lens hoods – the best protection for your lenses

lens hoods – the best protection for your lenses

Discussions about equipment where the pros and cons are weighed in favor of something, have flexibility to it. For example, I can see the debate about  filters on your lens – yes or no? lasting forever. There are valid points to either view about whether filters are detrimental or useful.

But one topic which shouldn’t be up for discussion, is whether lens hoods are recommended. Not to be dogmatic about it, but I can’t see how anyone could argue in favor of not using lens hoods. They are just so obviously useful. Mostly though people think of lens hoods as something to help minimize lens flare. But there is another additional advantage – protection of your lens. This alone make the use of lens hoods a complete non-debate.

The photo above is what the lens hood looks like on my trusty Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 lens. It’s taken quite a few dings over the years as you can see by the scuff marks and paint scrapes on there. But most obviously, there’s that crack in the lens hood.

That crack is from a wedding a few years back where I stupidly put the camera on a plush chair, and the camera and lens rolled off and hit the wooden floor. I imagine that the plastic lens hood took most of the shock of the fall, since the camera and lens were fine. Many other times the lens hood has absorbed various knocks. I just cringe at the idea of how those impacts would’ve been on the lens itself if the lens had been unprotected by the lens hood.

As an aside – the camera and lens rolled off the chair because the camera was top-heavy with the flash bracket and Q-flash I was using on top of that bracket. Those were the clumsy days before I got wise to not really needing a flash bracket in how I use flash.

I also have an additional use for my lens hoods that are deeper like that one.

I use it as handy storage space for the gels that I use on my flash …

.. or to keep handy strips of gaffer tape ready.

All of this means that you’ll never find me using a lens without the lens hood.


gelling your flash

Since I frequently gel my flashguns to turn the WB of my flash much warmer (usually for  Incandescent light), I use these gels that I cut up and tape to the top of my speedlight’s head. One of these sheets (which aren’t expensive), will give you a lifetime supply of these filters. For me, these gels are an invaluable part of flash photography.

24 Comments, Add Your Own

  1. 1 says

    I completely agree. The value of using the lens hood should be almost too obvious to warrant a post about it, but I too see photographers out there all the time without them on.

    While on the subject of lens hoods, I wonder whether others have run into the following situation also. The hood in my 70-200 2.8 lens (Canon) can be very noisy when it bumps up against something while the camera is slung over my shoulder. For example, when trying to walk quickly in an area where you are trying to be as quiet as possible…I cringe every time I feel the lens bounce repeatedly against me and hear the “dink” sound of the plastic each time. This happens more often when I’m also wearing something like my Think Tank belt. Ironically, the sound I’m complaining about is actually indicating the protection being provided by the hood… as the lens would otherwise be taking these repetitive beatings directly.

    Based on the above rant I am now in the process of designing and patenting an entire line of “Hood Mufflers”. Get in line now to place your orders;)

  2. 2 says

    Amen! One look at the marks and scratches on my lens hoods is all it takes for me to consider gluing them on. The only time I take mine off are when they might create a shadow on the one in a thousand shots where I use the pop-up flash in commander mode to add a touch of fill to the off camera flash.

  3. 3 says

    LOL, so Neil, are you doing weddings in Iraq these days? Or perhaps attacking people with your camera gear? Man your gear sure is taking a beating.
    I agree with your post, but I myself try to protect even the lens hood from getting damaged like that :P

  4. 5 says

    Totally agree. I personally don’t use UV filters (for protection) but always have the lens hood attached.

    The only lens I wish I didn’t have to attach the hood is Canon’s 24-70L. The hood is gargantuan, and makes an already large lens even larger – not great for travel photography.

    My better half with said setup:

  5. 7Freddy Hurkmans says

    Hi Neil,

    The way I see usage of a lens hood is: use it, unless you have a sound reason not to. Similar to most other helpfull things (although often it is: only use it if you have a good reason, like with filters).

