically on-camera) P-TTL flash. I've done this myself and did not have any problems.

QuoteOriginally posted by awaldram Quote
The fact this thread is needed to document lens/aperture/delay clearly shows the issue with HSS sympathy mode though ClassA has some success with zero delay u pto 1/2000 which I sue he'll be happy to re-describe.
It's all in the manual, isn't it?

Just use S2 (main flash) optical triggering (on a V6 or a RF60 directly) and enjoy.
If you are triggering an RF60 directly, there are no further complications.

If you are triggering via a V6 (which can make sense outdoors or when direct optical triggering is not feasible for other reasons) then once you get over a certain shutter speed (it is 1/2000s for me) you'll start seeing the bottom part of the image to not receive flash illumination anymore. The reason is that the trigger signal is designed to work for shutter speeds up to the sync-speed, not above them, and that the radio communication introduces a very slight delay.

Hence, there is the option (which, again is not always necessary to take) to trigger on the pre-flash of the P-TTL HSS flash. This is the S1 optical triggering mode of the V6. But since you are now triggering on the pre-flash, the triggering of the RF60s has to be delayed to coincide with the main flash. You only work out the right delay for your camera once. Write it down somewhere, and you're good. As a matter of fact, the V6 will even remember the delay value for you and you can simply switch the delay on or off.

In theory, the delay depends on the aperture value chosen, but in practice one delay value works for lots of aperture settings, so I really don't see why all this is regarded as complicated.

Having said that, if you find the manual lacking and still have a question, I'd be happy to answer.

QuoteOriginally posted by awaldram Quote
As I said on another thread it seems to me that with the fad of integrating WiFi into camera bodies (despite to low Bandwidth for image transfer) it woudl be great if the oem implemented a tcp/ip based flash.
The cool thing about this approach is that it would be easy to support a lot of groups and get PC-based software involved in order to store and recall lighting setup parameters and/or control all units from a big computer screen. Although that would only be necessary for large setups, it could be useful.

I'm rather sceptical, though, whether using a standard WiFi protocol would be fast enough to support sync-speeds of up to 1/1000s (like the V6 does).
12-22-2015, 05:36 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
Lets face it, the really major advantage that we all are crying out for is radio triggering for HSS .... and thats the one thing that neither Cactus (nor any other manual system) can yet offer us!!
Certainly not "all" of us.

I hardly ever need or want HSS -- stopping action is better performed by using 1/180s and a short flash duration -- so more convenient HSS usage would only be a slight bonus for me, but the HSS sympathy mode worked just fine for the few cases I've needed it.

BTW, the Acon triggers should give you HSS through radio. No manual control of groups -- as it is just a radio version of P-TTL, so its useless to me -- but maybe it is what you want.

QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
Its the bright light that causes the problems for optical triggering and severely limits the range we can work at.
As I already wrote in response to awaldram, if you use a V6 close to your on-camera P-TTL flash then optical triggering works fine even in sunlight.

You'd have to use a contraption to guide the light from the flash into the V6 or, as I do, hold the V6 in front of the flash with your left hand, so that's not ideal, but it works.

QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
Am I right to say that this issue is one that only Pentax can resolve by engineering a trigger signal above 1/180th sec without an HSS flash on the hotshoe ? Or could a third party devise a 'workaround'?
Yes, as awaldram wrote, a third-party device would "just" have to emulate a P-TTL HSS device.

For other brands (Canon / Nikon) such third-party devices already exist. Pentax is just too small a brand to be of interest to player like Godox, Phottix, Pocket Wizard, Yongnuo, etc. We can be glad that Cactus is not just focusing on Canikon.

QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
I must say I am a bit bemused by the V6 optical solution .... (turn the control flash to face the V6 sensor ... ?? Huh?)
What's so funny?

Every time you use optical triggering, the optical sensor has to "see" the control flash. So why is it bemusing when that optical sensor happens to be in a V6?

Have you seen Joe McNally using an extra light stand for a dedicated controller flash that is connected to his camera via a long cable, just so that he can optically trigger his four or more remote speedlights optically? Now that's what I call bemusing.

QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
The issue of which optical slave mode to use and what delays to set is still a confusing mush to me ..... and I suspect to many others as well ...
Have you tried reading the manual?

