Do you need a lens hood?
You may have purchased a new lens, and it came with this goofy looking plastic ring. You look at it and ask yourself, do I need this thing? It’s called a lens hood. So what is a lens hood for? The purpose of a lens hood ring is to prevent unwanted light from reaching the lens when the ring is attached.
You might be new to photography and don’t know what is a lens hood for. Today, we’ll go over the importance of a lens hood, light sources, and why you should use a lens hood. We’ll also tell you when you don’t need a lens hood to give you the best experience with your camera possible.
Importance of a Lens Hood
Your lens hood has a primary purpose: to block light. Let’s say you’re using a zoom lens. Your lens hood is going to have a curved-like opening at one side. The curve is to allow the zoom range and a wide enough field of view while you’re shooting for smaller focal lengths with a wide-angle lens.
Now, let’s say you are using a prime lens with a fixed focal length; your lens hood will look like a tube that’s larger on one side than the other.
They reduce lens flare
What can the lens hood do with flare? The lens hood blocks out strong light coming in while you’re photographing and causing flare. Sometimes, it may not be at an optimal angle, but when it’s used correctly, your photography will benefit greatly. The front of your lens hood works in a way that the lens glass elements are stricken so light, resulting in lens flare from off-angle light being avoided.
Image quality is better with a lens hood, too. When you take pictures with a camera that has a lens hood have richer colors and deeper saturation. This is because the lens hood blocks the light that is not needed from hitting the lens element from the sides.
Without a lens hood, the light is not blocked hence causing discolored spots or flare. Next time, try looking through the viewfinder with and then without your lens hood, and you’ll know what we’re talking about.
Protect the lens from damage
Lens are fragile and can break or get scratches because it is made of glass. A scratched, fingerprinted, or broken lens can cause inconveniences while taking photos. Lens hoods are at the front of a camera lens. This creates a distance to protect the lens from accidental contact and scratches. The lens hood is made of metal or plastic. It is generally healthy to ensure the lens does not break in case of an accident.
Scratches, fingerprints, debris, and weather conditions can create damage to your lens. While many photographers go with a UV filter or lens cap to protect the external lens, the lens hood offers better protection.
Types of lens hoods
Petal cutout type lens hood
These types of lens hoods are also referred to as tulip or flower lens hood. They work with a wide-angle zoom lens because they have extensions to maximize the coverage area. Camera sensors are rectangular in shape, so petal hoods block every bit of ambient light.
They allow room for the four corners of an image. You should install the Petal hoods properly to avoid vignetting. Vignetting is the darkening of the corners of an image caused by capturing part of the petal hood.
Cylinder tubular types of the lens hood
These types of lenses are generally used with a longer focal length lens. They have a more straightforward round design. With this type of lens, you do not have to worry about the dark corners when taking shots. The main difference between a petal and cylinder tubular lens is the extensions.
Why You Should Use a Lens Hood
It minimizes flare
Lens flare may look good on some context-based pictures. But it is something you should avoid while taking your everyday shots. Lens hoods cut flare, especially for images taken with bright light like the sun.
You may not realize the flares while taking the pictures until you view them later on your computer. Some lenses are prone to flares more than others. Flares are also a result of low-quality filters or lenses that have less anti-glare coatings.
It adds contrast
Apart from reducing flare in pictures, the lens hood also adds contrast and color to photos. Light rays from the sun or external sources can cause the image to have a reduced contrast. The lens hood blocks such light from hitting the front element of the lens. Does your lens have a low-quality filter? Or does it have less anti-glare coatings? It would be best if you used a lens hood to avoid having washed-out looking images.
It protects your lens from damage
The third primary reason you should use a lens hood is to protect your lens from damage. A fingerprinted lens can be cumbersome when taking photos. It can lead to poor shots.
A hood ensures your lens is protected from all these damages. Apart from the significant injuries, a hood also protects the lens from debris such as dust, snow, or rain.
When Not To Use a Lens Hood
Although lens hoods have significant advantages, there are other times that you do not have to use them.
