So you got lenses, lots of them. However, you noticed some of the lenses you bought does not come with a supplied dedicated lens hood. You wonder why. Before you start calling the store and find out if the salesman had took it out and used it as a pencil holder, well, welcome to the real world. Apart from 3rd Party Lenses that usually comes with a Lens hood, some brands only include the lens hoods for their premium lenses only, while for the rest of their lenses, you have to buy separately. So is lens hood that important? Read on.
I am not going to use very technical terms for this article because this article was written with the intention to educate “not-so-experienced” photographers. I try to simplify as much as I can so that everyone can understand.
All lenses were made with varying angles of tilt, this is due to the converging front element that made (or decides) your angle of view – that also translate into your focal range. The lens being an optical instrument, it also means lights travel through the lens in order for it to work just like how it is supposed to be and since the lens elements are mostly made from glass, you can be sure of stray lights (cross lights) starts to show on some of your photos. The Pros calls these stray lights “Lens Flare”.
Lens Flare can occur anywhere, yes, anywhere, there are some badly mis-informed photographers who swear by their wrongly-led-believes that “you only get lens flare outdoor” thus the use of a lens hood is only for outdoor use. Some insisted that Lens hood works only during day time but not night time. Guys, these are NOT True. Let me explain further why so.
Since the Pros and Non-Pros both agreed that Lens Hood is best used for outdoor day shoot, then I shall not tread there, instead, let me address the “gray areas”.
At indoor locations, there are ambience lights in many forms, there will be decorative/ furnishing items, polished utensils and so on. These are perfect surfaces for lights to bounce off into a thousand possibile lights trails. Such are the very reasons why a photographer should use a lens hood if they really care about how their photos might turned out. Stray lights does not appears as a flare everytime on your photos, sometimes your photos will look flushed out or washed out because there are simply too many stray lights causing a mild hazy effect on your photo! (If there are too many flares, remove your filter)
At outdoor location at night. Lights from buildings, street lightings, headlights of vehicles and other reflective street furnitures created a light mess. Lights are thrown in a million directions so using a lens hood at night is in fact more important than using it than any other time! One thing many photographers refused to understand is, our eyes may not see every possible light trails (unless it’s a hazy foggy night), but our lenses + camera sensor captures every single light trails directions simply because they are optical instruments and our eyes are not! Lenses are arranged in element priority and into floating or focusing groups. Most of the in-lens construction is to help reduce flares and some manufacturers uses special glass to cut flares (Except mirror lenses), light can come in any direction that you can think of and not think of, so even in near dark conditions, there are still low frequency lights!
Now, there’s more. Lens hood apart from being a photo saver, it is also an added insurance to your precious lenses. Most lens hood extent itself from the front lens element from 2 inches to 9 inches depending on the lens type and design, the added inches become very useful when wading around in crowds, your UV filter or Protector glass will not save you from a knock say from a laptop bag’s metal buckle, but a lens hood will, get the drift?
And lastly, there’s another group of camera users (note I did not use “Photographers”) who feels that by slapping on a lens hood, it makes their lenses looked longer or more professional. Lolz. though these guys are on the wrong track, but they are doing the right thing.
So if your lenses does not came with a supplied hood, there are a host of compatible 3rd party brands to consider from as most original brands’ hoods are overpriced. Do note that, the inner lining of the hood must be of a matted surface (smooth surface increase reflection causing light paths) or comes with a velvety cloth-like cover (think Canon L-Lenses Hood) so selecting the right hood is important too should you opt for 3rd party brands.
Still not convinced you should use a lens hood at all times? One day I am sure you will remember this article when something really does happened. And trust me, in photography, it will.
To XX: Mind you, those white spots/ lines/ shapes on your photo are not dusts on your lens – those are really lens flare).