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10-02-2016, 01:21 PM - 4 Likes   #1
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Cactus V6 & Pentax AF201FG - they work together!

Class A's post gave me hope that the solution that I had in mind could work. Thank you very much class A!

I bought this really small flash unit Pentax AF201FG although it doesn't offer the two interesting features of the small Metz 26AF-2: wireless PTTL Slave and LED. Instead I hoped that Pentax AF201FG would support analog TTL as Class A described this possibility in his post. If so, it may be able to use the learning mode of my Cactus V6-Set to get wireless triggering with AF201FG.

When the unit arrived I was really surprised about the tininess of this well build WR unit.

In the evening I tried the V6 learning mode. V6 accepted the AF201FG! Unfortunately an error occured because the flash unit supports only two manual steps: full and 1/4. Class A's next idea helped - keyword: add manual steps using ND filters. Since I only own two strong NDs I thought about other possibilities and had the idea to use some ND gel stripes.

Some time ago I bought a Lee gel stripe catalog with hundreds of colors. The stripes (90 x 38 mm) serve as color gel filters for my flash photography. Now I thought the catalog could also contain some ND stripes. It happened to be true. There are 0.3, 0.6, 0.9 and 1.2 included!

Today I constructed a simple gel holder for the flash unit and started once more into the learning phase. After some trials and errors the learning phase was successfully terminated.

I used only 4 manual steps: 1/1 (native) - 1/2 half (full native + 0.3 ND) - 1/4 (native) - 1/8 (1/4 native + 0.3 ND) . More steps ended with error.

A PTTL test shot serie with the K1-V6-V6-AF201FG setup showed that I now can remotely control the power of the wireless radio triggered flash using one V6 on camera (transmitter) and the other (receiver) with flash on top somewhere else. The V6 set also interpolates other steps like 1/16, 1/32, 1/64 and 1/128 - really nice! Whether it's really accurate I cannot say. But there are clearly differences between all steps!


In the end I got what I imagined - a really small and lightweight radio triggered flash setup!

10-02-2016, 02:46 PM   #2
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Thanks for sharing. That the AF201FG apparently supports the analog control protocol is also very interesting. This may be a boon for owners of analog protocol TTL cameras who need a TTL compact flash with tilt.*


Steve

* That would be owners of analog TTL film bodies such as the Super Program, LX, 645, and 67II. Analog protocol bodies have four contacts on the hot shoe: trigger, mode, ready, and ground. Analog TTL options up until now have been limited to finding a AF280T or AF200T in working condition or springing for a AF360FG or AF530FG, none of which are particularly light or compact.
10-02-2016, 03:00 PM   #3
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Well it's great to hear that those efforts paid off, and you have the compact slave flash you needed, and with some remote power control!

I must admit, the whole flash power profiling thing makes my eyes glaze over and I get a cold sweat just reading about it ! Am I right to think of it as tricking the V6 into thinking the flash had more power steps than it actually does, by using the filters ..... ? But even though the flash can't make those extra steps on its own, the V6 can somehow make it do that after recording the steps with the filter ....?
10-03-2016, 03:01 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
I must admit, the whole flash power profiling thing makes my eyes glaze over and I get a cold sweat just reading about it !

QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
Am I right to think of it as tricking the V6 into thinking the flash had more power steps than it actually does, by using the filters ..... ? But even though the flash can't make those extra steps on its own, the V6 can somehow make it do that after recording the steps with the filter ....?
Yes, the V6 doesn't really know what flash you're putting on and I was tricking inserting two extra steps. The V6 doesn't know anything about the steps that are supported by the flash unit. Some base information to do calculations it gets from you. You tell it what Guide Number (GN) - that's very important IMO - and select brand.

I'll describe my interpretation / speculation of the whole situation:

By telling V6 the GN of the flash unit it knows the upper voltage boundary if there are some general electric rules given. Between the lower boundary 0 and the upper GN-given boundary V6 needs to learn the steps in between manually. With each step you trigger the flash manually and V6 measures the light reflected from the one meter far white wall in the dark (normalized situation). I think the measured light indicates a special voltage or something like that. Let's assume voltage. Then we get a function f(step) = x Volt. In other words V6 learns what voltage has to be associated with each given manual step.

