Why You Should Use Your Lens' Hood

Why You Should Use Your Lens’ Hood


Copyright Cheon Fong Liew

Time and again I get asked by those starting out in photography, “What is this thing that came with my lens?” What they are referring to is the lens hood included with most new lenses. For those new to cameras and lenses, it looks odd as it is often cut in a wave-like pattern.

A lens hood’s main purpose is to block light. If the lens is a prime lens (fixed focal length, non-zooming) the hood will resemble a tube, often larger at one end than the other. For zoom lenses the hood will have a curved opening at one end. This curve is cut to the zoom range of the lens and allows for the wider field of view afforded smaller focal lengths, while still attempting to block most light at a longer focal length. It’s a compromise that matches the compromise of a zoom lens.

Does the hood actually help?

Yes and no.

The hood will help block out light that is coming into the lens and causing flare by striking the outer lens elements (the glass pieces that make up the entire lens) at a less than optimal angle. This is light that never would have made it to the sensor and isn’t needed. Instead, it causes those discolored spots you might have seen, shaped like the lens aperture (typically a hexagon or octagon). While lens flare also occurs from light coming directly into the lens, flare from off-angle light can be prevented.

The “no” part of the answer is in regards to zoom lens hoods. With a fixed focal length lens, the hood is solid and often coated with felt on the inside, blocking out the maximum amount of light possible (the felt helps reduce reflected light from the plastic hood). But with a zoom hood, the curve can allow light in sooner than if the lens was fixed, although not that noticably so unless shooting in vertical orientation and with the lens pointed close to the sun

A quick, simple demonstration of shots with and without a hood. First with:

And then without:

In this case the sun was close to its maximum height in the sky and these photos were taken with a Canon 7D and Canon EF 10-22mm lens. You can see the flare at the bottom and you can also see how some of the dust on my lens has been highlighted.

Should you always use a lens hood?

No, but with an explainaton.

A lens hood will not help you when the sun (or light source) is actually in your shot. While it can help reduce extra light from reflected objects nearby (windows, white walls, etc.), the effect is minimal.

But in reality, you should use the hood whenever you can. My reason for wording the answer this way is so you don’t freak out if you forget your hood or it is hard to pack (many wide angle lens hoods don’t always fit in the holes in camera bags). If you happen to be missing your hood for the day, simply use your hand, a book or any other likely object to block out the flare from the main light source, while making sure you don’t get the shading device into the picture. This won’t block the reflected light, which can minutely soften a photo (not to a point most of us will ever realize, mind you) but it will help take care of the main flare issue.

What has been your experience with using hoods in the field? As always, be respectful of others while helping to raise the knowledge level of all our great readers in the comments section below.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Peter West Carey leads photo tours and workshops in Nepal, Bhutan, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles and beyond. He is also the creator of Photography Basics - A 43 Day Adventure & 40 Photography Experiments, web-based tutorials taking curious photographers on a fun ride through the basics of learning photography.

Some Older Comments

  • Patti Mc June 28, 2013 03:38 am

    Hi! Patti Mc here. I have a question. I was at a festival last weekend and the weather was a
    Scorching 95 degrees. Can it get too hot outside to take snaps? I transported my camera in an insulated camera bag, then I put
    It into an insulated grocery bag to prevent
    Condensation after being in the heat. And, just to be on the safe side, I didn't run the
    A/C for 5-10 minutes.
    Am I being overly cautious with my baby, a
    Canon Rebel XSi ?
    It was so hot outside that I felt uncomfortable
    Taking snaps. What do you think?
    I was also cautious bring my camera into an
    A/C restaurant because of possible condensation. Am I over-protective, or what???
    Thanks for all of your help!
    Patti Mc. :-)

  • David Fischer June 26, 2013 02:56 am

    I started photography back in the days when lens coatings were not nearly as good, and using a lens hood was the only way to reduce image degradation from bright sky or sun shining on the lens. I have continued that into the digital age, as it makes no sense to me to add a UV filter (two more air-glass surfaces) in front of the lens.
    Recently I had a problem with the lens hood on my Canon 18-55 mm kit lens becoming VERY hard to install or store. This is apparently due to the plastic bayonet lugs galling. I solved the problem by rubbing candle wax onto the lugs, then putting the hood in place, and finally removing all the loose wax. This "trash lubrication" seems to work fine. I have also read of people using powdered Teflon as a lubricant. Even oil from one's skin has been mentioned! Apparently any substance that will stick to the plastic will work.

  • Alan April 12, 2013 09:50 pm

    I even use a hood at night. A strong street light, or even lamp in the home can be enought to cause glare under certain circumstances, especially when it is just out of frame

  • Loi April 12, 2013 06:34 am

    It protected my 50 mm 1.4 once when my camera sit unattended and the 30 miles blew to it in Golden Gate hill.
    The hood broken and luckily the lens survive. Peter showed more benefits and the trick if you forgot one.

