An argument for using either a UV filter or lens hood is for protecting the lens and especially the front element. Last winter, I experienced just how important a lens hood is.
Last winter, I was out doing some winter photography in Denmark. I went to a location in the northern part of Jutland, where a huge dune was swallowing a lighthouse, a rather unique location and one I have visited several times. However, this was the first time I visited it during winter and snow.
Walking around a dune, you usually sink into the sand, but as it was winter, most of the sand was frozen hard and occasionally covered with snow. After a couple of hours of photography at one location where I got some great photos, I tried to reach another vantage point.
I usually tell people to pack their gear into their backpack when changing location, as you never know when you are going to slip and fall. As I knew the location very well and never really had any problems with snow in Denmark, I went for the lazy solution and just carried the camera on the tripod over my shoulder.
While walking to the other location, I underestimated just how slippery dry snow can be when placed on frozen sand. As I tried to walk up a small dune on top of the big one, I slipped.
Within a fraction of a second, my right foot disappeared underneath me, with the result being me first hammering my knees into the concrete hard sand, followed by the rest of my torso and head. Auch! Luckily, my head was fine, but the fall swung the tripod over my head as you would swing an axe to cleave a chunk of wood. Problem was a $3,000 camera and a $1,500 lens was attached to the end of the tripod. The lens hit the concrete-hard sand front first. Double Auch!
To my luck, I had attached the lens hood to the lens to protect the front element from the snow. The collision cracked the lens hood in two places and broke off some of the plastic to attach it to the lens. The lens hood and not the lens absorbed most of the energy from the collision, lucky me! This likely saved my entire setup. It is not hard to imagine both the front of the lens being destroyed and torn from the camera house. That would also destroy the lens mount of the camera, deeming it a total loss. However, with the lens hood taking the fall, the camera and lens survived with no damage.
Instead of destroying $4,500 worth of equipment, I only destroyed a spare part of $50.
Had I used a UV filter for protecting the lens, all the energy from the collision had been absorbed by the lens and camera and probably broken the lens mount.
What I learned from this:
- Never underestimate snow and wear crampons.
- Do listen to your own advice and actually pack your gear when moving locations.
- Use a lens hood to protect your gear, not a UV filter.
This experience is of course only one. Have you had similar experience where your lens hood saved either your entire setup or the lens?
If you want to see how the day went and how I got one of my favorite photos from 2019, you can see in the video above.