Camera Lens Hoods – Explained — The School of Photography
Camera lens hoods in photography might seem a simple thing, but they can be very confusing for the beginner photographer. Do you need one? What lens hood should you buy for your lens? What are lens hoods for? Why use a lens hood? When do you use one? These are just some of the questions we get asked. So here, I’m going to answer all these questions for you to make sure you get the best results in your photography and are using the correct one for your lens.
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Why use a camera lens hood?
The main reason you use a lens hood is to stop stray light coming onto your lens which can create lens flare and give your images less contrast. This normally happens when shooting into the sun or when you have a strong light source in front of the lens. Let’s look at a couple of examples.
Taken without a lens hood. Gives a washed-out look and shows lens flare. The circles you see is the light reflecting off the glass elements within the lens.
Taken using the camera lens hood. Shows more contrast in the image and doesn’t have lens flare.
What does a lens hood do?
It quite simply blocks light from going over the front element of your lens. Below is a simple image of the same thing in the same place. One with a lens hood on the camera, and one without it. The image without the lens hood has caused light to go over the front of the lens and is giving the image less contrast and causing what’s called lens flare.
Examples showing camera lens hood on and off
The lens hood is creating a shadow over the front element of the lens thus blocking the light from hitting it.
Light shielded by camera lens hood
Light shining on the lens – Here the camera’s lens hood is not fully blocking the light. In this case, you are likely to get lens flare.
So that’s the main reason to use a lens hood – To shield the lens from unwanted light. This will give your pictures a stronger contrast of colours and tones and to stop lens flare.
When should you use a camera lens hood?
You should have a lens hood on all the time. Even when you’re inside or at night you could get stray light going over the front of your lens which will reduce the contrast of your image. Another bonus in using a lens hood is that it will protect the front of your lens. If you’re swinging your camera around and the front of it hits something, it’s your lens hood that will break first. Much cheaper to replace than a lens!
Another tip here is to always keep your lens clean as this will increase contrast and avoid lens flare too.
Exceptions to this rule
There are times when you might not want to use a lens hood. This is when you actually want to create lens flare or when you are using the pop-up flash on your camera. On some cameras, the light from the pop-up flash will be blocked by the lens hood and create a shadow in the bottom of your picture. This won’t happen if using a flashgun as the flash is higher on the camera and will miss the lens hood.
Creating lens flare on purpose can also give an awesome look to both portrait and landscape photography.
Sunset with rocks taken without a lens hood
Taken without a lens hood whilst shooting into the sun. Gives a washed-out look and shows lens flare. The circles you see is the light reflecting off the elements within the lens.
What types of camera lens hoods you can get?
It breaks down into two main types really. A petal-type lens hood and a cylindrical one.
Cylindrical Lens Hood and Petal-type Lens Hood
Petal lens hoods have the corners cut away. These types of hoods are used on your standard zoom lenses and lenses that go to wider angles. This is because if you didn’t have the corners cut out you would actually see the lens hood in the image at wide angles. You would see black in the corners of your picture, which isn’t a good look!
To put this to the test do this – zoom your lens out to its widest angle look through the viewfinder and move your hand forward adjacent to the lens and you’ll see the hand appear in the corners.
Then you have cylinder lens hoods, and these are perfect cylinders with nothing cut away. They are made for fixed focal range lenses (prime lenses) and telephoto lenses. They are shaped like this because prime lenses don’t zoom out, these lenses are fixed to a particular focal length so the hoods can be made to the exact point where it won’t be seen in the image. Telephoto lenses, lenses used for sports and wildlife photography, can also have cylinder lens hoods. This is because these lenses do not go to wide angles, therefore the lens hood will not be seen.
To learn more about lenses and focal lengths, click here.
Telephoto lens with lens hood
What lens hood do I get for my lens?
Is it a one size fits all scenario? The simple answer to that is no, one size doesn’t fit all. You have to get the lens hood for your particular lens. For instance, I have the canon 24-105 zoom and the 16-35 zoom lenses and they both need different lens hoods. The reason for this is the circumference of the front of the lenses are different, one is 77mm and the other is 82mm. The zoom range is also different meaning the cut-outs bits need to be different. The wider the angle of view the further back the cut outs need to be on a petal lens hood.
Now you do not need to get the branded lens hood for your lens but please avoid any lens hood that states they are universal. They will not work as well as one made specifically for your lens.
