Cactus Inc., A company based in Hong Kong, China manufactures wireless flash triggers much like PocketWizards, or Elinchrom SkyPorts.What’s the difference?
The pricetag. PW’s & SkyPorts leave the building for about 200$ a pop, while the Cactus triggers sell for about 50$ shipping included.
I know what you’re all thinking ; ‘what’s the catch’? Well , there isn’t really a catch, albeit the fact that it’s obviously made of lesser quality components, and it doesn’t
work as well as the alternatives do. Anyway, that was the case with Cactus’ previous versions of the triggers, the 1V, 2V & 2Vs’. The reception was quite buggy, there were
quite a lot of misfires, and were really poorly built. Cactus have just released the V4-versions of their triggers (no, it’s not a typo, they skipped the V3’s apparently) and
while it still serves the same purpose, some radical changes have been made to the model.
The full review and pictures after the meridian
For starters, the shape of both receiver/transmitter have completely changed. We can’t help but notice the resemblance between the V4’s, Skyports and the upcoming PocketWizards.
The triggers now feature an external antenna, which according to Cactus increases the range as far as 30m. Quite significant. The receivers have completely been redesigned, and now
feature a small screwhole so you can screw them directly on top of a tripod. This is innovative thinking. I know tons of photographers who attach their triggers with rubber bands, gaffer-
tape and other aids, but it’s just not the same. We’d love to see this on upcoming high end triggers.
The receiver now also works with simple AA batteries, in stead of those CR2 3V batteries, which is a lot easier. The sync speed has also been improved, now going as fast as 1/500-1/1000.
Now why bore you with all of this? I just received a V4 trigger set from Hong Kong and thought I’d share my experience with it with all of you.
The boxing has also been improved, design-wise. Cactus is really trying beef up their image, and as far as I’m concerned they’re doing a good job with it.
When opening the box, you’ll find the receiver, the transmitter, some sync cables, user manual and a guide called ‘When Light Dances’.
Now what I particularly like, is that the little guide ‘When Light Dances’ is actually a ‘portfolio’ of images caught by the Strobist/Cactus community
and it explains how the shot was taken, with light diagrams and all. Again, they shouldn’t have to do this, especially if you look at the price they’re
going for, but it’s nice to add it. Cactus really seems to be eager to beef up their image.
The receiver has completely changed, whereas it used to be a vertically-structured receiver, it’s now horizontal. You can also see the switches
allowing you to choose one of the 16 available channels. You can see the hotshoe adapter where you can slide in your flash.
The completely redesigned receiver, with the new antenna. In my tests it’s been doing a pretty stellar job.
The receiver + flashead mounted on a Gitzo tripod. It looks pretty sleek. This also shows the super feature that the receiver now has,
where you can simply screw it on top of a tripod.
And here’s a rear view of it.
I know the pictures aren’t sharp, but these were taken with a small digicam that was lying around here, couldn’t find my dSLR. So what did I conclude out of my tests? The improvements that have been done to them, compared to the V2’s , are significant. They’re much more reliable now.
The fps I attained was pretty good, the range has also been improved thanks to the antenna.
Are these PocketWizards/ SkyPort killers? No, not yet. They’re great, but they’re 50$. Now, I’m not one to say that if you’re equipment isn’t pricy enough, it’s not
good, far from that (I actually still use my Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 on shoots) but what I mean by that is that the materials used for building the whole thing
won’t be as sturdy as pro triggers. The build quality has improved but it’s still dodgy in some places. I wouldn’t want to drop them too hard a couple of times.As an amateur shooter, one would be stark-raving mad to pay 200$+ for PW’s or SP’s that do essentially (apart from some fancy extra’s for lightmeters,…)
the same job.’Invest’ in a couple of these babies (for the price they’re going, you’d be mad not buying at least one backup unit of each).
If you’re a serious shooter, these could be superb backup units, for the small possibility that your PW’s/SP’s fail on site (but if you’re really a serious shooter,
you’ve got backup units of those as well).All in all, these triggers are the perfect alternative for people who don’t want to invest in pro-grade triggers. There have been huge improvements since the V2’s
which weren’t reliable.
My advice? Buy it. It’ll always come in handy, and you’ll finally be able to get that damn flash of your roof, and start with some serious photography.