Lens Hoods Are A Good Thing

Lens Hoods

So last night after dinner, we (the wife and kids) decide to go for a walk. It was super-nice outside — no clouds, a little breeze, and warm weather. It was still light out, but the sun would be setting before we returned. I decided to take the camera and get some shots of the kids running around and playing.

I went with the 105mm macro because it's my fastest lens at f/2.8. Okay, it's not the fastest lens around, but it's MY fastest lens. I figured it would come in handy with the light dropping off as the sun went down. I'm also starting to really like using a prime rather than a zoom — it makes you think a little harder about what you're doing.

So the camera is ready to go; I grabbed an extra battery, extra memory card, lens cloth, and my flash (in case it got too dark out). Cargo pockets are a good thing, by the way. I thought I had everything, but I also had that feeling that I was forgetting something. I just couldn't put my finger on what it was. Oh well, we took off and I started shooting.

For the first part of our walk, we were heading to the west so the sun was pretty much in front of us (maybe a little off to the left). I'm snapping away here and there, checking my shots every once in a while. Then it dawned on me — I should have strapped on the lens hood before I left. Nothing bad was really showing up in my shots, but I really wish I had the hood with me. On my two other lenses, I keep the hood on the lens in reverse so I can store them easily. Those lenses have a bayonet style hood attachment, so it's easy to do. My macro lens, on the other hand, has a threaded attachment, so I can't store it on the lens backwards.

When we got back, I dumped the photos to the computer and started glancing through them. DANG IT!!! More than one of my shots had a bunch of glare, pretty much ruining the shot. DANG IT, DANG IT, DANG IT!!! I wasn't shooting straight into the sun, but it was close enough that the front element caught some direct sunlight. It didn't really show up on the in-camera preview, but it was certainly obvious on the computer screen.

So my point to this whole story is ALWAYS USE YOUR LENS HOOD — it's a good thing. You never know when you're going to ruin a shot by not having it, and there's really no good reason NOT to have it on the lens. Still not convinced? Here are some reasons why lens hoods are a good thing.

  • They reduce the chance of lens glare and lens flare, as noted above.
  • They cut out extra ambient light, thus increasing the contrast in your image, thus making it appear sharper.
  • They help protect the front element in case of bumps and run-ins.
  • They act as an umbrella in case of a slight drizzle.
  • The lens comes with one at no extra cost.
  • Most are bayonet style, so you can turn them around and store them on the lens while not in use.
  • And finally… they make your camera look way cooler.

So if you take anything from this article, REMEMBER TO ALWAYS USE YOUR LENS HOOD! I know I'll be a little more mindful about it from now on.