I go way back with Cactus. I bought a set of their "eBay" triggers/receivers back in the day (2008) in order to learn off-camera flash techniques. I might have paid around $60 or so. David hobby (Strobist) had kickstarted the whole idea of achieving professional results using small auxiliary flashes in place of the usual studio strobes (mono lights etc). You could do that at a relatively low price and a typical two light kit was entirely portable. Just what a location photographer needs. Since then I've maintained an average of 4 portable flashes in my gear bag for my commercial and portraiture work. My Yongnuo 560 set continues to work just fine but I'm looking to upgrade to something a bit more flexible that includes support for flashes of different brands and remote power control. This week and next, the Cactus RF 60's and V6 transceivers are getting a workout.
This ( Cactus V2s) was part of the set I bought so long ago. It worked well enough 8 out of 10 times and had a decent signal range. You would never have confused it with Pocket Wizard's or some of the other higher end brands of the time. I sold it for pretty much the same cost of purchase and moved unto Pocket Wizards exclusively around 2010.
The Cactus RF 60 flash isn't new to the market and it has some competition, though at more ridiculous prices. It's a manual flash with some interesting perks:
It's built very solidly with a strong hotshoe attachment, rotating head and tight battery door. The buttons feel nice and stiff with positive feedback when pressed. Other handy features include a
light stand mount on the side, auxiliary port for an external battery, sync port, USB port...for firmware updates in the future and the typical wide angle diffuser and bounce card arrangement.
Something I appreciate on a flash is audio feedback. You can configure the RF 60 to emit a beep under a couple of conditions. I set mine to Fn2 (beep when flash is ready to emit a full blast of light at desired power level). You can also configure each GROUP with an alias such as "KEY" for Key Light or fill etc. Handy.
Overall I found the menu system very easy to navigate after you run thru it a few times.
Top View showing the hotshoe and Group On/Off Buttons
I'm also reviewing the V6 TX/RX unit.
On/Off Transceiver & Receiver Switch
This is a key component that I'm looking for in my next flash system. I want to control the flash as much as possible right from the camera position, especially when it's inside a soft box or beauty dish.
Cactus CB-60 Foldable Softbox
The V6 allows me to control the power and zooming of the flash head for the RF 60's independently.
Photographer View of V6 with Menu Dial/Buttons and Display
This last bit is a nice one for me...the Yongnuo TX/RX I'm currently using requires a specialized battery which can be hard to find at most stores and very expensive as compared to good ol' Double AA's.
Top View of the Cactus V6 W/Olympus Camera
The above image isn't an optical illusion...the V6 unit is large relative to the mirrorless cameras I use. It's likely to be more at home on a standard DSLR. Cactus isn't the only one doing this...I've observed similar sizing from a number of companies. I want to go back to the days when these things were shrinking in size.
On another note, I've been able to get a synch at 1/250 seconds and in some cases 1/320 seconds. Far better than any triggers I've used recently. It's a decent enough speed that makes nature photography this Winter a lot more interesting as the daytime light levels get low.
Stay tuned for PT II of the review