When to Use a Lens Hood?

Lens hoods enable photographers to achieve the desired results by reducing or eliminating unwanted flare and glare. In addition, you can’t do without them if you wish to prevent major damage from being done to your lens. Every lens, from the most affordable kit lens to the most costly professional lens, comes with an accessory called a lens hood, which is made out of plastic. It is a simple, cylinder-shaped device that is attached to the front of your lens in the conventional manner, which is by use of a screw thread. However, under what circumstances should you use your lens hood, and when are there times when you should take it off? Let’s investigate.

When you purchase a new lens for your camera, you will typically also receive a lens hood at no additional cost. This helpful tool has a purpose that goes beyond the aesthetics of the shot, despite the fact that many photographers leave it on without giving it a second thought.

What Is a Camera Lens Hood?

A lens hood is designed to block light from entering the camera and create unwanted flares and a flat, toned image by casting a shadow over the front of the lens. By acting as a barrier between your camera and the ambient light, a lens hood will prevent glare from showing up in your photographs.

Lens flares can add interesting effects to images, but they can also be disturbing, especially if they obscure the image’s subject or take up a large portion of the frame. If you want your professional headshots or school photos to turn out looking spotless, it’s best to utilize a lens hood. The benefits of using a lens hood and whether or not you need one are topics of heated dispute among photographers of all experience levels. While some argue that they are unnecessary in photography, others insist that they are essential. Find out why you need a lens hood and how to install it in our comprehensive guide.

What Does a Camera Lens Hood Do?

When to Use a Lens Hood?

Minimizing Unwanted Light

A lens hood is designed to reduce the amount of flare that appears in a photograph. You’ve probably experienced lens flare if you’ve ever taken photos in bright light, especially direct sunlight. If you’ve ever taken photos in extremely bright conditions, you’ll understand what I mean. Or maybe you’ve seen a movie that J.J. Abrams directed! While lens flare on the starship Enterprise is pretty neat, it’s usually something you want to avoid when you’re out and about with your camera. One of the biggest issues with flare is that it often manifests itself even when the light source is outside the visible area of the photograph. It’s possible to take a picture in bright sunlight without noticing any problems, but when you get it home and open it on your computer, you may find that it’s full of distracting reflections and glare. Even more so if you’re using a low-quality filter or your lens doesn’t have a state-of-the-art anti-glare coating. With some lenses, flare is more common than with others. The good news is that lens hoods can help; the caveat, however, is that this only applies if the light source is situated outside the frame. Photographs taken without and with a lens hood are shown side by side below (on the right). There needs to be some sort of noticeable distinction here. A red flare can be seen in the bottom picture’s shadowy area, but it’s gone in the second picture.

Protecting the Lens From Damage

If you drop your camera, the lens hood is almost certainly the first thing that will make contact with the ground; but, if it breaks, you can quickly replace it for a cost that is far lower than the price of a new lens. In addition, when used in conjunction with a lens filter, it can protect the front glass element of your lens from being broken due to accidental swinging or contact with another object coming from the front. In addition to the optical benefits that they offer, lens hoods are frequently used to protect a lens from being damaged as well as the effects of the elements. Lens hoods are helpful because they protect the lens from damage that may render it ineffective, such as broken glass. 

Adding Contrast

Lens hoods aren’t simply helpful for preventing unsightly blotches of lens flare and discoloration from appearing in your photographs; they also provide other advantages. They improve the contrast of a photograph as well as the colors in general. When I take images, I always, or nearly always, make sure to protect my lens by using a lens hood. If you know how to utilize them properly, they will never lower the overall quality of the photographs you take. This is the case regardless of whether or not there is any sunshine around. In the event that any external light source accidentally hits the front element of a camera, the contrast of the resulting photograph may be reduced. The absence of lens flare is not the only thing that sets the second image apart from the first in the examples that were shown before; there are other differences as well. Take another look at the grass in the bottom right corner of the picture; in the version of the photo in which the lens was hooded, there is a significant increase in contrast. Keep in mind that the exposure for each of these photographs is the same. The first shot was overexposed, which is why the shadows in the second photograph are more prominent.

Avoiding Smudge 

Everyone has had the unfortunate experience of finding fingerprints on the front of their glasses. Most of the time, they will be our own, since we tend to forget to replace the lens cap after accidentally smudging a lens with our fingers. Intelligent coatings are being applied to lenses to prevent fingerprints and dirt from sticking to the front element, yet accidents still happen. To remedy this situation rapidly and easily, just attach a lens hood. The hood serves a purpose similar to that of the previous two in that it prevents fingerprints and oil smears from adhering to the surface.

Why Not Use a Camera Lens Hood?