To find out what lens you have, simply look at the front of it and read off what it says. For instance, the image below shows the front of a canon lens and states ‘Canon zoom Lens EF 24-105mm’. This is the name of that lens. Simply type that followed by lens hood into a search bar and the lens hood for that lens will pop up. Easy as that!
To learn about camera equipment please click here.
To save you time we have compiled below the lens hoods needed for the most common beginner cameras. Please check the front of your lens to check the model of it before you buy the lens hood.
Canon EW-63C Lens Hood: Compatible with the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS STM – https://amzn.to/3seMRoS
Canon EW-83H Lens Hood for EF24-105mm f4.0L USM: Compatible with the Canon EF 24-105mm f4L IS II USM Lens – https://amzn. to/39m1T4P
Nikon HB-N106 Lens Hood: Compatible with Nikon 18-55mm AF-P VR – https://amzn.to/397eKHE
Check out our Recommended Beginners Photography Equipment here.
NB: These are paid links and TSoP will receive a small percentage of any purchases made.
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Thanks for watching and remember – Learn more at The School of Photography.
About the Author
Hi, I’m Marc Newton and I’m a photographer, educational speaker, author, teacher of photography and the founder of The School of Photography. Follow my personal work on Facebook and Instagram.
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Lens Hoods: Why, When, and How to Use One in Photography
Whenever you buy a new camera lens, you’ll often receive a free lens hood included with your purchase. And while many photographers leave it on without thinking twice about what it does, this handy tool isn’t just for show.
Lens hoods can help you achieve the results you desire in your images by excluding unwanted glare and flare, and they’re also an essential tool if you want to avoid causing significant damage to your lens. But which situations are best to use your lens hood in, and when should you consider taking it off? Let’s find out.
Table of Contents
What is a Camera Lens Hood?
A lens hood is an accessory that you attach to the front of your camera lens. While it is traditionally made of plastic or metal, you can also make one yourself using any light-blocking material.
You’ll typically find two types of lens hoods; petal lens hoods haven’t got corners, whereas tube ones are fully circular. The type of lens hood you use will depend largely on your camera’s sensor shape and the lens you connect to your camera.
A petal-style Nikon lens hood (left) and a tube-style lens hood (right).
Why Should You Use a Lens Hood?
Reason #1: Unwanted Light
One of the main intended benefits of a lens hood is to keep unwanted light out of their pictures by blocking light sources that would otherwise cause glare or lens flares.
The design of each lens hood is such that it will allow direct incoming light from within the lens’s angle of view while blocking out stray light rays from outside the angle of view.
Both petal and tube lens hoods do a solid (pun intended) job of stopping stray light from entering the lens, making it easier to capture your desired shot in conditions where you have to deal with excessive lighting.
An illustration showing how a lens hood can block light rays that would otherwise cause lens flare. Original illustration by Ggia and licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.
Reason #2: Protection from Damage
In addition to its optic-related benefits, lens hoods are also commonly used as a way to protect a lens, both from damage as well as from the elements. Lens hoods can help protect your lens from sustaining damage that stops it from working properly, such as cracked glass.
Your lens hood is probably the first thing that will hit the ground if you drop your camera; even if it breaks, replacing the hood is much less expensive than repairing or replacing a lens. It can also, along with a lens filter, protect the front glass element of your lens from scrapes and cracks if the lens accidentally swings and collides with something head-on.
Reason #3: Keeping the Lens Clear
You can also use your lens hood to take better photos in bad weather. Keeping the cover on your camera will make it harder for precipitation to get into the lens, allowing you to focus on capturing your desired shot instead.
When Should You Use a Lens Hood?
So far in this article, you’ve learned the basics of a lens hood and why you should consider using one. To help you use yours more efficiently, it’s worth considering the different scenarios where having one will benefit you.
When You Want Contrast in Your Images
If you’ve ever photographed on a sunny day before, you’ll know that creating images with contrast is sometimes tricky.
Keeping your lens hood on will enable you to avoid losing contrast, meaning that you only need to make tweaks during the post-production phase – as opposed to more drastic edits due to unfavorable light hitting the lens.
In Conditions with Many Light Sources
Photography is largely about lighting, but too many sources of light can make it difficult to shoot without unwanted light leaking into your images. Regardless of how good your composition was, perfectly fixing a photo with light issues in post-production can be difficult if not impossible.
In Rough and Rugged Locations
The stunning natural landscapes of countries like Norway and Iceland make them fantastic destinations for photographers. However, you might sometimes find yourself in parts of those (and similar) places in which dropping your camera or bumping it into things like rocks is a risk.
