What Does A Lens Hood Do & Do You Really Need One?

| Last Updated On: November 19, 2021
Orah.co is supported by its audience. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn More
what does a lens hood do

If you have been in photography for some time now, then it is safe to say that you may have seen what a lens hood looks like. A lens hood is a common accessory that clips on top of the lens or screws onto it.

Some higher end lenses ship with lens hoods; meanwhile, you might have to buy one for other lenses.

But, what does a lens hood do is the question that most people often ask, and the answer is not as technical as you might think.

Still, our job here is to tell you about how you can use a lens hood, and the purpose it serves, so the next time you are in the market looking for something good, you know what you are in the market for.

With that said, we are going to explore all about lens hoods, so our readers can have as much information as possible.


What Does A Lens Hood Do?


Now, if you have just bought a lens that came with a lens hood, or you are planning on buying a new lens hood, the goal here is to understand just what exactly you are getting into.

Again, there is no point in spending money on something without having any proper information.


1- Protect The Lens


While I would not call the glass on the lens a fragile glass, it is still prone to breaking and scratching. Well, glass is glass, after all. With that said, you can also use an ND filter to protect the glass, but that is just adding another piece of glass on top of what is already present there.

image of camera lens with hood on it
@Oscar Ivan Esquivel Arteaga

The good thing about the lens hood, however, is that it actually protects the sides of the lens more than it protects the actual glass. If you are someone who likes to be very careful, just like I am, it is better that you are investing in these because at the end of the day, protecting the lens is important.

Especially when the lens you have actually costs more than the camera body itself. Thankfully, a good lens hood should be able to do the job with ease.


2- Adds Image Contrast


This might sound a bit odd to a lot of people, but when you are using a lens hood, you are normally prone to getting a bit more contrast added into your images. I know it might sound strange as to how it works, but the formula behind it is rather simple.

image of a camera capturing photo

You see, the inside of a lens hood is all black, which means that whatever light is coming through gets muted to a greater degree. Which allows the image to actually have more contrast. This is actually one of the main reasons why lens hoods are used in the first place.

However, these hoods are used best in specific situations where there is a lot of light or when you actually need to create a contrast in your photos to ensure that everything in the picture looks balanced rather than looking blown out or out of proportions.


3- Blocks Unwanted Light


I understand that this might not make a lot of sense to many people, but when you are taking a photo, unwanted light can actually cause so many issues and even ruins the photo for a lot of people. However, with a good lens hood at hand, you can eliminate this issue right away.

image of a camera using lens hood
@Kushagra Kevat

The key here is to be sure that you are angling the lens the right way, and the lens hood will be able to block any light that you don’t want to hit your sensor.

This works for both natural light or artificial light, and some scenes demand it this way, too. Therefore, you are not really doing something that is not supposed to be done.

You just have to be a bit technical at first because learning to use a lens hood also comes with a curve; therefore, it is wiser to know.


4- It Minimizes Flare


The thing with lens flare is that you either hate it or you love it. A lot of photographers around the world use lens flare to make their photos or videos look stylistic or dramatic.

Director J.J. Abrams is actually known for heavily using lens flare in a lot of his shots, but at the same time, it is not always appreciated.

image of a camera

So, how do you get rid of it?

Well, in most of the cases, if the flare is being caused by a light source and not the lens itself, you can actually get rid of it by using a lens hood.

You would be surprised just how good the hood is in its functionality that you don’t really run into any issues that might come through.

If you want to get rid of the flare, simply use a good lens hood, and you will be all sorted in no time.


What Types of Lens Hoods You Can Get?


Now, when you are talking about getting your hands on a lens hood, you will see that the market has two commonly used lens hoods that have become the mainstay of the photography world. I have explained these in detail below.

image of Petal Lens Hood and Cylindrical Lens Hood
  • Petal Lens Hoods: These lens hoods, as the name suggests, are shaped like petals because their corners are cut off. These are used most commonly for wide-angle lenses or zoom lenses because if the petal pattern is not followed, you might end up seeing the lens hood when the lens is at its widest.
  • Cylindrical Lens Hoods: These are perfect cylinders with no cutouts and are used with prime lenses, and they are shaped in a way that no part of the food actually shows up in the image itself.

