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Trigger test Cactus V5 V4 Yongnuo RF603 RF602 Pocket Wizard II 0.00AUD
Trigger test Cactus V5 V4 Yongnuo RF603 RF602 Pocket Wizard II
Click to enlarge
Trigger test Cactus V5 V4 Yongnuo RF603 RF602 Pocket Wizard II
Click to enlarge

We have conducted testing on 4 different triggers : Cactus’s V4 and V5, Yongnuo’s RF602 and RF603 and have included data from the web on Pocket Wizards II Plus units. The V4 and RF602 have separate transmitters (Tx) and receivers (Rx) while the V5, RF603 and Pocket Wizards are transceivers which combine Tx and Rx functions into one unit.

There is a conclusion at the end for those wanting a quick overview.

Zero points – feature Ok but not outstanding – text in black
+1 point – best in class – text in green
-1 point – missing feature / badly implemented – text in red
½ points : text in black and green or black and red, where there are mixed positives and negatives

Cactus V4s = 30m claimed, 50m tested which is enough for 98% of users
Other units : 100m minimum, we saw 275m for the V5 and RF603, and 150m for RF602 in a busy urban environment.
Pocket Wizard claim 488m BUT this only applies to the Japan specific version. Other versions use different frequencies and power levels. Web review range from 100 – 250m, comparable to the other long range triggers.

Transmitter batteries
V4 Tx uses 23A batteries, which are not as handy as AAAs but are not too hard to find and inexpensive. Due to the V4s low power design these last well, 12 months is common
RF602 Tx uses expensive disposable CR2 lithiums. Being 2.4GHz triggers which needs more power the batteries life is OK but not outstanding
The other units use AA or AAA batteries. V4 Rx require Alkalines (they don’t work well with rechargables due to their lower voltage). However these last a long time, usually 6-12 months so running costs are still low.

Flash sync connection
V4s, V5s & PW use readily available 3.5mm connections. RF602s & RF603s use the older style PC connector which is more fragile and less reliable.

Shutter cable connection
V5s and PW again provide 3.5mm sockets. The V5s support ½ press to focus and full press to fire the shutter while PW’s mono connector does not allow control over focus.
RF602s use a proprietary connector and the RF603s an uncommon 2.5mm size… much harder to find should you damage or loose a cable on location.
V4s don’t support camera triggering

Hotshoe pass through on camera
V5s and RF603s have a hotshoe connector top and bottom which allows a flash to be put on the Tx while the Tx is on camera. Both support flashes in manual mode only, disappointingly the extra connectors on the 603s are not used in this mode. The V5 can even be used as a safesync allowing old style flashes that put out up to 300V to be used on camera in this way.
V4s and 602s don’t provide a pass through hotshoe, though it can be emulated by putting the flash on camera and connecting the trigger via cable. OK for occasional use.
PW don’t have a hotshoe on the Rx at all, instead relying on less reliable cables to trigger speedlights. They also then need to be mounted to the stand separately to the flash.

Transmitter hotshoe lock
V4s, V5s and PW lock positively onto the cameras hotshoe. 602s and 603s don’t. This is an important issue for the 603 in particular, as if you use the hotshoe pass through feature the trigger then has to hold a flash on camera too. A slight bump is enough to knock the trigger out of alignment with the camera which stops the triggers working. A bigger bump may see the trigger and flash hit the ground.

Flash wakeup
602s and 603s will wake up some Canon & Nikon flashes. The SB600, some older models and most non Canon/Nikon flashes are not supported.
The other triggers don’t provide this function, but most flashes can have “auto sleep” mode turned off via a menu so its not a major concern for most users.

Multi camera compatibility
V4s, V5s and PW will work with pretty much any camera, even 100 year old models which don’t have a hotshoe via the included cables. They can also be used with Sony cameras via the commonly available Sony – standard hotshoe adapter or PC socket.
RF602s & 603s work well if bought for the correct brand. Canon dSLRS require Canon Txs and Nikon DSLRs require Nikon Txs. Rx units are the same for both. RF602s will usually work on other brands, but sync speed is limited to 1/125 making them less than ideal.
RF603s simply don’t work if mounted to other brands. Their “auto switching” function won’t detect the camera so the triggers don’t communicate at all.

