After many years of working for Nikon in the field, and after another many years of working with students at Blue Ridge Photography Workshops, it has always amazed me how many lenses have appeared and continue to appear without a lens hood, or the lens hood mounted in reverse. When I ask why the hood is not being used as a hood I get those rolling eyes and something that goes like this.
//They are just to big or they are a pain in the neck or I am always bumping them into something, or they fall off my lens.//
My answer, and for those of you who know me, is GET OVER IT.
My next question is do you know why there are lens hoods? The answer is usually “to protect the lens????” That answer is a small part of what the whole answer should be.
If you are shooting for the best possible exposure and know you have to make the best use of the light you have then it is important to understand just how important the lens hood is to your final in camera exposure.
Do a little experiment. On a bright day or even a cloudy day with a high contrast sky, take a good look at your intended subject without the camera. While you are looking at the subject, cup your hand and bring your it down to just above your eyes Then take it away.
You should be noticing that when you have your hand just above your eyes blocking the light from above that there is a lot more detail and clarity. Take it away and you are losing contrast, brightness and clarity.
THAT is exactly what a lens hood does for your image, for your exposure.
I know how big and bulky some hoods can be. They really seem to be way over sized. Go with it. You may find yourself in a rain drizzle, or falling snow and you’ll be glad the hood is sitting so far off the front element.
If you still feel the hoods are too big, than head on over to Photocraft in burke va. and I am sure you can find smaller lens hoods to fit on your lenses. There are small tulip hoods, rubber hoods, metal and plastic hoods and I know you’ll find one that fits your style. But don’t lose out by not having a hood.
Hoods serve no purpose when reversed on your lens for storage and certainly serve no purpose when it is left at home or in your bag.
Do you want better images? Use your lens hood. That is the bottom line.
Original post February 6, 2013 and edited in September 2014 but it always good to have a reminder as to why lens hoods are essential to better overall exposure.