Capture flare effect
Even though flare is not suitable for your picture, there are times when capturing the flare is your goal. In this case, you do not want to use the hood to get creative and capture light streaks.
Using smaller sensor cameras
While taking pictures with a camera that has smaller sensors, the hood may appear in the image. Other lenses also capture part of the hood when taking photos with the widest focal length. To avoid catching the hood, you should remove it.
While using filters or accessories
It is tough to attach a lens hood while using some filters and accessories such as a ring light or filter kit. If the accessory is vital for the picture you want, take the image without the lens hood. Sometimes this happens with landscape pictures.
When using a pop–up flash
Don’t use your lens hood while using a pop-up flash. You can locate the pop-up flash at the top of your camera’s body. The flash is small enough that you’ll get the look you’re going for automatically without it. If you’re using a pop-up flash, it’s likely that you want streaks of light anyway, so a lens hood is not necessary for this instance.
Some photographers also remove the lens hood for special occasions. While taking photos in the street, a photographer can remove the hood. It will reduce attention and intimidation. Other times, the flash can cause the hood’s shadow to appear in a picture, hence advisable to remove it. Other photographers pull the hood to reduce the camera’s weight, especially when shooting for a long time, like at a wedding.
Storage and Transportation
Although the lens hoods are lightweight, they can be bulky and hard to pack in your camera bag. To reduce the bulkiness of the lens hoods, you can remove them and fit them together. This may not be possible if the lens hoods are of different types and hard to stack them together. Another way is to attach the lens hood backward. Although this may cause the lens to be heavier than usual, it is efficient to store and transport the lens hood.
Frequently Asked Questions About Lens Hoods
What is the point of a lens hood?
The purpose of a lens hood is to block sunlight or other light sources that cause glare or lens flare. The second purpose is to avoid scratches, dust, debris, and elements from certain weather conditions without using a lens cover.
When should I use a lens hood?
Ideally, it would be best if you shot using a lens hood in most environments with sunlight or possible glare. But here are some instances when you should always remember a lens hood:
- Shooting in or around intense lighting
- You have a backlit subject
- Using off-camera flash or human-made lighting that may give you lens flare
- During long shooting in harsher elements when you can’t use a lens cap
- Shooting at night with street lights, cars, decorations, etc.
Do you need a lens hood at night?
Stray light is the most common use for a lens hood. The purpose of a lens hood is to cut out any glare or lens flare. So, if you are shooting in an environment with many street lights or lights in general, it’s always best to keep your lens hood handy.
Do you need a lens hood for 50mm?
No, you do not need a lens hood for your 50mm lens unless you are shooting where there’s lots of sunlight that may cause a flare.
Which kind of lens hood should I buy?
You can buy a cylindrical lens hood, which is the most common for prime lenses or telephoto lenses. They do a great job of blocking stray light. You can also try a rubber lens hood for more versatility when you travel. The most popular lens hoods are the petal lens hoods (or tulip lens hoods), shorter with curves. Always check to make sure a lens hood is compatible with your camera lenses.
Are lens hoods universal?
Many lens hoods are equal in size and diameter, especially the ones made for telephoto lenses. Medium and wide lens hoods for corresponding lenses are different sizes, so not everyone will fit your lens. More and more manufacturers are making universal lenses for manufactured cameras like Sony, Canon, and Nikon.
So, if you prefer to shoot with your Canon EF DSLR, you won’t have a problem when you switch from your Canon camera and Canon lens to a Zeiss lens. Of course, always check the manufacturer’s specifications first.
Conclusion: Do You Need a Lens Hood?
Hopefully, now we changed your outlook on lens hoods. Not all lenses come with a lens hood on; you may need to buy one for your camera separately. The price of acquiring a lens hood ranges depending on the type of lens or the kind of lens hood you want. You can take good pictures without a lens hood. But having one can improve the quality of your images and save your lens from damage and aging.
Always check your lens’s front element first before going out and buying a brand new lens hood. You want to make sure it’s the right one for your DSLR or full-frame mirrorless camera lens. You’ll notice a remarkable difference when you go to edit your photography in Lightroom. Good luck with your photography and happy shooting with your new lens hood!