    I actually once had a very good reason to remove the lens hood, which was in a place outside with extreme squalls. I needed a longish shutter speed, and the gusts catching in the hood made it almost impossible to even frame the shot. Removing it made the job a lot easier…


  6. 9East Coast Bob says

    As a former Canon user, I can definitely say that Nikon’s hood’s seem to be more secure on the lens. Especially those with locks like the one that comes on the 24-70 2.8. Several of my Canons had made the fall, only to have the hood pop off on the first drop and the lens take the hit on the bounce. Nikon’s hood seem to take more abuse while staying on.

  7. 10 says

    Bob .. the lens hood on my Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VR lens also has a tendency to pop off when I have it slung over my shoulder for a period. Even more so when the lens hood is reversed. And it is NOISY when it drops on the floor and clangs around.

    Neil vN

  8. 13Rachel says

    Only pr0-series lenses come with a hood in Canon , but I have bought a hood for evey single one of my lenses. I am with Neil – hood for sure. I once spoke to a guy who had shot a wedding on beach with out a hood for one of the lenses he used for half the shots, I just don’t get it.

  9. 14 says

    I always use a hood except when I shot with a 50mm.
    I find the one that comes with the Nikon 70~200 VR too bulky and a very expensive one to be ruined.
    I’ve replaced mine with a rubber one which collapses and can therefore be used in 3 different extensions. I’ve bought a couple of these on ebay for next to nothing.
    I would like to believe the protection these rubber hoods provide is as good if not any better as the original ones.
    I also use a similar but smaller rubber hood on my 85mm/1.4. The original one stays in the box.
    Luis DuLac

  10. 16 says

    Actually, the hood provides another benefit – you don’t have to put your lens cap on when the camera is not in use. Whenever I’m done shooting, I just tuck the camera into my bag without putting a cap on the lens. It makes it much faster to yank the camera out of the bag and start shooting without having to remove the cap.

  11. 18Paul says

    I could not agree more with everyone. My Nikon 28-70mm looks just like Neil’s except the crack isn’t so far along and you don’t have my foot print on it. Stupidly I forgot to close my bag lens compartment not once but twice. I was in California and on two separate occasions the 28-70mm fell out of the bag. The first dump hit the pavement and the second time was onto a dirt & stone covered hill. The foot print came from me trying to stop the lens from rolling down the hill – maybe I should say cliff. Unfortunately, I stepped on the lens instead of in front of it’s path to the edge. Fortunately, the lens hood saved the lens, both times. Except for a small crack in the exact same place as Neil’s hood the lens still works flawlessly. I may not always use a skylight filter but I almost never use a lens without a hood. Even my 37 year old lenses.

  12. 19Mark F says

    Lens hoods are great for all the reasons stated. But if you want to use a polarizer or split ND filter, it’s just not practical.

  13. 20Paul says

    I don’t have a problem turning the polarizer with the hood on. I just slide my left forefinger along the inside of the bottom left of the hood to turn edge of the filter. Of course I have to completely remove the hood when using the big rectangular Lee system ND filter… but as soon as I’m done with it the hood goes right back on.

  14. 21Ray says

    I like the idea of keeping my Lense Hood on the Lense also. How ever” I have noticed on a few Photos where it did give me some vignetting. Not much but enough to spoil the Photos.
    It is a tamron lense 70 x 200 mm with a Hood. lense is pretty good, but am reluctant to want to use the Hood in cas this happens again.

  15. 22Dee Murphy says

    Can you tell me of anywhere in Cork City where i can get a Lens hood for my Nikon D40 ? I have tryed to purchase online but my credit card is not usabel on Paypal .

  16. 24 says

    For Pro use, I agree: You already hired a donkey to carry your gear, so a few lens hoods make no difference. However, if you carry a mid-level DSLR all the time for that occasional shot, it just doesn’t make sense. Sure, you don’t use a 70-200/2.8 in that case, rather a 35/1.8 or similar.

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