If you’re worried about dropping your camera, your lens hood can at least provide a little protection. Examples of scenarios where you might want to consider using one for protective purposes include hiking on rocky terrains, when you’re out and about in a city, and when photographing indoors on hard (and potentially slippery) floors.
You should, of course, also consider getting a robust and secure strap to secure your camera better.
When Shouldn’t You Use a Lens Hood?
Despite the many benefits of using lens hoods, you’ll want to think twice about using one in certain situations.
Photographing in windy weather is a challenge for even the most experienced photographers. Camera lens hoods can sometimes act as a sail during high winds, resulting in camera shake and blurry images. Or worse, they could cause your tripod-mounted camera to topple over.
Taking the cap off can be a good idea if you’re using a slower shutter speed and more of a telescopic lens. If your pictures are still blurry after doing so, you can always stabilize your camera with a sturdy (possibly weighted) tripod or another flat surface.
Overcast But Dry Weather
While using a lens hood can help keep water away from the glass, you should also remember that their main job is to reduce the amount of light coming into the lens. Lighting levels are naturally lower during overcast weather, and lens flare isn’t as much of an issue.
If you’re photographing in cloudy weather and it’s not raining, you can consider leaving your lens hood off. You can keep it in your bag in case conditions change later.
When You Want Lens Flare in Your Images
Sometimes, lens flare can help improve the look and feel of a photo. Think about golden hour, when you can see the sun’s shining rays in your picture, for example.
If you want lens flare in your photos, using a hood can get in the way of your creative vision; detach it and start shooting.
Lens flare can be a creative element in a photograph.
How to Buy a Lens Hood
If you do not already have an included lens hood with your lens and are looking to buy one, it is important to find a correct, compatible lens hood for your particular lens model.
Typing the model name of your lens with the words “lens hood” in a search engine or camera store website should bring up the exact lens hoods that work for you. You will want to double-check in the description to make sure the lens hood is in fact designed for your particular lens — as stated earlier, lens hoods are designed specifically for a lens’s angle of view, so getting the wrong lens hood can result in issues with your final images.
How Do You Use a Lens Hood?
Using a lens hood is straightforward, regardless of whether you have a petal or tube version. All you need to do is put it on the front of your camera lens and rotate it until you hear a clicking sound or until it comes to a stop and cannot rotate any further.
There will usually be indication markings on both your lens barrel and the lens hood to show where the two should be aligned prior to rotation.
Canon lenses and hoods have a red dot to indicate where the mounting should start. Photo by Canon.
Some lens hoods come with locking mechanisms that use screws or other features to prevent the lens hood from accidentally getting detached from the lens, while others are simply kept in place with good old friction.
Try moving the lens hood to see it fall off easily, which means it wasn’t mounted correctly; if it doesn’t, you’re ready to head out with your camera.
How Do You Store a Lens Hood?
In addition to removing a lens hood and storing it in your camera bag, most modern lens hoods can be mounted in reverse on the lens when they are not needed. Simply put your hood on the front of your lens backward and rotate it, as usual, to lock it in place with its hood portion covering the barrel of the lens instead of extending outward.
A lens hood reverse mounted on a Canon 24-70mm lens. Photo by Jaron Schneider for PetaPixel.
Lens Hoods Are More Useful Than You Might Think
So, there you have it – now you know what a lens hood is, and you’re also ready to start using one correctly. More often than not, having one on your camera will help you get the pictures you want and also reduce the risk of damage to your equipment.
While lens hoods work for most photographers, others prefer to leave theirs at home. Experiment with both to figure out which approach is better for you.
Image credits: Stock photos from Depositphotos
When to use the lens hood
The hood attaches to the front of the lens and blocks stray light from entering your photographs. In addition, it also helps protect the lens from damage if you accidentally hit it on an object. Simply attaching a lightweight accessory to your camera lens will greatly improve image quality and extend the life of the lens itself. This is why most photographers use lens hoods whenever they can.
We cover the benefits of using a lens hood, including sample photos taken with and without professional photographer Spencer Cox.
Lens hood minimizes flare
Lens hood’s main purpose is to reduce the amount of flare that appears in an image. If you’ve ever taken a photo in bright light, even if the light source was outside of your frame, you’re probably familiar with the problem of blown and flare. Glare may not be detected during the shooting process, but after examining the image on a computer … Especially if you use inexpensive filters or your lens has not very advanced anti-reflective coatings. Some lenses are more prone to flare than others.
