When to Use a Camera Lens Hood for Better Photos

by David Em

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A camera lens hood provides shade and prevents lens flare and glare. It’s an excellent accessory to block stray light and capture quality photos.

Hand holding a camera lens.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

A lens hood is a plastic accessory that comes with lenses. It attaches to the front of the lens to block light from angles that cause glare.

It’s an inexpensive accessory you can buy for less than $50. The benefits make it worth adding one to your kit.

The following is your complete guide to the benefits and how to use a lens hood.

Why use a camera lens hood

Photographer taking a photo outdoors with a camera using a lens hood.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

A lens hood can make you look like a professional photographer. It’s a benefit but not the main reason for using one.

The purpose of a lens hood is to block stray light and protect the glass from damage.

Person standing in the forest with arrows pointing out lens flare.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Lens flare and glare can be a creative effect. But, it reduces the quality of an image most of the time.

Light hitting the lens from outside the angle of view causes lens flare. It reduces contrast, clarity, and sharpness.

Diagram showing how lens flare occurs.
Photo by David Em/Portraits Refined.

Glare can also wash out a subject, creating an unprofessional image.

Maintain the quality and tones of your photo by using a lens hood.

Aside from image quality, a lens hood protects the glass from damage and smudges. It’s essential for shooting in harsh conditions and traveling.

If you drop your camera, the lens hood will ensure the glass is free of scratches and cracks.

Due to the many benefits, a lens hood is an outstanding addition to your photography kit.

Types of lens hoods

Three camera lens hoods stacked.
Photo courtesy of Canva.

A lens hood is a must-have when shooting with a powerful light source in front of you. It shields your lens from stray light.

There are only two main types of lens hoods, cylindrical and petal.

The following covers what you need to know about both types and how to choose one.

Cylindrical lens hood

Round lens hood.
Photo by David Em/Portraits Refined.

A cylindrical lens hood is round and long. It’s for standard or telephoto prime and telephoto zoom lenses.

The diameter of a lens hood is a bit wider than the edges of the lens. The narrower angle of view ensures it’s not in the frame.

Petal lens hood

Petal lens hood.
Photo by David Em/Portraits Refined.

A petal or tulip lens hood is short and has curves. The longer curves are at the top and bottom, while the shorter curves are at the sides.

The design is for wide-angle prime and zoom lenses.

If you use a cylindrical lens hood on a wide-angle lens, parts of the image will be black.

So, the design ensures you block stray light while not appearing in the frame.

When not to use a lens hood

Person smiling while standing in a field.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

While a lens hood can benefit your photography, there are exceptions to using one.

The main reason for using a lens hood is also why you may skip it.

Lens flare and glare can be a creative effect. Take off the lens hood if you want to capture the glare.

Another reason not to use one is if it’s windy. It can catch the wind and lead to blurry images.

A lens hood will also not work when using incompatible filters or accessories.

Since it attaches to the front, other tools may block it.

It’s an excellent way to enhance your photos, but it’s not ideal in all situations.

How to store a lens hood

Camera lens with the lens hood reversed.
Photo courtesy of Canva.

Flip the lens hood when you’re not using it. Most lens hoods fit in reverse.

It’s an efficient way to store it because it saves space in your camera bag.

The only time to place it in reverse is when you’re not using it, as it blocks a few lens controls.

Another reason not to shoot with it in reverse is that it defeats the purpose.

The lens hood is there to block stray light. If it’s backward, it’s like it’s not there.


Use a lens hood to reduce lens flare and protect your lens. It’s an accessory you can use at any time.

During the day, you can have stray sunlight, and there may be other light sources at night.

It produces images with more contrast, sharpness, and clarity.

Related: Which Camera Has the Fastest Shutter Speed?

Featured photo courtesy of Unsplash.

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