Looking at the "Strobist" style of photography, it soon became clear to me that if I was going to be any sort of "all-round" photographer, I'd need tohow to shoot using flash outdoors, and without having the flash mounted to my camera !!
I purchased a set of Cactus V2 triggers, and from the outset was very disappointed with them.
Sure, they worked...Occasionally when commanded, and frequently at random times.
It is worth noting that Cactus updated their product to V2s, and lately, although delayed at this time, V4.
Many people have made modifications to their Cactus to increase reliability and range, but this was not a path I wished to explore.
However, as the owner of a Canon 580 EX II flash, I am well aware of the issues this unit has firing through the hot-shoe when connected to anything except a Canon camera. This is well documented (Google is your friend), however, as the 580 EX II has a PC Port, this is not an insurmountable problem.
So, Given the desire to get my flash off of the camera, I investigated other options.
They seemed to be, Elinchrom Skyports / Pocket Wizards / Paul Buff from Alien Bees and a new "Poverty Wizard".
Given the cost of the first three, I decided to risk the latter, units now known as Yongnuo CTR-301P Flash Triggers.
Notice the "P" in the model designation, that indicates the latest revision, whereby the "Test" button on the RECEIVERS has been replaced by a 2.5mm PC Socket.
(Image from manufacturers / sellers eBay shop)
To find them search eBay for "CTR-301P", I purchased mine from the manufacturer, but other sites are also selling them.
As is typical with (reputable) eBay sellers, the units arrived in Australia about a week after ordering.
They were shipped in a padded envelope, inside the "retail" box, individually wrapped with protective foam.
Also in the box was a CR2 battery for each receiver as well as a 2.5mm male - 6.5mm male plug to connect the units to your strobe lights. This was my first complaint, having the lead go to a regular PC Plug would of been more convenient for me !!
The transmitter came fitted with an A23 battery, which seemed to be lacking power, so I swapped it out for a new one I already had. That was my second, and only other issue !!
Build quality seems to be above-average for this price-range. The front and back shells of the units fit together neatly, nothing seems "loose" or "wobbly", and when I unscrewed the transmitter to replace the battery (receivers have a "slide-door" for their batteries) I noticed that the unit has moulded "hooks" to further hold the top to the bottom. So no complaints on build quality !!
So, on to testing........Inserted a battery in one of the receivers, slipped the Canon flash on top of one of the units, turned it on, hit the "Test" button on the transmitter....And nothing !!
Turns out that the batteries in the flash unit are getting on, and the flash unit wasn't ready !!!
Now I mention this for a reason, many "workarounds" with other flash triggers involve ensuring you have new, or near-new batteries in your flash.
By now the Ready light was on the flash, hit the test button, and it fired.......OK.....So far so good, but most other triggers can do this too, it's the SECOND one through the hot-shoe where they all fail !!! Hit the test button again, AND IT WORKED. Dialed down the flash to 1/128 power, hit it again, and again, and again...And it worked !!!
So, with the unit on the camera, it's outside we go.....17 meters......
I took 10 photographs within 10 seconds, 100% success !!! Woo Hoo !!!!
These receivers ALSO have an optical sensor built-in to them.............
The maximum straight-line distance I could get inside my house was around 17 meters, from the lounge-room front wall, past the front entry (well lit with door open and side-windows letting in light), through the family room and up the hall.......
The exceptional amount of red in the foreground area is the flash from the IR trigger I used to fire the trigger.
Do they have the 1600-feet range of Pocket Wizards, Heck no, but for under $US 60.00, I received one transmitter and three receivers.
Reliability seems to falter at around 20 meters, but since I'm looking to be in the vicinity of my subjects, a 10 - 15 meter 100% reliability range is more then suitable for me !!!
Just for completeness, I also tried the receivers PC-Ports with an old (manual) flash, similar to the Vivitar, also with no issues, likewise the 580 EX II, no issues, but as I said, if you want to use the PC Port on one of your own flashes, you'll need to supply your own 2.5mm - PC-Port cord, don't forget these come with 2.5mm - 6.5mm leads !!
Should you wish to "mount" the receivers, they have a standard 1/4 * 20 screw socket in the base, also, if you turn your (580 EX II) flash "around", so the head is facing the rear, the flash balances nicely on these "matchbox-sized" receivers.
Finally, I am (now ) reliably informed that as a no-cost-option, I could of specified 2.5mm to PC-Port plugs instead of the 6.5mm ones I received.
Conclusion......If you have a Canon 580 EX II, and are on a budget, these could well be the answer to your Strobist prayers !!!!
Hope this helps,