Nikon flash still locked after firmware update

I recently received my Cactus units and have upgraded the firmware to v1.0.158, however, when connecting my Nikon SB900, all controls still lock after switching the Cactus unit on.
The flash is switched on first and set to TTL and then the Cactus is switched to RX mode, at which time the flash fires once and then all controls, even the on/off are locked, so the flash cannot be switched off unless the Cactus is switched off first and the zoom head setting goes to 200mm and cannot be changed. The flash profile is set correctly.
Any suggestions?
Thank you.

Comments

  • Thank you for your inquiry. You can try using the Flash UNLOCK function which is added to the RX mode at Firmware v 1.0.156.

    Press and hold [MENU] button will unlock the flash in RX mode. The LCD screen will show <FLASH UNLOCKED> instantly. Users would be able to adjust the setting on the flash. The flash will be locked again upon subsequent triggering. (Note: Press and hold [MENU]button in TX mode ,which activates the TTL passthrough mode, will unlock the flash on V6 TX as well.)

    I hope this is helpful. Thank you.


  • Thanks, but does this mean that every time that I want to fire the flash, I have to unlock it?
    Surely, there must be a way to remedy this situation? I need to use these for working situations and I didn't expect to have to reset the unit every time I take a picture. I usually take multiple images at a time. This would make the Cactus essentially useless for my work.
  • The unlock function releases the Nikon flash from freeze position. Then the user can adjust the zoom level on the flash. Once you done the adjustment, press any button to resume the function of V6. The flash will be locked again. The flash's zoom will remind the same zoom position.

    The reason we added this lock function is, when the Nikon flash turn on every time, it resets the zoom at the longest length, mostly 85mm or 105mm. With this UNLOCK function, the user can set the other zoom level, for example 35mm or 50mm, as they preferred.
  • Russjb: Can you not take multiple shots (including remote power control) even though the flash is locked?

    While I don't have an SB900 to test this, the situation appears to be that the flash only locks with respect to user input, but will continue to be usable through the V6.
  • We have tested SB900 with V6. All V6's function works as expected even though the flash is locked.
  • Ok, yes, the flash will still function once the zoom head has been set, however now, it seems to firing at random outputs each time. I can fire a series of pictures in a short time frame and find lots of varied exposures throughout the set, when they should be all consistent. I am using two flashes, a Nikon SB900 and SB800. I assume that it is ok to use a different flash model on each separate receiver?
  • To show you what I mean, here are two frames, taken seconds apart, with everything set the same. I had a flash in the background to put a little extra light on the rear wall, set at 1/128 power. As you can see, in the earlier frame, the flash has fired off at a much higher power and in the later frame, more in the way expected.
    _RJB5756.jpg
    1100 x 795 - 215K
    _RJB5759.jpg
    1100 x 763 - 197K
  • Thank you for the detailed description and the pictures.

    After using the V6's UNLOCK function, the V6 as RX mounted with the flash does not receive any information from another V6 as TX. The V6(RX) doesn't update the assigned power level from another V6(TX). So, the power output at the first shoot right after UNLOCK will be incorrect if it is unlocked by another V6(TX).

    To solve that, please press any button on the V6(RX) after UNLOCK and resume the V6 function.

    Please let me know if this could solve the problem.

    Cheers!
  • From what I have observed so far, it seems that the problem occurs when I am using the SB900 and SB800 at the same time and I figure that it is either because the Cactus can't cope with the different models being used together, or that there is something wrong with the SB800 profile. When I experimented with only two SB900s, everything seemed to be ok, however, I'll do some more testing over the next few days and let you know if this stays true after further use.
  • edited July 2014 PM
    V6 is designed to work with different flash model at the same time. A V6 (RX) should not interfere with other V6s(RX) which only receive radio signal from V6(TX) . By the way,  I don't have SB800 on hand, but I tried different combination , such as SB600+ SB900. I'm sorry that I couldn't replicate the problem you mentioned.

    Did you try using SB800 alone with V6? Was the power level consistence for every shoot?

    Looking forward to your test result.

    Thank you!

  • Sorry but I think I'll have to admit defeat and give up on the Cactus.
    Using two SB900s, set to 1/128 and Lo power (separate groups), the first few shots are ok, then they start firing at higher power of their own accord. I check and find they are now set both mysteriously to 1/8 power and I haven't changed a thing myself.
    I'm tired of being embarrassed on assignments, fiddling around and trying to get them to work properly.
    It makes me look very unprofessional.
    I would like to ask if I can return the units to you for a refund.
    I have tried and tried with four separate flash units, SB800s and SB900s, in all sorts of ways and simply cannot get the Cactus to operate consistently and as expected.
  • edited July 2014 PM
    Russjb said: Using two SB900s, set to 1/128 and Lo power (separate groups), the first few shots are ok, then they start firing at higher power of their own accord.

