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Lens Hoods Revisited

Published: 26/05/2018
By: larry

Steven in NJ took me to task on last weeks post about lens hoods. Steven said:

The other day, I read about using lens hoods. I have to admit, I will have to go on a hunt to find my lens hoods but my questions are: Do you use them? Indoors too? Sometimes I have sun glare while taking the exterior front of the house, is anyone using reflectors or cardboard for that matter to block the sun? And if you're using reflectors, are you also using them indoors?

Yes, I hear what you are saying; lens hoods are a bother. And most of the time, I don't even use mine outside taking front shots. The lens hood for my Canon 16-35 mm is this tiny little thing that is a nuisance and does very little most of the time. This is what I was going to respond to Diane's original question until I watched Phil Steel's video on lens hoods and saw some of the examples he gave.

The right answer is you should be using hoods because there's probably 1 situation out of 100 where they will really do anything. But I learned my lesson about this kind of thing with cheap UV filters. See the backstory here. Details like not using lens hoods and using cheap UV filters can cause problems and you don't even know it's happening.

So on that post, it was better to give the "correct" answer ("Always use a lens hood") than tell the truth ("I never use a lens hood"). I suspect the majority of real estate photographers are like you and I (they hate lens hoods and never use them) but none of us had the guts to stand up and tell the truth! Every commenter said they always use a lens hood!

7 comments on “Lens Hoods Revisited”

  1. I always use a lens hood. It's not always possible to see some flares until you are back on the computer and reviewing your images. It's not just the color artifacts either, it can just be a big loss of contrast if light is falling across the front element of the lens.

    I have ditched all of my UV filters. There have been too many occasions where they caused reflections and spoiled an image. Again, I didn't see it until I put the photos up on the computer. Tony Northrop has a good video on UV filters where he intentionally scratches the front element of a lens and is still able to make images where you can't tell. It's a trade off and I'd rather risk having to need a lens sent in for repair over ruining an otherwise great photo. In 12 years, I have never broken a UV filter or damaged the front of a lens.

  2. Always use them, but on WA lens, they do little to eliminate flare in my experience. However, they are invaluable for protecting the lens from damage. I think of them as “bumpers”. Once had a camera get knocked over by the homeowner, and it landed right on the front element. Snapped the lens hood, but not a lick of damage to the lens.

    Use em!

  3. Feels naked without a lens hood. 30 years nature and travel photos for publishers created the habit. Also, to shade the light falling on the glass, my hand is handy.

  4. Wow, this is a subject that is dear to me and have been preaching for almost 48 years.
    I always use a lens hood as it will, (many times without knowing) make the difference between a great shot with beautiful contrast, or an image that is ruined because of un-intentional flare.
    Yes, many people feel if nothing more, it is a bumper to protect the lens from hitting something, but it does so much more. Many hi-end photographers, Studio, Commercial, Architectural, Landscape and cinematographers use something called "Compendium Lens Hoods", which are usually adjustable lengths (look like bellows on a view camera), have a slot to slide in square filters and can be very expensive. But lens hoods (or shades) are truly beneficial, and as Mike stated, I also feel naked without one. Here in FL, the sun can be so bright, especially homes on the beach, you need to be aware of flare from everywhere.
    Sometimes, in extreme situations, I uses my 32" round reflector to shade my lens when shooting a home from the sun. I place my timer on 2 sec delay and hold my reflector with both hands to shade the lens, which is tough during windy days.

    As for cheap filters, avoid them always.
    when a lens is designed, it is designed to be as perfect as possible using the glass that comprises it. if it is a lens with an internal built in (changeable filter) like the older Nikon 15mm super wide and the Nikon 300 mm, then it is made to keep a filter in the lens. Using a cheap filter is like having (cataracts or looking through a pair of dirty glasses), and only degrades your images. I only use a filter for special shots, like 10 stop ND to create extreme long exposures, 1/2 ND to darken a sky for a dramatic effect, or shooting a north facing home when the sky is very bright and my home is in shade, and a Polarizing filter to eliminate glare (sometimes to darken the sky, sometimes when shooting into water to make it more transparent). if I remember correctly, I used a UV (or polarizing filter) when shooting out of an airplane or helicopter). Although, as much as I hate doing it, I attach a UV on my lens when shooting an event on the beach, or if I am shooting a home from a boat, as the sand and salt air/water will ruin your lens. There is a reason why good filters are expensive, but it is a great 1 time investment.

  5. My lens hood never leaves the lens. I also have an umbrella in my car for rain and shade for the lens. If the house is vacant and I know I won’t be running into anyone, I wear my hat and use that as a shade for the lens as well.

  6. I always use a lens hood. Since fits backwards on the lens, have to take it off to use the lens, so may as well attach it correctly. At least I won't lose the hood! While I always argued NEVER use a filter, had a incident a couple months ago that now use premium UV filter which stays on my camera. After a shoot, couldn't find the lens cap so just placed in case for trip home. Got home and had major abrasions on front element that I could not clean off. Didn't appear to impact quality as did a couple of shoots before sent in for repair - but made sure to watch sun angles to avoid flare. Anticipated would have to replace front element and perhaps $300-500 on a $1250 (sale price) lens which I was prepared for. Then came the estimate- not repairable and would provide a refurbish for $900, stalled and dropped to $800. I did quick math, knowing KEH quoted that lens in that condition at $400 so I told them to return the lens, intending to buy a new one for about the same amount as the refurb + tradein and have a new lens warranty. Wasn't really a hard decision, but they were shocked and silent when told to return - but complied. Got the camera back and it was perfectly fine with no abrasion on the lens. Initially suspected that perhaps they removed the lens coating to clear it, but checked it vs a new one at the local camera store and the coating was the same on both lens. Not happy about that experience, but learned my lesson. UV filter stays on the lens, removed only if there are flare or other issues for a particular shot.

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