CACTUS – RF60 Radio Flash – Now Available

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.

 

Cactus RF60

 

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 V5LV5, 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.

 

Universal –

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.

 

Cactus RF60

 

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)

 

Cactus RF60

 

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.

 

Cactus RF60

 

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.

 

Cactus RF60 Aliases

 

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).

Cactus RF60 Ports

 

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!

 

CACTUS V6

 

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) –

Canon:
Cactus AF-45C, AF-50C
Canon 320EX, 430EX, 540EZ, 580EX II, 600EX-RT
Godox V860C
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

Nikon:
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

Pentax:
Cactus AF 45P, AF 50P
Metz 36AF-5, 44AF-1, 50AF-1, 58AF-2
Pentax AF 360FGZ, AF 540FGZ

 

CACTUS V6

 

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).

 

Cactus RF60

 

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 –

Adorama, and Gadget Infinity.

 

Cactus – Website
Cactus – V6 Overview

 

Images courtesy of Brian Hursey Photography and Cactus Image.

Please also see full RF60 Reviews by –
Brian Hursey Photography

 

 

.

31 Comments
  1. Brian Hursey 4 years ago

    Awesome overview Elvis!!! You did forget one thing that the RF60 and V6 do. 🙂 The power ratios across the groups will be able to universal be adjusted. Meaning say you set Group A at 1/2 power, group B at 1/4 power and Group C at 1/8 power. You then can just turn the dial on the v6 or the + button on the RF60 master, and it will go up uniformly across groups. Not sure if any other manual power adjust trigger has this? So in our example of we go up one stop with just one quick change you can go Group A 1/1, Group B 1/2 and Group C at 1/8th power. However you can not go beyond the max and min power.

    • Author
      Flash Havoc 4 years ago

      Hi Brian,

      Thanks for that. Sorry I meant to put the global power adjustment video in. I’ve added that now.

  2. Class A 4 years ago

    Thanks for this review in which you made a lot of good points.

    I have two questions, though:

    1. You question a hypothetical price for the V6 by stating that the Godox V850 can be had from $100. First, I think the V850 still sells for at least $120. Second, the extra trigger and receiver required for remote-controlling the V850 will cost another $50 (and then you don’t have an HSS sympathy mode yet; with the respective trigger being more costly and currently available for Canon only). This trigger/receiver pair +V850 will be nowhere near as feature-packed and convenient as the V6+RF60.

    2. You state the RF60 is not complete without the V6. I believe you are going a bit too far with this. I agree with you that using a V6 on-camera as opposed to a RF60 is typically a better idea but then there are many people using an on-camera flash anyhow. There are many flash models with a “master/controller” mode for controlling other external flashes. Surely, these are not normally considered incomplete and many of them are used without a dedicated trigger on-camera. The V6 will often ideally complement RF60 flashes, but I don’t think that it is a mandatory component.

    • Author
      Flash Havoc 4 years ago

      Hi Class A,

      1. Cactus sell the V850 themselves for $106.95, and the RF60 for $139.95. And the FT-16 / FTR-16s transmitter and receiver set have been available for under $30 at times.

      The Godox trigger system (although great for what they are) were only a basic solution, and will no doubt be completely overhauled in time. Though current TTL triggers for Canon, Nikon and Sony can trigger the HSS H-mode.

      The Godox system will also be integrated with full TTL solutions for flash on camera etc over time. So challenging them on features would be a brave move, because they can much more easily provide a lot more features.

      My point though was mainly that the days of looking for good quality flashes (even like the old SB-24 etc) and then separate radio trigger solutions are over. At least as being the only option (as it was even not that long ago).

      There will be remote manual systems like the YongNuo YN-560 III for less dollars again. So there does come a point when you question trying to integrate previous flashes.

      Non of that is to say the V6 do not offer some great options, just that there will also be many remote manual alternates now as well.
      ….

      2. From my experience manual master flash on-camera are not in high demand.

      A TTL master flash (even controlling only manual flashes off camera) are in very high demand (with wedding photographers etc).

      But even then I wouldn’t call a TTL master flash alone a complete solution, because the majority of people still want a small transmitter at least as an option.

      I think its pointless debating this point though, as the V6 are coming soon anyway. And Cactus have made that well known, as I’m sure they are aware the flash is much more desirable with a transmitter available.

      ….

      Remote manual systems area here now. And all the additional features are nice, but some of the things people are really looking for now in manual systems are really solid range and reliability. And solid features like the Lithium battery back, bare bulb flashes, and regular speedlite tubes that don’t overheat etc.

      TTL systems can have most of these features as well, but the simplicity, solid range and reliability is where they have a disadvantage, and manual systems could be making the most of that.