  • Nancy March 31, 2013 08:11 am

    Great chat by the way and thanks to Peter for the great demo/explanation on lens hood usage.

    I shoot w/ manual settings and have a polarizer on as often as possible.
    Someone mentioned putting a hole in the bottom of my lens hood so I can turn my polarizer easily.

    ***Can you guys provide me details on how exactly I'm supposed to do this. Both are Canon lens hoods. One for a 24-70, and one for a 70-200...thick plastic hoods; both felt lined.

    I find that I'm not using my lens hood because I can't turn my polarizer easily. So historically I opt for my polarizer rather than my lens hood. I'd love to use both....I take a lot of wildlife photography; often around water so love/need to have my polarizer on.

    Please help !! Thanks :) Nancy

  • Matthew Baker March 14, 2013 06:03 am

    Good to know that Nikon's are suitable for it - perhaps I should have said - I've got a Canon EOS camera!

  • Yngve Thoresen March 13, 2013 08:59 pm

    No problem taking the lens on or off with a lens hood attached. One of the pros of Nikon I guess. :)

  • Matthew Baker March 9, 2013 07:56 am

    No-one has mentioned the use of a lens cover - I can't understand why togs go around with a camera all the time and claim a hood protects the lens when a lens cover does what it is intended! A UV filter will not 100% protect a lens glass, and any dirt on the filter will need to be cleaned off as much as it would do if it was dirt on the lens glass.....Hoods aren't suitable for putting a lens cap on either - so why not just pop the lens cover on when you're not taking a shot? And pop a hood on when you really need it. A lens catcher will stop you losing the cover too. Simples!

  • Matt March 7, 2013 10:41 am

    @patti mc,
    If its bright use low iso's like 100-200 but if its darker use higher iso's like 400+
    Depending on your camera you might want to go much higher, but the higher you go the more noise you'll see in the images, which generally you want to avoid.
    The iso number refers to the sensitivity of your sensor, so if you turn the iso up, your camera will chose a faster shutter speed to compensate and any animals moving will become less blurry.
    Also if you put the rubber lens hood on for any shots through glass you can put the front of the hood right up to the glass which will help reduce reflections from the glass.

  • Patti Mc March 4, 2013 10:55 am

    I am planning a trip to the zoo in the spring. It was recommended that I get a lens hood to protect my lens & get a glare free shot. So I invested in both a rubber lens & a tulip lens.
    I plan on using the rubber lens so I can take
    Pictures of some of the glass enclosed reptiles
    & pictures of the big cats. I'm using a telephoto/ zoom lens that shoots 55-250.
    Any suggestions? I'm going to shoot in P mode, an ISO of 200. I was told to use 100
    ISO for still life. But what if my subject is
    Moving? I'm new to photography using a
    DSLR camera. Any help will be appreciated.
    P. :-)

  • Nigel January 29, 2013 10:29 am

    Having tested my lenses with & without a hood, I can confirm that if there is bright light from the sides or above or below, you will almost certainly suffer from reduced contrast without the hood, more so with wider angle lenses, which ironically are the most difficult to protect. The shadow ares of your images will have a veiling flare which takes the edge off contrast.
    The problem is also a lot worse when using a lens with a larger image circle than needed, such as when using full frame lenses of crop sensor cameras. There is simply too much non-image forming light getting into the camera which gets picked up by the sensor. This affects Canon's TS-E lenses for the same reason.
    One type of lens hood not mentioned here is the bellows type, such as the ones by Lee Filters. Not something you'd use on a walkaround setup, but for slow, considered tripod work they're worth their weight in gold.

  • Billy December 7, 2012 02:27 am

    Well said Mike. Only person with any sense on this thing. Hoods are pointless in almost all cases, other than maybe protecting from rain drops.

  • BigEater May 4, 2012 01:00 pm

    Depends on what effect you want. By blocking light from the side a lens hood increases contrast and helps perceived sharpness. If you've ever watched a movie being made, not only do they have a huge matte box on the front of the lens, there are usually two or three flags blocking the light as well.

  • Rahul May 4, 2012 12:35 pm

    @Karu: The hood works on the focusing lens as well if it is not petal type but totally round. You might get vignetting on the shorter focal length depending on the hood length.

  • Karu May 3, 2012 08:05 pm


    I have canon 550D and 55-250mm front focusing lens. I plan to fix a lens hood. My question is with front focusing lens will hood works properly?


  • Jay April 25, 2012 02:38 am


    I use a 35mm f/1.8 with a UV filter. I get these blobby looking flare when I shoot against a window. I will remove the filter and see if it helps. I also heard about the hand method. I need to research it because it is not working for me either. I guess I can post an example of what I am talking about. It bums me out when I get a great portrait of a subject with a blob on their face or chest. And there is no dust or scratches on the lens. Thank you for trying to help.

