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First Look: Cactus V5 Wireless Flash Trigger

Cactus V5 Wireless Flash Trigger

Cactus V5 Wireless Flash Trigger Set

I recently had the privilege of Beta testing the new Cactus V5 Duo Wireless Flash Trigger during its development phase. Now that the veil of secrecy has been lifted, I’m happy to report that this new trigger is a big leap forward over its predecessor, the V4, and it gives a good run for the money to any other flash triggers on the market.

Those of you who saw the original version of my flash portrait photography course know that I’ve been a fan of Cactus triggers since their venerable Cactus V2 unit (if anything can be called venerable in an industry where new and improved hardware appears every six months).

Now, with the V5, Cactus has taken a completely new approach, abandoning the dedicated transmitter and receiver units for a new transceiver that can serve in either role with the flip of a switch.

Cactus V5 Stand-Alone foot

Detachable foot creates a flash stand

The new design is handsomely futuristic, looking like a bar of soap from Darth Vader’s shower, and it now has a detachable plastic foot, so the unit can support a stand-alone flash on any flat surface.

For mounting, the V5 includes a female threaded coupling on the bottom, allowing you to screw it directly onto a light stand without any kind of shoe or bracket required.  And it has a nice high-quality metal foot on the bottom for mounting in standard hot or cold shoes.

The unit is powered by two standard AAA batteries (a huge advantage over past models and competitors that require a funky CR2 battery), concealed in a nifty spring-loaded tray that pops out at a touch.

Cactus V5 with Umbrella

Mounts easily on an umbrella bracket with a cold shoe attachment

As for performance, I found the V5 to be flawless, as did most of the other Beta test group.  As with competing brands that operate in the 2.4 GHz range, the V5, for me, was rock solid, with no interference and no misfires.  The V5 boasts 16 channels that you can select with a dial, and even something the manufacturer calls “Frequency Self Tune” which is supposed to help keep the units firing in extreme weather conditions.  (I’ll have to take their word for that, since I live in San Diego where an “extreme weather condition” might be an unexpected drop from 70 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit.)

Hot shoe on top—but no TTL pass-through.

Only one feature disappointed me on the V5, and that was the lack of TTL-pass-through on the hot shoe atop the unit.  Of course, it’s great to have that shoe there—it allows you to mount a flash on the unit while it’s on your camera, perhaps to provide some on-axis fill light.  That’s great. Trouble is, that flash has to be set manually, just like the remotes, instead of working in TTL mode to adjust its exposure or help with auto-focus.  By contrast the Phottix Strato, which I reviewed recently, has a hot-shoe with TTL pass-through atop its transmitter, and I have found that feature very useful.  Maybe in the Cactus V6…

The V5 also works as a Wireless shutter release for most cameras, but I was unable to test that at the time of this writing because I haven’t yet received the connecting cable.  I hope to update this part of the review when I get a chance to test that feature.

Summarizing  the Pros and Cons as I see them:


  • Slick design
  • Good construction
  • AAA batteries (an advantage over the competing RF-602)
  • Detachable stand-alone foot
  • Flawless 2.4 GHz reliability
  • Long range (100+ meters)
  • Wireless shutter release


  • Lack of TTL pass-through (compare to Strato)
  • Somewhat large and bulky (compare to Yongnuo RF-602) in the camera bag

The Cactus V5 can be purchased from the Gadget Infinity website here:

Given the high quality, reliability, long range, convenient features, and favorable price, I expect these triggers to become quite popular.


Footnote: If you want to know how triggers like this are used, check out my course on off-camera flash portrait photography where you can see me use and explain this kind of gear in great detail.

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  1. Hi Phil – I’m a videographer as you will see from our website but I dable in stills for a hobby. Following your review on the Phottix triggers I bought them and I’ve been delighted with the results. I used them in our studio with a Canon 480EX11 on the trigger and a Metz 36 C-2 on cable, both fired by the Phottix on my Canon 450D. I used a Kaiser block connector on top of the transmitter to feed the cable to the Metz, and the pass through worked perfectly. Both flashes were fired into umbrellas, portrait style.
    The only trouble I had was trying to fire a third cheapy (old) flash with an Ebay photoelectric cell – it just wouldn’t pick up the light from the umbrellas, but that’s another story. I’ll have to spend a bit money on a reliable cell if you could recommend one. Thanks for your brilliant info on your site.

  2. admin says:

    Charles – I love what you did with the Strato and the Metz. Great gear hacking! Thanks for sharing this. – Phil

  3. Nice review Phil, I agree with all of your findings wte of mounting to an umbrella swivel…it’s a little awkward but not impossible. The main issue is the positioning of the female tripod screw and the male hot shoe.

    My review is here:,700.0.html


  4. admin says:

    Thanks for mentioning the umbrella bracket issue. Some testers had trouble here which I did not, because my umbrella brackets always have a cold shoe attached. Without the cold shoe, some people found a clearance problem when trying to screw the trigger onto the bracket. Solution is a very cheap little cold shoe (many brackets come with them already attached like my favorite Photoflex Light and Umbrella Shoe Mount Clamp, available at Amazon.


  5. Karel says:

    Phil, another solution would be to just get an extension for the spigot (so it looks like 2 spigots fastened together) so that the trigger sits higher above the stand.
    I was also part of the beta test team, and my review is up here:

  6. admin says:

    Karel, that’s an awesome detailed review you have there. I highly recommend that anyone considering this trigger read it!

  7. Karel says:

    Thanks Phil 🙂

  8. Keith says:

    Thanks Phil for a very clear and helpful appraisal – great!


  9. Wayne says:

    Would like to see how it works with monolights!

  10. dieter says:

    Thanks soooo much for your review…..I found it very informative…..appreciate your commitment to the industry….

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