Lens Hood Photography Tips

Nikon Lens Hood
An image of a Nikon lens with the attached lens hood.

What is a lens hood used for and do you need one?

The short answer is yes. Honestly, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time on this question, and I feel there are many people out there searching for a good answer. Other than on a few rare occasions, such as creativity or using a lens hood with a pop-up flash, which can cast a shadow on your subject, I can’t think of any reason worth mentioning that would support not using the hood. With that said, next time you’re out running around without your hood attached, consider the following benefits:

  • Proper use aids in reducing glare and lens flares; therefore, using a lens hood helps prevent direct sunlight from entering the lens. Yes, I know you can use your hand to block the sun, which I sometimes do!
  • Often overlooked, omitting the hood can increase the likelihood of damage to the front lens element. Additionally, with your eye in the viewfinder, it’s easy to become distracted and bump into something resulting in dings, scratches, or even a broken lens. However, this is far less likely with the hood attached.
  • It provides peace of mind by reducing the chances of an accidental collision.

Why do I recommend this tip?

Most importantly, it’s not about style; the lens hood serves a worthy purpose. However, many people make the case that a hood obstructs the view or makes the camera look bulky. Nonsense, the hood helps protect your gear and reduce flares; in fact, that’s the reason it was made! Also, don’t turn it around backward and stick it over your lens; a backward lens hood can inhibit the proper operation of the lens. On that note, If you’re not planning to use it, it’s best to just leave in your bag. On the other hand, when correctly done, a lens flare can add a creative element to an image. A lens hood is a tool and it’s important to understand its proper use.


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Michael Scott

Fine Art Photographer on Fine Art of America. My first camera was a Polaroid One Step followed by a variety of point and shot, SLR, and DSLR cameras. I've spent a good portion of my life traveling throughout the world. I've always loved photography and I really enjoy the reward of capturing a great moment in time. Most of my photography is landscape, and my objective is to capture a scene as nature intended it to be viewed without excessive post processing in Photoshop. I do most of my shooting with a Nikon D800 equipped with a 24-70mm f/2.8G and often turn to my 14-24mm f/2.8 and 50mm f/1.8.

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