    Is it possible that you are turning the dial of the V6 with your forehead without noticing it?

    There have been other requests for a locking feature that disables the dial so that it cannot be accidentally turned with one's forehead while looking through the viewfinder. I understand Cactus is looking into developing such a feature, so perhaps there will be a solution to your problem soon.

    P.S.: I cannot comment on the refund request as I'm not a Cactus employee.


  • No, sadly. Even if that was the problem, it could only adjust one flash group, not both at the same time.
  • edited July 2014 PM

    Russjb said: ...could only adjust one flash group, not both at the same time.

    That's very odd. Can you adjust flash groups when no flash is mounted?
    This has to work unless a channel setting is wrong, or the groups are not activated (lit up) on the transceiver.

    Even with flashes mounted, the V6 should display the new settings, once you adjust the power levels on the transmitter. Does that happen and it is only the communication between the V6 receiver and the flash that isn't working?

    I have never seen anything like this. I don't own your Nikon models, but I trust that Cactus have thoroughly tested them, otherwise they would not have made it on the compatibility list.

  • What I meant, is that if I had turned the dial inadvertently with my forehead, it wouldn't change both groups. Actually, now that I think about it, it shouldn't change the setting at all without holding the group button at the same time, so this definitely shouldn't be the problem. Also, I took a series of frames, without moving, (people shots, so a few of the same image, in case of blinking eyes, etc)  and the power output changed between different frames, from 1/128-Lo, to 1/8-1/8.
  • edited July 2014 PM
    If you turn the dial (inadvertently with the forehead or intentionally), all power levels of all active groups are changed.

    A group has to be active for you to able to fire the respective flash (or flashes, if you have more than one in a group). So inadvertently turning the dial will always change all power levels of all the flashes you are currently shooting with.

    Holding down a group button while turning the dial is just one way of changing the power of a single group only. If you don't press a button, you are always changing the power of all (active) groups.

    I cannot imagine how the power output on your flashes can change without you touching the V6 transmitter. Why would they do that? Not saying that I don't take your word for it, but I fail to understand how the flashes would suddenly change their power levels after a while.

    Can you perhaps produce a video? That may help Cactus to troubleshoot the issue, if there is indeed is one.
  • Ok, I'll check again and get back to you...
  • I have a good news! The LOCK function is ready for the next firmware update. We will upload it later today. You can update the V6 to the latest firmware version and try again. This will reduce the chance of adjusting the selection wheel by mistake.

    By the way, Russjb , we definitely want to address the problem and get it fixed. Your information will be helpful to us.

    Look forward to hearing you soon.

    Cheers!
  • I think I am making progress. I swapped the unit that I was using in TX mode for one of the others and so far, I seem to be having fewer problems. Perhaps that one unit had a problem with TX. I will update the firmware soon and let you know the results. I also found that one of the SB900s that I was using, had a fault in the zoom head mechanism, which seemed to be also causing a problem with the Cactus. I notice another thread here discussing consistent power issues with an SB900, which I have also noticed. I will be away for two weeks now but will continue my tests when I return and write my findings here at that time.
  • That's awesome! I look forward to your result.
  • I have  SB 910 with a lock screen. But when I use flash unlock function. it dose free it until I fire the the flash.
  • Garry said:

    I have  SB 910 with a lock screen. But when I use flash unlock function. it dose free it until I fire the the flash.

    Rest assured! That's normal. The V6 should have to lock the Nikon flash again after firing or pressing test button once on the V6.
    Ray Chan

    Marketing Specialist, Customer Service


    Cactus®
    Harvest One Limited
  • The Cactus and I seem to be slowly making friends with each other now and I have some observations.
    My problems seem to have been due to various causes, which I think explains why I was having so much trouble nailing down what was going on. The issues were these:
    - The aforementioned problem with the flash zoom head malfunctioning, which affected the operation of the Cactus.
    - I often hold the flash in my free hand and didn't realise for a while, that it would not always work if the flash was too close to the transmitter. I don't know if this is something that you can fix but it can be very annoying when the flash needs to be a certain distance away to operate properly.
    - Battery power seems to be used up rather more quickly than I expected and because the info screen is so small and difficult to read, it is easy to miss the fact that the batteries are low and therefore that the unit may not be operating properly for that reason.
    - The info screen really needs to be made bigger and easier to read. It would be better if it was an LED or something similar, that was brighter. Outdoors in bright sunlight, it is almost impossible to read, especially for someone like me who uses reading glasses. I can't carry glasses and keep putting them on to read the display and then removing them to shoot the picture. This is the main flaw with the Cactus.
    - It is too easy to inadvertently bump the adjustment dial on the back of the transmitter and change the power output, without realising it. Even if the dial was tighter and took more effort to adjust, it would lessen this problem.
    - When the transmitter and receiver are first switched on, the power settings will not actually synchronise until the transmitter is adjusted.
    I hope this all helps you. To be honest, the Cactus has to overcome these problems before it is effective for anything but use in a studio, under controlled conditions and without time pressures. When used outdoors with limited time available, it is a nightmare to use. I guess that I can't really complain, considering the price advantage over something like the Pocket Wizard, but I think that it should be fairly easy to make the improvements I have mentioned without increasing its cost too much.
  • Thank you so much for these feedback. We will consider your advices for the next product development.
    Russjb said:

