What is this plastic piece known as a lens hood and what should I be using it for? Is it only used to make the lens appear bigger and make me look like a professional photographer? These are some of the most common questions people ask when they purchase their very first lens.
WHAT IS A LENS HOOD?
A lens hood is a camera accessory which you can screw onto the front of a lens. You would find the majority of lens hoods made up of plastic, though the quality has drastically improved. You might also find some lenses such as the Sigma 12-24mm F4.5-5.6 DG HSM II being sold with a built-in non-detachable lens hood made up of aluminium,
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF USING A LENS HOOD?
There are two benefits of mounting a lens hood on your camera lens:
- The lens hood helps is reducing the lens flare and loss of contrast caused by the light hitting the front element of the lens. In the case of no lens hood, the light might hit the front element of the lens from the sides or from the surroundings. This results in lens flare and thus reduces the overall contrast of the photo clicked. This issue is much serious in the case of wide-angle and fish eye lenses.
- The lens hood when mounted protects the front element of the camera lens in case of any drop or dent. Imagine you are walking here and there during your shoot and accidentally the end of your lens hits the wall or some solid object. Now if you haven not mounted the lens hood, chances are that the front element might get destroyed. Using a lens hood might save the front element from getting the crack.
TYPES OF LENS HOOD
On the basis of shape, your lens can have a hood which is either petal-shaped or cylindrical. Telephoto lenses such as the 85mm prime lens, 200mm prime lens or the 150-600mm zoom lens would require you to mount a cylindrical shaped lens hood. The reason being that the telephoto lenses have smaller angle of view, thus the shape of the hood can be cylindrical and the length can be more as this would not obstruct the image being formed on the sensor.
Whereas, wide-angle lenses such as the 24-70mm zoom lens, 35mm prime lens or the 14mm prime lens would require you to mount the petal-shaped lens hood. As the wide angle lenses have wider angle of view, you can not mount a cylindrical hood as it would obstruct the view of the camera and add hard vignetting. Using a petal-shaped hood allows the lens to project the complete frame on the rectangular camera sensor, thus this shape is given to the hood (see the image below).
DO ALL THE NEW LENSES COME ALONG WITH A LENS HOOD?
Mostly all the high-end lenses that you buy are shipped along with a Lens Hoodin the box. In case the lens that you buy does not come along with a lens hood, you can always buy it from a company outlet or look for an alternative online on Amazon. Before you blindly order or buy a lens hood for your lens, first research online or ask the customer support person of that particular company about the correct lens hood type and model.
You would find DIY video online explaining you how to make a lens hood at your home, my suggestion would be to invest in a branded lens hood and save your lens from any kind of damage.