Use Your Lens Hood for Richer Colors and Deeper Saturation

Use Your Lens Hood for Richer Colors
and Deeper Saturation

A lens hood can be pretty important, depending on where the sun is, or any bright light source that can hit the lens, and cause flare, reduced contrast, internal lens reflections ,etc. If the sun is in back of you it most often isn't a problem. I don't think you need to remove your filter if it has threads on the front to screw the hood into. If the hood came with the lens ,and attaches ,it should still go on over the filter. ✓

Nikon 70-300 VR Lens Hood
Nikon 70-300 VR Lens Hood

The hood not only helps prevent flare, it also protects the lens. I use one at all times. The one possible exception is that with some lenses the hood can get in the way of the built-in flash and cause a shadow. You should test to see if this is the case with any of your lenses.

After I went back using my lens hoods I noticed a big improvement in my photography image quality. When using one of my consumer lenses I've found this even more important, as they are typically more susceptible to light flaring and diminished contrast than professional lenses are. I've found that a lens hood has never hindered and most often improves the quality of my images, however I try to avoid filters (in particular those filters on consumer lenses to protect front elements) have a somewhat degrading effect on the quality of my images and have even introduced their own reflections and flare. For instance, I've found, that a UV filter only degrades image quality unless I'm shooting where there's a high-UV situation, and having to select between using a hood or a UV filter is a no brainer for me. The hood will also provides a mechanical defense for my lens.

Nikon HB 24 Hood

Hoods is the one topics which shouldn’t even be up for debate. Not to be dictatorial about it, although I don’t see how any photographer would have any arguments in favor of omitting their lens hood. Hoods are just so clearly useful. Most often people believe lens hoods are something to help diminish lens flare. However another added advantage is they protect your lens. This alone make using a hood the end of any debate.

Although a hood was never intended as a lens protection but was designed to stop wandering light from entering the sides of your lens intruding into the lens and having an effect upon image contrast. A hood is particularly helpful when shooting into a bright light or where there's bright light at your side.

The main use of a hood is preventing light from striking your front lens element by entering from the sides - diminishing contrast and generating flare. Pictures captured when using a lens hood will typically contain richer colors, with more saturation depth.  

A second use for a hood is protecting the lens. The sort of damage prevention can run from a finger-print on your front element (a minor issue) to a broken front lens element (most likely a major outlay - and missed photos). Lens hoods are typically thick and strong, stand away from your lens. Accidental contact with possible resulting scratches of your front element are decreased as the glass is more difficult to make contact with. Impact protection is acquired from installing a sacrificial element to take the thump. However, an ultra wide angle lens does not have much of at hood and provide very little protection.

Lens hood styles & shapes

A lens hood geometry may vary from a simple conical segment (resembling a lamp shade) or a more intricate layout sometimes called a tulip or flower petal hood (as seen in the image above). This style keeps the hood from obstructing any field of view from the lens that would bring about vignetting. Hoods containing flower shapes are typically used with zoom lenses because a normal hood can block a field of view at various zoom settings.

Shallow Tulip Style Lens Hood

Lens hoods become more important for telephoto lenses due to a field of view having a lesser viewing angle than a wide-angle lens. On a wide angle lens, the hood length (away from the front of the lens) must be shorter than those used on a telephoto lens due to this wider viewing angle.

Hoods are often engineered to fit onto its matching lens facing toward the front, for regular use, or in reverse position to the back, for storing the hood without taking a lot of added room. Some hoods have flexibility and may collapse for storing. Additionally, they provide a form of defense for the lens as the the hood extends past the lens itself.

updated article Oct 20, 2011