Learning About Camera Lens Hoods
Photo lens hoods are protective accessories that attach to front lenses and act as shades or visors. Usually made of felt, rubber, or aluminum, they help prevent lens flare and ghosting. These accessories come in different sizes and shapes. When choosing a lens hood, consider factors such as the focal length of your camera lens and the size of its front element.
What Does a Lens Hood Do?
The primary function of a lens hood is to block light from getting to camera lenses from the sides. These sleeve-like accessories jut out and prevent unwanted light from striking the front elements of lenses, ensuring photos don't come out oversaturated. Hoods also protect lenses from smudges and scratches. They serve as a good substitute for lens caps when you're taking a break during shoots. Long bayonet-style shades may also offer protection from cracks and other damage caused by accidental drops.
Dedicated Lens Hoods vs. Non-Dedicated Lens Hoods
Third-party hoods are capable of fitting a wide range of camera lenses. Dedicated shades are usually brand-name accessories manufactured for select lenses. For example, there are specific Canon lens hoods for the manufacturer's popular DSLR lenses. Non-dedicated shades exist for these lenses, too, and they're usually more affordable.
Differences in Lens Hood Shapes
Common shapes inculde round, rectangular/square, and tulip. Round camera lens hoods may have cylindrical or conical profiles. Their circular lips block light evenly, and they're best for telephoto lenses, especially those that rotate when changing their focal lengths. Square and rectangular shades are just as effective at blocking stray light. These shapes are particularly fitting as photographs come out in squares and rectangles. However, they're unsuitable for lenses that rotate, as they may block part of the view.
Tulip lens hoods have petal-shaped rims with long and short sections. This arrangement prevents vignetting by allowing some light in to evenly illuminate the outer edges of photos. Tulip hoods are all-round shades. They're suitable for wide-angle lenses, as these require short hoods that stay out of their wide field of view. You may need teleconverters when using shades with ultra wide-angle lenses. A teleconverter increases the focal length of a lens by lengthening the distance between the front element and the camera's image sensor.
When to Use a Lens Hood
Use a lens hood when shooting a subject that's backlit by a strong source of light. Shooting with the backdrop of a sunset is a good time to use a hood to cut down on glare. Hoods are also necessary when using off-camera flash in the studio. Flash units placed to the side may introduce unwanted glare. Shooting at night also requires protecting camera lenses from harsh, stark light coming from cars, buildings, and street lamps.
Get into the habit of using hoods to protect your camera lenses and to block out glare. Find a wide selection of photography gear at B&H Photo and Video, including lens hood accessories.