  • Yngve Thoresen April 24, 2012 06:11 pm


    ... thank you! :)

    What lens are you having troubles with? Is it free of scratches and dust? Are you using a filter of some sort? I noticed a lot less flare after removing the UV filter from some of my lenses. I normally use a hood on my main lens (18-70), but when that is not enough, my hand or card is of great help. If you have issues with flare when not shooting directly towards the sun, I would suspect dust, scratches or other lens issues.

  • Jay April 23, 2012 11:56 am

    Who really gives a **** if a photographer looks amateur or not?! Poser.

    My original question was that I shoot with a Nikon and have been having trouble with lens flare... I use an aftermarket petal hood and there is no remedy with flare with that on. If anyone can give me helpful information on how I can lessen or eliminate flare I would appreciate it.

  • Mike April 21, 2012 12:22 pm

    Nothing screams amateur more than a huge lens hood on the end of a lens. Canon in particular has massive ones. Lens hoods, like lens caps, are one thing you seldom find in a pros bag. Anything that takes up room or adds time to getting the camera ready gets binned usually. Just watch the Scott Kelby video of Jay Maisel...the first thing he does is tells that hack Kelby to ditch his lens hood.

  • Mark Hanson March 26, 2012 09:38 am

    @ Yngve, "how can a hood be problematic?"

    Lots of reasons have already been stated. Here's a summary, in which I'll add a few:

    (1) They take up too much space in your bag, even reversed--particularly a problem for ultra-wides. You might use that space for other things--say, a pair of Pocket Wizards, etc.

    (2) Reversing and deploying them adds time to your lens swap routine. (An issue that's compounded even more if lens hoods make your lenses fit tightly in your bag--then you're spending time grappling and pawing to get them out, too.)

    (3) They aren't often long enough or big enough to really help with flare. While it's true that you can contrive "hood vs. no hood" examples like the shot in this article, who'd actually take that picture for legitimate aesthetic or documentary reasons? For the most part, the hoods that come with your lens give you only a few more degrees of latitude with light in scene. Compare them to the matte boxes Hollywood movie productions use and you get a sense of what's really required to be sure about nixing flare. What's most interesting is that matte boxes, with their configurable "barn door" frames, most resemble the act of a photographer extending his or her hand in a specific direction to block offending light.

    (4) They're often long enough and big enough to attract the bumps and bruises that they're supposedly designed to protect your lens elements from. (No doubt this is why they're not big enough and long enough to really help with flare and image quality in non-contrived examples. Then they'd really be unwieldy--much as they are for super telephotos. It's an unhappy compromise, indeed.) I worry about this issue, particularly, with live-extension designs on which the hood attaches to the end of an extendable section. One good bump and your precision zoom alignment is history.

    (5) Many OEM hood designs are questionable at best. Case in point: the Nikon 35 f/1.8G DX lens's tiny, tiny cylindrical hood--which, given the APS-C "DX" field of view with which the lens was designed to be used, could've been three times longer if Nikon were serious about it blocking stray light. Same deal with the "petal" hood on the latest 70-200 f/2.8 VRII--it's awfully short and skimpy for a lens that starts at 70mm.

    (6) The camera and lens manufactures themselves don't talk much about hoods for lenses shorter than 200mm or so. Nikon's manuals are all pretty terse: "You may use the hood to block stray light and to protect the front lens element" is pretty much their one and only line in every case I've seen. They don't ever talk about "preserving micro contrast" and all of the other potentially "too-subtle-to-show-or-prove" arguments that you often read about in forums like this one. This is interesting because lens manufactures *do* talk about other subtle optical issues. The improvements that lens coatings (e.g. Nikon's new "nano crystal" coating) or improved glass definition (Sigma's new "FLD" formulation) can make are all over their literature, complete with clear comparative examples. It strikes me that if hoods were that important to image quality, OEMs would talk more about them--they'd advertise improvements in designs just like they advertise glass coatings and composition. (Now that I think about it, Nikon did actually talk a bit about the massive hoods they use for lenses like the 400mm f/2.8, which are made of carbon fiber.)

    Anyway, it's all just food for thought. Cheers!

  • Bob Tellone March 8, 2012 04:25 am

    Good article. I especially liked the two comparison shots. Good Work!

  • Yngve Thoresen February 23, 2012 01:43 am

    How can a hood be problematic?

  • Jeff February 22, 2012 03:45 am

    I have found hoods to be more problematic then they are worth, to the point that I Never use them.

  • Jay January 30, 2012 11:56 am

    "Instead, it causes those discolored spots you might have seen, shaped like the lens aperture (typically a hexagon or octagon)."

    I use a petal hood for my fixed 35mm f/1.8 and I may be having this issue[what you have described]. I use the round hood when shooting against a window and I get these oddly shaped flares on my photos. I purchased the petal hood and the same issue persists. What can I do to remedy this annoying problem?


  • Brandon January 23, 2012 02:08 pm

    "Interesting article. I’m not sure about the solid vs. curved hoods though. The Canon 70-200 L lenses are zoom’s and come with a solid hood. I always wondered why they had different shapes, I’m not sure this article cleared up that detail though."

