What does it mean when someone describes a flash as deported?

Is it the same thing as saying a flash is "off camera?" Or is there something else which is also needed to qualify it as deported?


2 Answers 2


From context, I think it just means "off-camera flash", or "remote flash".

I think this is an accidental import from French (le flash déporté), and not a common term in American or British English photography usage today. Particularly, the person who used it on this site, prompting this question, is a native French/German speaker. And, many of the quotes Rob found also appear to be from native French speakers. That in itself doesn't mean that it isn't legitimate English, but it may be more something common to French speakers of English than to American or British English.

Meanwhile, the phrase "deported flash" is not found at all in a Google Ngrams search. I did find "deported ring-shaped flash or with deported satellite flashes" in a book about finger- and toenail diseases (warning: gross!) — but, hey look, at least one of the editors of that book has a decidedly French name.

Of course, English doesn't have any ruling body dictating what words are legit or not, and we borrow words from other languages with gleeful abandon. So, it's possible that this is emerging usage, or will be soon. To me, though, the word has decidedly negative connotations, and particularly in today's political world with migration being a sensitive topic, I don't think it's likely.

  • 1
    It seems to be a synonym for what I've seen called, since at least the 1980s, "off-camera flash". Apr 27, 2018 at 13:18
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    @Jim Yeah, I get that from context (and probably should have said so in the answer to make it complete.)
    – mattdm
    Apr 27, 2018 at 13:38
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    @MichaelClark Yeah, that supports my theory, because that commenter's blog est en français.
    – mattdm
    Apr 27, 2018 at 15:36
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    Reading the google translated english versions of the pages at the google search leads to the next question: Is a "cobra" flash the same thing as a "shoe mount speedlight/speedlite"?
    – Michael C
    Apr 27, 2018 at 16:11
  • 1
    @MichaelClark Ah, that one I mention briefly in this other q&a. "Cobra" is a reference to the bent-forward design of many speedlights.
    – mattdm
    Apr 27, 2018 at 16:12

To position the flash precisely and off-camera in a manner such to enable more than 'simple lighting' but also enhancement of surface features (such as in the photography of embossed glass or reflective surfaces).

I've found a few references to that terminology.

Flickr Photo where a deported flash was used, or here.

From a webpage about a course on underwater photography:

"During our PADI Digital Underwater Photographer course, you will learn when to use a red filter, how to use an integrated flash and a deported flash, the rules of composing a beautiful photo, ...".

Comment by Oliver to What flash gear should I get? :

"What are you needs ? Are you shooting in a studio or anywhere ? Only one deported flash or do you plan to get more later ? Do you need TTL metering or manual flash is Ok ? – Olivier Sep 18 '16 at 17:35".

Comment by Zorak on the DPReview Forum:

"Fact is I do not plan to use complex or deported flash systems, I just want a good and small flash for the parties, birthdays, etc, and all the Sony Flash are big. It defeats a bit the purpose of the camera, being small and "unobtrusive" (yeah, I know, a flash is never discreet).".

Usage in a sentence about macro photography:

"The macro mode allows you to get very close to the front lens (something like less than 2cm), but the wide angle is not too adapted for macrophotography, and the deported flash even less.".

Merriam-Webster definition of deport:

  • 1 : to behave or comport (oneself) especially in accord with a code

  • 2:

    a : to carry away

    b : to send out of the country by legal deportation

Origin of deport

1475–85; < Middle French déporter < Latin dēportāre to carry away, banish oneself, equivalent to dē- de- + portāre to carry; see port.

  • 1
    So what, if any, is the difference between a deported flash and an off camera flash?
    – Michael C
    Apr 27, 2018 at 5:08
  • @MichaelClark - The person using the word is free to use the word incorrectly or to embellish their usage of the word, alternatively in some places certain words may be preferred over others. The correct usage, as best I can determine, is remote and precision placement (like behind the subject to create a halo, or at an oblique angle to produce an unusual shadow). Simply unclipping it from the hotshoe and attaching a 2 foot extension cable would be embellishment in a majority of the cases (less so in macro photography, or the example given for medical photography). Ask one of the users.
    – Rob
    Apr 27, 2018 at 5:58
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    Thanks for your answer. To be honest, I found most of those references myself before asking the question. I'd like to hear a more definitive answer regarding what it means in the context of photography.
    – Michael C
    Apr 27, 2018 at 6:47
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    Technically speaking deported means detaching from the port, unplugged. Unplugging the flash is removing it from the port. If a specific group attaches a specific meaning to it that is acceptable, if we can not ask each other what they mean, and especially not bring the matter up with them, I think they need to preface their sentences with cautionary notations. This is yet another instance where a lot of time is spent, but little progress was made. I stand behind my research with the links I posted. I don't use the term and did not type it until your question came up. Moving on. 👍
    – Rob
    Apr 28, 2018 at 0:31
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    It seems polite to ask rather than to simply liken the practice to "tilt style shooting". We are not dismissive, we attach importance to their words. It's like saying "I moved my foot while typing this.", you ask why and I reply that your question is an attack upon my country. We have the right to assume that English is the language being used, see: photo.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3995/… or even more relevant: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/40271/…
    – Rob
    Apr 28, 2018 at 1:04

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