photo of camera with hood

Ultimate Guide for a Camera Lens Hood: Why, When to Use & How to Choose

A lens hood is an important accessory for any photographer, but it can be difficult to know which one to choose. This blog post will outline the different lens hoods available and explain when you should use them.

We'll also provide a buying guide to help you choose the right lens hood for your camera. By the end of this article, you'll know everything you need to pick out the perfect lens hood for your camera.

What is a Camera Lens Hood for?

A lens hood is a great camera accessory for amateur and professional photographers. A lens hood helps to reduce or eliminate flares, which are caused by stray light bouncing off of the surface of the lens.

In addition, a hood in front of your lens can help protect the lens’s front elements from scratches and other damage. Lens hoods are available in various shapes and sizes, and they can be made from various materials, including plastic and metal.

Why You Should Use a Camera, Lens Hood?

A camera lens hood is an important piece of equipment for any photographer, and there are a few good reasons to use one.

1. Protecting the Lens from Physical Damage

 A well-designed hood will extend beyond the end of the lens, providing a buffer against bumps and impacts. In addition, a lens hood can help reduce the risk of scratches and fingerprints on the lens surface.

photo of a camera hood

Photo by Megan McClain on Unsplash

2. Keeping the Lens Clear

In addition to protecting the lens, a camera lens hood can help keep it clean. By blocking out debris and dust, a camera lens hood can help to prevent your glass elements from getting dirty in the first place. 

3. Blocking Unwanted Light

A lens hood is efficient in blocking unwanted light out of the angle of view, which helps to improve the overall image quality by reducing glare and reflections. Besides, it can also reduce flares that are caused by stray light bouncing off the lens's surface. 

4. Increase Contrast and Saturation

By reducing ambient light entering the lens, a hood can create deeper blacks and more vibrant colors. When used correctly, a camera lens hood can be a valuable tool for any photographer.

When Should and Shouldn’t You Use a Camera Lens Hood?

There are a few situations when you might want to use a camera lens hood.

  • If you're shooting in bright conditions, such as during midday or in direct sunlight, using a lens hood can help to reduce glare and improve contrast.
  • A lens hood can also be useful when shooting with backlighting, such as when the sun is behind your subject. In these situations, the hood can help to prevent light from spilling into the frame and causing distracting flares.
  • In rough and rugged locations. If you're shooting in a dusty or sandy environment, using a camera lens hood can help keep your lens clean. By shielding the lens's front element, a hood can prevent debris from entering and scratching the surface.
  • You're working on a lengthy session and don't have time to store or put on a protective lens cap. A camera lens hood can be a great solution if you're shooting for an extended time and don't want to worry about putting on and taking off a lens cap.

photo of a man taking photo by using camera with hood

Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash

  • You are filming at night near buildings, street lighting, vehicles with their lights on, etc. In these situations, camera lens hoods can help to reduce unwanted light sources from entering the frame and causing glare.

When You Shouldn’t

  • Windy weather. If you're shooting in windy conditions, a camera lens hood can act like a sail and catch the wind, resulting in a camera shake.
  • Overcast but dry weather. If it's a cloudy day and there's no chance of rain or snow, you might not need a camera lens hood since the conditions are already diffused.
  • When you want lens flare in your images, some photographers intentionally add lens flare to their images for artistic effect. If that's what you're going for, don't use a camera lens hood.
  • The lens hood blocks your built-in flash. When Using your camera's built-in flash, the lens hood can block some of the light and result in underexposed images.
  • You want to shoot more discreetly. If you're trying to be inconspicuous, a lens hood can make your camera more noticeable.  If you're not sure whether or not to use one, err on the side of caution and leave it off. Better to have a little lens flare than to attract unwanted attention.

Types of Camera Lens Hood

There are two main types of camera lens hoods: petal and cylindrical lens hoods.

1. Petal Lens Hoods

Petal lens hoods get their name from their shape, resembling a flower's petals. Petal hoods are typically used on zoom lenses and other wide-angle lenses and offer superior coverage compared to cylindrical hoods.

photo of camera with a lens hood

Photo by Kushagra Kevat on Unsplash

Petal lens hoods can help you get that perfect shot. Although they frequently have longer focal lengths, there is a risk that your photograph will include the front cover since greater focus lengths cause it to get smaller.

2. Cylindrical Lens Hoods

Cylindrical lens hoods protect your precious lenses and block any stray light. Cylindrical lens hoods ensure an optimal view without getting the camera's frame covered in obstructions while taking pictures with close-up subjects. A cylindrical lens hood is made for prime lens and telephoto lens.

How to Choose Your Camera, Lens Hood?

When choosing a camera lens hood, there are a few things you'll need to take into account.

1. Mount

The mount is the camera lens hood's way of attaching to the camera or lens element. There are three different mounts: screw-in, slip-on, and bayonet.

Screw-in camera lens hoods have threads on the outside that match up with threads on the camera or lens. Slip-on lens hoods stretch over the camera or lens, and then you secure them with a thumbscrew. Bayonet lens hoods have a locking mechanism that allows you to click them into place.

2. Size

The camera lens hood needs to be the right size for the camera or lens it's using. If it's too small, it won't be effective. If it's too big, it will cause vignetting (when the corners of the image are darker than the rest). Therefore, do check the specifications of your camera lens. 

3. Material

Camera lens hoods are usually made out of plastic, rubber, or metal. Plastic lens hoods are lighter and more affordable, but they're not as durable. Rubber lens hoods are collapsible and extended for universal use  on lenses with different diameters. Metal lens hoods are more expensive but more durable and offer better protection from the elements.

photo of a camera with a lens hood

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

4. Model Number

Every camera and lens has a specific model number. The model number of brands like Nikon, Canon, Sony, Fujifilm, or Olympus may vary from each other. When choosing a camera lens hood, make sure to get one designed for your camera or lens.

5. Aftermarket or OEM

Camera lens hoods can be aftermarket or OEM (original equipment manufacturer). Aftermarket camera lens hoods are made by companies other than the camera or lens manufacturer.

In contrast, OEM camera lens hoods are made by the company that makes the camera or lens. Aftermarket camera lens hoods are usually less expensive, but they might not fit as snugly or work as with OEM camera lens hoods.

Conclusion

A camera lens hood is a piece of camera equipment that can be extremely useful, but it's not necessary for every situation. When deciding whether or not to use a camera lens hood, consider the type of photography you're doing, the weather conditions, and your personal preferences.

If you're not sure whether or not to use a camera lens hood, err on the side of caution and leave it off. Better to have a little lens flare than to attract unwanted attention.

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