In spite of this, there are a number of situations in which you won’t want to or simply won’t be able to use a lens hood when you are taking photographs. There are few basic cases, which are as follows:

Even while it’s not very common, there are times when you could purposefully try to capture flare in your images. The following picture was taken using an infrared camera; one of the image’s appealing qualities is the excessive quantity of flare that it contains. Under these circumstances, you should remove the lens hood:

The primary purpose of a lens hood is to reduce the amount of light that reaches the lens, but it also has the additional advantage of preventing moisture from getting onto the glass. Lens flare is less of an issue when photographing outside when there are clouds in the sky since the amount of light that reaches the camera is reduced.

  • When taking images in settings that are cloudy but do not involve rain, you do not need to use the lens hood. Put it away in your backpack just in case the temperature or the precipitation changes.
  • When the Look of a Lens Flare Is Exactly What You Want. There are situations when lens flare can really work to a photograph’s advantage. Think of doing your shooting at the golden hour, which is the time of day when the sun’s rays are at their strongest.
  • If you want to create lens flare in your photos, you’ll need to detach the hood and start taking pictures without it.
  • The climate is characterized by strong winds blowing frequently. Taking photographs in windy weather may be challenging for even the most experienced photographers. When there is a strong wind, the lens hood of a camera can act as a sail, which causes the camera to shake and results in blurry photographs being taken. Or, if your camera is mounted on a tripod, they might knock it over, which would be a much worse outcome.
  • When taking pictures with a telephoto lens or a slower shutter speed, it is better to shoot without the lens cover. This is also true in certain other situations. If the blurriness is still there after this, you can try mounting your camera on a stable tripod or another level surface. You might also try adding some weight to the tripod.

Alternatives for a Hood

Some lenses may be missing their hoods. Notably, many 18-55mm zoom from Nikon and Canon, as well as other lens sets, do not include a polarising filter. If this is your situation, you might want to think about whether or not it’s worth it to go out and get a lens hood separately.

While hoods sold alone are available for a reasonable price, those sold in conjunction with a lens can be startlingly expensive. Hoods for inexpensive lenses cost about $25, while those for more expensive lenses, especially high-end super telephotos, can be significantly more expensive. Please keep the lens hood for your Nikon 800mm f/5.6 lens safe from loss. To replace it would set you back a cool grand!

Cheaper lens hoods from less well-known manufacturers may be purchased for under ten dollars apiece. These may not have quite the same level of comfort on your lens but should perform well elsewhere. The cheapest option is for some people to make their own hoods out of paper or cardboard, but this won’t give much if any, protection from whatever is in front of you.

How to Store a Lens Hood?

When you are traveling, it is quite probable that you will want to pack the lens hood in a way that reduces the amount of space it takes up in your bag. Even while hoods are often rather lightweight, throwing them carelessly into the pocket of a backpack might result in an unanticipated increase in weight.

You also have the option of simply switching the position of the lens hood. Practically every hood on the market can be flipped over to make it more portable, with the exception of some wide-angle lenses that already have the feature built-in. A little bulkier than the lens alone, but otherwise indistinguishable. If I can’t get my lens hoods to fold up into a more compact package by stacking them, I flip them over so the interior is facing out.

Types of Lens Hoods

Round v/s cylindrical v/s tulip hoods

Tulip hoods, also known as petal or flower hoods, have a more intriguing appearance; yet, it is unclear why they are shaped in this manner. The short answer is that they are created with the express purpose of obstructing any and all-natural light. Because camera sensors are rectangular, the “petal hood” form is appropriate; its notches provide the maximum amount of space feasible for an image’s four corners. This furthermore implies that you need to put a tulip hood on in an accurate manner. If you don’t rotate it properly, you can wind up getting some of the hood in the picture when you take a picture of it. Protecting your lens from unwanted light and glare is the primary function of cylindrical lens hoods. Petal lens hoods contain four ‘petals,’ which allow you to rotate the hood for optimal performance and prevent the lens from being visible in the photograph.

In most cases, there is only one lens hood available, and each one is tailored for usage with the lens over its entire focal range. You are welcome to conduct research on the topic or inquire about the lens hood shape that would work best with your lens while you are here in the shop. Round hoods have a more square shape, although they are typically not quite as effective as their rectangular counterparts. This is due to the fact that a petal hood is basically nothing more than a spherical hood that has extensions added to it so that its coverage area may be increased.

This is not to imply that circular hoods are in any way inferior. Many telephoto lenses, particularly primes, have a circular hood rather than a tulip-shaped construction; these hoods function very well and are certainly preferable to having none at all. If you want to minimize the possibility of being dissatisfied with the results, your best bet is to stick with the lens hood that was included in the packaging.


Perhaps you have a better idea of when and why you should use a lens hood when taking pictures. It doesn’t take much time or effort to use a lens hood, but doing so might greatly enhance the quality of your photos and potentially save your lens from harm in the long run. Not only do you know what a lens hood is, but you can also begin using one properly. Congratulations! Most of the time, having one linked to your camera will help you get the shots you want and will reduce the risk of breaking your camera.

While most photographers will benefit from using a lens hood, there are others who would rather not. You should test out both methods to see which one serves you best.

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