    The purpose of that is some versions are f/4 and the others are f/2.8. The f/2.8 is the one with the tulip hoods and it works more effectively because of the large f/2.8 aperture, however the f/4 is a smaller aperture so the "solid" (as you say) is more effect for that. It depends on what lens you have. There is no "solid vs. curve" because lens hoods were specifically designed for certain lenses.

  • ruth January 14, 2012 03:58 pm

    Hi... newbie here, about a year into photography ...

    A few months late to this topic but .... To the most recent comments (regarding using a hood and filter)... sorry if this is SUPER newbie, why would one need to adjust the polarization lens while shooting? Just got a gift of a new lens and matching hood, and a set of 3 filters.

    Thanks to everyone for GREAT, helpful comments

  • Tejas August 18, 2011 08:35 pm

    Nice article.
    I agree with Jacob, it really makes you look cool. I'm currently using a Bridge Camera (SONY H50) and whenever i have an urge to feel i little 'pro'er i attach the hood :P

  • Rahela August 16, 2011 06:38 pm

    Thank you, Yngve!

  • Yngve Thoresen August 16, 2011 05:47 pm

    @Rahela, absolutely! I use an UV filter on my main lens with a hood on at almost all times. Working with polarization filters can be a bit pain, but you can make a little hole for adjusting the filter through the hood when working with a polarization filter as suggested in the comments.

  • Rahela August 14, 2011 06:35 pm

    Newbie question: can put the UV-filter and then the lens hood as well?

    I've bought my first filter ever :), obviously the lens hood has to be taken off to place the filter, but can you then put the lens hood back on?

  • Keith Birmingham August 14, 2011 01:37 am

    If I do not have light bouncing/reflecting off of objects around me I will leave the lens hood off to enable me to work with filters easier, especially my polarizing filter. Otherwise, the hood stays on.

  • Rahul August 13, 2011 02:34 pm

    I keep it on all the time, well most of the time.
    There's another advantage of the hood is while taking pictures through the window glass and keeping it very close also eliminates the shadow and window glare. Very handy if you are not carrying the polarizer filter.

  • shaun/tenzenmen August 12, 2011 12:52 pm

    i've heard of photographers on dangerous assignments sharpening their lens hoods to points in case they ever came under close attack! another use to keep in mind :-)

  • Gary55Wands August 12, 2011 08:32 am

    Like the article, regaarding not being able to store the hood/s I find I can "reverse" to hood/s on the lens thus they fit in the bag because they are still on the camera

  • Rahela August 12, 2011 03:21 am

    I agree with Jacob. I'm a really new DSRL camera user with 18-105 lens, and I feel better when the lens hood is on, I believe it helps protect the lens from scratches, fingerprints, bumps, etc.

    On the other hand, as I'm still learning to work with my camera (Nikon D3100), and the flash goes up frequently when I focus on something, even though I'm not always in Auto Mode (I spend a lot of time in Guided Mode now), I realized that in those situations hood can cast shadows.

    So I'm between taking it off and keeping it on...
    When somewhere busy, I keep it on, and then I turn off the flash, to prevent the lens hood shadow...
    But that sometimes does hurt the shot...

    So I agree, yes and now is my experience so far, too.

  • robert gardner August 12, 2011 02:04 am

    There are other reasons for using a hood. One is protection. If you were to bump into something with the hood one you are much better off then with the hood off. It also offer some protection against rain and fog
    and reason number three is that it looks more professional.

  • kangjie August 10, 2011 10:56 pm

    I cannot stress the word 'protection' even more.
    being a amateur nature photographer i have been caught out in the rain without my storm jacket before and instead i used a clear plastic bag to shield my camera and the lens hood just makes it way easier to attach the shielding on. and shooting photos in the forest there are many times the camera will rub against some branches and sometimes i may trip due to the roots the lens hood just prevents the front element from being scratched so i make sure where ever i go i always carry it with me and did i mention the lens hood makes you look cooler? :D

  • Yngve Thoresen August 10, 2011 09:00 pm

    Something that never ceases to surprise me is how people bring their lens hood with them, attached to the lens, but don't bother to actually use it. They just keep it on pointing inward. Not only does this give no effect at all, but it is a hindrance for operating the lens. I see it all the time. Why?

  • B August 10, 2011 03:42 am

    The petal style hood is shaped the way it is because our cameras take photos that are wider than they are tall. The top and bottom can accomodate longer petals without interfering in the frame.

    It's not a question of prime vs. zoom as claimed in the article; some lenses have a front element that rotates when focusing, and since the petal hood is designed for a specific orientation it can't work.

    Even if you don't get noticeable flare without it, a hood will improve contrast if your light source is anywhere but behind you. Sometimes the effect is slight but it's there. I don't buy the "intimidation factor" of having a hood on your lens; the way you handle yourself will have a much bigger effect on people. It's always helpful to have the hood on when shooting outside, but as the author says, if you don't have it, it's not a huge deal.

