Canon Has Officially Dropped 'Master' and 'Slave' Terms

Canon Has Officially Dropped 'Master' and 'Slave' Terms

Since the global response for Black Lives Matter, many industries, including photography, have been shifting for the better. So, it's welcome news that Canon has officially dropped their master/slave terminology.

The terms "master" and "slave" used to be and in some cases still are commonplace in photography, especially when it comes to flash units. A master flash gun usually controls the trigger of another flash gun called the slave. This technique is used to synchronize multiple off-camera flash devices and is commonly used instead of wireless (or wired) triggers to either save time or money.

Godox XProN TTL wireless trigger

Flash guns set to master can be used to trigger other flash guns set to slave mode where wireless triggers, like this Godox XProN TTL, aren't used.

I spoke recently about my reservations with the master/slave terminology and some other issues I had with specific terms within the photographic community. I've since been in touch with Canon who confirmed, much to my surprise, that they've actually dropped the master and slave terms. In fact, they dropped them around the end of 2017. Here's what a Canon Europe Spokesperson had to say:

Canon started to phase these [terms] out since the end of 2017. [In] all new products and materials, these terms are no longer used. Products released before this time, and still available, will still have the term as it’s often a physical part of the LCD display so can’t be changed by firmware etc.

So, why then wasn't I aware of the terms being changed? I'm sure this is news to most of you as well. Well, they went on to say that the terminology change isn't yet immediately obvious to most customers because the terms are mostly used with flash guns, which are presumably less popular than the cameras and lenses. To compound this issue, the most popular flashes were launched pre-2018, so when customers use the manuals, the terms are still there.

Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT flash gun

The popular Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT speedlite was released in 2016, before Canon officially dropped the terms "master" and "slave."

Many photographers buy used gear, so will also not notice the terms change either on devices or in manuals for a little while, until the newer models start to drop in price and are more widespread in the secondhand community. But until then, at least it's good to know that Canon has dropped the terms. Who knows, maybe old manuals and flashguns will become more museum pieces, holding historic knowledge for the photographic community at large?

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Karim Hosein's picture

Most cameras/strobes never act as a “transponder.” I do not think that word means what you think it means.

Transmitter, or transceiver would be more accurate terms.

jim hughes's picture

Won't it be nice when some new hysteria takes over the stage, and this ridiculous virtue-signalling about race is over?

Brad Smith's picture

won't it even be nicer when a white guy actually learns to embrace any small change based on race and injustice instead of trying to call it "virtue signaling"?

Deleted Account's picture

It seems to me, a great number of white guys have done that very thing. Perhaps you meant "all" white guys or even "all people"?

Kirk Darling's picture

Unless Canon Inc starts hiring a lot more Filipinos and Koreans, it's just virtue signaling.

Brad Smith's picture

You do realize they're a Japanese headquartered company right?

Kirk Darling's picture

That's exactly why I made that comment. I've spent considerable time in Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines...and I'm aware of what they broadly think of each other.

Jason Frels's picture

Are you saying that it'll be nice when white people can stop thinking about this uncomfortable stuff and go on about their lives? Some minority people don't get this luxury.

jim hughes's picture

Or maybe move ahead to serious discussion of meaningful action on the complex issue of racial disparities - and, eventually, improve people's lives.

Stephen Scully's picture

I hope that there are no statues of camera flashes out there, we would have to tear them down.....

Robert Nurse's picture

While such moves are clearly aimed at getting ahead of backlash and have no real substantive value towards change, keep in mind from whence the country has come and how some quarters remain ignorant of that past. Context is king. I hadn't given this terminology a second thought until this article. Canon can call it anything it likes. But, if Canon's social behaviors (I have no idea what they are) are above reproach, a naming convention is irrelevant.

Spy Black's picture

In the 3D world it's always been known as parent/child, which I always found kinda cite.

Deleted Account's picture

I never thought about it but, that makes less sense than master/slave because in lighting and 3D objects, assuming they're set up correctly, the subordinate object ALWAYS obeys its superior; my children only rarely, ever obeyed me! ;-)

Kirk Darling's picture

Slaves sometimes revolt as well.

Deleted Account's picture

Good point.

Przemek Lodej's picture

This whole political correctness is getting galactically stupid. Has anyone watched the comedy "White Chicks"?? No? Doesn't that offend you? How come? If we are going to be social warriors let's be fair to everyone. I'm waiting for some PC warrior to ban the use of black color altogether because it'll be deemed racist. For f**ks sake...

Robert Nurse's picture

You and a lot of people are coming to terms with a history in which you're not informed.

