Who the hell still uses lens hoods?

A lens hood being removed from a lens by a male photographer

As I was packing my kit for a recent trip away, I whined to myself as I removed yet another lens hood from yet another lens. 

"Bloody lens hoods," I muttered out loud. "Who even uses these bloody things any more?"

It was an idle comment, spurred more by the oppressive heat and the frenzy of packing everything at double-speed (due, fittingly enough, to a camera lens being sent to the wrong depot, so the courier didn't deliver it on time). 

But then I stopped for a moment and thought about it more earnestly: seriously, who does use lens hoods these days? 

Now, let me get this out of the way first: yes, I know what a lens hood does and I know why you should use one. I spent four years in commercial and editorial photography, and hoods were a requisite part of my kit bag. 

However, so was a light meter. And unless I'm shooting on film, or using an elaborate multi-flash setup, I don't use that any more, either. 

Times change. Photography changes. What were once considered imperfections and flaws in your images, changes. I haven't worn a hood on my lenses in years – and when I come to think about it, nor do any of my photographer friends. 

It's not just portrait togs shooting into the sun; flare and haze can look great in landscapes, too!  (Image credit: Peter Fenech)

Admittedly that's a bit of a stacked deck. Most of said photographer friends shoot portraiture, typically of the free-flowing variety that welcomes things like lens flare and hazy contrast. 

Which isn't to say that all portrait photographers hate lens hoods. Indeed, I was at a photography social once where a chap was proselytizing about the importance of lens hoods for his client portraiture. 

I deferred to his point, conceding that things like lens flare aren't everybody's cup of tea – especially if shooting for clients.  

"Oh no, I quite like lens flare. But I put it in digitally."

So… if you like lens flare, why don't you just ditch the lens hood and get actual lens flare? 

I mean, I kind of get it. A lot of people edit their images, often to an agonized degree, and add elements in post rather than capture them in-camera. But this particular instance just left me scratching my head.

Anyway, I've said my piece. I don't use lens hoods. But I would love to know if you do, and why, and what kind of photography you shoot!

Whatever you think of hoods, you might be interested in the best lenses for portraits, as well as the best lenses for landscapes

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients like Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.