Review: Cactus V2s Wireless Flash Trigger Kit

CactusIf you have read any of the articles, blogs, etc. about off-camera flash, then you have probably heard about the Cactus V2s Wireless Flash Trigger kit.  It’s sold online in many eBay auctions and it’s also available from a company in Hong Kong called Gadget Infinity.  I’m too cheap to buy Pocket Wizards at this point in my photography career so I bought one of these instead.  Overall, I’m very happy with them and you know I had to review them here.

First of all, you cannot beat the price of this little device.  It’s $32.95 for the transmitter receiver combo and shipping via Airmail cost a mere $5.00 to the U.S.!  Personally, I have blown $38.00 on things far more useless and on more occasions than I care to remember, so if this unit didn’t work out I wasn’t going to lose any sleep over it.  I ordered the unit from Gadget Infinity and I got it 6 days after it was shipped.  It shipped on a Monday and was in my mailbox on Saturday.  In the box was the hot shoe-mount transmitter, receiver, CR2 battery for the receiver, PC Sync cable, and instruction manual. 

Cactus_Rig

Setup was so easy my 8 year old could tackle it.  I removed the items from the box, took the plastic off of the battery, inserted it into the receiver, ensured the channels were set correctly on the receiver and the transmitter, mounted the transmitter on my D40, mounted my flash on the receiver, and started shooting away.  I was up and running in less than 5 minutes.  Since it’s a radio slave, it works around corners, behind things, and so on.  Infrared systems require you to pretty much have a line of sight (LOS) to your remote units for them to work properly.  Of course you have to use your flash in manual mode, but unless you pony up the cash for an SU-800 or the like you are going to have to use it in manual anyway.  That is unless your camera has a Commander Mode that works with your on-camera flash.

shooter So far, this awesome little setup has proven to be very reliable.  I have had zero issues with the flash not firing when I press the shutter release on my D40.  I had read about people having problems, but it’s hard to tell if it was a true issue or if they simply forgot to adjust the “Standby” time setting on their flash.  If you don’t adjust this and your flash goes into “Standby” mode the trigger will bring it out of Standby but the flash won’t fire until you press the shutter release again.  Personally, I disable the Standby feature on my flashes when I’m shooting so that I don’t miss a shot.  Therefore, it’s a non-issue for me.  I have only had one problem with interference which caused my SB-800 to fire inadvertently.  When I was taking the shot you see above, I was on a U.S. Navy warship out at sea with all of it’s radars, radios, and other sensors up and operating so I expected a certain amount of interference.  Trust me, there isn’t a wireless device out there that those sensors won’t interfere with.  That’s just reality. 

The hot shoe transmitter includes a test button that allows you to fire the flash(es) without pressing the shutter release to check your lighting setup.  This especially comes in handy when you were metering your light with a light meter.  The transmitter uses an included L1028 12V 23A small battery which powers the transmitter when you press the “Test” button.  When fired via the shutter release, the camera powers the unit via the hot shoe. 

Light_Rig In summary, if you are looking for a great unit to trigger your flashes wirelessly, I think you would be hard pressed to find a better product for the money.  $38.00 is far more affordable for most of us than the $380.00 it would cost for a pair of Pocket Wizards.  I have fallen in love with mine and have already ordered another receiver for my SB-28.  What really excites me about having the Cactus V2s is that I don’t have to use my flashes in SU-4 mode and worry about my on-camera flash (used to trigger Nikon flashes in SU-4 mode) affecting the exposure of the image.  I’m sure as my collection of strobes increases, so will the amount of these great little receivers to take me into ultra-portable, wireless flash heaven!

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18 thoughts on “Review: Cactus V2s Wireless Flash Trigger Kit

  1. Stephen,
    Great bit of info. I had been looking at the Pocket Wizard setups for my work. I haven’t tried it yet, but before I got an SB600 (digital) flash, I was still using an SB-26 (non-digital). With a peanut slave attached to the light power supply placed behind the background, it would trigger the lights with the on-camera flash, but not the SB-26.