Flash voltage compatibility
V4 & V5 tolerate 300V, PW 200V. This means they can be safely used with older studio and speedlight flashes. The V5 can even be used as a safesync allowing old style flashes that put out up to 300V to be used on camera in this way.
RF602 and RF603 only tolerate 12V. Higher voltages will damage the Rx units

On / off switch
V4 and 602 have an off switch on the Rx only, unfortunately these are not easily accessible with a flash mounted. As the Tx has no off switch its possible for the Tx battery to run flat if something presses the “test” button in your camera bag, but normally the Tx uses no power if not in use.
603 switches are similar - all units have an on/off switch but its not accessible with a flash mounted.
V5s have a side mounted RX / off / TX slider that is easy to use at all times.
PW have a front mounted switch, also very easy to use.

Units needed to trigger one camera and one flash wirelessly
Rf603 and PW have a special channel used exclusively for camera triggering, and this works separately to the flash triggering system. Shutters and flashes need to be triggered at slightly different times as the mechanical shutter doesn’t work as quickly as electronic flash. Rf603 and PW require only 3 units to perform both functions : one on camera, one in hand to trigger the camera and one under the flash.
Rf602s and V5s require two sets of units set on different channels. The first set should be used to trigger the camera – one unit in hand and the other attached to the cameras shutter trigger port. The 2nd set should be on a different channel, with a Tx unit on the cameras hotshoe and Rx attached to the flash.
V4s do not support camera shutter triggering

Bulb / intervalometer function
V5s have a special function which allows easy use of bulb mode. In camera trigger mode holding the Tx button for 2 seconds puts the Rx into a mode where it signals the camera to shoot continuously i.e. bulb mode. Pressing the Rx button again cancels this mode. This can also be used as a simple intervalometer function, the camera will take images continuously as if the shutter button was being held down. None of the other triggers here have this function.

Conclusions :

V4s : the first reliable inexpensive trigger
Good, basic flash triggers, connectors & Rx batteries standard sizes
+ Standard 3.5mm connections.
+ Excellent battery life, which is good as Rx uses Alkaline AAAs & Tx uses 23As
+ Compatible with old high voltage flashes
- No shutter triggering
- Range “only” 30m but this is enough for 98% of uses

RF602 : The first 2.4GHz / 100m range affordable trigger
Good for Nikon & Canon users, underperforms with other brands
+ Good triggers for 100% Canon or 100% Nikon users
+ Shutter triggering works well
+ Support for multi channel triggering, but tiny dip switches (tool needed) to change channels
- Poor compatibility (slow sync) with Pentax, Olympus, Sony or mixing Nikon & Canon
- Not suited for high voltage flashes
- PC & proprietary connectors, no 3.5mm sockets

RF603 : transceiver design sounds good…
But for most users RF602s are a better choice
+ Separates shutter & flash triggering allowing one unit to perform both functions
- Pass thru flash mode a good idea, but poorly implemented as the Tx lacks a locking shoe risking the flash & TX hitting the ground. Disappointingly TTL signals are NOT passed through
- Nikon Tx MUST be mounted on a Nikon dSLR to work, Canon version on Canon dSLR
- not compatible with Pentax, Olympus, Sony etc
- lacks multichannel triggering, a downgrade from RF602
- channel dip switches are located under batteries and require use of a sharp object

Cactus V5s –fully featured transceiver, the overall winner here.
Outstanding design, all controls easily accessible, uses standard size batteries and connectors
+ Standard 3.5mm jacks for both flash & camera triggering
+ Uses AAA batteries, rechargeables ok too
+ Compatible with old high voltage flashes
+ Multi channel triggering via well placed dial on side
+ Flash pass thru with locking hotshoe and safesync support
+ Unique bulb / intervalometer mode
- requires 4 units to trigger flash & camera… but all 4 cost less than one PW set

Pocket Wizard II plus – the industry standard
Good older studio style transceiver but expensive, not really designed for speedlight use
+ Standard 3.5mm jacks for both flash & camera triggering
+ Uses AA batteries, rechargeables ok
+ Compatible with old high voltage flashes
- No hotshoe so flash pass thru not supported and cables / adapters needed for speedlights
- Some reliability issues with 580exII
- Only 4 channels
- No multi channel triggering
- Expensive

For most users the V5 represents great value, it includes all the features of the other triggers in a very easy to use package, without the pricetag of the Pocketwizard II plus.

Disclaimer : we stock both Cactus and Yongnuo products... however this gives us a great insight into what a wide variety of users want from their triggers.

This product was added to our catalog on Thursday 03 March, 2011.
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