Lens Hoods - Why, When, and How to Use Them

Lens Hoods – Why, When, and How to Use Them

– Learn all about lens hoods (also called lens shades) plus a tip for transporting them without wasting space in your camera bag.

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hi I'm Phil steel I get a surprising number of questions about Lynne's hoods these funny plastic things what good are they why do they come in these different shapes and sizes how do I choose the right one when should you use it how should you use it so today we're going to cover everything you've ever wanted to know about Lynne's hoods and we're going to set straight some misconceptions and at the end I'll give you a bonus tip for how to transport your lens hoods without them taking up all that space in your camera bag now first just what the heck is the purpose of the lens hood really it serves two functions the main function is to shade the front of your lens to keep unwanted light from falling across the front element of your lens and causing unwanted flares or an unwanted washed out low contrast look it might be light from the Sun it might be coming in at odd angles from other lights in your surroundings you put the hood on to shield the front of your lens and protect it from that stray light unless of course you're intentionally are trying to create lens flares or a washed-out look for some kind of artistic effect for example here's a shot of a little shack that I took in Arizona without the lens hood and you'll see we have a flare right here where the direct Sun is hitting the lens now here's the same shot with the hood on the lens is shaded and the flare is gone and not only is the obvious flare gone but all the blacks in the image are a little blacker and the colors are a little more saturated because we don't have that smear of glare across the lens so that's the basic purpose of the lens hood it shades your lens just like you shade your eyes when you're out in bright sunlight to try to keep the Sun from falling directly on your eyes and when you provide that shade everything is crisper and sharper and easier to see now there's also a second purpose to a lens hood the hood provides a kind of physical protector to the front of your lens it's a kind of bumper to keep you from banging your lens into things and I can't tell you how many times the hood has saved me from crashing my lens into things as I'm moving around now of course if you have an expensive lens you probably already have a clear filter or a UV filter on the front to protect the front element of your lens but those filters themselves cost money and they can get scratched they can get fingerprints they can get dirt on them if they go around bumping into things so it's a good reason to just keep the hood on all the time not only to shade your lens but to protect it now there are a few exceptions of course cases where you don't want to have the hood on and we'll talk about those in a moment but in general I keep it on all the time and you may be thinking even indoors even at night yep even indoors and at night there's stray light that can cause flares and even indoors or at night you can physically bang your lens into things so why not just put the hood on there and keep it on there and protect it all the time now there are of course some situations where you don't want to have the hood on your lens first of all if you're intentionally trying to create Bin's flares for some artistic effect 12 and take the hood off and let the light fall on your lens to get the flare effect that you want now second if you're trying to be inconspicuous you might want to take the hood off say you're trying to get candid photos of people without them noticing that you're pointing a camera at them well people are highly attuned to noticing when someone's looking at them so if you have a big long lens with a great big hood on it you might as well be pointing up bazooka in their direction people are going to notice you you might want to take the hood off if you're trying not to be noticed now third if you're using the built-in pop-up flash that flash is so close to your lens that the hood can cast a shadow on your subject so you might want to take the hood off if you're using that built-in flash and finally if you're out and you've forgotten your hood and you need some shade on it you can always just shoot one-handed and provide shade with your free hand now if it's too hard for you to shoot one-handed that way maybe to have a friend hold their hand up and provide shade on the front of your lens or a friend can hold a object up and make shade or if there's nobody around you can just position yourself behind some object that's making shade to block the light that's falling on the front of your lens so we've talked about why to use a lens hood now let's talk about how to do it now first of all a lot of lens hoods are reversible in other words they can come off and you can turn them around backwards on your lens and put it on like this but that's just for storage you don't want to carry it around that way this is for packing it away in a camera bag so it takes up less space but if you're shooting with it in this position it gets in the way of you're trying to operate the lid so there's no reason to ever happen on your lens like that when you're shooting so if you got the hood with you turn it around put it on the right way where it'll do some good next if you need to be able to shoot fast you might as well leave your lens cap off and leave the hood on for protection that way you don't have to pull the camera out when you need to get a shot really quick and fuss around trying to get a lens cap off now for example when I'm shooting events I typically carry two cameras this way for example if I'm at at the Burning Man festival in the desert and I'm shooting I've got a big bag with two cameras in it both with the lens cap off