A lens hood might look like an ordinary piece of plastic material attached to the lens of a camera, but it is actually one of the most common photography accessories used by professionals today. Made of plastic, metal, or even stainless steel, lens hoods have the ability to alter your photographs in many ways.

Does a lends hood effect exposure? A lens hood can alter not only your photograph quality, but your photograph exposure. There are a few different kinds of lens hoods commonly used by professionals in the photography field, and each one of them has the ability to effect exposure in its own unique way.

When wondering whether a lens hood can affect your photograph’s exposure, it is important to take several things into consideration. Keep reading for some valuable information about when to use a lens hood and how best to use it to produce beautiful and successful photographs.

When You Should Not Use A Lens Hood

Lens hoods are generally an incredibly valuable tool for both professional and amateur photographers alike. There are some instances, however, when using a lens hood could be a detriment to your photography.

High Winds: Are you going to be shooting photographs on location in a very windy spot or trapped taking pictures in an oncoming storm? A lens hood will act like a ships’ sail, catching the wind and forcing movement of your camera. When you are not able to keep yourself, your hands, or your camera still, this can cause blurry and damaged photos.

Getting That Flare: When you want to be able to capture a light flare or a little bit of sun glare in your photographs for artistic purposes, you should opt for ditching the lens hood. A lens hood is often used to protect your photographs from getting those light spots, so going without will allow you to get the look you crave.

You’re Shooting Close Up: When you’re shooting really close up and tightly framed shots of your subjects and are already using a macro lens adapter, you will not be able to use a lens hood. Lens hoods are accessories that connect to your camera’s lens, and therefore can only be used one at a time or with corresponding accessories. If you’re already using a different lens accessory add-on, you won’t also be able to connect a lens hood at the same time for taking photographs.

Lens hoods can often be a slightly pricey additional accessory to purchase for a photographer. Taking the time to really make sure that a lens hood will benefit your photography and is necessary for the type of photographs that you take will ensure that you are making both a wise and useful purchase.

Important Considerations

When you’re working to get the light just the way you want it, it’s critical to consider:

  • What type of camera you are using,
  • Whether you are shooting on film or in digital,
  • What kind of lens you are working with, and
  • The different lens hoods available.

Getting the Light Just Right

Are you an amateur photographer looking for a fix for your light problems? Or a professional trying to decide on your next big lens accessory purchase? Either way, a lens hood is a great addition to your camera gear when shooting on bright and sunny days.

A lens hood’s main purpose is to help block the rays of the sun and any additional light spill so that you do not get:

  • Light spots that show up and might block your subject.
  • Sunspots or little light dots that look like dirt or dust on your photographs.
  • Light streaks in your photographs that look like light colored streaked across the picture.

These are all something that often happens to both digital and film photographs when the sun is out on a clear day.

When it comes to blocking sunlight, it is important to remember that while lens hoods do block the residual light from the sun, they can only do so if the sun is not directly in your frame. If the sun is in front of your lens or in the frame of the subject that you are photographing, then a lens hood cannot block that amount of direct sunlight being let into the photograph.

If you choose to purchase a lens hood and want to ensure that you will be using the lens hood correctly, make sure to read the user’s manual and keep following along with this article.

How Does a Lens Hood Work?

The nice thing about a lens hood is that its primary job is to stop any unwanted light from getting to the lens from outside. But how does it work? To answer this question, we need to understand more about the lens hood, itself.

What Is a Typical Lens Hood Made Out of?

Lens hoods are technically a photographic add-on or accessory that can connect to the front of a camera’s lens. This means that lens hoods are able to be connected or disconnected at will. This allows flexibility for the photographer to decide when they would and would not like to use their lens hood.

A lens hood is typically made of these three main materials:

  • Plastic: The pros of purchasing a plastic lens hood are that they are the most common and the least expensive. Plastic lens hoods are the most contemporary type of lens hoods, having been developed to be light weight, easy to connect and disconnect, and often pretty sturdy.

    They also do not get as hot to the touch if shooting out in the sun on a hot summer day. Another benefit of plastic lens hoods is that they are also easier to store because they do not need protective casing.
  • Metal: The pros of purchasing a metal lens hood are that they are the most similar to the original lens caps developed by photographers years ago when photography was still a newer form of artistic expression.

    Metal lens hoods are often used by photographers that tend to shoot their photographs on film, as they fit the analogue style lens. They are slightly heavier than plastic lens hoods and tend to need to be stored more carefully.

    When shooting in the sun, use caution when touching a metal lens hood, as they can get hot pretty quickly.
  • Stainless Steel: The pros of purchasing a stainless-steel lens hood are that they are usually a very durable type of lens hood. They also often last a very long time and perform well for both film and digital cameras.

    That said, they are also slightly heavier than both metal and plastic lens hoods and need to be stored carefully.

    Similar to other metal types of lens hoods, stainless steel retains heat when shooting photographs outside in the sun and can tend to get very hot to the touch.

The Anatomy of a Lens Hood

A lens hood can be a very important object or photography accessory when attempting to manually manage your photograph’s exposure.

But how does a lens hood operate? What is it about its design makes it a helpful tool for amateur and professional photographers alike?

You have already seen that a typical lens hood can be made out of

  • Plastic,
  • Metal, or
  • Stainless steel.

A lens hood, however simple it might look, is actually a complex design built to adjust the light around the lens of your camera. The anatomy of a lens hood can include:

A round base: The lens hood is an object that often looks like a cylinder. It has a round base, or circular end, to act as the attachment. This round base is attached directly to your camera’s lens and clicks on in order to secure itself. While the rest of the lens hood body might differ from style to style or brand to brand, the base is almost always a circular shape in order to match the shape of your camera lens.