In case of the AF201FG only two steps are dedicated manual steps. That means you have three points in a functional curve (x-axis): 0 - 1/4 - 1/1. Each provided with a voltage (y-axis) that drives the flash unit.

The V6 learning process starts with full power where you have to select (P)TTL-Mode (associated with analogue TTL-mode). The following steps you guide in linear order in manual mode: 1/2 - 1/4 - 1/8 - 1/16 - 1/32 - 1/64 - 1/128. Each step that the flash unit doesn't support you have to skip manually. Because I didn't know what steps the AF201FG unit internally supports I just tried. Because of only two steps, first try ended with an error message like "Error - not enough data." ... or something like that.

Ok - we have to add more steps and trick V6. Exposure Value (EV) is the base of computing the ISO-Time-Aperture equation. A 0.3 ND filter takes 1 EV step, 0.6 two, 0.9 three and so on (linear) - the same as taking one aperture step, half time or half ISO. You can take two ND filters and the effect is the addition of both. So my idea was to trick V6 using ND filter slides up to step 1/128. That didn't work. - The end was reached at 1/8 and I only used the 0.3 gel slide to get it. Why ended it that way? I think this has to do with the given GN and associated volt - but I don't really know.

At the end of the procedure I got a profile that I had to name - I chose "AF201". When I wanted to test it the first time I had to select it from the list of learned profiles - name found was: "Cactus AF201". I selected the AF201 profile and it worked.

Speculative summarizing
V6 got 5 functional steps associated with something like a voltage: 1/1 - 1/2 - 1/4 - 1/8 - 0. Steps in between V6 simply interpolates by applying a general mathematical interpolation method.

I can select down to 1/128 on the V6 with real effect. That's really great!


Using two V6s plus K1 and Pentax AF201FG:
- set camera program modes to M, X or B. If you use an automatic program mode like AV, you have to underexpose by applying appropriate ev-compensation. This way you don't overexpose the picture.
- put one V6 on camera and select tx mode
- put the flash on the second V6, select rx mode, select the learned profile and set flash to PTTL
- hint 1: camera driven ev-compensation doesn't show any effect
- hint 2: V6 pass through allows to use a on camera PTTL flash in addition

Practice (I know that you, mcgregni, are very experienced - the following words are meant for people who aren't):
- Set up a small scene you want to photograph, position a tripod with camera setup and put the second V6 in an angle you like
- Set camera to M program
- Choose an ISO, Time and Aperture, so that an image only shows black or something near. Set focus. Make an image without flash.
- Now activate the two V6s and choose 1/128 on camera V6 first. The second one should receive a message (shown by a blinking LED) and change the setting. Make an image. Flash should fire according to the setting. Repeat until you reach 1/1.
- After that, display one image after the other to view the differences in lighting. The last ones may be overexposed. This way you get an impression of what's possible if you use it creatively.

About Pentax AF201FG:
- Well made nice litte WR PTTL-flash unit with manual mode - limited in function. Critiques mostly: no support of wireless PTTL control and slave mode
- Only GN 20 without "upgrade" like Metz AF26-2 can do. IMO GN 20 is sufficient for many situations and is a lot more than camera built-in flashes deliver.
- Angle of a 24mm lens covered, using wide angle panel 20mm (FF 24/20, on APSC 16/13mm, on 645Z/645D 30/25mm), no zooming
- Extremely lightweight - simply a pleasure to use it V6-based wireless in one hand and camera in the other
- Uses 2 AAA batteries or accumulators - I recommend eneloop accus
- Very easy to use - you can hold the flash unit in one hand and rotate the mode knob with the thumb of the same hand - very convenient!
- Very flexible vertical tilting: one step down, more up and back supported. To fix snap down tilting press button at the angle of the unit.



