What does a lens hood do? – Lens hoods Explained!

The questions I get asked are; What are lens hoods for? What do they do? Do I need one? When do I use one? What lens hood do I get for my lens? Etc. So hopefully I can answer all these questions for you now. - In this photography tutorial I’m going to explain everything you need to know about Lens hoods.

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The main reason you use a lens hood is to stop stray light coming into your lens which can create lens flare. This normally happens when shooting into the sun or when you have a strong light source in front of the lens. A lens hood will create a stronger contrast of colours and tones in your images and to stop lens flare.

So when should you use a lens hood?
You should have a lens hood on all the time even in side or at night as you will get stray light going over the front of your lens which will reduce the contrast of your image. Another tip is always keep your lens clean as this will increase contrast and avoid lens flare to.

Exceptions to this rule
When you actually want to create lens flare.
When you are using the pop up flash on your camera as the light from the flash will be blocked by the lens hood and create a shadow in the bottom of your picture.

Now let’s talk about what types of lens hoods you can get. It breaks down into two main types really. A petal type lens hood and a cylindrical one meaning it takes on the shape of a cylinder.

The petal types of hoods are used on your standard zoom lenses, the ones that go to wider angles. This is because if you didn’t have these bits cut out and you had a cylinder hood you would actual see the lens hood in the image at wide angles. What you would see is black corners in your picture, which isn’t a good look!

To put this to the test do this – zoom your lens out to its widest angle look through the viewfinder and move your hand forward adjacent to the lens and you’ll see the hand appear in the corners. That’s why these bits are cut out, so you don’t see the lens hood at wide angles.

Then you have cylinder lens hoods and they are made for your fixed focal range lenses or prime lenses. They are shaped like this because the lenses don’t zoom out, these lenses are fixed to a particular focal length so the hoods can be made to go to the exact point where it won’t be seen in the image.

Another thing people ask is What lens hood do I get for my lens? Is it a one size fits all scenario. The simple answer to that is no, one size doesn’t fit all. You have to get the lens hood for your particular lens. For instance, I have the canon 24-105 zoom and the 16-35 zoom and they both need different lens hoods. The reason for this is the circumference of the front lenses are different, one is 77mm and the other is 82mm and the zoom range is different meaning the cut out bits needs to be different. The wider the angle of view the further back the cut outs need to be.

This doesn’t mean that you need to get the branded lens hood for your lens. For instance the canon lens hood for the canon lens. You can get all makes of lenses hoods for your lens online and they will be much cheaper, it’s only a bit of plastic after all. Just make sure it has been made for particular type of lens. Type in lens hood for canon 24-105 lens and go from there. There will be loads of different brands doing the same lens hood.

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