A raised cone: Some lens hoods look like simple cylinders with a raised cone. They are open at both ends. One end is for attaching the lens hood to the camera lens, and the other end is open so that the photograph can be taken through it.

Varying wings: Some lens hoods tend to look less like cylinders and more like a crown with curved edges. The curved edges are often called wings. The base of the lens hood will still remain a circular shape to match the shape of the actual camera lens, but rather than solid material all the way up the sides of the lens hood, the material spans into wings with some negative space to let light through.

Color: Lens hoods are almost always black. This is the standard color for most photography add-on accessory equipment. Sometimes they are offered in black variations from the manufacturer such as shiny black or matte black, though finding another color will be pretty difficult. If purchasing a black lens hood does not sound appealing to you, remember that you can always color treat it or dye it yourself. Just make sure to use camera safe paints when doing so.

Create Vibrant Colors

Whether for your personal photography project or for your blooming photography business, using a lens hood can have great effects on the colors in your photos.

Part of the reason that a lens hood can affect the color saturation of your photos, resulting in beautiful and crisp colors, is because it controls how much light comes into your lens.

When too much light enters the lens, it can result in lens flares and light spots. These have the tendency to lighten and brighten the entire content of the photo, therefore making the colors seem more faint and less saturated.

Using a lens hood is a great way to self-adjust the coloring of your final photographs if you are interested in deeply saturated colors with a strong pop of definition.

Here are some of the things to consider when deciding whether to use a lens hood for the purpose of adjusting color in your photographs:

  • Are you actually shooting in color on digital? Make sure that you are using a camera that actually shoots photographs in color. If you are using a digital camera, make sure the settings are adjusted so that you will be shooting your RAW photographs in color. If they are in black and white, the lens hood will still have an affect on the highlights and shadows of your photographs, but there won’t be any way to add color later on.
  • Are you shooting with color film? When taking photos on a film camera, take a look at the roll of film that you are loading into your camera before picking up a lens hood for the purpose of color adjustment. If your film is black and white, it is best to switch to color film so that the lens hood can do its job. Similarly to digital, a lens hood cannot have an effect on the colors in your photo if they are limited to black and white grayscale.
  • What style of photographs are you going for? If you are a photographer that is interested in shooting only in a vintage, analog, old style that appears like it came out of the 1960s through 1980s, then a lens hood might not be for you. Lens hoods affect colors in a way that makes them vibrant. This means they will pop and give off a more modern appearance than the vintage cameras of the past. If you are not interested in a crisp and contemporary looking photography portfolio, then stick to shooting sans lens hood. Your color quality will vary but will definitely remain truer to that old school style.
  • Do you plan on printing your photographs? If you plan on printing your photographs, a lens hood is a great way to get a bright and saturated color palette right off the bat. If your colors are vibrant when you shoot them, that means that once the RAW format photographs are turned into printable files, they will be able to retain their color far more easily than photographs shot without a lens hood.
  • Interested in shooting macro? When deciding whether to use a lens hood for color saturation, it is important to decide whether you will be shooting close up or from a regular distance. If you decide that shooting very close up is the most important thing for your photographs, then you might opt for a macro add-on accessory for your lens rather than the lens hood. It is important to remember that you can only use one lens add-on at a time, so making your priorities clear is a must.

Getting Down to Exposure

Perhaps the biggest and most notable affect that a lens hood will have on your photographs is the effect on exposure. Lens hoods absolutely effect the exposure of a photograph by essentially eliminating any unwanted light. This allows for a strong contrast with clear highlighting in your photographs.

Rather than taking in all the light available to the camera’s lens, a lens hood stops any ‘bad’ or extra light from entering the lens while taking a picture. What remains is a balanced amount of light that can play off the saturation and contrast of your photograph. This allows for even shadows and beautifully clear images. The unwanted light that lens hoods filter out is often known as the following:

  • Ulta-bright light,
  • Lens flares,
  • Camera spots,
  • Light spots, or
  • Extra light leading to over exposure.

If you are a photographer wanting a great way to ensure that your photographs are almost never overexposed again, a lens hood is the best add-on lens accessory for you.

A lens hood is a great way to take precautions against having any overexposed photographs. Though making sure your light meter is set to the proper light settings is also incredibly important for properly exposed and nicely contrasted photographs. These practices apply whether shooting film or digital on a sunny day.

A Great Lens Protector

One of the many reasons that people purchase lens hoods is not only because it can improve the color and exposure of your photographs, but for the purpose or protecting their lenses.

A lens hood is both sturdy and stable, which means it is not easily breakable.

Lenses, on the other hand, are made of glass and are very breakable. They tend to damage and scratch easily if not protected.

Rather than using a lens cap in between each and every photo, photographers have started the new trend of shooting with their lens hoods on.

This allows for the camera to be handled and put down between shots with less possibility for damage. If you have a large enough camera bag or carrying case, leaving the camera’s hood attachment on allows for safe camera travel without the lens cap having to be on as well.

A Great Lens Hood Makes a Difference

Whether you are an amateur hobby photographer, a professional with years of experience, or just starting your brand-new photography business, a lens hood can be a great tool for you.

Not only does it affect your exposure in a positive way when taking crisp, clear, and contemporary photographs, but it can also act as an automatic color enhancer and a protective lens accessory. A good lens hood might just become your new favorite photography tool.