  • bigeater August 9, 2011 08:32 am

    For the person who was wondering how to use a polarizer with a lens hood: Dremel tool. You cut a small rectangular shaped hole in the bottom side of the hood in such a way that it lets you access the rim of the filter.

  • Mohamed ElGohary August 8, 2011 08:43 pm

    I use the hood during demonstrations here in Egypt to protect the glass from shocks.

  • Gene August 8, 2011 08:02 pm

    Just a little correction.
    Not all primes have non-petal hoods and not all zooms have petal hoods.
    The Canon 24 1.4L and 35 1.4L both have petal hoods, whereas the 70-300 f4-5.6 IS USM and the 70-200 f4L have non-petal hoods.
    By the way, many of the zoom lenses also have felt on the inside of the lens hood. =)

  • Vilhelm August 8, 2011 05:59 pm

    Lens hoods should of course be used whenever there is a risk of stray light. However, the hoods should be chosen appropriately. Photographers using DSLRs with a cropped sensor often have lenses designed for full frame sensors. The cropped field of view should be taken into consideration when shoosing the optimal hood for a given lens. One example: the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L lens comes with the lens hood EW-83H, however the EW 83G is the most suitable for a 1.6x cropped sensor.

    Thus, photographers using cropped sensor camaras and "full frame lenses" should, when possible, choose hoods made for the equivalent "full frame lens" with a shortest nominal focal length times the crop factor (or slightly shorter focal length, in order to avoid vignetting). This is mostly not considered when choosing lens hoods.

  • Simon August 8, 2011 09:58 am

    One tip, which I stumbled upon by seeing someone else do it. In most cases, the hood can be attached to the lens facing backward - this takes up less room in a camera bag.

  • Claudia August 8, 2011 07:34 am

    I don't leave home without them, for all of th reasons cited above.

  • Steve August 7, 2011 09:17 pm

    After shooting at a MotoX all day I have to recommend using a lens hood. The amount of dirt that hit the outside of the petal hood was unbelievable, but none got inside the hood or on the Hoya Pro UV filter. It also kept the brief rain shower off the front of the lens.

    Like Craig A. Mullenbach above I also use a BlackRapid strap (the RS-Sport which I highly recommend) and the lens hood also offers protection as the camera swings at my side as I move around.

    We pay large sums of money for quality lenses, why wouldn't we use every means possible to protect the front glass?

  • Craig A. Mullenbach August 7, 2011 02:53 pm

    My primary reason for using a hood it to keep my finger prints off the lens. I use a black rapid strap and would touche the front element sometimes if it weren't for the hood.

  • jonbar August 7, 2011 01:39 pm

    I always use it if possible. Aside from reducing glare, it also helps protect the front of the lens. If you hit it, it's much easier to replace a lens hood (though often you won't even have to) than a lens.
    Also it makes you look really cool, and all the people around you go "ooooh"

  • Jim August 7, 2011 11:51 am

    Have Always used Lens Hoods if only for the protection of the front element of the lens and the Hoods have save me some major damage. Lenses are expensive..Hoods are cheap.

  • Corinne August 6, 2011 11:57 pm

    I just recently aquired a Nikon 3100 with a kit lens of 18-55mm and a zoom lens of 55-300mm. The zoom lens came with just a plain tube hood. I looked it up on the web to find out what it was for and how to use it. Two days later I was taking pictures in full sunlight of my two boys playing on blacktop. I tried some with the hood and some without. What a difference! The hood did a great job of letting me get good crisp photos without all the glare. I'm so glad I have it. I need to buy one for my kit lens.

  • Sharon Byers-Photo Boutique August 6, 2011 11:50 pm

    There is a "pro" in our area that shoots with some hideous lens flare and calls it "sweet light".
    I hope he reads this post on the use of the lens hood. Some are even convinced that this is good stuff. I have seen lens flare used to good effect on some occasions, but mostly it is just nasty.

  • GoGayleGo August 6, 2011 09:23 pm

    My experience with lens hoods thus far (nearly two years now) is that I always have them in my bag, nearly always forget to use them, and almost always regret not using them. Gonna work on it.

  • jlosinski August 6, 2011 09:22 pm

    Here's a tip for any fellow newbies- Do not use your pop up flash (you shouldn't use it that much anyway) with a lens hood as this will likely result in a large dark shadow on the bottom of your picture, particularly if the subject is rather close to the lens. Now that I have taken the time to write this, I see that it has already been covered. Oh well.

  • Todd Hakala August 6, 2011 02:26 pm

    I'm an advocate of hoods, though I don't use them every day because they are hard to transport in my small camera bag and take up too much space. So I have protector filters on my lenses instead. But when I travel and have room to take them along, I do.

    I find that hoods on wides and wide zoom lenses don't do enough, as I often have to use my hand or something to shade the lens, but hoods on mids and telephotos are great.

