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What Are Camera Lens Hoods Used For?
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A few things about digital camera lens hoods.

"What is the use of that thing?". This is a question that people often ask me when they see the tulip shaped lens hood that is attached to my camera lens. Well, digital or film SLR cameras are often seen with a hood screwed on their lenses. They are used to prevent unwanted light from spoiling the photos in the camera. Without a lens hood, stray light might fall on the lens and enter the camera to produce flare on the photograph. It is also said that this might to a certain degree damage the camera. So, lens hoods for digital or film SLR cameras are a "must" to make better photos and even to protect the camera itself.

Camera lens hoods are especially useful for outdoor photography. People do not point their cameras directly towards the sun but do take pictures with the sun or other light source at an angle, and this is when lens hoods are necessary. They block the light rays that come sideways without affecting your aperture, ISO or shutter speed setting and guaranties pictures of better quality.

People who take nightlife pictures also find lens hoods useful to keep out stray light from brightly lit streets, club lights or stage lights. Others choose to keep their lens hoods on because they find it troublesome to screw them on and off all the time and also because stray light can occur at any time of the day or night. In fact, photographs seem to be sharper when taken with a lens hood, no matter if they were taken outdoors or indoors.

Something else that should be mentioned here is the fact that lens hoods are also a good protection for your lenses. A lens hood is screwed on at the base of the lens and extends outward in such a way that the lens is more difficult to reach. So, no more finger prints on the lenses, less cleaning to do, and also if the camera accidentally bumps onto something hard, the lens is protected by the hood which would otherwise be broken. So, keeping the lens hood on the camera when shooting outdoors is always a good idea.

There are two different kinds or types of camera lens hood. The most common one is the round one. It is cylindrical, the smaller end is attached to the lens of the camera and extends outward in a bell shape. This type of lens hood is especially useful in extremely bright surroundings; it is very efficient and protects the photos as well and the camera itself. But, it also creates vignetting when used with wide-angle lens, and this might be annoying for some people. The effect of vignetting makes the four corners of the photo darker than the center; and that is exactly why some people choose to use round lens hoods when they want to produce photos with special artistic effects.

The digital camera lens hood mostly used nowadays is the tulip or petal shaped one. It is designed in such a way that it can be positioned to block only the harmful light and let normal light pass by. It can be positioned vertically or horizontally. If the sun is shinning overhead, the two long petals are placed vertically so that the top longer petal stops the light and the two shorter petals on both sides let the light pass through. On the contrary, if the harmful light source is on the side, the lens hood is positioned horizontally to block the light on the side while light from up and down passes without obstacle.

When ordering a lens hood online (of course if you have this intention), it is very important to get one that fits your camera. For example, a lens hood that goes with a Nikon camera does not necessarily fit on a Canon one even if they are the same size. And also, a lens hood for a 35mm lens will certainly not fit on a 55mm one. So, when ordering , you will have to know the size of your camera lens and also the name of its manufacturer (sometimes the lens and the camera are not made by the same manufacturer). The size and the name of the manufacturer are shown on the front or side of the lens. So, keep these in mind when going online or to a camera shop to buy digital camera lens hoods.

Some camera owners believe that lens hoods are not of much use when taking pictures, yet it clear that contrary to what they think, this little inexpensive item is a very useful accessory for the photographer using a digital or film SLR camera, might it be when shooting pictures outdoors or indoors.

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