Edit:
03.10.2016
1) My writing about wrong Group (Canon) of the learned Profile was wrong. Simply a misinterpretation of Cactus's Menü. So I deleted the paragraph.
2) Added hint about working with camera automatic program modes.
3) Angle of the unit info added for FF, APC, MF 645


Last edited by acoufap; 10-03-2016 at 08:17 AM.
10-04-2016, 12:10 PM   #5
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I found out another interesting detail I'd like to share with you - especially if you own a Cactus V6 and AF201FG.

If you use a manual lens, you cannot use PTTL-Mode and the manual mode of AF201 is very limited. To get a good exposure you often have to close aperture very much to reduce light reaching the sensor. Unfortunate if you want to work with aperture wide open. Of course you can work with different ND filters. But that's not very comfortable and has some downsides.

A highlight IMO: If you put one Cactus V6 between Camera and flash you can control light emittance from 1/128 to 1/1 in small incremental steps 1/2, 1/3 or 1/10 (you can configure this on V6).

This makes it easy to use a M-Lens like Pentax M1.7/50 with open aperture and flash!

The setting:
  • Set Cactus V6 on camera and AFZ201FG on top
  • Set Camera Program X (time fixed to sync speed) or M (min. time: K-1 1/200, K-5 1/180)
  • Set V6 TX mode
  • Make sure TTL-passthrough mode isn't activated - if it's activated (TTL Icon on the left of the display) press menu button 2 seconds. It should then be deactivated.
  • Optional: since you use only the AF201FG on camera (via V6) you can deactivate all groups
  • Select the learned profile AF201 (if that's the name) on V6
  • Set AFZ201FG to Auto (PTTL)
  • Important step: press the menue button and at the same time dial in the value (light emittance 1/1 ... 1/128) for the flash.
  • Test the configuration by changing the flash value on V6 until you found the right value for the scene.

You only need one Cactus V6 to get this nice feature!


09.10.2016 - Additional info from the V6 manual:
  • If you configure LoPower mode it's roughly 1/250 - so in total you can control light emittance range of ~9 EV manually!

Last edited by acoufap; 10-04-2016 at 09:22 PM.
10-04-2016, 01:12 PM   #6
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Thanks very much for your last two very detailed and informative posts .... My cold sweats are only just going away! I'll take some time to digest it all but will respond more later ....
11-08-2016, 06:31 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by acoufap Quote
Class A's post gave me hope that the solution that I had in mind could work. Thank you very much class A!

I bought this really small flash unit Pentax AF201FG although it doesn't offer the two interesting features of the small Metz 26AF-2: wireless PTTL Slave and LED. Instead I hoped that Pentax AF201FG would support analog TTL as Class A described this possibility in his post. If so, it may be able to use the learning mode of my Cactus V6-Set to get wireless triggering with AF201FG.

When the unit arrived I was really surprised about the tininess of this well build WR unit.

In the evening I tried the V6 learning mode. V6 accepted the AF201FG! Unfortunately an error occured because the flash unit supports only two manual steps: full and 1/4. Class A's next idea helped - keyword: add manual steps using ND filters. Since I only own two strong NDs I thought about other possibilities and had the idea to use some ND gel stripes.

Some time ago I bought a Lee gel stripe catalog with hundreds of colors. The stripes (90 x 38 mm) serve as color gel filters for my flash photography. Now I thought the catalog could also contain some ND stripes. It happened to be true. There are 0.3, 0.6, 0.9 and 1.2 included!

Today I constructed a simple gel holder for the flash unit and started once more into the learning phase. After some trials and errors the learning phase was successfully terminated.

I used only 4 manual steps: 1/1 (native) - 1/2 half (full native + 0.3 ND) - 1/4 (native) - 1/8 (1/4 native + 0.3 ND) . More steps ended with error.

A PTTL test shot serie with the K1-V6-V6-AF201FG setup showed that I now can remotely control the power of the wireless radio triggered flash using one V6 on camera (transmitter) and the other (receiver) with flash on top somewhere else. The V6 set also interpolates other steps like 1/16, 1/32, 1/64 and 1/128 - really nice! Whether it's really accurate I cannot say. But there are clearly differences between all steps!