    The other downside to hoods is when you're around people that aren't used to physically large lenses, such as at weddings. A good lens for receptions is a 70-200 zoom, and in my case, that lens without hood measures about 8 inches long. If I put the hood on it, that adds about another 3.5 inches to the length. Or, if a wide angle, the hood makes the front of the lens visually much larger from the subject's point of view.

    In either case, the hoods add a certain "intimidation factor", which is not good when getting spontaneous portraits. As such, I don't use hoods when trying to capture candids, even though I would prefer to use them.

    I did read on Tamron's website a while back that one should always use a hood because the sensors on DSLRs are shiny, and hoods help to reduce reflections on a camera's internals.

  • SalukiJim August 6, 2011 12:57 pm

    here's my problem. the hood that came with my lens (18-200 nikon) causes vignetting at 18mm. I don't want to have to take it off for wide angle, then put it back on.

  • luse.13 August 6, 2011 11:05 am

    I do have one, I was using it at the beginning, but stopped once i started experimenting with light. i actually do like the sun/flares in my photos and when i dont i use my hand to block it.

  • Joanne August 6, 2011 10:30 am

    A hood significantly cuts down on water and sand splatters on the glass. I live in Florida and, between the sun, water, and sand, a hood is a must all the time.

  • Madison Raine August 6, 2011 10:25 am

    My lens didn't come with a hood :(

  • Matt Needham August 6, 2011 10:16 am

    Lens hoods are like seat belts. I use them in case I run into trouble. Not only do they eliminate flare that I sometimes miss in the viewfinder or on the LCD, I've had them save my lenses from being bashed several times. Much more protective than a UV filter in my experience. Also like seat belts at first it was something I had to remember to put on, but now I put on immediately without even thinking about it.

  • Matt August 6, 2011 09:57 am

    No, I never use them. To me they're unnecessary and bulky. If you are want to minimize lens flare use your hand to block the light entering the front element of your lens. Simple.

    As for protection I find that a good UV filter is all that's required. I find the lens hood attracts bumps because of the extra length!

    So no, not a fan of the lens hood!

  • Mandeno Moments August 6, 2011 08:16 am

    I always use a lens hood because, apart from the optical benefits, a hood protects the lens glass when the lens receives minor bumps. Hoods also greatly reduce the risk of getting fingerprints on the lens. I buy aftermarket hoods that are quite a bit shorter than the originals, which are often too bulky and intimidating when photographing people.

    I prefer screw-on hoods because I can stack them on top of a polariser and grip the hood when I want to rotate the polariser. If you do this check and see if the hood is visible in the corner of your photos: if you have a zoom do the check at the wide end.

    I avoid regular use of rubber (collapsible) lens hoods because they don't give protection when the lens is bumped. However, I do carry a rubber hood and use it when photographing through glass. Pressing the hood against the glass cuts out reflections and allows a little adjustment of camera position: this also works very well when photographing through aircraft windows.

    As I say, the petal hoods (example in the first photo in the article) are too bulky and intimidating when photographing people. However, one advantage is the the 'petals' flex a little when they bump into things and reduce the amount of force transferred to the lens and camera. They're a bit like a car's crumple zone, which is designed to absorb energy.

    Lenses with a deeply recessed front element, such as the Canon 50mm f1.8 II ('nifty fifty') and the Tamron 90mm macro, arguably don't need a hood unless you're using a filter.

  • Kiran @ KiranTarun.com August 6, 2011 07:25 am

    Coincidentally, I was wondering about the hood topic yesterday. I guess many of us don't use it for not knowing the actual reason to use it.

  • SOJO August 6, 2011 07:11 am

    To LJOP: you meed to remove the lens hod when using build in flash. The flash is "too low", so it's hitting your lens hood. Especially when using longer zoom lenses. Other option is to step away from your subject and use only the "wide" lens lenghts. At the end on many lenses you can attach the hood in "revert" position, so it will not block your flash and as well fit much easily to yourcamera bag.

  • Dr. Bob August 6, 2011 05:36 am

    Why a tulip-shaped hood has an advantage is explained on this website: http://toothwalker.org/optics/lenshood.html

    It's basically the intersect of a cylinder (the shape of your lens) with a pyramid (the shape of lightrays through the lens onto the sensor).

  • Heather August 6, 2011 05:36 am

    Whenever I'm taking pictures outside on sunny days or drizzly days I use my lens hood. It's just one of those things I always keep in my bag in case I need it.

  • Major Bokeh August 6, 2011 04:49 am

    I use my hoods whenever possible. On my 100-400mm and 100mm they are able to be turned around back onto the lens to store easily in the bag. On the other zooms, the hoods don't fit the bag as well and a challenge to always bring them.

    As for those of you that are using your hood for protection, I hope you have a UV filter protecting your front element instead of leaving it exposed. Yes a hood will help, but I'd rather scratch and replace a UV filter.

