Should You Use A Lens Hood In Your Photography?

A lens hood is a plastic ring that extends off the front of your lens. For many people, this little piece of plastic seems a bit unnecessary and totally useless. They simply chuck it to the side and never think about it again. In reality, using a lens hood in your photography has a few major benefits you’ll want to take advantage of.

In this article, I’m going to share everything you need to know about why, when, and how to use a lens hood in your photography. Lens hoods are far more than just a piece of plastic and this post is going to prove it. Let’s dive in!

Why Should You Use A Lens Hood?

The big question for many photographers is ‘why should I use a lens hood in my photography?‘. Are they even worth carrying around or keeping mounted on your lens?

The short answer is yes, but let’s break down the three primary ways lens hoods are useful for your photography.

#1. Lens Hoods Reduce Light Flare

Flaring occurs when light is shining across your lens. The result is a washed-out look in part of your photo that can be really challenging to deal with… if you don’t have a lens hood! By using your lens hood, you can shade your lens from any light flares that may occur when shooting near a light source or on a sunny day.

#2. Lens Hoods Protect Your Lens

lens hood for nikon camera

A lens hood not only works to prevent your lens from flaring, but it works as a great lens protector as well! Having the extra few inches of plastic extending around the front element of your lens can make all the difference if your lens gets hit by something.

If you take photos around crowds or carry a lot of additional gear with you, lens hoods become a serious life-saver. I shoot a lot of climbing photography and without a lens hood, I would have taken some serious damage to my lenses by now. Using a lens hood has kept my lens protected from ropes, equipment, rocks and more.

lens-hood-to-protect-camera-lens-example

Even if you’re not shooting in either of those situations, using a lens hood can protect from accidental bumps your lens might see while walking around with your camera on your neck. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

#3. Lens Hoods Help When Shooting In The Rain Or Snow

shooting in snow with lens hood to keep lens clean.

Without a lens hood, the falling snow would have covered up my lens and turned into noticeable water spots in the photo.

If you’ve ever taken photos during a rain-storm or on a snowy day, you know how difficult it can be to keep your lens clean. No matter how many times you wipe your lens, more water and ice is back before you can take another shot.

Using a lens hood in your photography will help to protect your lens from bad weather. By adding a few extra inches around the glass, it becomes a lot harder for rain and snow to land directly on the front lens element. With a lens hood, you don’t have to clean your lens half as often while shooting in bad weather.

Keep in mind, lens hoods do not protect from the mist of a waterfall or a situation where water is coming straight at your camera. A lens hood will only keep your lens dry when precipitation is coming from above.

Types Of Lens Hoods In Photography

There are a couple different styles of lens hoods out there. The type and size of the lens hood will primarily depend on the focal length of your lens.

Type 1: Petal Lens Hood

petal-lens-hood

Petal lens hoods get their name from their resemblance to flower petals around the lens. These lens hoods are used with wide-angle lenses. The more open design of this lens hood allows for wide angles to be unobstructed through the entire focal range. Petal lens hoods are shorter than tube lens hoods but still serve the same purpose.

Type 2: Tube Lens Hood

tube-lens-hood

Tube lens hoods are used for longer focal lengths and typically come with telephoto lenses. This type is much longer than petal lens hoods and offers equal coverage the entire way around the lens. These lens hoods only work with longer focal lengths since their length would be seen by a wide-angle lens.

How To Use A Lens Hood

Lens hoods are extremely easy to use. Each lens brand will have its own lens hood mounting system but each is relatively similar. Luckily most lenses come with their native lens hoods included when you purchase!

To attach your lens hood, simply line up the indicators and twist onto your lens. If you do not have any mounting indicators, just twist the lens hood onto your lens until you feel a click.

When To Use A Lens Hood

camera-lenses-with-lens-hoods

Now that you know why you should use a lens hood in your photography, it’s time to talk about the when. Lens hoods aren’t going to be as useful in some scenarios compared to others, so let’s break down the primary times a lens hood is useful.

  • On a sunny day or if you are near a light source. Lens hoods become even more valuable when the light is shining across your lens. This is the exact situation that light flares are most common.
  • If you are shooting in crowds. Whether it be at a concert, event, or a busy city street, a lens hood helps to keep your lens protects from people around you.
  • If you’re carrying your camera around your neck. It’s very easy for your camera to swing into something or you accidentally bump it yourself. Lens hoods or lens caps will work equally well in this situation.
  • When you’re shooting in bad weather. Using a lens hood will help to make reduce the amount of precipitation that lands on your lens.

When NOT To Use A Lens Hood

detached-camera-lens-hood

Although lens hoods are useful for your photography, you don’t always need to use them. In fact, there are even a few situations where using a lens hood can become more of a hindrance than anything else. It’s important to know when not to use a lens hood to save yourself time and frustration the next time you’re shooting.

  • Don’t use a lens hood if you’re using filters. If you have circular photography filters, using a lens hood can become a serious pain. Lens hoods make it near impossible to adjust your filters since they block most of the space near the front element.
  • Don’t use a lens hood if you’re shooting in very high winds. Particularly with tube lens hoods, high winds become a problem. The added surface area of your lens hood can end up feeling like a sail. It becomes even more difficult to hold the camera still.
  • You don’t need a lens hood if you’re taking photos on a cloudy day. When the light is flat, it’s nearly impossible that you’ll experience major lens flaring. Save yourself the trouble and don’t bother using a lens hood if you don’t need to.
  • Don’t use a lens hood for night photography. There’s no harm in using a lens hood in this case, but it is an unnecessary step. When taking photos at night, there is little to no light that will cause flaring in your photo. Save yourself the time and keep it in your bag.

Conclusion

Learning how to use a lens hood in your photography can be one of the easiest improvements you can make in your work. These handy tools only cost a few dollars but typically come included with any lens you purchase! For many people starting out, it can seem unclear what a lens hood is actually for. With the tips outlined in this article, you can start feeling more intentional about how, when, and why to use a lens hood in your photography.

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