What’s a lens hood?
A lens hood (aka lens shade) is an accessory that fits onto the business end of a lens. The main purpose of it is to keep direct light from hitting the glass and causing lens flare. Some lenses come with hoods, though many do not. Lens hoods tend not to be universal; when buying one you need to make sure it’s compatible with the lens you’ll be using it with.
What’s wrong with having a backwards lens hood on your camera?
- It’s in the way. When the lens hood is on backwards, it’s in your way. Notice in the photos at the top of the page, how the hood is blocking a major portion of the zoom and/or focus rings?
- It serves no purpose. A backwards lens hood is not doing what it’s designed to do: block direct light from hitting the lens and causing flare.
- It could be an effective shock absorber. A bonus benefit of lens hoods, is that they physically protect your lens. Many photographers–me included–carry our cameras over the shoulder, which makes the lens vulnerable to knocking into things. With a lens hood on frontwards, you have a very effective shock absorber. With a backwards lens hood, you’re not going to get that functionality at all.
Why do people attach their lens hoods backwards?
I’m not sure, but my guess is that people first get their lens (new, or from a rental house) with the hood on backwards, because it was packed that way, and never realized it’s supposed to be turned around. I would suggest keeping your lens hood attached and front-facing even when stored in your camera bag if it will fit–the hood will provide better protection that way, and your camera will be ready to go.
How do you know if the hood is attached backwards?
When properly attached, lens hoods will protrude forward, away from the camera body, where they can block light from hitting the front element of the lens; hoods aren’t meant to cover any part of the lens barrel.
What if I want lens flare?
Of course lens flare can be used as an intended effect. If you’re trying to get lens flare, you can still get it with a hood if you shoot directly into a direct light source, like the sun, or a light bulb or candle or stage light. If you want as much flare as possible, that would justify removing the hood or, if you must, flipping it backwards. You can also add fake lens flare to your photos during post-processing; both Photoshop and Gimp have “lens flare” filters you can apply.