Welcome once again to my blog. I hope you have been getting value from reading it and that it has helped improve your photography. This time I'm going to answer a question I was asked in an email, "when should I use my lens hood?"
The simple answer to that question is "always". There are a few occasions when you may wish to leave your hood in the bag but for most people they are very rare.
There are two main reasons to keep your lens hood attached to your lens, the first is to reduce the risk of flare and the second is to protect it.
In the image above there are no very strong sources of light but there are still many different sources, coming from all angles. Light coming through the window, just out of the image on the left or light from behind the counter, just to the right, could have caused flare. So, even though it's a low light situation, the potential for lens flare exists.
There are occasions where you can't completely avoid flare, for example, at a rock concert but you can reduce it. Your lens hood is a vital piece of equipment and should be used at all times, even when you think that there may not be a need.
The other use for a lens hood, as I've already stated, is to protect your lens. It creates a buffer between the front element of your lens and anything that may strike it. In crowded areas, for example, people may brush up against the front of your lens. Studs, metal parts of handbags, rings, etc. all have the potential to scratch the front element of your lens. The cost of repairing these scratches can be very high and are an unnecessary expense.
When you have the hood on your lens only objects coming directly at it are likely to strike the front element. Anything coming at an angle, which in practice is most things, will hit the hood instead of the glass element at the front of the lens. Even if it damages the hood it's not a major problem. A good hood will cost you about €5 or less, depending on the lens it fits. Repairing a lens will cost considerably more.
There will be a few occasions when your lens hood will get in the way. My only experience of this is when shooting macro images. This involves focusing on an object just millimetres from the front of the lens and the hood will not allow this. For this type of photography my camera is on a tripod and both of my hands are free. I set up the lighting to avoid flare but I also place one or both hands to shade the lens from the light.
So, in summary, you should use your lens hood in almost all situations. If it's not needed it does no harm but when needed, it improves your image hugely. You may decide from time to time to use flare for artistic effect but even then a lens hood is useful to ensure that you get the flare where you want it and only just get the amount you want.
Well, I hope that has been of use to you and helps improve your photography. Thank you for reading it and feel free to make comments or ask questions by using the comments section or by emailing me at [email protected]
Until next time, take good care of yourself and those you love.