Orquid "Phoenix"

Orquid "Phoenix"

by ceinmart

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I have the chance to pick up a set of second hand Yongnuo RF-603c or Cactus V5 wireless flash triggers for more or less an equal price.

My plan is to use those triggers in combination with a Starblitz 2000 BTZ and a Canon 550D. The Starblitz is high voltage so I can not use it directly with my Canon. In the future I also plan to buy a modern flash like the Canon 430EX-II.

Assuming both sets are in the same condition (good as new according to the seller), which should I get? I don't see any significant difference by reading the specs, but these being my first triggers, I might have missed something.

I hoped some of you might have experience with (one of) these triggers and could share.

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2 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Both units do what it says on the tin. For simple triggering, the Yongnuos are (generally) cheaper and as reliable as the Cactus units. But there are differences between them that may be important, depending on how you plan to use them. I use the V5s because of some of the additional features they offer.

  • The Cactus V5 has an external rotating channel selector; the Yongnuo RF-603 uses DIP switches inside the battery compartment. Not only does that mean you can't work with multiple lighting setups simultaneously and independently (which is often the case when shooting sports if you can "wire" the arena), but it also means tearing everything down to troubleshoot firing problems because you can't just look at the settings when everything's set up.

  • The Cactus V5 has the ability to work with groups of flashes separately or together. For complex lighting setups, that means you can test each of your lights individually (on channels 2 to 5), then set the transmitter to channel 1 and fire them all.

  • The Cactus V5 has a 1/4"-20 thread for mounting (although it's in an awkward position, so you may need a standoff or a double spigot to use it with some swivels so that the hot shoe doesn't interfere).

  • The Cactus units have a locking hot shoe. It's a screw-down lock rather than a lever type, and it's in a tight space that may make tightening and loosening difficult, but at least it's there. The Yongnuos just use a friction fit, so it's possible that they may go astray at extreme angles if your stand's cold shoe doesn't have a clamp.

  • The Cactus V5s will sync at up to 1/1000 of a second; the Yongnuos max out at 1/320. That's only important if you have a camera with a leaf shutter or an electronic shutter (compacts, some early DSLRs, particularly the Nikon D1, D70 & D50, and medium format -- but if you're shooting MF you can probably afford the name brand stuff).

  • The shape of the Cactus units is slightly more likely to cause mechanical interference when trying to mount them to some kinds of light modifiers using the hot shoe. I had to modify my old-pattern Lastolight EzyBox brackets, for instance. It was about two bucks in parts from the local hardware store to effect the fix, but it's something you need to consider.

Again, those things may or may not matter to you. The extra features on the Cactus V5 cost extra money, but even though not everything is implemented as well as I would have liked (and I'd like to give the case designer a bit of a talking-to), I decided to go for the V5s, since I know I'll be doing stupid photographer tricks that would be more difficult with the groupless Yongnuos.

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touching the 1/320s with Yongnuo... have you actually tested it? A lot says that they are not capable of such a speed. –  user19490 Apr 21 '13 at 14:30
    
@Lukas — note that I said "max out at 1/320". That assumes a lot of things: ideal conditions, short transmitter-to-receiver distances, little interference, and above all, a camera that will X-sync at 1/320 or faster. Most DSLRs and mirrorless system cameras will not sync at that speed even with the flash in th camera's shoe, let alone using a radio or optical trigger that introduces delays; you need to use "high speed sync", which is actually a way of making your flash act like a continuous light source for a hundredth of a second or so. –  user2719 Apr 21 '13 at 20:25
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I think you will find that the RF603 is only certified to work with a flash trigger voltage of less than 12v. If you want to a trigger setup that will take a higher voltage then the Cactus is better. Drawback of Cactus is no TTL passthrough on the transmitter. A better option is the Comtrig T320 or G430, both of which can take high voltage flash units and offer pass through on the TX. This enables you to use a dedicated flash in TTL mode on the camera but still trigger slave units. If the slave units are auto thyristor based, they will provide sufficient light for their own view of the subject - useful for backlight or accent.

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