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Breaking: Leica Officially Stop Using 'Master' and 'Slave' Terms

Breaking: Leica Officially Stop Using 'Master' and 'Slave' Terms

In the past month, I've been reporting on the various camera brands that have been dropping the "master" and "slave" terms since the huge Black Lives Matter movement that surged after George Floyd's death. I can now confirm Leica is also dropping the terms.

Since the killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement has gained traction globally, with protests worldwide. The reverberations have been felt in the photographic community as well. I spoke with Nikon and also Canon, who both confirmed that they dropped the terms years ago over the derogatory origins of the terminology. 

After speaking with a representative of Leica, I've had it confirmed that they too have now decided to officially drop the terms from use in their camera flash triggering systems, and will be fully realized through their online and e-commerce content by August 10, 2020:

Leica Camera will no longer use the terms 'Master' or 'Slave' in regards to camera flash triggering systems. Moving forward, Leica will use 'Commander' instead of 'Master' and 'Remote' instead of 'Slave' in its connection and triggering. These changes have been reflected on the Leica website, and all Leica Stores, Boutiques, and Dealers will have this reflected in their website listings and e-commerce by August 10th as well.

Leica flash gun

Leica Camera are dropping the "master" and "slave" terms from their camera flash lexicon

The terms are seen as derogatory due to their derivations stemming back across hundreds and thousands of years, according to the BBC. An excerpt from "The Story of Africa" published on the BBC World Service outlines the origins back to the 9th Century AD.

The term slave has its origins in the word slav. The slavs, who inhabited a large part of Eastern Europe, were taken as slaves by the Muslims of Spain during the ninth century AD. Slavery can broadly be described as the ownership, buying and selling of human beings for the purpose of forced and unpaid labour.

How many other camera manufacturers will confirm their either continued use or drop of the terms remains to be seen, but it's important to remember that with the inclusion of Nikon, Canon, and Leica at least, the terms have been dropped continually for the better part of two decades.

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43 Comments

Dave Morris's picture

To achieve what? How stopping calling technical things by their established names can improve the situation with the way people treat each other?

Mike Ditz's picture

Nikon did it like 20 years ago. The master slave technical terms always struck me as a little odd, did the technical term come from slavery of people or was it the other way around?

Sometimes the common use of words 50-100 years ago change and have become offensive...like Brazil nuts.

https://www.the-scientist.com/opinion-old/racist-relics-an-ugly-blight-o...

Stuart Carver's picture

Or a Brazilian wax

Mike Ditz's picture

Never had an issue with that...

Stuart Carver's picture

Only on weekends for me, it’s how I roll

Jon Winkleman's picture

Dave- I agree that performative penance without backing it up with actual action is a hollow and useless response to racism. However I would argue that displaying white supremacist symbols and symbols of slavery in public spaces treat Blacks as inferior and have the function of “putting them in their place” (the actual motivation behind erecting cheap mass produced Confederate monuments during the Civil Rights Movement.) Putting “Slave” and “Master” into a normalized context which diminishes it’s historical evil and harm does effectively treat Blacks poorly today. How does it make an African American student in a mostly white photography class feel when those words are casually thrown around all day during class?

There is no area of the arts that has fully treated women and Blacks equally. However American photography has been far more open and embracing of both Black and women photographers than say the painting world has. That is something that makes me proud of as a photographer and collector of art photography. I personally see this move as honoring that history of photography.

Karim Hosein's picture

So many from way back. Leica is late to the game. Do your research. Pentax has not used the terms for quite sometime, long before BLM movement, as has many others.

If you continue to say, «How many other camera manufacturers will confirm their either continued use or drop of the terms remains to be seen,» the least you can do is confirm which, if any, still use it. You claim, «I spoke with Nikon and also Canon,» and, «After speaking with a representative of Leica, I've had it confirmed,» then the least you can do BEFORE publishing this article, is either read the manuals of Fujifilm, Olympus, Pentax, and Sony, or speak to them.

This is sensationalised “journalism.” I find that the big problem is NOT the camera manufacturers, but the strobe manufacturers, and the photography educators. Call out the right people.