    I’ll bookmark that site for future reference and check out your other images.

    Oh, and by the way, THANKS for serving our country.

    Fran G

  2. Nice review – just the information I was looking for. You mentioned it came with a PC cable. Does your flash have to have a PC connection for this to work?

    Steve

  3. Hey, I noticed you’re using an SB-800 with your receivers. I was just wondering how you got your flash to securely lock down on the receiver.

    I’m have an SB-80DX which locks down like the sb800 using pin (instead of screwing the flash down). Since the receivers don’t have a little hole for the pin to engage, I can’t get my sb-80 to lock down securely. Do you have a solution to this?

  4. Stan,

    Thanks for your comment. As you stated, the V2s receiver does not have pin hole for those of us SB-80DX, SB800, or SB600 users. However, my SB800’s pin presses down firmly enough to prevent the flash from moving. In your case, it could be that your pin on your flash is worn down or the plate on your receiver is worn a bit. The other option would be to use the PC Sync cable and mount the flash directly to your light stand, Justin Clamp, etc. Most flash brackets don’t have the pinhole either, so you can apply a piece of electrical tape to the flash bracket to make it fit snug.

    Best regards,

    Stephen

  5. Pingback: Update: Cactus V2s Triggers « Stephen Zeller | Photography

  6. Stephen –
    I stumbled across the Catcus V2 today was wondering about this Gadget Infinity place, not sure if it would be worth the (admittedly small) investment – now I’m happy to not pony up for PocketWizard$ and get a few of these instead. Thanks for the review,

    Cheers!
    Matt

  7. Matt,

    Thanks for your comment on my blog. I have placed several orders with Gadget Infinity and have had no trouble at all with them. I have my orders shipped via Airmail and they arrive within about 8 days. I have nothing but good things to say about their company.

    On the other hand, you can order them from Midwest Photo Exchange (www.mpex.com) if you are more comfortable ordering from a business in the U.S. The price is nearly (if not exactly) the same as ordering from Gadget Infinity.

    I love my Cactus V2S triggers and use them daily. They haven’t let me down yet and I’m still on the original set of batteries that came with them. I keep spares handy as I know that day will come. They have served me very well and I never say to myself, “Gee, I wish I would have dropped $380.00 on a pair of Pocket Wizards.”

    If I can help with anything else, please feel free to drop me a line.

    Take care,

    Stephen

  8. Pingback: Me he comprado el Cactus V2s « i.uve.a.ene

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  11. I I got my Cactus about 2 weeks ago. I love this little thing. I have shot about 200 photos with it and have only had about 6 misfires. I havent even done the mod on it yet. I will be doing the mods this week.

  12. I’ve actually been looking around for someone who was using a nikon d40 with a wireless flash. Great review! Exactly what I was looking for! Still in the beginning stages of my strobist pursuit, and this is definitely a good choice to make for people who don’t have or want to drop nearly $400.00 on a PocketWizard. I just ordered one to compliment my sb-600. The d40 is surely a modest but powerful DSLR for all those venturing into Photography. With time I will upgrade the boy, a D300 is next in line, but first my trial and errors with something I can properly afford…thanks again!

  13. I have the Cactus trigger/receiver and LOVE it..however, I just tried mounting it and with the bracket, it mounts too high to fire into the center of my umbrella…what am I doing wrong? Any suggestions? (the last photo of your setup looks like its mounted just right)

    • Hi Lerissa,

      Not to worry, mine actually sat a little high as well. It looks even worse with smaller umbrellas. You don’t really need your flash to fire exactly into the center of the umbrella, but if that’s what you’re after I have just the tip. Point your flash head straight up and then loosen the adjustment knob for the Cactus V2s mount and rotate the flash and receiver downward. This will allow you to fire directly in the middle of your umbrella.

      I hope that helps and if you have any other questions, please feel free to ask away!

      Cheers!

      Stephen

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