In the end I got what I imagined - a really small and lightweight radio triggered flash setup!
Greetings,
After much experimenting, I got the following equipment working together including a Pentax AF201FG. I have a flashless K-3II, 2 Pentax AF540FGZII's, one AF201FG, 2 CactusV6II's and one Cactus V6. Some of the settings were to me at least counter intuitive, which is why I'll be as detailed as I can in the hope that it will help others with different equipment.
Because of the limitations of the V6 and the AF201FG, this setup is for shutter speeds <=1/180 (ie NOT HSS).
One AF540 is mounted on top of a V6II mounted on top of the camera set P-TTL. DO NOT have TTL turned on on the V6II and you may have to depress a group button temporarily to do this, even tho the camera top flash is NOT in a group. The power can now be adjusted holding the menu button and the adjust wheel and the setting shows in the V6II window.
The second AF540 is mounted on the second V6II, group B with the AF540FG2 profile on the V6II, Sync Normal HSS (even tho I am not going to use HSS in this setup).
The AF201FG is mounted on the V6-- with power at either 1/1 or 1/4 (NOT AUTO) set to group C. On the camera top V6II set group C and configure the Pentax flash to AF308F (the profile works with the AF201!)

The Cactus V6II on the camera can now independently control the power of the two AF540's. The power on the AF201 is controlled on the flash.

Hope this helps. I hope pieces of my settings can be used in other setups.
10-16-2018, 04:05 AM   #8
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About to receive a 201 tomorrow. Can you send profiles created by the V6's? I don't have ND filters to do what you did, and I only currently have one v6ii (another on the way), but I could imagine things would be a whole lot simpler if we could somehow export a learned profile and import it to other Cactus units <wink wink lol>

10-16-2018, 05:09 AM   #9
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Cactus V6 II HSS Wireless Flash Transceiver| CACTUS

Bruce, I really regret to say, but the V6II is not listed as compatible with the AF-201. The discussion in this thread is about the older V6 model and it's learning mode ..... This feature is not available on the V6II. I have not heard anyone reporting successful operation with a V6II, so I would not get your hopes up.

The Cactus compatibility table I referred to is linked above here.

Really the V6II makes more sense when controlling an HSS capable flash, as HSS is the triggers main selling point. The older V6 can still act as receiver for non HSS manual working...... Now the next obvious question is whether the V6 can act as a receiver with a learned profile for the AF201, but be controlled by a V6II on the camera ....(That is a good question that I cannot answer for now .... Would need testing by someone).

Last edited by mcgregni; 10-16-2018 at 05:25 AM.
10-16-2018, 11:01 AM - 1 Like   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
Now the next obvious question is whether the V6 can act as a receiver with a learned profile for the AF201, but be controlled by a V6II on the camera ....(That is a good question that I cannot answer for now .... Would need testing by someone).
I have a V6 II and V6 combo. The V6 works fine with the SB-28 (have a dedicated profile) and so-so with my Metz 48 AF-1(I can control power but not zoom, I have not a profile for this flash).
FinaIly, I have an old AF280T that I think is a kind of AF201's 'flasshus antecessor'. I see that they have very similar features: TTL, and two manual settinfgs - full and 1/4.
I used the AF360 v1 profile for the AF280T and could control this flash without issue, from my V6II, including powersync.
I never used the V6 learning feature.

So, in my limited experience, if you have a good profile for your flash on your V6, you should be able to control it from a V6II without issue (manual mode, no HSS but powersync mode if the profile allows it)
I'm using the multibrand HSS firmware on my V6II (1.1.013), and the next-to-last version on the V6. Not tested with the last XTTL versions.

I think you could be lucky after all.

Regards.
10-16-2018, 03:42 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
Cactus V6 II HSS Wireless Flash Transceiver| CACTUS

Bruce, I really regret to say, but the V6II is not listed as compatible with the AF-201. The discussion in this thread is about the older V6 model and it's learning mode ..... This feature is not available on the V6II. I have not heard anyone reporting successful operation with a V6II, so I would not get your hopes up.

