The new Cactus RF60 remote manual speedlite with 2.4GHz radio transceivers built-in are now available for around $139.95.
The new RF60 transceiver flash will act as either a transmitter or receiver, so one flash can control the manual power levels (and zoom) of other flashes set to receiver mode.
And the coming V6 transmitter unit will also allow remote manual power control of the RF60, as well as providing a few other quite unique functions.
RF60 Features -
- Full Power – GN56 (matches top end Canon / Nikon Flashes)
- Master and Slave modes – 2.4 GHz Radio Transmitter and Receiver Built-In
- 100M Range
- 4 Individual Groups
- Remote Manual Power Control
- Remote Zoom Control
- Fast Global and Individual Group Remote Power Control
- Group Aliases – (Name Groups – Left, Right, Key, Fill etc)
- Optical Slave with Timing Delay Feature
- HSS Sympathy Mode
- Compatible with the Cactus V5, LV5, and the coming V6 triggers.
- USB Port for Firmware Updates
- External HV Battery Port
- 3.5mm Sync Port
- Single Firing Pin – Universal for most cameras.
Cactus (or Harvest One) are a relatively small manufacturer, and to keep costs down and make their products viable, Cactus have maintained a philosophy of keeping the products as universal as possible.
The popular V5 radio triggers for example are the same unit for transmitter and receiver, and being single firing pin only there are no separate Canon or Nikon etc dedicated versions. There is only the one V5 unit.
This universal approach keeps production and development costs down. Though with the rise of mirrorless cameras, and many people now trying to use flashes and triggers over a number of different camera platforms, being universal is now also highly desirable.
This priority on being universal very much explains the feature set and philosophy behind the new RF60 radio flashes, and the coming V6 radio triggers. And although Cactus are avoiding the expensive world of dedicated TTL development, there are still some very interesting features and developments, making the most of what is still possible with a non-dedicated system.
Master and Slave Modes -
The RF 60 have both transmitter and receiver built in, so one flash can act as master and control the manual power levels (and zoom) of other flashes set to receiver mode.
A bulky manual flash on the camera may not always be the most desirable master unit though, and it will be up to the coming V6 transceiver to fill the more compact transmitter role. Once you see the V6 feature set (detailed further below) its easier to see why the RF60 are really a desirable compliment to the V6 transmitter and trigger system.
Until the V6 arrives though, an RF60 flash will need to be used to control other RF60 off-camera. Again the RF60 are universal and transmitter and receiver are the same one flash unit.
Note – A current V5 transceiver can be used as a compact transmitter unit on the camera, just to fire the RF60 off camera (no remote power control).
Again being universal the RF60 are single firing pin only. So they will fire via any camera with a regular hotshoe (a hotshoe adapter could be used for Sony etc shoes)
Remote Power and Zoom Control -
The RF60 will control the remote power level of up to 4 individual groups of slave flashes.
Power from 1/128 to 1/1, in 1/3rds stop increments.
Remote Zoom from 24mm to 105mm.
Group Aliases -
One unique and clever feature of the RF60 is simply the ability to set Aliases or names to each group of slave flashes.
So instead of having to remember which flash is in group A, B, and C etc, you can assign the groups names – KEY, FILL, SPOT, RIM, HAIR, LEFT, RIGHT, BACK and FRONT.
Optical Slave with Delay Feature –
Most third party flashes generally have an optic slave function now. With an S1 and S2 slave mode. S1 simply fires the flash as soon as it sees the light from another flash, while S2 waits until it sees a second flash pulse. This allows a TTL flash using pre-flash communication to be used as the triggering device.
Cactus have taken this a step further and also introduced a timing delay adjustment. So that you can actually fine tune when you would like the flash to fire. This allows the RF60 to do first curtain and second curtain sync, but also set the flash to fire at any given point within the exposure.
Second curtain sync would not be as automated like this as using TTL triggers for example (as you have to manually set the delay timing to match your shutter speed). Though at least Cactus have worked out a way to enable this in some form. Again with very universal non-dedicated flash and triggers.
HSS Sympathy Mode –
Description by Cactus –
The HSS Sympathy mode of the RF60 is designed to support flash photography at shutter speeds beyond a camera’s maximum sync speed. With the help of a TTL flash mounted on camera, RF60 fire flashes with an extended duration in order to produce even frame illumination at shutter speeds as high as 1/8000 second.
MORE HSS Sympathy Mode DETAILS HERE - Click to Expand
Again, doing their best to implement TTL like features in a non-dedicated flash and trigger system, Cactus have provided as much of a HSS feature as they can in the RF60.
Canon and Nikon style HSS requires 2 things –
- The flash to pulse many times at low power acting like a continuous light source
- And an early fire signal which starts the pulsing before the cameras first shutter curtain starts to open.
So Cactus have implemented the flash pulsing function in the RF60. The harder part though is detecting the early fire signal from the camera, which is also required.
To detect and receive that early fire signal the RF60 must use their optic slave function, and the light from another TTL or HSS enbled flash is then used as the triggering flash.
Again comparing to TTL enable radio triggers or flashes, this HSS sympathy mode is much more limited. As optic slaves are generally not ideal to use in bright light conditions where you would generally need the HSS.
Though this feature could certainly still have its uses. Like ganging a few extra RF60 slave flahses in and umbrella or softbox, with another TTL and HSS enabled flash as the trigger.