Deleted Account's picture

When I was in High School, I did ridiculously well in Geometry but fairly sucked in Algebra, the reason being, while I understood the formulae, I could never relate them to the real world, while in geometry, it jumped out at me. My Geometry teacher refused my request to take Algebra II, the following year, insisting I jump over it to Analytical Trigonometry. After he signed off on that, I changed it back to Algebra II. It didn't help.

I'm not sure "coming to terms" is the correct phrase here.

Deleted Account's picture

I looked it up too. ;-) I suppose it applies to a great deal of the population but not to others and Przemek, in particular. The key elements seem to be "accepting" and "difficult" or "uncomfortable". I don't claim to read minds and don't mean to put words into Mr. Lodej's mouth but his words don't seem to indicate acceptance or any effort to achieve it. Furthermore, I have no idea if the history, to which you refer, is difficult or uncomfortable for him. While my assumptions, based wholly on his comment, may in fact be wrong, that may also be the case with yours, which is why I wrote, "I'm not sure". :-)

Robert Nurse's picture

Correct! I have no idea where his knowledge on the subject really lies except by his own words. "Political correctness" is a phrase often used by the uninformed: a sort of poo-poo on a matter that, based on his words, doesn't seem to affect him. I really didn't understand "Me Too" because, frankly, I've never been in that situation. I've never had to ward off unwanted sexual advances. But, when close friends and colleagues shared their experiences, it was then that I gained the tiniest of glimpses into their concerns.

Przemek Lodej's picture

Uninformed? I am an immigrant, a naturalized citizen of this wonderful country but I can tell you that I know more about the history of this country, the history of racial injustice than an average American. When I came to this country 35 years ago I was made fun of for not speaking the language. I was called offensive names pertaining to my nationality. That most likely falls under the tagline discrimination, doesn't it? I know exactly what it means to be discriminated when a service man comes to your house and tells you that you need to speak English or go home. Coming to terms with history? Yes slavery was bad, it sucked major ass. Civil rights movement was great, I agree. Dr.Martin Luther King was one of the most intelligent and honorable men this nation has seen in its short history. Frederick Douglas, Rosa Parks and a host of others who fought for equal treatment for black people deserve the highest levels of respect. Everybody needs to be treated equal. I don't give a shit what color your skin is. To me every man on this planet is equal. White, black, yellow, red, purple, whatever color you are. Every man needs to be treated with respect. I have many black friends and I would stand by them whenever called upon. I am NOT however going to be a sheep and vilify every police officer, every white person. I am NOT going to apologize for being white. Does that make me a white supremacist? Does that make me insensitive to the subject matter? Does that make me uninformed? NO! My only gripe is that we are pushing this topic of racial sensitivity to absurd levels. Does a label on a breakfast maple syrup offend you? Really? Until they mentioned it have you really ever thought about it? Does an Indian head on the box of butter offend a native American? Does the word slave and master truly, really offend you as a black man, especially when placed on a piece of electronic equipment? Seriously? This insanity must stop because we WILL get to a point where we will literally ban anything and everything that has any connotation to a particular color of skin. I am sick and tired of an assumption that a white person can be uninformed because he or she doesn't agree with the common narrative. My stance on the topic is the same as it has always been. Political correctness is out of control. I'll tell you one more thing. My 4 black friends agree with me.

Sandro Loos's picture

Thanks for that. Sums up the insanity of the past weeks!

Simon Davies's picture

You need to learn the difference between ‘punching up’ and ‘punching down’. Educate yourself before commenting any more.

Sandro Loos's picture

Uhhh you are a brave one, picking on someone that isnt a native english speaker. Whats you skill? Cant be photography since you dont even have a single image here. Seems to me you are just a useless troll and you are the one that needs a bit more education.

the dikiz's picture

Here we are. 1984. Newspeak. blackwhite. thinkpol.

Deleted Account's picture

Along with, "That Hideous Strength" C.S. Lewis (1945)

Tim Tucker's picture

If you want to stay consistent with the master/slave concept, then it should be "transmitter"/receiver, as a transponder receives a signal frequency and converts it to another frequency to transmit.

Mike Ditz's picture

I think my vintage pocket wizards use Transmitter and Receiver.

D A's picture

Political correctness is a disease because it does not prevent racism, descrimination, violence and stupidity in particular. What is in need to be changed are mindframes not words. Why are you praising Canon for this and still call flash GUN to the device instead of speedlight? For me, an European that hasn’t born in a country that has invaded and spread death and destruction in so many countries around the world, GUN is as repulsive as SLAVE!

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