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Do I need to use a lens hood? with apologies

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by manju69, Nov 25, 2011.

  1. manju69

    manju69 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 1, 2011
    Stroud, UK
    Apologies in advance if this is the equivalent of asking about RAW or JPG or do i need a filter! or if it has been asked before.

    I have taken maybe 1500-2000 shots with my mu43 camera, and have not used a hood once. This may be because I live in the UK, where the sun hides a lot. And out of those, maybe a handful of shots may have suffered from lens flare - but I cannot remember being bothered by it, or even remember seeing it. As an old film shooter I learnt to be aware of the light angle from the sun or bright light sources and manage to avoid it - (and never used a hood then come to think of it) I also read about modern lens coatings and how good they are...

    So, apart from the lens protection argument (which is a valid one), do i need one? and if so when might be the most useful times to have one, and with which type of lenses? The reason why is that the system is a compact one and adding a lens hood changes that... sometimes a lot.

  2. Biro

    Biro Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    May 8, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    I sometimes forego the lens hood... mostly when I'm shooting indoors. But outdoors, I usually use one. I've been told that digital cameras are even more sensitive than film cameras to light coming in from all sorts of odd angles - triggering flare and reducing contrast.

    A few years ago, on Pentax Forums, there was a lengthy discussion about the FA 50mm f/1.4 lens. The conventional wisdom was it lacked contrast, especially when used wide open. As it turned out, contrast was just fine when one used a lens hood. Take it for what you will.
  3. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    As far as I know a hood will always help, and never harm (assuming you have the proper hood size and design). So if you can find a hood for your lens, why not use one (and as you mentioned, the protection is an added bonus)? That doesn't mean you necessarily "need" one, though. The camera will still take good pictures without, but it might take better pictures with. ;) 
    • Like Like x 1
  4. BarefootPilgrim

    BarefootPilgrim Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Dec 23, 2009
    Westchester, IL
    Ahhh.... the old lens hood question! I always use one on everything except on the 14-42 that came with my E-PL2 (because Olympus is too cheap to include one and I haven't gotten around to buying one yet.)

    There are probably as many reasons as there are photographers, but Biro summed up mine nicely. You'll find that they really improve contrast on many adapted fast lenses especially. Here are some links you may find informative...

    from Nature Photographers...

    from Scott Bourne...

    from Photonaturalist (another "4 reasons" article)...

    and this one from Digital Photography School...

    • Like Like x 1
  5. Canonista

    Canonista Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 3, 2011
    I almost always use a lens hood. It's an ingrained habit that immediately follows removal of the lens cap. For my m43 kit, the hoods are small enough to stay on permanently, which I'll explain later.

    To first understand why you would want to use one, consider those times when the sun is shining so brightly, especially just over the horizon, that the view ahead of you is blinding. Your eyes lose all contrast of the view ahead as everything gets whitewashed. To recover the contrast, you hold up your hands above your eyes to block out the intense light. For your lens, the hood is your hand performing the same function. While that's an extreme example, it helps explain the effect of, and importance of controlling, stray light.

    To address the size issue, I currently have the 14-42 kit lens, together with the 12, 20 and Oly 45 primes. I have hoods for each and do not find them too big to fit in my small bag together with the lens. I leave the hoods on the kit, 12 and 20mm lenses because they are compact enough. The hood for the 45mm is long, so I store it reversed on the lens.
  6. Do you sometimes shield your eyes from the sun with your hand on a bright day to see more clearly?

    Do a test: hold the camera up and put the sun somewhere near but out of the edge of the frame until you can visibly see flare across the lens (noting that some lenses are more flare resistant than others). Now hold your hand up to shield the lens from the sun without getting your hand in the frame. That is the same job a hood will do for you. Just to note though that a hood obviously cannot stop flare when the sun or a bright light source is IN the frame, and a hood for a zoom lens is only really effective at the wide-angle setting.
  7. foto2021

    foto2021 Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 5, 2011
    SE England
    I always use a lens hood.

    You don't need to be able to see flare in the viewfinder/LCD screen for it to affect your images. Apart from the obvious direct flare from a light source such as the sun that appears in the frame, there is also indirect flare that doesn't appear in the frame but still causes an overall loss of contrast.

    That's why I always use a lens hood.

    A lens hood also offers some protection against damage to a lens.
  8. Brewed4Thought

    Brewed4Thought Mu-43 Rookie

    Nov 18, 2011
    Santa Rosa, CA
    I want to use lens hoods but it seems that all the replacement hoods online are cheap and not very good.

    For example, I used to have a Canon ultra zoom and lost the lens hood (not knowing it easily stored backwards). I bought a replacement on eBay and found it screwed into the lens cap. Never fitting well, I never used it.

    Now I have my Panasonic 20mm and would love a lens hood but I went the ebay route again and got the same crappy hood. Suggestions?
  9. manju69

    manju69 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 1, 2011
    Stroud, UK
    So at the long end, the hood is less effective?

    Thanks for all your links and replies so far - very helpful. Especially how indirect flare affects the image quality and contrast, and it leaves two questions

    Would a hood be so useful on a cloudy, overcast day (we get a lot of those)

    And does it matter what size of hood (like there are tiny "ventilated" hoods for the Pana 20mm - do they do the job, even though they are so small?
  10. Canonista

    Canonista Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 3, 2011
    Hoods for zoom lenses, particularly those that cover the wide angle, must be designed for the wide end so that it does not get in the way when zoomed wide. As a result, such hoods don't offer ideal coverage for when the lens is zoomed out to the tele end.

    As far as use on cloudy days, it's not as critical because you're not encountering the harsh sunlight that can cause flare within the lens, which is what affects image quality.

    Hoods come in all shapes and sizes to match the focal distance of the lens. You should try to get the hood that's designed for your lens. OE hoods can get ridiculously expensive, but there are some good aftermarket alternatives. You should run a search on this site for lens hoods as many have shared their experiences with particular mfrs and types.

    I bought this metal ventilated Leica knock-off for my 20mm from Amazon and it functions perfectly: Amazon.com: Fotodiox Pro Angle Lens Hood Sun Shade for RF Range Finder Cameras 46mm: Camera & Photo

    There are also cheaper alternatives on eBay. I've had good luck with JJC brand replacement hoods for my other lenses, and they also make one for the 20mm.
  11. greyelm

    greyelm Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 28, 2010
    How about this for a lens hood? It certainly reduces flare. (not my pic)

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    • Like Like x 1
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