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a reconsideration of lens hoods

This is a discussion on a reconsideration of lens hoods within the Camera equipment & accessories forums, part of the Education & Technical category; I use lens hoods on all my lenses, and have done so since I first caught the photography bug. But ...

  1. #1
    jabber's Avatar
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    Default a reconsideration of lens hoods

    I use lens hoods on all my lenses, and have done so since I first caught the photography bug. But I'm not a pro--just a competent enthusiast--and I'm starting to wonder how necessary hoods really are.

    I know people are attached to their hoods, and indeed it has been drummed into me by experts that hoods help 1) protect the front element; 2) avoid lens flare; and 3) improve contrast/color saturation by keeping out stray light.

    As for number one, I'm extremely careful with my gear anyway, and don't bang my camera or lens into things. As for number 2, I've experimented without hoods and don't experience lens flare as a problem (or only very rarely and in particular circumstances). As for number three, I'm willing to believe it but I've never seen proof that it is so.

    The downside of hoods, for me, is that they make the lens look bigger and more intimidating (and thus have an effect on candid opportunities), they take up room in my bag, and they require yet an extra step (brief though it is) in setting up to shoot.

    Does anyone want to try and persuade me that hoods actually aid picture quality? If you can, I'll continue to use them happily. Otherwise, I might just start thinking of them as another subtle way for the camera companies to get a few more bucks out of us.

    Thanks for your opinions, Josh
    Canon 40D, 10-22/3.5-4.5, 17-55/2.8 IS, 70-200/4L, 60/2.8 Macro, 85/1.8, 1.4x II Extender, Lensbaby Composer

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    Hey jabber,

    a Lens hood will never improve a picture, but it can prevent it from going horribly bad unless you love flare. Lens flare is a reality and you will encounter it often if you shoot often enough at mixed times in the day.

    Personally I only use them against lens flare and they are an absolute necessity imo. If you don't have one then you need to use your hand to block the light.

    I've heard the argument against protective lens filters, and it has merit imo. But No pro I know works without a lens hood ....
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    So, Marko, let's assume you're shooting in an environment in which lens flare is highly unlikely--in this case, is there any advantage to the hood regarding image quality?

    Cheers.
    Canon 40D, 10-22/3.5-4.5, 17-55/2.8 IS, 70-200/4L, 60/2.8 Macro, 85/1.8, 1.4x II Extender, Lensbaby Composer

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    So, Marko, let's assume you're shooting in an environment in which lens flare is highly unlikely--in this case, is there any advantage to the hood regarding image quality?

    Cheers.
    Nope, no advantage whatsoever EXCEPT that ya never know when any light can cause flare.

    So for instance, for years I shot weddings. In the day I always used lens hoods, but at night I'll often take it off. EXCEPT when the video guy is working near me because then there is a good chance that his light can affect my pics with flare.

    But to make it crystal clear - if the chance of lens flare is zero, then aside from safety issues (safer to bump a lens hood than a lens) I don't see the advantage. Hope that helps.

    anyone else have an opinion on this?
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    tirediron is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by marko View Post
    anyone else have an opinion on this?
    I agree with you marko; I've seen flare in situations where I didn't expect it at all. Better safe than sorry. As far as taking up room in your bag, I find when they're turned around back on the lens, the extra footprint is minimal, and as far as the extra step of mounting it, if time is that critical, skip it, and get the shot, BUT if you have the two seconds, mount the hood. You'll never sorry that you did, but you might be that you didn't!

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    All right, well at least you've freed me up (in my own mind) to do without the hood in situations where flare is unlikely to be an issue. (And I've read that crop bodies like my 40D's are less susceptible to flare in any case--true?) Thanks for your advice.
    Canon 40D, 10-22/3.5-4.5, 17-55/2.8 IS, 70-200/4L, 60/2.8 Macro, 85/1.8, 1.4x II Extender, Lensbaby Composer

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    (And I've read that crop bodies like my 40D's are less susceptible to flare in any case--true?)
    This is NOT true at all in my experience and I have experienced flare many times with my crop body. Flare is a product of light hitting a lens at a certain angle. I can't see how the camera or its sensor makes much of a difference. It's all about the lens. Some lenses handle it better than others.
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    Quote Originally Posted by marko View Post
    This is NOT true at all in my experience and I have experienced flare many times with my crop body. Flare is a product of light hitting a lens at a certain angle. I can't see how the camera or its sensor makes much of a difference. It's all about the lens. Some lenses handle it better than others.
    There is a belief that because of their narrower FoV, lenses on crop bodies are less susceptible to flare in the way that [generally] long glass is less flare-prone than wide glass. True? Don't know; you'd need someone who knows a lot more optical theory than I to say...

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    Quote Originally Posted by marko View Post
    This is NOT true at all in my experience and I have experienced flare many times with my crop body. Flare is a product of light hitting a lens at a certain angle. I can't see how the camera or its sensor makes much of a difference. It's all about the lens. Some lenses handle it better than others.
    Interesting--good to know. Thanks.
    Canon 40D, 10-22/3.5-4.5, 17-55/2.8 IS, 70-200/4L, 60/2.8 Macro, 85/1.8, 1.4x II Extender, Lensbaby Composer

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    I barely use my lens hood. I just don't like it on there for some reason. I'll pull it out midday and I know the sun is going to alter my shots but never use it unless I feel like I have to..or remember too
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