    One other good reason for a hood, and Peter being in the Northwestern you can probably concur, is to keep small droplets of rain off of the front of the lens when it's drizzling.

  • Bekah August 6, 2011 04:37 am

    LJOP--do you have a tulip hood? (I dont know from experience) but I saw people saying they had shadow issues with them...OR with longer lens hoods-another reason I opted for a smaller one..

  • Mario August 6, 2011 04:28 am

    For my Nikon 50mm, I bought the rubber one that cost something like 5$ and is very useful as it can be just rolled up without taking much space.

  • jw.miller August 6, 2011 04:14 am

    "I’m not sure about the solid vs. curved hoods though. The Canon 70-200 L lenses are zoom’s and come with a solid hood. I always wondered why they had different shapes, I’m not sure this article cleared up that detail though."

    I have a 70-300 lens that came with a solid hood, as well as a 18-105 lens that came with the "tulip" style hood. I think the difference is that the tulip style is used more on wide angle lenses that risk getting some of the hood in the shot. On a telephoto it would be less of a concern due to the reduced field of view.

  • LJOP August 6, 2011 03:48 am

    Does anybody else get a wedge shadow when taking flash pics with the hood?

  • Flip Buttling August 6, 2011 03:00 am

    My issue with the hood arises when I'm using my polarizing filter, too. With the hood in place, I have a hard time reaching in to adjust the filter for the effect I'm looking for. I end up using a finger tip on the edge of the filter, but inevitably end up touching the filter glass. Any thoughts, ideas?

  • Stephen August 6, 2011 02:59 am

    I always use my lens hood. I never causes any issues and, like Jellibat said, it protects the front of my lens a bit. So it always stays on the lens.

  • Dick August 6, 2011 02:51 am

    I always use to for lens protection......

  • jellibat August 6, 2011 02:35 am

    I'm another that uses lens hoods mainly as a bit of added bump protection, though reducing flare is useful some times as well ;p

  • Bekah August 6, 2011 02:16 am

    Interesting. When I bought my lens hood, it was mostly just for protection, but I have noticed the difference. Now I always use it...anyone have any thoughts on tulip vs. Just plain round hoods? I, after researching a little, ended up buying a 1ish inch round hood for my 28-80.....don't have one for my 50mm yet, planning on getting one soon.

  • C August 6, 2011 02:15 am

    Recently my sister and I were on a Mediterranean cruise. The sun is harsh there in the summer, and we were on land during the sunniest part of the day. She has a Sony A200 with a big lens hood, and I have a Sony A100 but never got a hood for it. I really don't see any difference between the light in our images. Out of the 800 or so pictures I took only one has lens flare, and in that instances it looks artistic so I don't mind.

  • Lorita OLeary August 6, 2011 02:04 am

    The lenshood also protects a lens. It has done that for me multiple times.

  • sbalch August 6, 2011 01:53 am

    Lens hoods are also great physical protection. Walking around w/ a camera swinging at my side, or while out backpacking, the hood keeps the lens/filter from making contact with things it shouldn't. I find this to be more beneficial than the occasional sun shielding -- which is also nice. My hoods are pretty beat up but the lenses still look great.

  • dok August 6, 2011 01:48 am

    "Buy the lens hood straight from Canon, Nikon, etc. This will guarantee the best performance as they are the ones that actually designed the lens and know it’s true technical parameters."

    >> this is in my opinion plainly wrong. Usually third party lens hoods are nothing else but copies.
    Moreover I don't really know for other brands, but for Canon models, 1 lens hood can be designed for 3 or 4 differents lenses. For example, the EW-83E is used for 3 lenses : EF-S 10-22, EF 16-35/2.8L and EF 17-40/4.0 L.

  • Rick August 6, 2011 01:45 am

    I love my Canon 17-40mm f/4 L, but the hood it came with almost seems pointless.

  • dok August 6, 2011 01:38 am

    Obligatory for me. Obviously to protect from unwanted light but also, as I don't want to use any UV filter, to offer a protection if my lens hurts an obstacle.
    Third-party lens hoods are cheap (1/4 the price of a Canon one for example), but if it is still to much for you, you can print them !! >> http://www.lenshoods.co.uk/

    I have to say that I found quite difficult to use correctly paper-hoods, but hey, it's free !

  • Jeff August 6, 2011 01:38 am

    Interesting article. I'm not sure about the solid vs. curved hoods though. The Canon 70-200 L lenses are zoom's and come with a solid hood. I always wondered why they had different shapes, I'm not sure this article cleared up that detail though.

    I hadn't thought of the protection part that everyone is bringing up, but it's a good point. I tend to be overprotective of my camera, especially when I have the long lens out, but I should probably use the hood more often in tight spaces as an extra layer of protection.