    - The aforementioned problem with the flash zoom head malfunctioning, which affected the operation of the Cactus.

    The panel of Nikon flash is locked when using with the V6. So, the user is not able to adjust the zoom and other setting. So, we added UNLOCK feature in the V6 to resolve this problem. We know that it is not a prefect solution, and surly there is space for improvement.
    Russjb said:

    - I often hold the flash in my free hand and didn't realise for a while, that it would not always work if the flash was too close to the transmitter. I don't know if this is something that you can fix but it can be very annoying when the flash needs to be a certain distance away to operate properly.

    The V6 was added a new feature called, WORKING RANGE to deal with short working range. To activate that, please go to SUB-MENU > WORKING RANGE > set it to SHORT .
    Russjb said:

    - Battery power seems to be used up rather more quickly than I expected and because the info screen is so small and difficult to read, it is easy to miss the fact that the batteries are low and therefore that the unit may not be operating properly for that reason.
    - The info screen really needs to be made bigger and easier to read. It
    would be better if it was an LED or something similar, that was
    brighter. Outdoors in bright sunlight, it is almost impossible to read,
    especially for someone like me who uses reading glasses. I can't carry
    glasses and keep putting them on to read the display and then removing
    them to shoot the picture. This is the main flaw with the Cactus.

    Good points. We also hope to create a product that is easy to use for everyone.
    Russjb said:

    - It is too easy to inadvertently bump the adjustment dial on the back of the transmitter and change the power output, without realising it. Even if the dial was tighter and took more effort to adjust, it would lessen this problem.


    We added a DIAL LOCK feature from the firmware update. To activate it, press and hold the OK button for 2 seconds. Press any button except the dial to temporarily unlock for 2 seconds. Press and hold OK button for 2 seconds to deactivate.
    Russjb said:

    - When the transmitter and receiver are first switched on, the power settings will not actually synchronise until the transmitter is adjusted.


    The V6 Tx unit doesn't transmit signal wirelessly unit the Tx unit is adjusted. I will discuss this issue with our engineering team.

    I really appreciate for all of your suggestion. If you have more ideas, please share with us.

    Cheers!
    Ray Chan

    Marketing Specialist, Customer Service


    Cactus®
    Harvest One Limited
  • edited October 2014 PM
    Russjb said:

    I often hold the flash in my free hand and didn't realise for a while, that it would not always work if the flash was too close to the transmitter. I don't know if this is something that you can fix but it can be very annoying when the flash needs to be a certain distance away to operate properly.

    Just set the working range to "SHORT". This will still support shooting at ~30m range, i.e., it will support most shooting scenarios, just not a 100m+ range anymore, but will considerably improve short range tolerance.
    Russjb said:

    It is too easy to inadvertently bump the adjustment dial on the back of the transmitter and change the power output, without realising it.

    Quite a while ago, a "locking" function has been introduced. By long-pressing on the dial (or the OK button), you can "lock" the dial and thus avoid any inadvertent changes.

    Just update your firmware to the latest one, to give it a try.

    P.S.: I never ever had battery problems with my V6, using them all day long, outdoors. The V5 with its AAA batteries did not last that long indeed, but with two AA Sanyo Eneloops, the V6 keeps going even with heavy use. As I said, battery life has never been a problem for me ever. Perhaps it may be worth trying a different type of batteries in your V6s.
  • Thank you, Raychan and Class A for your replies.
    Just to clarify a couple of things, the business with the zoom head that I mentioned was a fault in the flash and not caused by the lock feature of the Cactus. The zoom function does not work at any time, due to some internal flash problem but I noticed that this problem seemed to cause the Cactus to think it was a different kind of flash, every time it was attached, so I had to go into the settings and set it to Nikon SB900 again, otherwise the Cactus would not operate as expected.
    Regarding the battery issue, it is possible that I have inadvertently left the unit switched on after use, or it has been accidentally switched on while moving around in my camera bag, so this could have caused the batteries to run down quicker than usual.
    I haven't installed the latest firmware update yet, but I will soon and will try out the Short Range and dial lock. Thank you very much for these suggestions!
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