Which part is not clear?

Your P-TTL manual is almost 80 pages long and while some of it is not about P-TTL details, most of it is. Here, we are talking about the choice between two optical triggering modes
  1. triggering on main flash (S2) -- sufficient in all but a few cases (when using a V6 as an intermediate trigger above a certain shutter spee)
  2. triggering on pre-flash (S1) -- required in a few cases (see above). Only here, a delay is necessary and it seems multiple people have success using the same delay for all apertures they need.
I elaborated a bit in my response to awaldram.

QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
I'm amazed that it is not more clearly laid out as these Cactus products have been out for some time,,,
I find everything is clearly laid out in the manual.

To be frank, you are the first one to ask that many questions. Other Cactus users either don't use the HSS sympathy mode or figure things out from the manual.

QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
There seems to be questions and variation surrounding both the choice of optical slave mode (1 or 2) on the RF60 and the effects of aperture plus shutter speed.
I told you before that the shutter speed is irrelevant.

Also, why don't you try it yourself?
You've got the equipment and taking two test shots at two different shutter speeds would be sufficient to convince you that it isn't really as complicated as you appear to perceive it.

Same with the optical triggering mode. Why don't you just use S2 (triggering on main flash) and see whether you run into problems?

Don't get me wrong, I'm still happy to help, but if it were me, I'd just experiment a bit if things weren't clear from the manual.

QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
The issue raised before about the actual timing between a pre-flash and the trigger signal depending on camera (eg K3 being longer) is only applicable to S1 mode I'd presume?
Yes, since if you trigger on the main flash (S2), all the P-TTL delay business becomes irrelevant.

QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
I thought it was something to do with the V6. Until I poked around some more and found out that I had inadvertently set my camera flash mode to 'Red Eye Reduction' !!!
The triggering on the main flash (S2) may take care of that. It tries to figure out which flashes belong to the metering phase and which one is the main flash. I'd try it myself, but you won't see me using red-eye reduction in combination with radio triggers.
12-22-2015, 05:43 AM   #13
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if you guys could keep more on the original subject of this thread that would be great. I was hoping this would be a useful page for people actually doing hss optical triggering. Regardless of the issues, it does work, I'll try to keep posting up successful lens, camera, delay settings.
12-22-2015, 06:55 AM   #14
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Yes, sorry, I shouldn't clutter it with all my questions. I do think perhaps a listing of settings needs some context for people new to it, but I guess a lot of this has been covered before. I'll come back with some settings that work for me, once I've read the manual ...

ClassA, I sense your frustration as no doubt you have had to re-hash so much of this so many times. But I'm a user who does read the manual, in advance, and tries to work things out. The fact remains that there are still questions. I accept that the Cactus manuals are a good step up from the 'chinglish' alternatives of some competitors, but I do not think they provide the full picture, and it is not as simple as just reading the manual .... Presumably if it was then there would not be a need for this thread ....

Anyway, lets sit back and see what sort of settings are really working in practice.


Oh, and get it right please .... My guide is now nearly 90 pages long!

Last edited by mcgregni; 12-22-2015 at 07:15 AM.
12-22-2015, 09:29 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
Yes, sorry, I shouldn't clutter it with all my questions. I do think perhaps a listing of settings needs some context for people new to it, but I guess a lot of this has been covered before. I'll come back with some settings that work for me, once I've read the manual ...

ClassA, I sense your frustration as no doubt you have had to re-hash so much of this so many times. But I'm a user who does read the manual, in advance, and tries to work things out. The fact remains that there are still questions. I accept that the Cactus manuals are a good step up from the 'chinglish' alternatives of some competitors, but I do not think they provide the full picture, and it is not as simple as just reading the manual .... Presumably if it was then there would not be a need for this thread ....

Anyway, lets sit back and see what sort of settings are really working in practice.


Oh, and get it right please .... My guide is now nearly 90 pages long!
Questions are great. Did you try the settings I posted in my original post? There shouldn't need to be anything more you need to do than that, it works, at least for that gear combo.

Once you know what to look for, it doesn't take that long to dial things in.

You don't need to point the HSS P-TTL flash at the cactus flash, though I did find if the cactus was really obscured, it wouldn't detect the P-TTL pre-flashes.
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