The good news is that lens hoods can help – although only if the light source is outside the frame, of course. Here are two examples of photos taken side by side, without the hood (left) and with it (right). The difference is obvious. There is a reddish flash at the very bottom of the first image in the dark area, disappearing into the second. The orange area in the upper right corner has also been corrected.
Lens hood adds contrast
Lens hoods do more than just prevent large patches of flare and image fading. They also improve the contrast and colors in the photo. When used correctly, the lens hood will never compromise image quality, even if you are not in direct sunlight. Keep in mind that any random light sources can lead to a decrease in image contrast.
In the photo comparison above, the difference is not only that the second photo has less glare. Take another look at the grass in the lower right corner of the frame, it’s much more contrasty in the lens hood photo. Keep in mind that the exposure settings in both photos are identical. The shadows in the second image are darker as they are not faded.
Depending on your lens, these differences may stand out even more. For the comparison above, I used a Nikon 35mm f/1.8 FX, which is fairly resistant to glare. If you have old glass or a cheaper coating, a lens hood will be indispensable.
This is an overexposed shot taken without a lens hood (with one minor edit in Lightroom). A lens hood becomes especially necessary if the lens has a low quality coating
A hood protects the lens from damage
In addition to improving image quality, another main purpose of using a lens hood is to protect the lens from bumps, scratches, fingerprints and other damage. If you ever drop your lens, a lens hood won’t save it, of course, but it can prevent a lot of the unpleasant consequences of such a fall. It’s better to have a cracked hood than a cracked lens front.
Lens hoods also help keep debris from getting on the front of the camera lens, which is especially useful when shooting in rain or snow.
When not to use lens hoods
Despite all the clear benefits of using an accessory, there are a few specific cases where you may not want to use a lens hood or simply cannot.
- Flare is part of the idea of the picture.
- The lens is designed for a smaller sensor and part of the lens hood is in the frame.
- You are using certain filters or accessories on your lens that prevent you from attaching a hood to it as well.
- The hood draws in the wind and blurs your photos.
Photographers like to avoid glare in the frame, but there may be times when your goal is to catch the “bunnies” in the photo. The image below, taken with an infrared camera, has an insane amount of flare – but it gives the photo some character. In such cases, you will probably want to remove the hood. And you will do it right.
NIKON D800E + 14mm f/2.4 @ 14mm, ISO 100, 1/30, f/13.0
In other circumstances, you may need to remove the lens hood from the lens to keep it out of the frame. This most often happens when you use a lens designed for cameras with a smaller sensor, such as the Nikon DX lens on an FX camera. However, several fisheye lenses will capture some of the lens hood at the widest possible focal lengths. You may need to remove it to see the whole picture.
More common is when you use additional lens accessories, such as filters or ring lights, which may prevent you from attaching the hood. If an accessory is critical to photography, keep using it, just be careful.
NIKON D800E + 20mm f/1.8 @ 20mm, ISO 100, 0.2s, f/8.0
Along with these three main reasons, some photographers remove the lens hood when taking more specialized photos. If you are using the built-in flash, the hood shadow may appear in your photos, so you should remove it.
Finally, if you’re taking pictures in windy conditions, it’s often a good idea to remove the lens hood to minimize vibration in the photo. This is especially true if you are using a telephoto lens, or when shooting from an airplane or helicopter with the window open. There may be other special cases, depending on the type of photo. Use lens hood by default, but you know better than anyone when it just won’t work for your shoot.
Cylindrical or petal
Two main types of lens hoods are available today: petal and cylindrical.
This is how they look side by side.
Petal hoods look more interesting – but why are they shaped like that? Because the camera’s sensors are rectangular, the petal hood design is ideal; its recesses maximize the space for the four corners of the image. This also means that it must be perfectly aligned with the lens. If it is rotated incorrectly, it will partially fall into the frame.
Petal hood rotated 90 degrees – incorrect
Cylindrical hoods are simpler in design and generally do not work as well. But it cannot be categorically stated that cylindrical blends are bad. For many telephoto lenses, especially simple ones, it is cylindrical hoods that are used. And they do their job just fine. It should be remembered that a cylindrical hood is much better than nothing.
Note that lens hoods on zoom lenses only fit the widest focal length of the lens (for the most part). Otherwise, you will grab its edge every time you zoom out. So when you zoom, whether with a barrel or petal hood, look out for flare at long focal lengths. You may need to block out the sun with your hand if the lens hood alone is not enough.
