A Beginner's Guide to Lens Hoods

It is not probably a topic that has you glued to the edge of your seat with anticipation, but few accessories can have a more universally positive effect on your image quality than a lens hood. If you are new to photography, this helpful video will explain how they work and why so many photographers use them.

Coming to you from steele training, this video is an oldie but goodie that gives a helpful introduction to lens hoods. At their most fundamental level, lens hoods exist to stop off-axis light outside the field of view from entering your lens. When it does, it bounces around inside your lens, reducing contrast and causing flares, neither of which are desirable unless you are specifically intending to get a very stylized look. They are also useful simply because they provide a physical barrier for the lens to give it a bit of protection from the front and sides. I can't count how many times I've accidentally bumped something with the end of my lens, and had the hood not always been on, it would have been the precious front element bearing the full brunt of those impacts instead. It's quite the useful little piece of plastic. Check out the video above for the full rundown.

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Rex Larsen's picture

I'm waiting for the "How To Use a Camera Strap" video.

IIRC there was one a few months ago.

Jeff Walsh's picture

What was it like being born with the complete and total knowledge of everything?

Michael Kormos's picture

The “Beginner’s” guide? When it comes to lens hoods, there should really be just one guide. Anything more is sensationalism.

Rob Waller's picture

Only by watching videos like this and coming away having learnt nothing new, can one truly consider oneself a master of his profession. Thank you Alex, thank you.

I will watch the video, but isn't the guide to lens hoods "always use one"?

EDIT: Okay I watched the video, and to be fair, for a complete beginner it wasn't bad. I would respectfully disagree about adding filters for front element protection only, and I think it is rather odd to stack hoods together through the carrying strap. It would seem to me that if your carrying bag is so tightly packed that the reversed lens hoods prevent you from closing the bag, you need to think about a larger bag.

This steele guy just disappeared off the face of the earth. This is an old vid?

For weddings a hood is a must. If the lens falls the hood can save it, even from a side hit as its wider then the lens and can absorb damage. My lens fell to the floor. Broke the hood mount but glass didnt. Also youll get elbows from people on the dance floor. Hood is a MUST

C H's picture

I once dropped a 6d+70-200 2.8 L 1m to concrete - the lens hood did it's fair share to prevent any damage more than optical damage.

Don Risi's picture

For those who don't know (and probably don't care), I'm old.

Real old.

I was taught to use lens hoods from day one. Every lens, all the time, for a million years. Unless I use the pop-up flash . . . Ahem.

Thing is, I am constantly amazed at how many people I see every time I go out, who have their hoods on backwards. While shooting.

I asked one once why they had the hood on backwards, and the response was, "What do I need it for?" I tried to explain about lens flair and stray light, but to no avail. A lot of people either don't care about flair, like flair, or don't know what it is and don't want to learn. So I stopped with that approach and started on the "it'll protect your lens" line of reasoning.

Laid that on one guy, and a month later he told me that he had dropped his camera, and the lens hood -- on in the correct position -- shattered, but the lens and the UV filter survived just fine.

I had a beginner ask me once, "What is that funny shaped thing, and what's it for?"


Beginners don't know. So this is a good video for newbies, and yes, there are newbies hanging around this site.

BTW, back in the old days, all hoods were round -- no petals. And they screwed in -- into the filter threads. Made rotating the polarizer easier. No need to reach into the hood while looking through the viewfinder.