  • Design.edward August 6, 2011 01:35 am

    Best reason for lens hood: keep elbows, tables, and objects away from your front element.

    my 450d and 85 1.8 went crashing to the ground after the strap was caught in a subway turnstile- then proceeded to slide. the manfrotto release plate was still attached to the bottom kept the hard tile subway florr from the body and the hood are close to the front element took the brunt of it.

    my heart dropped.

    then shot off a few shots- still perfect. Go hood or go home.

    also, i used to use the same lens to shoot at night by the waterfront. the hood makes a HUGE difference in blocking stray light...and so did replacing the cheapo canon filter with a sigma multi-coated.

    (hugs camera and 85mm)

  • Matt J L August 6, 2011 01:34 am

    In response to Stephen Barnes - lens hoods are "not terribly effective"? Did you see the demonstration that was posted? As even an amateur photographer, I have to say that I'd rather have the top image than the bottom one (unless going for an intentional effect). So to me, yes, a lens hood is extremely effective at its intended prupose.

    A lot of people skimp and buy a third party lens hoods. Buy the lens hood straight from Canon, Nikon, etc. This will guarantee the best performance as they are the ones that actually designed the lens and know it's true technical parameters.

  • Allan Jordan August 6, 2011 01:25 am

    Another use often overlooked; I carry a flexible rubber hood with stepdown rings to allow use across all my lenses; ideal for shooting through glass and eliminating unwanted reflections and literally a couple of $$ a hood. Whilst a polariser can help a lot, it takes 2-3 stops and doesn't fully eliminate reflections from artificial light sources.

    Main uses for me are through windows (e.g. observation decks day and night), on transportation, or through museum cases for certain artefacts. Very helpful in low light situations or those with a mismatch between interior/exterior lighting.

  • Don August 6, 2011 01:21 am

    Honestly...I keep the hood on for protection purposes... That, along with a good UV filter is just more protection by items that are cheaper to replace if something bad should happen.

    Thanks for the two pics to see the difference between hooded/not hooded...

  • Matt August 6, 2011 01:09 am

    I agree that a hood should be used most of the time. I've seen a huge decrease in un-wanted lens flares, although, sometimes, lens flares are desired for certain shots. I've also read that using a lens hood will sharpen your images a tad.

  • David August 6, 2011 01:07 am

    I always use hoods with my lenses to protect the glass. I mainly shoot at parties, and drunk people can be dangerous… :)

  • Moshe August 6, 2011 01:07 am

    I also use my lens hood in crowded places to keep people from bumping into my lens.

  • Ron August 6, 2011 01:07 am

    A lens hood is also helpful in protecting the lens from accidental scratches when moving in tight or crowded areas!

  • Bjorn August 6, 2011 01:04 am

    I want to echo the "protection" theme.

    The times I find hoods the most useful are when I might bump the front (i.e. always) or when it's raining to keep water off the front of the lens. It also gives me something to tape the plastic back to to protect the lens & camera a bit more from the elements. Ghetto? Yes. Works? You bet :)

  • Jonathan August 6, 2011 01:04 am

    A nice side effect is that it also helps to protect the lens to some extend. With a hood, I don't feel like I have to put the cap back on immediately after taking a shot.

  • Erik Kerstenbeck August 6, 2011 12:59 am


    Gret article! When shooting in harsh light or close to or into the sun, a lens hood will help avoid that annoying lens flare. Sometimes it can be considered "artistic" if you carefully control where in the image it will appear, but mostly it is something to avoid. If you dont have a lens hood, use a hand, reflector, buddy to block the flare by positioning the blocker whilst looking through the camera. I did just that with this early morning shot facing somewhat East of this Mission in San Diego!


  • Stephen Barnes August 6, 2011 12:56 am

    I agree that it's not terribly effective at reducing lens flaring, but I ALWAYS use mine. Why? It provides an extra layer of protection should the front of your lens get knocked or hit. I'd rather have to pay a small amount for a new hood than a medium amount for a new filter, or a lot of money for a new lens!

  • LFSaw August 6, 2011 12:53 am

    Apart from the scenarios described above, lens hoods have one additional benefit: They keep your lens save when you accidentally bump into something. That is one of the main reasons I usually keep the lens hood attached to my lenses.

    Another reminder: a reverted lens hood as seen on many tourist cameras does not help at all, yet it even indicates non-professional handling (and actually makes it a lot more difficult to handle the camera).

  • Sam August 6, 2011 12:39 am

    Another reason for using a lens hood has nothing to do with taking pictures. I use it as a protective shield on my lenses. It hasn't happened yet, but i'd rather chip crack destroy a lens shield that crach a lense on a 1000 telephoto lens.

    Sam Bennett

  • Jacob August 6, 2011 12:23 am

    I usually only use a lens hood to help protect the front element. I believe that a lens cap is only for storing the lens or camera. When i'm out shooting, the cap is in my pocket, and the hood protects the front element from bumps and fingerprints.

    Wonderful explanation, though! You forgot to mention that you look cooler when using a lens hood :-).

  • Clinton August 6, 2011 12:18 am

    I always use a lens hood, especially in crowded/cramped spaces, to protect my lenses from bumps.