The Cactus compatibility table I referred to is linked above here.

Really the V6II makes more sense when controlling an HSS capable flash, as HSS is the triggers main selling point. The older V6 can still act as receiver for non HSS manual working...... Now the next obvious question is whether the V6 can act as a receiver with a learned profile for the AF201, but be controlled by a V6II on the camera ....(That is a good question that I cannot answer for now .... Would need testing by someone).
Ah ok, I mean I gathered it was just a regular ol' V6 and not the v6ii, I just figured the V6ii could do what the V6 does and more, not actually miss out on a feature :|

But ok... old V6's should be able to be picked up for cheap, I think I seen them on Gumtree from time to time...

QuoteOriginally posted by morenjavi Quote
I have a V6 II and V6 combo. The V6 works fine with the SB-28 (have a dedicated profile) and so-so with my Metz 48 AF-1(I can control power but not zoom, I have not a profile for this flash).
FinaIly, I have an old AF280T that I think is a kind of AF201's 'flasshus antecessor'. I see that they have very similar features: TTL, and two manual settinfgs - full and 1/4.
I used the AF360 v1 profile for the AF280T and could control this flash without issue, from my V6II, including powersync.
I never used the V6 learning feature.

So, in my limited experience, if you have a good profile for your flash on your V6, you should be able to control it from a V6II without issue (manual mode, no HSS but powersync mode if the profile allows it)
I'm using the multibrand HSS firmware on my V6II (1.1.013), and the next-to-last version on the V6. Not tested with the last XTTL versions.

I think you could be lucky after all.

Regards.
Ok... we'll see, I'll try and read between the lines of what to do, but I am a massive thicko when it comes to this kinda thing so I'll likely need both hands held

My purpose in all of this is just to see if I can maximise all the flash gear I am amassing. Really the AF201 was never bought with any other intention than sitting ontop of the K-1 or KP for fill light purposes. Here's what I have (or will have once the postie rings my doorbell today )

1xV6ii
1xRF60x
1xAF360FGZII
1xAF201

I have agreed to purchase a second hand v6ii off a mate in the near future once his XproP arrives and he's happy with making a proper swap across to Godox (he already has the AD200, 360 V860 etc).

The intention of this set up is as follows;

Scenario 1
AF201 for candid indoor shots, ceiling bouncing mainly, being the size and weight that it is it may very well sit on the K-1 all the time unless scenario 2 occurs.

Scenario 2
Indoor Studio stuff. V6ii on the K-1, RF60x off camera, 360II as a fill light/rim light, triggered by the RF60x, shutter speeds kept under HSS.

Scenario 3
Outdoor location shots. V6ii on K-1, RF60x+360II+V6ii(Rx) in a single softbox to provide additional power for HSS stuff.

Scenario 4
Indoor receptions with high ceilings. K-1+360II, ceiling bounce, basically scenario 1 with more power.

Scenario 5
Indoor studio or outdoor location shots with K-1+360II using a Roundflash softbox.


So really... getting the AF201 to play with the other two flashes is probably not that big a deal. I mean it might be swell to bring a 3rd light into the mix, but it's probably overkill, I see plenty of excellent studio work done alone with a single flash and reflector. It might be that I would benefit from sticking both the RF60x and 360II in a single softbox akin to Scenario 3, and then getting the AF201 to also play along as a fill light or hair light or something. But yeah... that's the broad intention and just trying to see if I can make more use of the little AF201 other than it's real bought purpose which is Scenario 1.
10-16-2018, 05:05 PM   #12
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Well, based on morenjavi's post just above there, it seems a fair possibility that you might gain some remote manual power control using the AF201 with a V6 receiver (and triggered by a V6II), so not a guarantee but worth a try if you can find a cheap secondhand V6.


I think the idea of getting the additional V6II for use as a receiver on the AF-360FGZII is a good one ..... plenty of Pentax flash shooters have exactly this combo (RF60x / Pentax flash) giving a great 2-flash P-TTL/HSS solution.


