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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Previous comments
Pradipto WP's picture

As a non native english speaker, the terms "master" and "slave" in flash systems sounds funny to my ears. Why not "transmitter" and "receiver"?

Niels Veeneman's picture

i am also a non native english speaker and master>slave sounds a hell of a lot easier to a beginner then transmitter and receiver i mean no disrespect but this whole thing is getting out of hand fast

Niels Veeneman's picture

the slave is a black box and the master is also a black box where is the problem

Anthony Collins's picture

Is today April 1st?

Penny Fan's picture

Put your focus on real important matters.

Matthias Kirk's picture

And ignore anything else?

vik .'s picture

Well they can use Dom & sub then.

Kent LaPorte's picture

The irony of life. We change the words master and slave yet we still allow corporations to pay starvation wages and offer us poor health benefits so that CEOs can afford islands and yachts. Sometimes the things we fight for and demand seem like distractions to the true enslavement that is happening. This is not a critique of BLM which I 100% support. It is a rally call to the 99% to watch out for what the 1% tell us is important.

dean wilson's picture

I only shoot in "Rainbow" or "Gray Scale" in hopes not to offend anyone.

Drew Peacock's picture

Personally I prefer Dom and Sub, we don't kinkshame here.

Bruce G's picture

Maybe it's me, but I'm more offended by the violence and destruction that comes from people in this "civilized society"

Erpillar Bendy's picture

Good move by Canon. When there's a better way, choose the better way.

Bruce G's picture

I'm a Nikon user, so I'm not affected.

Boy W Camera's picture


bert duarte's picture

Will be changed to Dominant and Submission

Ben Jones's picture

lol... I'm sure the inanimate objects will feel so much happier on the job now.

Ben Jones's picture

still waiting for someone to get offended that black is always negative on jumper cables :p

Matthew Lacy's picture

If they just now "officially" dropped those terms, did they unofficially drop it previously?

Derek Madge's picture

In my mid sixties now, I have seen a lot of change in language and even nomenclature. Some I agreed with, some not. Some have made me think and and rethink and I learned.
This is nothing to get upset about. Or annoyed. Incensed...exasperated....vexed....peeved...

dean wilson's picture

I fully understand Derek. Now that we shouldn't use the M word, the S word, the N word, the R word, the Q word, the D word, the G word, the A word, the C cetera...

Dean (He, His Him)

Boy W Camera's picture

IMHO if everyone would just MYOB and STFU then everything would be AOK.

John Martin's picture

Transmitter/ receiver

T Ray's picture

I am SO relieved.

Dana Goldstein's picture


Dana Goldstein's picture

The “power” button clearly signals support of “white power.” When will that outrage finally be addressed? 🤪

Damon Steinke's picture

I literally cannot roll my eyes into the back of my head far enough. Just keep following along because everything offends everyone. I am sure we will have safe spaces make a comeback soon too.

Jorge Cevallos's picture

Also, make cameras for lefthanded people. I feel discrimimated against.

Cool Cat's picture

When are they going to stop using the term black & white photos because that just creates segregation.

David Pavlich's picture

I get Canon's reasoning. The problem with the 'cancel culture' is that it's never enough. There are people that think Mt. Rushmore should be dynamited. And when that's done, they'll want to level the Washington Monument, Monticello, the Lincoln Memorial, etc, etc.

And when it's all done, history still remains the same. At some point, there has to be an 'Enough Is Enough' movement.

Francisco Hernandez's picture

The Godox XPro transmitter is labeled in the caption as for Nikon even though it isn't. The letter on the photo shows "C" which means its the Canon version of that transmitter.

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