Ports and 1/4″ Mounting -
The RF60 have a USB port for firmware updates, and a 3.5mm mini-phone sync port (which is the ideal option).
There is also a 1/4″ mounting point for horizontal flash mounting, allowing better alignment in umbrellas etc, and taking stress of the flash foot while using radio triggers etc attached.
The is also an External HV Battery Port with a Canon compatible socket (at the front base of the flash under a rubber cover).
The RF60 flash body is derived from the current Godox TT680 flashes. Though Cactus have purchased the flash molds from Godox and have made changes and refinements. Many of the internals are different, and the front lense is much more refined for a more even light pattern.
The RF60 are also a stop more powerful than the TT680, so these are quite different flashes now.
Cactus V6 Transceiver
The RF60 radio flash units are available first, but they are not really the complete system without a separate transmitter unit. And that’s where the coming V6 transceivers come in.
Though the V6 also have a couple of significant features on their own (again revolving around universal function) –
- Remote Power Control of TTL flashes for - Canon, Nikon, & Pentax – all used together! As well as third party versions of those from – Metz, Nissin, Godox, YongNuo, & Sigma.
- Multi Purpose Full TTL Pass Through Hotshoe for - Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax and Fujifilm, all via the one V6 unit!
Compatible Flashes for Remote Manual Power Control -
The current list of flashes already available for remote manual power control with the V6 include (and this list will likely be expanded over time) –
Cactus AF-45C, AF-50C
Canon 320EX, 430EX, 540EZ, 580EX II, 600EX-RT
Metz 36AF-5, 44AF-1, 50AF-1, 52AF-1, 58AF-1, 58AF-2
Nissin Di866 Mark II, MG8000
Sigma EF-500 DG SUPER
Yongnuo YN568EX II
Cactus AF45N, Cactus AF50N
Metz 36AF-5, 44AF-1, 58AF-2
Nikon SB-24, SB-28, SB-600, SB-700, SB-800, SB-900, SB-910
Nissin Di700, Di866
Sigma EF-530 DG SUPER
Cactus AF 45P, AF 50P
Metz 36AF-5, 44AF-1, 50AF-1, 58AF-2
Pentax AF 360FGZ, AF 540FGZ
So the remote power control of a number of popular TTL flashes is really the main feature of the V6 transceivers.
And this means you can not only use your current TTL flashes like the Canon 580EX II etc, but also combine them in remote manual use with the flashes compatible with other brands like Nikon and Pentax as well.
And even use most any camera (with the V6 transmitter mounted) to fire and control them all.
So people will mainly be purchasing the V6 transceivers to make use of their existing TTL flashes off camera.
Though there is very often the point where you may want to add extra flashes to the system. And that is where the RF60 flash units becomes the ideal option.
Why pay extra for more full TTL flashes, and more V6 transceivers, when the RF60 are well priced at $139.96, and with convenient radio receiver already neatly built-in.
This is where the RF60 area really a great compliment to the V6 triggers system (which ideally probably should have been available first).
Other Cactus V6 Features -
The V6 transceivers have not been finalised yet, though some of the features expected are –
- Full manipulation of power levels to 1/10, 1/3, 1/2 EV stops.
- LoPower Mode fires flash for extremely short duration of time.
- Absolute Power Mode benchmarks power output of different flash models to same light intensity.
- Built-in Optical Trigger enabling pre-flash triggering.
- Group Control up to 4 groups
- Relay Mode triggers camera shutter and flash in sync
- Delay Timer configurable from 1ms to 10 seconds
- Mini-USB port for optional power supply and firmware update
Global and Individual Power Adjustment -
Another very handy feature of the both the V6 triggers and the RF60 flash unit is the ability to make fast global power level changes (as well as individual changes to each group separately).
This means you can quickly bump the power level of all groups up or down a stop for example (while retaining the same ratio) to match a change in the camera aperture.
If working with a number of groups this feature can really save a lot of time over adjusting each group separately (just to try a quick change in depth of field or aperture for example).
Holding down a group button and scrolling the dial adjusts the individual group. Scrolling the dial without holding a group button adjusts all the groups at once.
So Cactus appear to have put together a very impressive and capable remote manual system with the V6 and RF60 radio flash unit.
Apart from Alienbees power control, the Cactus V6 offer a lot more control than the Radiopopper JrX for example. And the V6 are compatible with a LOT more flashes, and also very likely half the price as well.
This is all well and good, and even just 12 months ago people would have been climbing over each other to get their hands on a remote manual system like this. Though there is one big elephant in the room now already…
And that is the availability of inexpensive and very impressive remote manual flashes like the Lithium-Ion powered Godox V850. Will it make sense to pay for separate V6 receivers, when from $100 you can buy a whole flash like the impressive V850, which provide an excellent and uniform remote manual system?
Cactus have already confirmed the new Godox V860C TTL flash will be compatible with the V6, so Lithium-Ion power is still possible with the Cactus system. The V850 option alone are still there at half the price though.
Cactus have a lot of current users and supporters already though, and the RF60 and V6 will be nice additions to expand the current V5 system if they choose to go that way.
Price and Availability
The Cactus RF60 flashes are available now for around $174.95 from –
Please also see full RF60 Reviews by –
Brian Hursey Photography