  3. Class A 4 years ago

    In the above “two questions” should be “two slight issues”. 🙂

  4. Class A 4 years ago

    P.S.: The Godox V850 and V860C are very attractive flashes as well. I don’t think there is one “best” system for everyone. For certain demands, the Godox will be better, for other the Cactus system makes more sense, AFAIC.

  5. socaltyger 4 years ago

    I love that every company and their grandmothers are coming out with modern radio speedlights except Nikon. Love the fact that cactus added the ability to easily control groups. I’m currently using the stratos 2 triggers, mainly for its super easy on/ off group feature.

  6. Clocky 4 years ago

    I hate to say it, but this is better than the V850, slightly more expensive, but nicer functionality. Too bad I already own 4 X V850… the lithium battery cycle time is mad fast, might not see it with this one.

  7. Clocky 4 years ago

    this is better than the V850
    1) Remote zoom, not that important since
    a) if you put your flash in some sort of modifier you will most likely zoom to the minimum, this is only useful if you’re doing bare flash and have it at places not reachable.
    2) naming of the group, nicer than the V850 naming of 1,2,3,4 but I can solve it by simply write a small tag and stick it on the flash itself.
    3) group ratio, IMO also isn’t that important, if you’re out door run and gunning you probably want TTL, and if you’re indoor you wouldn’t be doing group ratio anyways, set 1 flash up at a time is much safer and more accurate.

    Everything else is a moot point IMO, the V850 has lithium battery which to some people might be a “disadvantage”, it is also slightly stronger, and slightly cheaper over all. To trigger HSS you can simply by 1 set of TTL/HSS radio trigger, this will run 80-100 bucks, and hook a spare FT-16 to that receiver and you’ll get HSS. People have tested this with nikon/canon, but I can tell you that sony works too (I have the Kings trigger), I can sync it up to 1/8000, with power lost ofcourse.

    • Class A 4 years ago

      Clocky, I think you are underestimating the level of convenience of setting up power levels and adjusting them in unison later on with a V6 compared to an FT-16. This will probably become clearer soon, when the first reviews for the V6 will appear (which may reveal a few more V6-tricks).

      Further differences between the RF60 and the V850 are:

      Delay: The RF60 has a delay feature which can be used for all sorts of effects, but in particular for emulating second-curtain sync.

      Master mode: The RF60 can control other RF60 (or other flashes attached to V6’s) via radio. I personally would avoid an on-camera flash whenever possible, but an on-camera flash combined with a BFT (black foamy thing) can be very effective.

      Tripod thread: The RF60 offers a very straightforward and secure mounting alternative.

      Having said all that, the V850 is a very attractive flash as well and the combination V6 + V860C is very interesting for those who want the V6 functionality + the short recycling times and battery stamina (without having to add an external battery pack to an RF60).

  8. Loveboy 4 years ago

    Some interesting features, for sure.

    Had these come out before I had V850s, I’d be all over them… but I’m afraid I’ve been spoilt. I don’t see another AA flash in my future, no matter how feature rich.

    • Stephen 4 years ago

      While Li-ion batteries have great cycle times, I like being able to carry lots of spare batteries (AA). I assume you have a few spare Li-ion ones?

  9. Brian Hursey 4 years ago

    Having it a Lithium Ion flash would of been a nice feature. It however is still a very nice flash. Very flexible. I may get a v860c and add it to the mix with a Cactus v6. Thats where I really like things is I can use all my ttl flashes with the v6 combo.

  10. Meddin Studios 4 years ago

    Is it just me or did the Phottix Odin system become a lot less attractive? If I’m not using big units, I can go with a handful of RF60’s off-camera and a V6 w/ 580EXII on camera for TTL. Sadly, I can’t buy into it due to the need for V6’s on my CL-Tx’s. Godox should commission Cactus to build a radio system that includes their FT-16 system.

    Here’s my question – with the V6 on camera and a TTL flash, you’re forced to use the on-board flash in manual mode correct? Since the V6 is single fire pin. This still doesn’t solve the issue of having a TTL flash on camera while also firing/controlling remote flashes.

    • Class A 4 years ago

      @Meddin Studios:
      I agree with you that the Odin has become less attractive. It is still very attractive for those who want TTL support for external flashes, but if you are using flashes in manual mode, i.e., strobist-style, anyhow then the V6 is a considerably cheaper alternative.

      With respect to your question: The V6 is not a “single fire pin” design. It has a multi-hotshoe that is compatible with a number of digital TTL layouts, including Canon, Nikon, and Pentax. As a result, the V6 can support TTL pass-through for a number of brands. Hence, you can use a TTL flash on-camera in TTL mode and trigger remote V6 and/or RF60 at the same time.

