Cactus RF60 Review
This section briefly describes the menu items available that have not been covered elsewhere yet (such as the channel setting, the delay feature, etc.).
Per default, the RF60 will ignore trigger events if the charge level of the flash capacitor is not yet sufficient to support firing at the requested power level. This makes sense in order to ensure that images will be correctly exposed. Sometimes, however, it can be preferable to catch a certain moment, accepting that the image will be underexposed but probably will most likely be salvageable.
To this end, the RF60 offers the “Quick Flash” feature. Once enabled, the RF60’s “TEST” button will blink rapidly as soon as the flash capacitor has reached enough charge to allow for a “quick flash”, i.e., a flash that does not reach the nominally specified power, but should result in a salvageable exposure. A subsequent trigger event will now cause the flash to fire with an output level that is as close to the specified output level as possible. Once the flash capacitor has reached enough power to produce the specified output, the “TEST” button stays lit.
According to my measurement at full power, the earliest possible quick flash will result in roughly 10% underexposure, i.e., will be easily recoverable.
The RF60 may optionally provide audio feedback, i.e., it may “beep” in one of the following selectable cases:
- Ready Beep: The RF60 is ready to produce a flash at the specified power.
- Quick Flash Ready Beep: The RF60 is ready to produce a “quick flash” (see above).
- Underexposure Warning Beep: The flash has fired a “quick flash”, i.e., it was not quite ready to fire at the specified power and the image will therefore be somewhat underexposed.
Luckily, the audio feedback can be switched off completely as well. Due to the limitations of the segment LCD, the above functions are shown as “Fn2”, “Fn3”, etc., but at the same time the text area is temporarily used to show abbreviations that explain the options using short texts like “READY”, “WARN”, etc. This is a very nice touch, saving one a trip to the manual.
The RF60 can be configured to enter a “sleep” mode after various periods of inactivity, ranging from 3min to 60min. The idea behind this is to prevent the batteries from becoming depleted in case the photographer forgets to switch off the flash. A sleeping RF60 will wake up through activity on the hot-shoe or the 3.5mm port, but it is unable to respond to radio signals. Keeping the RF60’s radio module active during sleep mode would consume quite a bit of energy and thus defeat its battery preserving purpose.
I very much appreciate that the sleep timer can be turned “OFF” since there is nothing worse than having successfully completed some complicated setup only to find out that half of the involved flashes have gone to sleep in the meantime and now need to be manually reactivated.
The LCD backlight, when used excessively, will reduce the batteries’ lifetime so it makes sense to have the following options:
- (always) OFF
- on for 5s after a button press
- on for 15s after a button press
- (always) ON
The RF60’s menu is easy to navigate and values are quick to change. For instance, there is no need to first enter a value changing mode. Once one has progressed to the desired item, e.g., “BEEP”, pressing “-“ or “+”directly changes the selected option to the preceding or following one respectively.
Sometimes abbreviations are used, but once you have learned that “QCK FL” stands for “QUICK FLASH”, for instance, you will not forget it anymore. There are only seven menu items anyhow and most of them have self-explanatory labels, with only three items featuring abbreviations.
Changes apply immediately and configurations are remembered; they even survive battery changes.