I am often asked by those new to photography about the role and use of a lens hood. To cut to the chase, using one except in very few situations is sound advice.

What a lens hood will do is similar to when we place a hand to shield our eyes in strong sun. By doing that we stop light coming from extreme angles into our eyes which on a bright day makes us squint and instead we get clearer vision. This is because only the light coming from the direction of subject and not elsewhere are what we want and what we then get. The same happens to a lens except those light rays not coming from a subject cause a digital camera or film to record at best lower contrast, but often lens flare. Neither is desirable as they reduce detail and apparent punch in the result. Lower contrast tends to loose the punch of an image. Sometimes we can put it back in post capture, but if we get more noticible flare, that’s more of a problem.

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End. (16/12/09).