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

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

A personal note: I recently had surgery and my right arm will be in a cast for two weeks. After that I’ll have a brace on for several weeks, which I understand will let me make photographs and type, more or less. Check my Instagram feed (@joefarace) for updates on how I’m doing with posts from Mary.

GG.hood

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 metal lens hood. Nowadays most camera and lens companies make lens hoods optional and some of them are expensive. (More later.) To be fair, some companies, such as Tamron, include a hood at no extra cost with many of their lenses. I tested Tamron’s 85mm f/1.8 Di VC USD lens for Shutterbug, look for my review on their website.

I strongly believe that you should use a hood on all of your lenses for two reasons:

  • Preventing Flare: This happens 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 with reduced contrast. There was a misguided time in my photographic past when I sometimes used flare as a compositional element in an image ala J.J. Abrams. These days I don’t quite feel the same way.
  • Protection: Unlike some of my photographic compadres I’m pretty careful about how I handle my gear but accidents happen and the damage caused by accidentally banging a lens against an immovable object can by mitigated with a lens hood. This only 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 but 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 M.Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.8. It’s hard to beat for portraiture and I love everything about this lens except the cost of its optional 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 and should function the same too, protecting the lens against flare and accidents.


If you enjoyed today’s blog post and would like to treat me to a cup of Earl Grey tea ($2.50), please click here. And if you do, thanks so much.

 

Along 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 $21.88 or used copies starting at less than two bucks as I write this.