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Cactus LV5 Laser Trigger – First Look

Posted by Caz on Sunday, 7th April 2013

I was recently contacted by the folks at Gadget Infinity, asking if I would like to try a Cactus LV5 Laser Trigger for evaluation. Of course, I said yes! It arrived the other day:

Cactus LV5 - Boxed

Cactus LV5 – Boxed

Cactus LV5 - Open Box

Cactus LV5 – Open Box

Here’s what comes in the box:

Cactus LV5 - What's In The Box

Cactus LV5 – What’s In The Box

Initially I was surprised that there were only 4AAA batteries in the box, but reading the manual, it turns out that each half of the trigger will work happily on just 2AAA’s – but will take 4 each – the usable life of the batteries is just halved when using two. The box contents comprise 1 LV5 laser emitter, 1 LV5 laser detector/RF transmitter, 1 LV5 hood (for the detector), 1 PC sync lead, 1 3.5mm plug cable and settings stickers to remind you what the thumbwheel control does on the detector.

The LV5 has Duo Mode Triggering (DMT) which means it can be triggered by either blocking the transmission between the laser Emitter and Sensor, or removing the object between the laser Emitter and Sensor. It sends a control pulse either via the 3.5mm jack socket on the emitter or via wireless to a Cactus V5 transceiver (optional extra).

Since I don’t have any Cactus transceivers, I decided to use the LV5 to trigger my camera’s shutter directly. This requires an optional extra lead, which is dedicated for your camera. It wasn’t included in the box, but fortunately I had a suitable cable for my Canon EOS 7D from my CameraAxe system – although you can of course buy one from Cactus.

A while ago my Lego Diver had fun making this picture with me on Day #1258. He had to make the jump many times because we were timing the camera shutter by hand. But today I tried it again with my lady diver and the Cactus LV5 laser trigger. Here’s the setup:

View From Above

View From Above

Side On

Side On

Looking Behind The Camera

Looking Behind The Camera

The transmitter and receiver were placed just above and either side of the tank of water and carefully lined up. Initially I had some trouble with the camera continuously triggering but once I aligned the sensors properly, it was fine.

I used the camera in mirror lock-up mode to minimize the shutter lag, using my existing Yongnuo TX and RX units to fire the flashes. Of course, you can use the built-in Cactus trigger signal to fire Cactus receivers under each flash if you have them.

It was much easier than timing by hand! I made sure I dropped the diver at a point which would break the laser and adjusted the delay until I got the shot I was after. I still took a quite a few shots, but there were many more keepers and it didn’t take very long to get one where she was looking in the right direction, and in the right point in the tank.

I can certainly see the potential for using this for other high speed shots with objects dropping into liquids. I doubt I would use it for any collision or crown shots, as I have two systems already which also control the valves – essential for such work. Here are some fun shots from my session:

Splash Facing Away

Splash Facing Away

Twist To The Right

Twist To The Right

Cleaning The Tank Of Bubbles

Cleaning The Tank Of Bubbles

Perfect Timing - Deep Dive Revisited

Perfect Timing – Deep Dive Revisited

The triggers seem well built, although I did find it rather easy to accidentally switch them on with the flush-mount on/off switch on top of each cylinder. So probably best to store them without batteries, just in case they get switched on while putting them away. You can take the hood off and stow the two front-to-front via their handy little twist locking mechanism. The transmitter also has a slide-across cover for the laser beam too – a great idea, although you can still see a very dim red spot through the cover when closed.

Each half of the trigger has an adjustable-angle foot – a nice mechanism with click-position location and a big thumb-tightened locking screw. Underneath, it has a standard 1/4″ tripod screw thread and plastic hot shoe attachment. I used the latter to slot into some plastic feet which came with my flash guns, which made the trigger very easy to position.

The LV5 has the potential for many uses where movement detection is required. I look forward to exploring more of these, including perhaps some wildlife shots in the future, as the units will work in sunshine and up to 150m apart.

7 Comments

  • […] We had fun today watching the diving. It was quite an impressive display. This was the best performance of the lot. Here’s how it was done. […]

  • Interesting device that seems to work well without too much trouble. I was impressed to see that the devices would work up to 150M apart. This would hold some potential for wildlife and sports photography. What is the cost Caz?

    • I would guess that it’s range will only be 150m if you use 4 AAA batteries in each half. Haven’t tested the range on just two.

      Gadget Infinity have it for sale for around $90 – no idea who (if any) are selling it direct to the UK yet. Suppose eBay will have it fairly soon?

  • I have the Splash Art Kit and use it with a Canon 7D and three strobes. One strobe is on the camera as the trigger and the other two are the slaves that actually light the subject. I saw your setup and it appears you are not using a strobe on the camera as the trigger. Is there a way to eliminate the strobe on the camera as the trigger and use a remote? If so, what is the name of the trigger. I enjoy your sight and will appreciate hearing from you.

    • Hi Don

      I used my Yongnuo 602TX wireless transmitter on the camera hot shoe and one Yongnuo 602RX receiver under each flash unit. The flashes were set to manual which meant they all fired together (not using slave mode). The 602’s have been superceded by a single 603RX/TX unit which is switchable as a transmitter or receiver. Hope that helps.

  • Caz
    I use the Yongnuo 603 to trigger my Nikon D800 to capture birds in flight. I use the RX connected to my camera via a wire to the remote connector (the cable) and the TX as the trigger. Can the Cactus LV5 be used to fire the Yongnuo or would I have to buy the V5 system to make it work.
    John

    • John

      I’m not sure how you’re getting the bird to trigger the TX unit at present. But if you used the Cactus LV5 laser as the trigger, wired directly into the camera remote socket (as I did above), you should be able to use one 603 on the camera hot shoe as TX for the flashes, with other 603’s under the remote flashes in RX mode. To my knowledge, the Cactus will not trigger the 603’s directly, if that makes sense? You would have to go buy the Cactus RX units if you want to fire them directly from the LV5.

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