Sunday, August 28, 2016

Cactus V6 trigger and RF60 flash

Gotten around to using this a few times. I have two triggers, an RF60 flash and I also used a Nikon SB-910 with the setup on my FujiFilm XT-1. As usual, I'm skipping all of the general information you can get in every review on the internet and concentrating on my specific hopefully unique observations.

First thing I did is updated the firmware and both the RF 60 and the triggers. Have a laptop running Windows 10, so I had to jump through some hoops, but the documentation for those hoops it is fairly easy to follow on the cactus website. It was basically just disabling Windows Driver Signature Enforcement so the firmware updater software could install. You can find the details here: Installing Cactus Firmware Updater & Updating Cactus devices on Windows 10 PC

The firmware update process is fairly straight forward and I had no issues there.One thing I noticed was the firmware app had to be restarted between devices to pick up the next device and firmware version. In other words, It didn't detect the new device automatically once it had detected the previous device firmware version. Not a big deal. Another small snag, was all of my current devices I use have USB Micro connectors, like for my phone, Bluetooth headset, mouse charger, etc. The Cactus devices use the mini connectors which are the slightly bigger ones. I had to get up and go find a cable, but hey, who doesn't have older cables laying around all over the place? 

After that, the experimenting started. I started out and left the Trigger and the RF60 flash on group A, channel 1 just for testing. It is pretty easy to change channels and groups, so I didn't feel if I set it up, I would forget how to do it later. This setup worked pretty flawlessly, right off the bat. One thing I had to look up was how to control the zoom on the RF60 from the transmitter. To save you some grief, here's what you have to do. 

Go into the menu of the trigger and look for "Swap Control" which by default was "Quick Power Adjustment". Change it to "Zoom (Cactus)". Once you've made that change, you can toggle zoom and power setting by pushing in the wheel and adjust by turning. Works the same way as power as far as adjusting all at once or by group. 

Keep in mind that the transmitter will NOT control zoom on any 3rd party flashes. You will have to do that yourself. More on that later.

I took some test shots and everything seemed to work as advertised. No issues at all, although, I did set the transmitter power to low as I was basically testing everything out in my comfy chair and all of this was in my lap. I had remembered if the devices were too close together, they can misfire, which they did. Once I lowered the transmitter power, I had no issues. Realize, close in my case meant 6 inches to 2 feet. Your mileage may vary.

Moving on to the Nikon SB-910. I got the 2nd V6 and set it for receive, went into the menu and chose the SB-910 profile. Put the flash on and nothing! Fiddle, fiddle, press press, shake and curse... Sooo, did I figure it out... YES! I'll cut to the chase. Here's what you want to remember when working with these triggers. Are you ready? First thing is, when you ar choosing a profile for the flash, on the trigger, make sure the flash is ON THE TRIGGER and everything was properly powered up! Once I did that and chose the correct profile again, it started working. 

Notice I mentioned "properly powered up"? Well, what that means, if you don't start from the top and work your way down, you will most likely have issues. At least I do with the SB-910. So power on the flash, then the trigger. Power, on, top, down, very, important!

Once I got through that, it worked pretty well. I say pretty well and not perfectly, because I still had some learning to do... I'll try and help you bypass my difficulties. 

Of course, I knew that the flash had to be set for TTL, which it was, so I really had no issues there once I started to power these on, top down (see a pattern?). Since the V6 can't control zoom on my flash, it has to be done manually. Once the everything is powered on and set up, it locks the flash. You can't do anything with the flash, like the zoom level. But yay! there is a way to unlock the flash! 

If you need to change the zoom level on the flash manually, hold down the Menu button on the V6 receiver and it will display "Flash Unlocked" and it will, you guessed it, unlock the flash. You can then make the zoom change. It will relock itself once the flash has been triggered or you hold the Menu button down again. 

I am thinking about selling the SB-910 and getting a couple of RF60's because they are so much easier to use, but I just can't bring myself to do it. The only thing I would lose, since I don't shoot Nikon anymore is the Auto capability of the SB-910 on the Fuji (see my prior article). I don't use it very much. Well, really not at all, but I hate getting rid of that beautiful hunk of plastic that I worked so hard to get!

Okay, moving on. The build quality of both of these devices are pretty good. There are some weak points, however. The trigger shoes are a little flaky with the friction locks. In order to get them tight enough that I can't pull them off the camera, I feel as if I'm torquing them down and they may break. This has not happened, nor do I know if it will happen, nor have I heard of this happening, but it makes me uneasy. 

I'll go ahead and confirm, as other reviewers have stated that the battery door, especially on the flash feel a little flimsy, but I think as long as I'm careful and don't throw it in my bag with the door open, it will be fine. 

That's about it. I guess the question is, am I happy with these? Yes! I think that the trigger works best with the least amount of grief with the RF60, Once I got the SB-910 working, it seems consistent, which is the important part. 

They just came out with a V6 II which is about $25 bucks more and it adds some cool stuff like HSS, but I'm okay with these (for now!). Hope this helps someone. 

 Cactus RF60 Wireless Flash w/Wireless WRLS Flash Transceiver V6

Sunday, August 7, 2016

High Speed Sync with Fuji XT-1 and Nissin?

So, imagine being able to do HSS with a Nissin flash. Well, no need for imagination. Just do it. So, the trick to this is it has to have a TTL connection between the camera and the flash. You can direct connect it to the shoe (bleh) or use a Canon cable, which is compatible with the Fuji flash contacts. This will NOT work with a remote trigger that does not understand Fujifilm TTL!

Do you have to shoot in TTL? Well, actually, you don't shoot in TTL, this works in manual mode. It just needs the TTL connection. Here's how to do it. 

First, you set up the flash. You set the mode dial for manual and... Hold down the test button. That's the green lit up button next to the power button. Hold it down for 3 seconds. The light next to the mode selection dial (leftmost light) should start blinking. Guess what? Your done!

From there, as long as there's a TTL connection between the flash and camera, you can set the flash power level and using manual camera controls, shoot up to 1/4000 second and HSS works! It's a little thing and that TTL connection requirement is a bit of a pain, but hey, it's something... 

For the list makers:
  • Hold down the test light/button for 3 seconds and the mode dial indicator will blink when it is in HSS mode. Hold down for 3 seconds again to go back to normal mode. 
  • Connect flash to camera directly or use a Canon TTL compatible cable.
  • Set camera manual settings and flash power
  • Push the shutter button using up to 1/4000 second shutter speed!

I think this works with most Fujifilm cameras like the XT series, X-Pro2, etc. I only tested on the XT-1, but I've read that it works with a lot of the Fujifilm modern cameras. Do your research though, don't buy the 240 dollar flash to find out it doesn't work. I also only tested FULLY MANUAL EVERYTHING. No idea what will happen if you use any of the auto settings. If you're using auto, I'd say just set the flash for TTL and put up with the 1/180 sync speed.

Anyways, have fun as always! Oh, I just got a couple of Cactus V6 triggers and an RF60 that I am just starting to test with maybe a couple other flash units like the Nikon SB-910. Stay tuned, No BS review coming soon!

 Nissin i40