[EDIT] To the Chinese manufacturers, it would be good to know what the Chinese terminology is, as, any English literature (or device with English menus) which does say, “master/slave,” might be attributable to simplified/rough translations, and not corporate policies.
[/EDIT]

Cool Cat's picture

Not this again! Personally, I prefer "transmitter & receiver". But changing something only because people are paranoid offending someone else is totally immature and childish. People need to grow-up and move on. It's a good life if you don't make it unnecessarily complicated.

Karim Hosein's picture

How about changing something BECAUSE it offends people. This is NOT about how paranoid people are that they may offend someone. That is how racists think. “I have to be careful of what I say because my client might be offended, and I might lose money.”

NO! It is the response to someone saying that they ARE offended, to which the correct response is, “I am terribly sorry. I did not intend to offend. Please pardon my ignorance. Is their an alternate term which you prefer I use?”

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Excuse me, but I’m offended by dropping master and slave terminology. And I’m not alone. And we’ll fight for our right to be offended!

Karim Hosein's picture

You are offended because people DO NOT use a word or phrase?!? You must live your life in perpetual offence.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Yes sir! I want more widespread use of these words or phrases.

eliot graeme's picture

karim, sadly, fstoppers has some ignorant trash for readers.

chris bryant's picture

The term Transmitter may offend Transexuals, Transvestites and transmitters of Covid-19. TRANS LIVES MATTER :-)

Cool Cat's picture

Ha Ha. I agree. It's amazing how the truth can be funny. Everything is getting totally out of hand these days.

Alex Herbert's picture

It'd be weird if we used terms in photography that were carried over from some aspect of the holocaust, and I don't think anyone would have a problem with them being changed, not through fear of retribution, but because why would you want to continue to use language like that after it had been made apparent to you where it originated from. There's literally no reason to call them master/slave, and the only way I could see someone having an issue with it being changed is if their general opinion is "fuck black people".

Ivan Lantsov's picture

PPI still use certfid master photographer - is racist to?

Mike Ditz's picture

I think that master is ok unless used with slave, like if PPI has Master and Slave photographers, that for most people would be wrong.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

I’ve changed my terminology to be less sexists and diminishing, and now I call all my assistants “slave photographers” and ask them to call me “master dominator”.

Stuart Carver's picture

3 brands down, only another 15-20 to go, that’s plenty more column space to use up

Mike Ditz's picture

Slow day, it's like when the LA Times needs another story. They run "When will the big one hit, are you prepared?

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Now it is Führer and Anhänger

Brad Smith's picture

If you don't think people are internally keeping track of who you are when you make jokes of racism, then you're dead wrong.

Edwin Cobbinah's picture

Am an African but this is really sad. We might as well stop using the terms "Black" and" White" cause it has some derogatory terms in certain statement.

Jon Winkleman's picture

First off who cares what any of the white commentators think. Confederate monuments, Aunt Jemimah, the Confederate flag and slavery does not cause us personal pain and our ancestors were not slaves in modern times. If certain words hurt a group of people we should listen to why it causes them hurt. If those same words are not directed at our identity, our opinions matter little. American slavery and it’s legacy and pain which Black Americans still experience today is a raw open wound.

Nikon ditched the term on their flash units 20 years ago with little fanfare or notice. Nikon users were not confused or unable to use Nikon’s flashes as a result of the name change. Any photographer who is so confused and unable to function because some camera and lighting companies are ditching words that cause hurt, need to rethink their hobby

Cool Cat's picture

Did you notice the problem is mostly with the younger generation? And perhaps a few potheads that haven't grown-up yet. It's sad when young people need a "safe place" because they just can't stand the reality of life and take offense to everything. It reminds me of the Alford Hitchcock movie, "Hidden in a Box".

Jon Winkleman's picture

-"Did you notice the problem is mostly with the younger generation?”
Actually not. Older Blacks have felt pain and expressed their own anger and hurt over many of these things. You may now be noticing the younger people because today they are speaking louder and not allowing you to ignore them. In the past many of us have simply ignored and dismissed the same exact complaints from previous generations of Black Americans. The real question is, Cool Cat, why did you NOT notice this before?

Cool Cat's picture

Why did I NOT notice this before? Because people like you weren't born yet.

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