It’s Always a Good Idea to Use a Lens Hood

Today’s Post by Joe Farace


Back in the film photography days almost every lens you bought came with a lens hood. And not just any hood but a real jumping-up-and-down screw-on metal lens hood. Nowadays most camera companies make lens hoods optional and they can be expensive. (More later.) To be fair, some lens companies, such as Tamron, include a hood at no extra cost. I tested Tamron’s 85mm f/1.8 Di VC USD lens for Shutterbug, look for a review on their website.

I strongly believe that you should use a hood on your lens for two reasons:

Preventing Flare: This occurs when light strikes the front element of a lens and is scattered through internal reflections and even within the elements themselves. Flare makes its presence know in visible artifacts or as an overall haze across the image making it look “washed out.” There was a (misguided?) time in my photographic past when I sometimes used flare as a compositional element in an image. These days I don’t feel- the same way.

Protection: Unlike some of my photographic compadres I’m pretty careful with my gear but accidents happen and banging a lens against an immovable object can by mitigated by a lens hood. It’s happened to me one once; but never again. A hood can be cheaper than a lens repair, although I had one famous Internet pundit tell me, “I just have the front elements repolished to remove scratches.” He may be able to afford that; I can’t.

And if your main objection to using lens hoods is that they cost too much I can only add “I feel your pain” but I also have a solution—third party lens hoods.

Take one of my favorite mirrorless lenses, the Olympus Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.8. It’s hard to beat for portraiture and I love everything about this lens except the cost of a lens hood. The official Olympus LH-40B hood costs $33.99, while the Vello LH-40B version is only $10.99 and they look a lot alike.

light.bookAlong with photographer Barry Staver, Joe is co-author of Better Available Light Digital Photography that’s now out-of-print but new copies are available from Amazon $19.76 or used for $7 as I write this.