When To Use A Lens Hood? Tips For Using A Lens Hood


Okay, this is one of the things that a lot of people wonder all the time. Considering how a lens hood is an accessory that is only used to tackle the strange situations that are created by light, many people assume that a lens hood is only useable when you are in an area that is well-lit.

image of camera accessories on the table

Well, that is not the case, actually. A lens hood is used in varying situations, and it is important to carry a lens hood with you at all times because you never know what sort of situation you might find yourself in. It is just a better practice as a photographer to do.

As for the tips that can help you use the lens hood, well, we have them listed down for you.

  • Know The Difference: The first tip that I can give you is that you should at least know the difference between lens hoods that are available in the market. Petal lens hood for wide angle or zoom lenses and cylindrical lens hoods for prime lenses.
  • Don’t Use One All The Time: Another tip that we can dispense here is that you are never in need to use a lens hood all the time. Doing so is only going to cause you issues, and it is wiser if you avoid that, to begin with.

    Know when the shot is going to require the use of the lens hood rather than putting on and removing on at all times.
  • Carry a Lens Hood Everywhere: This is something that I have said before too. The thing is that you often find yourself in a situation where the use of the lens hood becomes important, sometimes, even at night, where there are a lot of lights around you. Having a lens hood on you in such conditions is always the best way to go on about it.

Related reading: How To Attach Camera Strap In 5 Steps


When Not To Use Lens Hoods?


When you are talking about a lens hood, there are a lot of things that can go wrong and cannot go wrong. Of course, this is not something that everyone is going to understand. The thing with lens hoods is that you can actually have a lens hood attached at all times.

With that said, I can only think of a few situations in which a lens hood is not needed, and the most common one happens to be a situation in which there is not enough light in the scene.

Especially at night, if you are taking photos with a slower shutter speed so you can let more light in, there is no need to get a lens hood because you will just be creating an issue.

The best thing is to remove the lens hood in that scene. But other than that, you can actually take photos with ease even if you have the lens hood attached in all scenarios. Because that is how it is going to work, it is all about convenience.

Recommended reading: How To Use A Reflector In Photography


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

#Q1- Should you always use a lens hood?

Answer: Honestly, if you are looking to use a lens hood at all times, there is nothing wrong with it. Most photographers that you will meet are going to tell you that they rarely ever take the lens hood off, and that is completely normal.

#Q2- Does a lens hood make a difference?

Answer: I know it might sound like something as small as a lens hood is not really going to do much as to how your pictures are going to turn up like, but lens hoods make a lot of difference in pictures, like adding contrast, reducing flare, and more.

#Q3- Do lens hoods reduce light?

Answer: While the applications of lens hood extend far beyond the reduction of light, if you are using a lens hood just for the sake of reducing the light that enters the sensor, then it will work just fine. You just have to be sure that the lens hood is angled the right way.

#Q4- Should I use lens hood at night?

Answer: I know it might sound like a strange thing to do, but you can actually use lens hoods at night, too. Just be sure that when you are shooting a picture or a video, the lens hood is not blocking any unnecessary light because that could be an issue for a lot of people, and we want to avoid that in the first place.

#Q5- Why are lens hoods petal shaped?

Answer: The petal shaped lens hoods are best used for lenses that have ultra-wide or wide-angle focal lengths. If you use a standard lens hood in such situations, the lens hood would end up appearing in the pictures, and that is not what people want.


Wrap-Up:

When you are talking about using a lens hood or not using a lens hood, there are number aspects that come to play. I understand that it is not something that everyone is going to make their top priority.

But the thing about lens hoods is that the benefits around these are evident right from the start.

This means that you can just pick one up and start using it without having to worry too much about what you are doing and what you should be doing.

Rest assured, a lens hood is surely going to make the experience a lot easier for any photographer out there.

Your Author


Leave a Comment