Cactus LV5 Review


Intriguingly, there is a wide range of diverse applications for a laser trigger.

Wildlife Photography


Camera trap
The more interesting animals you find in your back garden, the more fun you’ll have with a laser trigger.

The classic “camera trap” is used by a number of wildlife photographers to capture rare animals in their natural habitat.

The LV5 are not weather-sealed so you’d have to use plastic bags or other contraptions if you want to use them in the field unattended. While many photographers may not feel comfortable leaving their equipment (e.g., LV5, camera, lens, and flash) unattended, there are still many backyard opportunities, such as capturing birds at a bird feeder or finding out which nightly visitor keeps nibbling away at your pet’s food.

BTW, since Pentax cameras have a movie mode and the shutter button can be used to start a recording, you can use the LV5 not only to capture stills, but also to start a video recording.

High Speed Photography


Capturing peak action
Trying to capture a certain moment manually may require years of experience or may purely depend on chance. A laser trigger can introduce precision and repeatability.

This is the area I focused on when evaluating the LV5 and I had a lot of fun doing so. Some processes simply happen too fast for a human to be able to capture the decisive moment reliably.

 Examples include

  • a water-filled balloon bursting, with the water still being in the shape of the balloon,
  • a water drop emerging from a water surface as a response to an object being dropped,
  • a ball just crossing the goal line, etc.

The applications are virtually countless.

Note that setting up the triggering, including the precise alignment and tweaking of the laser beam location and LV5 parameters does take time. I sometimes wondered whether the time I had spent on tweaking the setup would not have sufficed to get a similar shot by chance.

However, the big plus of having established an automated triggering setup that works is that you can repeat the process over and over again and get the same exact exposure while tweaking the framing, lighting, background, etc. If you rely on luck for getting the moment right, chances are that one aspect of the image won’t be perfect but you have practically no chance of recreating your lucky moment again.

Shutter Release Assistant

Do you like taking self-portraits that involve movement? Rather than trying to time the right moment manually while somehow hiding your remote camera trigger, set up a laser trigger so that it causes an exposure at the very moment you pass a certain point or strike a certain pose (such as kicking up one leg into the air).

Do you photograph sports events and would like to use one camera for detail shots while another camera is automatically capturing sprinters crossing the finish line? Having a means to create some captures automatically, with precision timing, frees you up to do other, potentially more interesting things.

Precision Focus

When shooting with extreme shallow depth of field, getting the focus right can be a big challenge, in particular if your subject is not completely stationary. A laser trigger allows you to create an exposure (either through triggering the camera or flashes/strobes) at the exact point when a subject moves into the position you pre-focused on. You can thus take a lot of time in preparing the shot, optimising the focus using test shots, live view, etc., and then have a smooth shooting session, for instance with a model that frequently disappears to change clothing, makeup, etc.

Note that the LV5 are a “Class 1” laser product, i.e., they will not cause harm to retinas under all conditions of normal use.

Motion Phase Capturing

The burst mode of a camera or flash allows you to create multiple exposures at regular intervals. However, it does not support creating exposures that correlate to the position of an object. Say you want to make an image of a horse before a jump, during the jump, and after the jump. Using three triggers that fire either the same camera or different ones, you can automate this process with precision timing.

With a lot of triggers you could recreate Eadweard Muybridge’s experiment with which he proved that horses are temporarily airborne when galloping. But maybe you just want to capture a dancer on a stage, requiring a lot less triggers, or use just two triggers to time the beginning and ending of an exposure.

N.B., using multiple triggers is one way of increasing the monitored area, e.g., if you want to avoid the potential of an animal just stepping over your optical trip wire, or crawling under it. Alternatively, you may use mirrors to create a zig-zag pattern with just a single laser beam. PentaxForums @PentaxForums News | Reviews | Forum

Support Pentax Forums Donate to Pentax Forums Support Pentax Forums