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Photography Question 
John Owens

Lens Hood: When to Use?

I have read all the theory about what a lens hood is for, but what I am looking for are real examples of when it is good to use a lens hood and when not to use a lens hood. Also, if some situations require a lens hood and others don't, do you keep taking the lens hood on and off - not very practical for sports photography. Any help/guidance would be appreciated.

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6/9/2004 1:26:39 AM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/18/2000
  The only time I remove the lens hoods from my lenses is when I'm using direct flash, where the additional width and length of the hood would block the flash light and cause a shadow, or block an in-flash light sensor. For bounce flash and all other situations, the hoods stay on. I can't really think of a situation where the hood would not be beneficial. Each of my zooms have non-rotating fronts and bayonet mounted petal-shaped hood. This design allows me to conveniently manipulate a polarizing filter by reaching a finger into the side cuts. If the hood were a simple bowl shape without the side cuts I'd probably have to do without the hood when using the polarizer, or get a hood that screwed into the polarizer's front threads (using a larger diameter hood and step-up ring to avoid stacked-filter vignetting).

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6/9/2004 5:31:12 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  A real example is when shooting towards the sun, and the sun is just outside the frame. Hoods can block or at least cut down on the glare just like a visor on a hat. For sports, if you have one of the big 300 2.8 or bigger lenses, along with the same reason of shooting towards the sun, if it's raining, the big hood that comes with it can keep some rain off the front element. It can also keep some dust, dirt, grass of the lens if you have to set it down. And it makes it easier to put a trash bag or cover over the lens/camera if it's raining. Makes a good anchoring point. And because 2.8 telephotos have such a large front element and they are shallow, it helps things from making contact with it. Other than shooting towards the sun, or bad weather, they really don't affect anything except for possibly minor protection of the lens.

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6/9/2004 6:05:24 PM

Andrew Hart   All of the above is correct, but please add this: Consider the lens hood as yet another form of protection for your lens, should you drop it. Lens hoods tend to be fairly sturdy and can take the punishment that would have otherwise been delivered to your camera. Especially given the size of some of today's lens for DSLR's, if you are moving around in closer quarters to buildings, walls, etc., the lens front may scrape the side. But if the lens hood is there instead, it can take the scraping - not your lens. Again, like the protective filter on the front of your lens, the lens hood can act as an inexpensive part to replace instead of the whole lens. You should also read the instructions that come with your lens, it may say something about vignetting at certain settings, when you have your lens hood on. This is mainly an issue for extremely wide zooms. I have a 15-30 zoom, that the instructions warned about vignetting at the wider end with the hood that comes with it.

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6/16/2004 12:56:46 AM

Scott Pedersen   You should leave it on all the time. It's good protection for one thing. But you should make a test flash shot to see if it will block part of the flash. Some of them will.

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6/22/2004 4:39:31 AM

Ken Henry   The quality of my photos live by the HOOD............AND.

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6/26/2004 8:27:28 PM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001
  Me too (or, ummm, seven if I counted correctly): I *always* use a lens hood, even on an 18mm super-duper-wide. One notable exception: It's not possible to use a hood that doesn't intrude into the image on a 180-degree circular fisheye.

I've never had a hood cause a flash shadow in the image. However, that's my particular combinations of flashes, body, lenses, etc., and how I use them. It is possible for other combinations to cause a problem. I've had hoods block a corner of the viewfinder on old rangefinder cameras.

If there's a bright light (e.g. sun) close to the image edge, the OEM hood made for the lens may still not be enough, especially with short lenses. Some zoom lens hoods leave a lot to be desired, and short wide-angle prime lens hoods can be just as bad. They seem to be better at protecting the lens front than providing much shade, but this isn't necesarily the lens maker's fault. Zoom hoods must accommodate the shortest focal length, and they cannot do much with bright light sources just outside the frame edge at the long end of the zoom range. Even so, having one and using it is still better than none at all.

Experience with a couple of particular wide-angle lenses has taught me to look very carefully through the viewfinder for aperture flare and check the front of the lens under certain circumstances to see if it's sufficiently shaded. I've used a hat, gray/white card (normally used for metering) and other things in the past to shade the front of a lens ... once had one of the bystanders hold up a coat to block the sun. The trick is keeping these things out of the image frame, and it's feasible only when working from a tripod carefully.

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6/27/2004 8:13:38 PM

Ken Henry   John, yes, OEM is OEM on the hoods. I am now making a custom hood for my 17mm and 20mm lenses. It will attach to my P Cokin.
The size is 6" x 8" x 4" depth. Made from 0.016 aluminum sheet from your local hardware store. Very light weight and sturdy. The shades wing nut on and off The frame for ease of packing. But I don't think I'll need to take it apart as my work is commercial. I'm using the P Cokin hood sliced in half as my frame.

I also use a Bogen articulated arm clamped to my tripod and it holds a 12" x 12" plastic card. It's big enough to shade the front lens element and the camera from the hot sun. Sometimes I use a 10 foot light stand with a 48" umbrella to shade me also.

There is also a flash shoe flexible arm kit with an assorment of square flags. Single or dual arms. They slide into the flash shoe on your camera. They are available from Delta 1 at 1 800 627-0252, order a catalog, they have all kinds of need stuff to spend your money on.


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6/28/2004 9:59:50 AM

Ken Henry   There are also telematic zoom hoods, from 24mm to 210mm. They are available for 46mm to 77mm filter threads. These hoods are perfect for the 28mm to 200mm & 300mm zooms, also your 24 to 135mm zooms, and everything in between that uses a flower hood, etc.

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6/28/2004 6:46:45 PM

Sharon Morris  
When shooting outside, I usually have a hood on the lens, regardless of whether I use it or not. Here is an example of when a hood should have been used.

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6/29/2004 9:23:05 AM

Allan Chomortany   I always use hoods, except on my 85 and 105 lens, where I can not use the hood if I also put a filter on these lenses-does anyone have a solution to use both the hood and the filter?
Thanks Allan

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7/25/2004 3:22:22 PM

Ken Henry   Get screw-in hoods from your local pro photo store. Go online to bhphotovideo, smilephotovideo, adorama.

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7/25/2004 11:25:04 PM

Allan Chomortany   Hi, Ken;
Thanks for your answer, however I may have written the question wrong.The Nikor 85mm uses a srew-in lens and the filter is also a screw-in, so when I want to use either one I can not use the other. The 105mm I should not have mentioned at all. It has a built in hood-so there is no problem there. The 85 is the problem. Thanks Allan

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7/26/2004 3:02:49 AM

Sharon Morris   Allan, I'm trying to understand what you're saying. Does the filter on your 85, have female thread on the outside? If it does, then you could pick up a screw-in hood that's collapsable.

Most filters have both male and femal screw threads.

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7/26/2004 6:49:32 AM

Allan Chomortany   Shari, I do not have threads on the outside -only on the inside. Same thread used for either the hood or the filter. Thanks for answering, Allan

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7/26/2004 8:41:34 AM

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