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A full guide to what are lens hoods for, when and how to use them

Lens hoods are essential accessories for photographers, playing a crucial role in improving image quality and protecting camera lenses. This guide will explore everything you need to know about lens hoods, including their purpose and benefits, how and when to use lens hoods, how to choose the right one, and the different types available.

Jump to:
What lens hoods are for
When to use a camera lens hood
When not to use a lens hood
How to use a lens hood
Types of lens hoods
How to choose a lens hood
Pros and cons of lens hood

What are lens hoods good for?

A lens hood comes almost always with a camera already and there’s a reason why it’s considered an essential accessory. The primary purpose of the lens hood is to cover the camera lens and block stray light from entering your camera, which can cause lens flare and reduce image contrast. That’s not the only thing it does.

Here’s why using a lens hood is beneficial:

Reducing lens flare

When stray light enters the lens and reflects off the internal elements, it creates lens flare and reduces overall contrast. While flare can be an artistic element in the photo, it’s not always desirable. A lens hood helps prevent lens flare by blocking light that comes from angles outside the frame.

photo with lens flare

Improving contrast and image quality

Stray light entering the lens can spoil all the contrast. As a result, the photo just looks washed out. By blocking stray light, a lens hood ensures that only the intended light reaches the lens, thereby enhancing contrast and overall image quality.

Protection for your lens

Lens hoods also provide physical protection for your lens. They can help prevent scratches, bumps, and other damage that can occur during everyday use or accidental drops. In addition, they can shield the lens from rain and snow, ensuring it remains clean and in good condition.

Read also filter vs lens hood.

The most convenient option – Magnetic lens hood from Kase

  • Attaches magnetically in a few seconds
  • Perfect for use with our magnetic filters
  • Available in different sizes
  • Rubber hood for different shooting scenarios
  • Easy to store and transport
See product details

When to use a camera lens hood?

Some photographers keep the lens hood always on as a protective accessory. However, there are certain situations when it’s especially beneficial to use a lens hood and some when it’s better to take it off and put it in your backpack.

When to use a lens hood:

  • In bright and sunny conditions: They help block harsh light and reduce flare, resulting in clearer and more detailed photos.
  • Shooting a backlit subject: A lens hood can reduce flare and ghosting, enhancing contrast and preventing washed-out images.
  • When using off-camera lights: A lens hood can help manage multiple light sources and reduce unwanted reflections and flares.
  • In night photography: Shooting near street lamps, building lights or car lights can cause unwanted flare and reflections. A lens hood helps block these light sources, ensuring better image quality.
  • In harsh weather conditions: A lens hood can cover the front element of your lens from raindrops or snowflakes, keeping your lens clean and dry during the shooting.
  • For protection: Lens hoods provide physical protection for your lens, preventing scratches and bumps.

When not to use lens hoods in photography

Here are some cases when the lens hood is not needed:

  • Keeping lens flare: If you want to have lens flare on your photos for artistic purposes, it’s much easier without the lens hood.
  • Indoor photography with controlled light: It’s simply not needed since there are fewer chances of lens flare.
  • Using built-in flash: When using a built-in flash, a lens hood can obstruct the light, leading to shadows or uneven lighting in your photos.
  • Macro photography: A lens hood can prevent you from going too close to the subject.
  • Windy conditions: A lens hood can catch the wind, causing a camera shake and potentially resulting in blurry photos.
  • Using certain filters: Some filters can prevent the attachment of a lens hood. For example, if you want to use a polariser and your hood is too long to turn the filter, you may need to remove it.

How to use a lens hood

How to attach and remove the lens hood

Most lens hoods attach to the front of the lens via a bayonet mount or screw thread. To attach, align the hood with the markings on the lens and rotate it until it clicks into place. To remove, simply twist in the opposite direction.

When using our Kase magnetic lens hoods, screw the magnetic adapter ring on the filter thread and then attach the magnetic lens hood.

Using lens hoods with filters

Lens hoods are generally compatible with most filters if the sizes are selected properly. When using filters, ensure they are properly attached before placing the hood to avoid vignetting.

How to store lens hood

Most lens hoods can be attached to the lens in the opposite direction when not used. This allows to save space in your bag and transport them easily.

Different types of lens hoods

Lens hoods are not universal and come in different shapes and sizes to match different types of lens. The most common shapes are:

  • Cylindric lens hood: Cylindrical hoods are simple, tube-shaped hoods that are effective in blocking stray light. They are suitable for telephoto lenses and are often used in sports and wildlife photography.
  • Petal (or tulip) lens hood: Petal hoods have a unique shape that allows them to block stray light while minimising vignetting. They are ideal for wide-angle lenses and are commonly used in landscape photography.
  • Square and rectangular lens hoods: Square and rectangular hoods are typically used for medium and large-format lenses. They provide good protection and flare reduction but are uncommon in everyday photography.

Besides the difference in shape, lens hoods differ in how you attach them. Bayonet lens hoods are “locked” on the front element. Other lens hoods are attached to the filter thread (either by screwing or magnetically to the adapter ring).

How to choose the right lens hood

Manufacturers often provide specific hoods designed for their lenses, ensuring a perfect fit and optimal performance, but it can happen that it’s not included in your camera accessories. We still recommend getting the lens hood since it’s a valuable accessory for every photographer and doesn’t cost much.

Lens hoods are not universal! These recommendations will help you to choose the right lens hood:

  1. Figure out which type of lens hood you need for your lens: Different lenses (wide-angle, standard, telephoto) require different hood shapes to be effective without causing vignetting. Ensure the hood is designed for your specific lens type. Check out our section about lens hood types.
  2. Find the size that matches your lens: The lens hood size is often determined by the lens filter thread size, measured in millimetres (mm). This size is typically marked on the front of the lens or the lens cap (e.g., Ø58mm). Make sure the hood matches this diameter.
  3. Choose the material:
    • Plastic lens hoods: Lightweight and affordable. Suitable for everyday use and travel.
    • Metal lens hoods: Durable and sturdy. Ideal for professional use and harsh conditions.
    • Rubber lens hoods: Flexible and collapsible. Convenient for travel and different shooting scenarios.

Sum-up: Advantages and disadvantages of lens hoods

Lens hoods are essential accessories that improve image quality and protect your lens. Using the right lens hood can make a noticeable difference in your photos. Should you get one? Well, the choice is yours. Below is a summary table with the advantages and disadvantages of using lens hoods that will help you:

Reduces lens flare and glare May interfere with built-in flash
Improves contrast and image quality Can cause vignetting in certain scenarios
Protects the lens Requires extra storage space
Useful in various lighting conditions Incompatible with some filters
Not expensive Not of much use in windy conditions

Need advice on choosing a lens hood for your lens?

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