Whether you are an amateur who has just ventured into photography or an experienced photographer, you must be constantly on the look-out for accessories that enhance the quality of your photographs. The humble lens hood is one such accessory. There are mixed opinions on the relevance of this accessory for your pictures. Therefore, we decided to unravel the fine details about the hood.
If you want to know the purpose of a camera lens hood, it serves to block light from reaching the lens. You might find different kinds of hoods for your lenses, depending on the type of lens you have. If your lens is non-zooming and has a fixed focal length, it is likely that the hood that came with it is like a hollow tube that is slightly bigger at one end. If you have a zoom lens, then the accompanying hood is more likely to be curved and is commonly known as a tulip lens hood, named for its shape that resembles the flower.
Whatever the shape and size of the hood be, its primary purpose is to block out any stray light that might create points of flare in your picture. It also prevents discolored hexagonal spots that may arise when the stray light hits the lens.
Types of Lens Hoods
Essentially, there are two broad types of lens hoods that are available in the market. Each of them is suited for different kinds of lenses.
This lens hood looks like a hollow cylinder, except for the fact that one of its ends is bigger than the other. These are most commonly used with telephoto lenses and lenses with fixed focal lengths.
They are also ideal partners of lenses with long focal lengths because they don’t create a vignetting effect with these lenses.
This is the more common type of lens hoods because it goes perfectly with cameras that have a zoom feature. These hoods have curved notches that are shaped like the petals of a tulip. Thus, they are also known as tulip lens hoods.
These hoods are ideal for wide-angle lenses and are usually packed together with your camera if it has a wide angle zoom. Cylindrical hoods will not be suitable for wide-angle lenses because the sides of the hood will show up in the photograph. It might also create a vignetting effect in your picture.
If you have wondered about which lens hood to use, we hope that now you know the answer. Simply choose the hood that goes with the type of lens you have on your camera.
If you are wondering about the reason for hoods being so funnily shaped, think about the frame of your photograph. Your lens is circular, but the picture you click is not. Therefore, with zoom lenses, it is important to keep the border of the hood away from creating a frame in your photograph. That’s why the curvy notches on the lens hood exist. They are not designed in this shape for fun.
Check out 35mm vs. 50mm: The Battle of the Lenses
Top Reasons Why You Should Use Lens Hood
Let us now look at the exact purpose of the lens hood.
While you know that it blocks light, there are different ways by which this simple accessory can improve the quality of your pictures, and they are discussed below.
Protection of the Lens
Look at the lens hood encapsulating the lens of your beloved camera. The first important role that this hood does is that it protects your lens from routine handling and wear and tear. This means that the hood will protect your expensive lenses, much like a protective filter would. The following points will justify this statement:
When you use a lens hood, you essentially keep your fingerprints away from the lens. This means that your lens will be much less dirty if you use a hood on top of it. A dirty lens only yields poor-quality images. Attaching a hood will prevent all the cleaning steps.
Also, depending on the type of photography you are doing, you might need to click pictures of small children or animals. It is difficult to keep these tiny subjects from touching the camera. Having a hood in place will ensure that your lens is not touched or licked.
When shooting outdoors, it is common to have the camera bumped and knocked. If you have a lens hood in place, you can be assured of the lens is protected against scratches and small bumps.
When shooting outdoors, you cannot control the weather and many a time you will have to shoot in windy, dusty, or rainy conditions. Having a hood that covers the lens will be a great advantage because it will ensure that your camera lens stays dry and clean.
One point to be kept in mind is that a hood for wide-angle lenses will be rather short and curvy. Therefore, it will not provide as much protection to your camera lens as a cylindrical hood will. Also, depending on the model and make of your camera, a hood might not be required at all if the lens has an inbuilt protective lip that covers the elements.
However, a hood for your camera lens is a very small investment for the protection it provides. Imagine buying a new lens because the one you had earlier got scratched! Investing in a good lens hood can save you from this huge and avoidable expense.
Bringing Out the Best in Your Lens
Yes, this is indeed the primary function of the lens hood. Think about your camera lens. It is made up of numerous concave and convex parts. If very strong light enters the lens, it is reflected in these parts and causes flares. The simple step of attaching the hood on the lens cuts off a majority of the strong light that would otherwise enter the lens from a suboptimal angle.
Thus, if you use hoods while shooting with your camera, your images will be deeper in saturation and richer in colors. This is the prime time to put a lens hood on a DSLR.
Add Style to Your Camera
For those of you who want to have the best style, a lens hood is a great choice. It instantly adds a wow-factor to your camera and makes it look cool. Such is the craze about hoods in some photographers that they personalize their lens hood with decorations and stickers. Create your very own camera look by getting the right hood and add your signature style to it.
Most commercially available lens hoods can be attached to the lens in two ways- extended and inverted. However, the purpose of this dual attachment is different. When attached in an extended position, the hood is meant for assisting in the shooting.
When attached in inverted position, it is meant for safely storing your camera in a way that the bulk is reduced. Please remember that an inverted lens hood plays no role whatsoever. This position is only meant for keeping or carrying the camera in your bag.
Check out How to Choose the Best DSLR Lenses
Should You Use a Lens Hood
You are the best judge of how and when to use a lens hood. We have outlined the various ways by which hoods can be beneficial to your photography. For a deeper understanding of the practical aspects of these discussions, we encourage you to compare photographs that were clicked with and without hoods.
You will easily notice the better quality of pictures taken with a hood. This is because these pictures will have no flares, a uniform quality and will be devoid of saturated spots. Just remember to check the specifications of your camera. If your lens has a built-in protector, like we discussed before, use of a lens hood will be unnecessary. Other than this one point, we are strongly in favor of using a lens hood whenever possible.
All of us want to click magnificent and perfect shots. For this purpose, we buy the best camera and accessories. However, most of us forget to use the lens hood that often comes with our DSLR or other cameras. Now that you know of all the benefits that a hood can give you, why not make a habit of clicking pictures with a hood in place?
Cover image source