View Full Version : Why do you – or don’t you – use a lens hood?

21-Apr-2010, 11:18
I fall into the “always use a hood” category. Maybe that’s a majority position, I’m not sure. Certainly, plenty of good reasons exist for not using one. Depends on your aims and objectives – and plenty else besides – right?

In any case, I’d enjoy hearing more about why you use a lens hood – or why there’s little significance of using one in your work.

Vote for as many as you like, and please share more with us if you can.


21-Apr-2010, 11:42
The hat works just fine for me. One hand on the hat, and one hand on the cable release.

21-Apr-2010, 11:55

...This survey looks like it was put together by someone who does 35mm or Medium format photography (and don't interpret that as in any way disparaging).

Most LF photographers would say they use a compendium, dark slide, hand, hat, piece of cardboard, as a gobo but very few would say they use a (rubber or metal lens-) hood (which implies it is directly attached to the lens itself).

Blocking stray light is needed when a light source is falling on the lens, including time you might not think of it -- such as during John Sexton's "quiet light" time just after sunset -- then the entire sky is your light source and will cause problems if you don't block it. Many times you can see contrast differences in the negativeif you compare two negatives: one with and one without.

Sascha Welter
21-Apr-2010, 12:09
As has been posted before on this forum, there's a tremendous difference from using a proper compendium to a hat or darkslide:


Kirk Gittings
21-Apr-2010, 12:14
In the field I always follow the KISS dictum-hand or darkslide.

21-Apr-2010, 12:49
Having just set up a Lee system, I go for "always unless it gets in the way of movements" but we'll see how long that attitude lasts.

Paul Kierstead
21-Apr-2010, 12:51
heh, I don't really have a hood, but do use a compendium when I have it with me and stray light looks to be a problem. Much more often though, I just end up shadowing the lens with whatever is at hand, including a hand.

21-Apr-2010, 13:02
Just for illustration, below is Lee’s wide-angle lens hood, which has been a delight for me to use.

The compendium design makes it a lot easier for me to “always use the hood” because its convenient flexibility allows a variety of camera movements. For example, you can compress or extend the hood, even while moving any of its corners independent of the other three. If you “check the corners,” and discover some vignetting, correcting the problem is easy.

If you don’t need a filter, the hood can attach directly to the lens (w/ an adaptor ring that screws onto the lens’ front threads) – or, if you need filters, a filter holder would go onto the adaptor ring instead, and the hood’s two back rails would slide into the front-most slots of a filter holder. (Lee makes another hood w/ filter slots already built-in – so you wouldn’t need a filter holder.)

Usually, the hood doesn’t “get in the way” unless I’m using a filter or two, plus the hood, and need to apply generous movements to a wider-angle lens. It will, however, reduce the amount of potential movements you can make, so don’t forget to remove it if it’s best!

Ken Lee
21-Apr-2010, 13:32
There will always be some small percentage of situations where a lens hood won't help - but the same could be said of a tripod, or a light meter.

This is Large Format, where every piece of equipment is a link in the overall chain of Quality. Break one and the whole chain becomes no better than... a digital point and shoot (just kidding).

To put it another way: We don't often see serious cinematographers without a serious lens shade. Spending as much as they do for equipment, and for every 1 second of shooting time, it's no surprise.


21-Apr-2010, 13:38
the Lee system looks just fine for many lenses you might be using.

But if you are using a Big Boy* Lens (such as those with 105/122/132mm/135mm objectives, you are going to use a hand, hat , clip on gobo, or even the 8x10,7x17,11x14/12x20 darkslide as a shade(Maybe Sandy King can tell us what he uses with his 20x24?). Even the compendiums available from Arca and Canham are too tiny for these lenses.

*that's what a train enthusiast friend called some of these lenses recently...For those of you that might not be train enthusiasts, "Big Boy" was the name chosen by Union Pacific Railroad for the group of the biggest steam engines ever made. see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_Pacific_Big_Boy

Oren Grad
21-Apr-2010, 14:00
Almost always when I'm using a 35mm or medium format camera, almost never when I'm using a LF camera.