even though I'm out in the desert with a bunch of dust flying around no cap but I leave the hood on it's protecting it in the bag and it's protecting it when I pull it out and best of all I can reach in at a moment's notice and make out a camera and get a shot immediately without any preliminaries without having to fuss around and take a lens cap off now of course if you're putting your camera away for transport or storage you might as well put the cap on for extra protection but when I'm actively shooting I pretty much always leave the lens cap off and the hood on many beginning photographers are confused about the different shapes and styles of lens hoods I know I was when I first got a DSLR I saw all these other lens hoods that photographers were using with all these different shapes and I thought well how do I know what kind of buy are there different hoods for different purposes but if you're confused about that don't worry because it's really very simple there's really just one hood for each lens so you don't have to make any choices so you may be wondering well why do they come in all these different shapes and styles well that's just because each hood has been optimized designed to be optimal for the focal length range of the lens that it goes on to you basically see two different styles of lens hoods this curvy kind is called a pedal style or flower style hood and it's usually designed to go on a wide angle lens typically a wide angle zoom and it has this shape because this shape is the best compromise between trying to provide shade for the front of your lens and not getting a piece of the hood in your shot when you're zoomed to a wide angle now if it happens that you are seeing pieces of the hood in your shot that means your hood is probably 90 degrees out of its proper position you probably need to rotate it like that to get it out of the way on the other hand many fixed lenses or long-range zones have a hood that's more like this it's more like a tube and it's more protective and this one doesn't need the cutout shape you see on a pedal hood because this is a long range oome it's a 70 to 200 zoom in its entire field of view it's a small field of view way out there it never gets wide enough to need those cutouts like you see on a hood like this so the bottom line is the shape of the hood is determined by the nature of your lens it's not a fashion statement so you don't need to worry about which kind of I just buy the one designed for your lens and you're all set now speaking of buying hoods some lenses come with them and some don't for example this Canon 17 255 F 2.8 lens cost a thousand bucks and they sell it without the hood I had to spend another thirty to get the hood from Canon so this is kind of a pet peeve of mine you know Canon if you're out there listening if I give you a thousand bucks for lens should throw in the five dollar piece of plastic so you may be wondering when it comes to buying hoods whether it's buying a new one or buying a replacement hood for one that you've lost is it necessary to buy the expensive one from your camera gear maker or can you buy one of these cheap third-party ones that you can find online from some Chinese manufacturer I'm personally in favor of buying a cheap one for example this hood the original version of this canon hood is at the bottom of the Turtle Pond at the Waikiki Zoo yeah at least it wasn't my whole camera but in replacing it I had the choice of spending $30 on one from Canon or I could spend $8 on one from some Chinese maker that I bought on Amazon and you know maybe it doesn't fit quite as perfectly as the original canon one but it does the job well enough for me now finally when we started out I promised you a tip for transporting your lens hoods without them taking up all that space in your camera bag and I hate wasting bag space on a lens hood you know even if you reverse them on the lens they tilt still take up a much larger compartment in your bag than they would without that hood on there so here's what I do I take all the lens hoods for all the lenses I've Karen and I stack them together I unclip the strap from my bag and I thread them on there and that way I'm carrying them I've got them where I can get access to them but they're not taking up any space in my bag at all and that's the way I like it so that's it for loons hoods I hope you found this helpful look forward to talking to you again soon

23 thoughts on “Lens Hoods – Why, When, and How to Use Them

  1. One point I would make is that there is no excuse to take the hood off any standard lens. If you want to use flash use s speedlight.
    The only lens it ever take the hood of is a macro and the is because the flash heads screw to a carrier the screwa int the filtr thread.
    Excellent video and advice.

  2. This video is PERFECTION! Couldn’t stop laughing at the Canon bit where they should add these if ur giving them thousands for a lens loool

  3. Hi, very appreciated your simple but very practical explanations. In one of your comments, you sound like all China-made are cheap and poor products, don't forget Canon's hood is also made in China. It's just how much you want to pay and how much the vendor wants to get their profit. As the manufacturer, actually their profit is very low. The vendors and consumers should be appreciated to have China-made products, otherwise, our living cost will be much higher! Please don't read me wrong, I have nothing against you, just want the general public to know the fact.

  4. Thanks for the sharing of information that I can understand and truly use. I hope to find more of your videos as I continue my journey from hobby to an option as secondary income

  5. All I can say, is: ''Smarter every day!'' – on account of listening to individuals who KNOW what they're talking about! . . . .
    Thanks a bunch Phil!😉👍

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