      • mark 3 years ago

        For me the huge advantage of an Odin/Mitros + style flash is having the transceiver built in. That means two less AA sitting on-top of an already heavy D4,D3s body. To use a V6 with any flash, TTL or not you are now carrying 6 AA plus raising the height of the on camera flash unit making it less balanced. I just wish Nikon with step up the plate and create their own transceiver units. My SB900s run circles around my Mitros + for recycle times.

  11. Kirk 4 years ago

    Still waiting on more reviews. Looking for my first speedlites.

  12. blake 4 years ago

    I’m still a little unclear on something. If I use a V6 trigger mounted on the camera, can I control a Nikon SB-800 off-camera AND a couple of RF-60’s off-camera as well?

    • Author
      Flash Havoc 4 years ago

      Hi Blake,

      Yes you can have remote manual power control of the SB-800 at the same times as remote manual power control of the RF-60’s. Thanks.

  13. Brian Hursey 4 years ago

    My cactus V6 review is now out. The V6 makes a perfect match to the Cactus RF60s. I currently use a Cactus V6 on camera to my 5 Cactus Rf60s, With those I can control my YN568EX flashes, My Canon 580exII, and my Nikon SB24 on V6 transceivers. To many flashes? 😀

  14. Brian Hursey 4 years ago

    Might of wanted to post the link to the V6 review in the last comment. LOL http://brianhurseyphotography.com/blog/?p=586

  15. Ranalli 4 years ago

    I think TTL is something I could live without, however, I’m not sure if the HSS the way it is implemented here is a sustainable system when using umbrellas, softboxes, etc.

    As nice of a design as this trigger is I think the Yongnuos are the way to go.

    • Author
      Flash Havoc 4 years ago

      Hi Ranalli,

      The HSS mode is only implemented in the Cactus RF60 flash. This is actually very similar to the Godox V850 and Witstro etc. So this can be fired via radio with the right triggers, not just via the optic slave.

      And apart from Godox having the Cells II for Canon, the radio triggering situation is much the same for Cactus. You would need an YN-622 transmitter (or similar TTL transmitter) connected to the V6 transmitter, much the same ways as we have been connecting the YN-622 to the Godox FT-16 transmitter to achieve the HSS.

  16. ryan 3 years ago

    So Cactus advertises HSS, but the only way to get it to work is with a Yongnuo trigger or another brand ttl flash? That’s false advertising !!!!

    Atleast Godox sells an actual trigger for HSS within their company instead of going to another brand.

    • Author
      Flash Havoc 3 years ago

      Hi Ryan,

      Actually I think Cactus have been fairly conscious of not advertising HSS as a feature of the RF60 or V6.

      They have tried to include as many extra features as the beta testers had asked for, and they are basically just bonuses for the people that can make use of them.

      Many of us are constantly asking for similar things to be implemented, so we have to be careful of not being too critical. The reason a lot of good features like this often do not get implemented at all, is simply because of the extra confusion and resources it takes to constantly explain them.

      Though the RF60’s HSS sympathy mode will operate just like the Godox V850 etc. And although Godox do have the Cells II, and are working on more HSS triggers, we have had to discover alternatives which will work with Nikon etc. And any of those can be used with the RF60 in the same way. Thanks.

  17. mark 3 years ago

    Now that these have been released can someone verify for me. Do the RF60 have TTL pass through for the on-camera Nikon system?

    • Author
      Flash Havoc 3 years ago

      Hi Mark,

      Did you mean the V6 transmitter? If so yes they have TTL pass through for Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax and Fujifilm, all in the one transmitter!

  18. Ben 3 years ago

    I am strongly considering getting 2 of these RF60s and two Cactus V6s triggers for event/wedding work. I tend to shoot with two bodies and prime lenses and have a quick question:

    Can I use two separate V6 triggers as masters for OCF intechangeably? In other words, at an event I can pick up one of my bodies with the cactus V6 master and shoot with the manual FEC settings I want, and then immediately pick up another body with the V6 as master and change the manual FEC settings on the fly? This is important to me, as I would be need to change bodies quickly and still be able to change FEC settings using two masters.

    • Author
      Flash Havoc 3 years ago

      Hi Ben,

      You would be best to check with Cactus on this one as I couldn’t really say for sure (and they are pretty good with technical answers).

      With the way the system works, using the TTL system of the flash to provide pseudo manual power levels, this is similar to the way the Photix Odin work, and would work a you described.

      You do mean manual power levels though when you say manual FEC? As the V6 are not TLL triggers, and the RF60 are manual only flashes. You would need the Odin for TTL use.

  19. Ben 3 years ago

    ^^^ Thanks, yes, I meant manual flash. I checked with wedding shooter I know and he indicated that you can use two interchangeable V6 masters, as long as they are set to the same channels, etc.

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