Lenses on my hand-held cameras get the protective-filter-plus-hood treatment. I carry them around in all sorts of crazy conditions - I'm constantly cleaning my filters - and shoot into all sorts of wacky light. The hood is also protection against lumps and bumps.

With LF, on the other hand, two major considerations for me are carry weight of the kit and setup/takedown time for each exposure. A fixed hood gets in the way of movements, and I'm not interested in carrying or messing with a compendium. Once in a while, if I'm shooting into the light and there's an obvious problem, I'll use the darkslide as a makeshift shade.

Vick Vickery
21-Apr-2010, 14:10
I fall between the "Always use one" and the "Always have one with me" catagories...I usually use a compendium hood unless I'm in a hurry...then I just trust my hat! :)

Mike Anderson
21-Apr-2010, 14:12
I use a cheap rubber "3 position" hood, but I'm still in the experimental stage: trying to find how much it can be extended without vignetting, skewing it to accommodate rise, etc. And I use the dark slide.


Bill Kumpf
21-Apr-2010, 16:05
I added a LEE hood and filter set this Christmas. I use it mostly for landscapes.

Maris Rusis
21-Apr-2010, 18:27
Hats and dark slides work best. None of my many photographs with a hat or a darkslide in it shows any flare!

Robert A. Zeichner
21-Apr-2010, 18:40
I always use a hood, one of my own design that allows me to adjust individual leaves to exclude as much non-image forming light as is possible. No matter what the lighting conditions, I use this hood. I can think of only one instance recently that I didn't need it. I was photographing a "window" through a cave and the scene itself performed the function of a shade. In exhaustive tests, I've proven to myself that use of this hood makes a visible difference in contrast on my negatives so it always travels with my kit.

Here's the article I wrote about this: http://web.mac.com/razeichner/iWeb/RAZP%20large%20pix/Shade%20pg%201.html

21-Apr-2010, 19:54
It 'depends' for me.

Handheld LF = lenshood and filter to protect the lens and avoid having a lenscap.
Conventional field LF work = I use the darkslide when sun is on the lens, otherwise no lenshood in the field kit.

Don Dudenbostel
21-Apr-2010, 20:20
I've always used a black card, dark slide or some object to block stray light.

Merg Ross
21-Apr-2010, 20:31
Always have used one for architectural interiors with multiple light sources. In the great outdoors, a dark slide most often suffices. My mentor used a modified peanut can, (painted black), and dark slide. I'm with Kirk, keep it simple.

Struan Gray
21-Apr-2010, 23:55
I use LF to fill my photos with a sense of clarity. A lens shade helps, so I almost always use one. Mine is a Lee shade mounted on a Sinar filter ring. It takes five seconds to get it out the bag and fix it to the camera. If events are moving too fast for that, I get out of bed earlier.

22-Apr-2010, 05:07
I own a sinar bellows hood mask 2 - with an 4x5 standard bellows, this covers any lens. But I do not have any space left in my backpack, thatswhy I never used it, cause all my shooting is outdoors. One day I will get an assistent to carry it around for me :)

Doremus Scudder
22-Apr-2010, 07:35
I've got an old Kalt (I think) filter holder that attaches to the lens with springs and has two adjustable barn doors. It collapses to fit easily in a vest pocket. This is what I carry in the field.

However, I often use a darkslide or some arrangement of darkslide and darkcloth to shade the lens instead of fiddling with getting the barndoors on the lens. When I really need to cut it close with the position of the shade, then out comes the barndoors, but when it's less critical, the slide or hand or hat comes into play.

I'm mostly outdoors, shooting by natural light, and I've tuned my system for the way I shoot (i.e., without a compendium to reduce all stray light). Development schemes to adjust contrast and personal EIs are based on the way I work, so contrast and speed are fine.

I did once get rid of an older Schneider 135mm lens that had flare problems. Surprisingly (pleasantly so), my battery of Ektars are quite good in backlit and flarey situations.


Doremus Scudder

Rick Moore
22-Apr-2010, 13:55
I use a compendium for every shot to minimize bellows flare, which is much more prevalent than many LF photographers realize. It takes only a few seconds to position the compendium optimally viewing through the cut corners of the ground glass.