Personally I would choose the compact and versatile AF-360FGZII over the AF201, as the swivel head action just makes it far more appealing for bounce flash situations. I would caution against the idea of always using ceiling bounce, as this can easily lead to dark patches underneath the eyes due to the forehead and eye sockets, at certain bounce angles. Also plenty of ceilings are very high and you'll need lots of power .... but then again you've got a K1, so you're not worried about flash power indoors, unlike me with my K7!!

Last edited by mcgregni; 10-16-2018 at 06:37 PM.
10-16-2018, 06:31 PM - 2 Likes   #13
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There is a big difference between the Cactus V6 (original) vs Mk II other than hss.

The:
- Original V6 supports analogue ttl flashes; while
- the Mk II supports digital ttl flashes.

Some people think the Mk II must automatically be better but the flashes that each support are fundamentally different. A number of people have bought the Mk II only to realise they should have bought a Mk I.

Last edited by howieb101; 10-17-2018 at 02:29 AM. Reason: Formatting
10-16-2018, 10:45 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
Well, based on morenjavi's post just above there, it seems a fair possibility that you might gain some remote manual power control using the AF201 with a V6 receiver (and triggered by a V6II), so not a guarantee but worth a try if you can find a cheap secondhand V6.


I think the idea of getting the additional V6II for use as a receiver on the AF-360FGZII is a good one ..... plenty of Pentax flash shooters have exactly this combo (RF60x / Pentax flash) giving a great 2-flash P-TTL/HSS solution.


Personally I would choose the compact and versatile AF-360FGZII over the AF201, as the swivel head action just makes it far more appealing for bounce flash situations. I would caution against the idea of always using ceiling bounce, as this can easily lead to dark patches underneath the eyes due to the forehead and eye sockets, at certain bounce angles. Also plenty of ceilings are very high and you'll need lots of power .... but then again you've got a K1, so you're not worried about flash power indoors, unlike me with my K7!!
I was thinking AF201 for the KP... (aw... so cute... what a pairing <3) and the 360II for the K-1.

I hear you about ceiling bounce, I think that can be when a magsphere can help sending some light forward as well as up.
11-14-2018, 03:36 PM   #15
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Ok, sorry to bump this kinda old thread once again, but I just quickly wanted to ask a wee quick question.

Ok... so I now have the following items;
  • AF360FGZII
  • AF201
  • RF60x
  • V6ii (x2, one for Tx, one for Rx)
  • K-1 (and a KP)

A recent event where I was triggering the 360II optically (without a V6ii unit in Rx mode) didn't actually go so well. I was using the 360II as a rim light of sorts (project a coloured gel onto a white back drop), and it was being triggered via the RF60x in a softbox (key light) however depending on the strength of the flash from the RF60x, ambient light of the room and most importantly the volume of people in front of the 360II, it sometimes wasn't initiating.

Here's a successful shot however;



But what occurred is that if the whole family got in front of it (the 360II), then they blocked the signal etc. Lesson learned, use a V6ii in Rx mode, so now that lives attached to the 360II.

I also learned on the night that I would have had a better experience and ease of post processing more if I had two key lights either side of the camera (rather than one), as this would have cancelled each others shadows out on the coloured flashed back drop etc and made for an easier job. What was occurring at times was a nice shot of the person, but either to their left or right a very different strength of tone from the flashed backdrop as their bodies blocked the light from the key light and made that part behind them darker. I of course tried to avoid this with different positioning but sometimes it couldn't be helped.

So now I am thinking of doing a similar set up again, this time using two key lights left and right of the camera (they don't need to be exactly the same power, just something to assist with shadow removal from the key light) but still also have a rim/hair light or in this case a flash to be used to cast a funky gel colour against a white backdrop etc.

So, this thread has got me thinking, and IIRC a v6ii with the AF201 is not going to work, I need a regular normal v6...?

Should I try for that then? Try and make use of my AF201 a little more by adding a V6 to it, or should I cut my losses short and just get another RF60x?...
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