I N T R O D U C T I O N
This brief review is for the Cactus LV5 Laser Trigger, a pair of devices that lets you trigger your camera to take a photo or series without you
being near your camera. The main components of the kit consist of an emitter and a receiver/sensor. It's premise is simple. Set up the emitter
and the sensor in line of site of each other. The emitter sends a laser line to the sensor. If something passes through the line - your camera is
triggered and the object, person or animal that crossed through that line is captured. The other means of triggering your camera is the escape
mode. In this mode a person or animal or object is already in the path of laser, and once it moves out of the laser's path, the camera will trigger.
U S E S
Wildlife Photography immediately comes to mind. Place the emitter and receiver near a trail where wildlife frequents or near a feeding spot. Or
place at the entrance of a cave, nest, etc. (Be sureto pre-focusing your camera and then set your lens to manual focus.)
One could also employ LV5 at wedding ceremonies. Think of the wedding line walking down a church aisle. You could have a second camera
getting shots of the bride (and her dress and her train) and her father from the back walking down the aisle while you get a front view of the action.
Think action! Maybe if an arrow cuts through the laser on the way to the target? Dropping an object in a pool of water to record the exact moment
of it hitting the water. There are lots of applications if you take the time to think about.
I once took photos for a local 10K race, waiting for the runners to cross the finish line. As each one crossed I took a photo - a very tedious
process. With the LV5 one could easily set up the emitter and the sensor across the finish line, place one's camera on a tripod out of the way and
just step back and let the camera and the emitter/sensor do it's job.
TWO THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT AWAY
1 - You will need a cable to connect the camera (via it's
shutter release port) to the LV5 sensor. It's not included.
Such a cable will look similar to the one on the left.
2 - When you open the package for the LV5 you will
receive (4) AAA batteries. But when you look at the
emitter and the sensor you will notice there is a spot in
each device to hold (4) batteries. You may be thinking
you need (8) batteries in total. Don't worry. The emitter
and the sensor only need (2) batteries each to operate.
But they have the capacity to hold more batteries for even
longer operating times if you feel you need it. So the
included batteries will get you up and running.
There's space to hold (4) batteries, but you really only need (2).
CONNECTIONS TO YOUR CAMERA
There are a few ways you can interface your camera with the LV5. A direct cable (not included) connection. A wireless connection using Gadget
Infinity's own Cactus V5 trigger. Or a third-party trigger. To get the most out of the LV5 I recommended using a wireless connection. It will give
you much more freedom to place your emitter and sensor where you want to. I also recommend using the Cactus brand V5 trigger because the
LV5 was designed to work with the V5. The following illustrations (from the LV5 user manual) shows the basic set ups.
The most straight forward means of connection. But
notice that it will limit your freedom of movement and how
you place your sensor and camera.
This is the connection method I recommend.
If you use a third-party wireless set up,
notice the extra piece of gear that will need
to be connected.
SOME BASIC INFO
The emitter and sensor can each be attached to light stands or a tripod via the 1/4 inch tripod mount or via a cold shoe. Each unit can also tilt
to various angles and then be locked down. One just has to make sure the emitted laser beam hits the sensor to "make a connection". This is
quite easy - because once the sensor detects the laser a solid green light lets you know its ready!
A flash unit can also be used with this triggering system when paired with the V5 wireless trigger.
There are some advanced functions, which I wont cover here, that allow one to do things like delay the triggering of the camera for a brief time
after the laser has been crossed, prevent the LV5 from responding to subsequent objects tripping the laser after the first object (or person or
animal), and you can select the LV5 to take a single-shot, or multiple shots
The LV5 does what it was designed to do and does it well. It's usefulness will ultimately depend upon one's style of photography. Admittedly it's
not for everyone. However it is another tool to add to your photographic tool box - maybe not a tool you reach for all the time, but in certain
situations and circumstances you'll be glad you had it.
I do believe the LV5 has room for some minor improvements. The on/off switches for both the emitter and the sensor could be better. As they
are they are a simple button which you depress to turn it on or off. I'd rather see a switch you slide to the left or to the right for a definite on or
off. There were more than a few instance when I thought I had turned the sensor off, when in fact it was still on. I know this is a minor point but
I thought it should be mentioned.
Another welcome change to the design would be for the repositioning of the status light (LED) on the sensor. As it is the light is currently on the
right-hand side of the unit, if you look at it dead on (see illustration below)- and it's rather small. It's difficult to see unless you are facing the
sensor dead-on or you are standing on the right-side of the unit. If you happen to be on the opposite side of the sensor or behind it, you can't
see the status light at all. My solution would be to move the status light to the top of the sensor unit, giving one the ability to see it from any
angle, front, back, left, or right.
The red dot represents where I think the
status light or LED should be placed.
One needs to be able to see this light for
it lets you know if the emitter and sensor
are communicating with each other.
I don't have any great wildlife shots to show you here. The weather hasn't been very cooperative so you'll have to suffer my lame
attempts at some table-top shots. I used manual focus and a flash unit. The focus it wasn't always spot on but that's my fault, NOT the
fault of the LV5. Just a deck of cards being flung across the table. The lead card crossed the laser and the LV5 triggered my camera
wirelessly in conjuction with the V5 trigger. I'll try to post some better photos in the future of some wildlife or my cat wandering where
Clicking on the thumbnails will open a larger version of the image.
In the example below I was firing a missile from a toy robot (off camera) towards the robot you see in the photo. I was trying to capture
the exact moment of impact with the target. However, the accuracy of the toy robot firing the missile left much to be desired. Add to
this the missile was so small and the laser from the LV5 to narrow. I was setting myself up for failure so I gave up after several attempts.
I did keep this photo showing the missile missing the target mid-flight. The blue robot lives to see another day.