Kevin Thomas
22-Apr-2010, 15:17
I agree most serious cinematographers use a matte box that offers some shading but mainly to facilitate the use of filters, quite often flags will be attached to shade the lens against flare. That said in most situations the cinematographer will have a camera crew to help carry the camera and equipment.

I also fall in the camp of using protective filters and lens hoods on all my gear except LF.

Probably if the lens manufacturers of LF lenses offered a custom hood for each lens I would buy one as a matter of course as I have done with all my other gear.

As with other posters with LF I shade/flag with hand/hat/body if necessary but being a landscape photographer with only one light source not that often.

25-Apr-2010, 13:39
I always use a compendium lens shade with every exposure. The technical quality of my photographs has improved since taking care to reduce in-camera and enlarging flare, so the small additional effort seems worth it. I occasionally do +4 film development expansions, and at such extreme contrast levels even a small amount of flare can ruin a picture. But even with more normal contrast ranges, I believe low flare helps produce a better print.

I adapted a Linhof compendium to my Sinar Norma, and described the procedure here: http://www.philipmorgan.net/323/a-new-compendium-for-my-sinar-norma/

26-Apr-2010, 12:24
I spent many years using the hat or whatever I had, but today I've choosen a Lee compendium also because I needed some good graduated filters, so I'm happy with the normal compendium and the recessed ring for my wideangles.

Matus Kalisky
27-Apr-2010, 08:08
Recenty I actually got a hood for my Osaka 400/8 lens to keep the sun away from the front element (and sometimes my fingers) - and - found out that it vignettes. Now I am considering whether I should only shorten it, or throw it away completely. I never feel good using a dark slide as it is rather easy to get it on the picture (especially with wider lenses).

David Hedley
27-Apr-2010, 08:29
I have a Lee hood / filter holder, and an orange filter, which I carry in my case or backpack. I never seem to use it, however, either because I forget and just use a screw-in filter, or because I'm worried about vignetting with 75mm & 90mm lenses, or because I want to save the weight when walking with the backpack. I'd like to start to use it properly but I always seem to have a reason not to.

27-Apr-2010, 09:47
I have a Lee hood / filter holder … I never seem to use it … because [for one reason] I'm worried about vignetting with 75mm & 90mm lenses ...

When I add a combination of modest movements to my widest lens (a 110 XL), a Lee WA ring + holder w/ one filter + WA hood will, indeed, often get in the way. For example, it might happen when I use front rise/fall in addition to front swing – w/ either movement limiting the amount I can apply to the other. Front shifts would of course add to the problem.

If mandatory movements also vignette, correcting the situation usually involves a choice for me: either remove the compendium hood (if modeling it no longer helps), or remove the holder/filter and keep the hood. Depends on my aims & shooting conditions. Sometimes I have to remove both! (BTW, I’m not sure if Lee’s slotted hood provides more room for movements than their non-slot hood + filter holder; I remember choosing the non-slot version, because the slotted one requires you to rotate grads w/ the hood.)

These situations arise much less often w/ my 150 and 240 – I can only imagine the headaches w/ a 90 or 75 and wider. I think Lee’s WA aluminum rings add enough additional movements to wide lenses to justify their extra cost over their plastic counter-parts. But the plastic rings are still high-quality, and may be a better option for longer lenses. If cost were no option, I’d get only the metal ones.

D. Bryant
27-Apr-2010, 10:26
I fall into the “always use a hood” category. Maybe that’s a majority position, I’m not sure. Certainly, plenty of good reasons exist for not using one. Depends on your aims and objectives – and plenty else besides – right?

In any case, I’d enjoy hearing more about why you use a lens hood – or why there’s little significance of using one in your work.

Vote for as many as you like, and please share more with us if you can.


With view cameras we call them lens shades not hoods. :)

27-Apr-2010, 10:47
With view cameras we call them lens shades not hoods. :)

Yes, I think my bias for “hood” comes from my use of the Lee Filter system, whose common term for their product is “hood.”

But we know that a hood by any other name would shade as well… ;)

BTW, I should add to my previous post that if one uses a protection/UV filter, removing it before attaching an adaptor ring is an effective way to increase available movements…