Storage and transport
Lens hoods are lightweight accessories but can be surprisingly bulky if you just toss them in your bag. A good (and obvious) method for optimizing space is to remove all the hoods and stack them on top of each other.
Another alternative is to simply rotate the hood. Aside from some of the wide-angle lenses that it’s built into, just about every lens hood can be used for transport, and it looks something like this.
Although it comes out a little bigger than the lens itself, it’s not bad.
What if you don’t have a hood?
Not all lenses come with a lens hood. In particular, many kit lenses do not include it, for example, Nikon and Canon 18-55mm lenses. If so, is it worth spending money on a separate purchase? On the one hand, proprietary lens hoods from a lens manufacturer can be surprisingly expensive. Some people even make their own hoods out of paper or cardboard, which is by far the cheapest option – although don’t expect them to provide much protection for your front lens element.
Might sound silly, but don’t take pictures with the lens hood reversed! You’d be surprised how many people make this mistake because they just don’t know what’s best. Taking pictures with the lens hood turned backwards is not profitable. So you don’t block the light and it doesn’t protect the front element of the lens at all. The only reason to flip a lens hood is for storage and transport.
We hope this article has given you a good idea of when and how to use a lens hood for photography. Buying a lens hood is a simple thing worth a tiny bit of effort that can greatly improve the quality of the resulting images. And even, under adverse circumstances, it can save your lens from damage.
Why do I need a lens hood? — Website of a professional photographer in Kyiv
Many novice photographers are wondering what is the lens hood for?
Wikipedia gives us an almost exhaustive answer:
Hood (from German blenden – obscure) – an additional accessory to the lens or part of it, designed to combat glare or stray light when shooting in difficult lighting conditions.
Why do I need to put a lens hood on my lens?
The lens hood has two important functions :
1) protection from glare and glare
2) protection of the front lens from scratches and other mechanical damage
For the first item. Most often, a lens hood is needed when shooting in bright sunlight. Its use helps to avoid extra oblique light rays entering the lens, which makes the image more contrast. A lens hood can perform the same function indoors, for example, if you are shooting at a concert or disco, where there are many uncontrolled light sources.
On the second point. An equally important function of the lens hood is to physically protect the front element of the lens. Often, as with the Canon 50 1.4 lens, the lens hood allows you to do without protective filters. Unlike filters, lens hood will never degrade image quality. Some photographers wear lenses without caps and filters at all – only with lens hoods. Depends on lens design and hood type.
What types of hoods are available?
Blends differ from each other in the following parameters: material of manufacture, shape, fastening, color and price.
Blends are made from the following materials:
- Plastic. Plastic most common and versatile.
- Rubber. Rubber hoods have the advantage of being compact. They can be folded without removing them from the lens, so they do not take up any space at all. But there are also disadvantages. Rubber hoods are not durable. Sooner or later they break. In addition, due to their softness, they do little to protect the lens glass from damage.
- Metal. Metal hoods are found mostly on older lenses. In fact, they do not provide any advantages over plastic ones.
Blends are available petal-shaped and cone-shaped .
Blade hoods are used on wide angle prime lenses or wide angle zoom lenses (like the Canon 24-70 2.8).
Tapered , or I would say – cylindrical, lens hoods are used on telephoto lenses. In fact, at all starting from 50mm.
We will not dwell here on why they are produced in such forms. It is important to understand that you cannot put a cone-shaped hood on a wide-angle lens – this is fraught with noticeable vignetting.
Several hood mounts are available:
- Mount on the lens barrel with screw-in (Canon 24-70 2. 8). This mount is preferred. The lens hood rotates approximately 90 degrees to click and sits firmly in place.
- Lens barrel mount with snap-on (Canon 85 1.8). Not the most secure mount. I preferred to put on a screw-in hood on the same lens.
- Mount on the retractable end of the lens with clip (Canon 24-70 2.8 II). A good option if it is provided by the design of the lens. Although, I personally do not like the outgoing hood.
- Threaded front lens – filter principle. So you can put a hood on absolutely any lens. The advantage is versatility. Inconvenient for petal blends, because. you cannot clearly fix the position of the hood vertically. It is not recommended to do this with lenses with a rotating front element.
As a rule, all hoods are black. Exceptions are Canon’s white lens hoods for L telephoto lenses.