Your Guide to Buying Camera Lens Hoods for Zoom Lenses

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Your Guide to Buying Camera Lens Hoods for Zoom Lenses

Serious photographers use lens hoods as part of their basic arsenal to prevent lens flare. Lens flare is when a polygonal shape of light appears on a photograph when non-essential light enters the camera. This lens flare is usually extraneous, non-desired, and lowers the overall contrast and quality of the photo. Depending on the shape of the lens diaphragm, lens flare varies from the usual polygonal shape and takes other forms as well. Photographers call this an artifact. At times, though, this artifact may produce an interesting photo. Having a good understanding of lens flare can help a photographic artist to either block lens flare with a lens hood or invite it in.


Lens Flare

The artifact usually looks like five to eight bright streaks of light and sometimes circular or oval shapes that look like bubbles. Sometimes, the artifacts are small and localized, and at other times, they may take over the whole image. When examining a photograph, focus on the source of light, like the sun, as that is where lens flare usually occurs. However, lens flare can appear far from the light source and show up all over the image.

Streaks and bubbles of light happen because the light bounces around inside of the camera. The inside of the zoom lens is made up of several lens structures. Extraneous light does not pass directly to the digital sensor, but instead reflects back and forth among the lens elements. While the lens structures inside the camera do have some anti-reflective coating, is not enough to minimize lens flare. Lens flare can occur not just in sunlight, but also from the moon and artificial light. Even if light is not directly in the camera's viewfinder, it can still bounce off other objects, reflect to the front, and enter the lens.

Zoom Lens Hoods

A hood for the zoom lens is a simple solution, but it does not cure all light flare. The hood goes onto the tip of the lens, and blocks extraneous light. The interior of the hood is non-reflective, and is made with materials like black felt or black rubber. Unfortunately, lens hoods are only effective for zoom lenses at the widest focal length. Hoods for zoom lenses are available in several shapes and sizes. The shapes include circular, tulip, and rectangular.

Rectangular

Since the final image is usually rectangular, a rectangular lens hood is a good choice and favored over the round shape. The rectangular shape is usually longer and can block more extraneous light.

Tulip

The tulip shape, also known as the petal lens hood,, is a good all-around lens. It can can rotate to allow light in or block it. The tulip often comes with long petals, which the photographer may wish to shorten. This type of flexibility offers better protection and flexibility than round or rectangular types. The petal lens hood works well with the camera's digital sensor and the aspect ratio, improving the angle of view.

Circular

The circular lens hood, also known as round, is round just like the camera lens. However, the final picture is usually rectangular, so the round lens hood confers no advantage and is not an optimal choice.

Adjustable Bellows

These are more expensive lens hoods that adjust more precisely for a given focal length and more accurately match the field of view. However, bellow lens hoods are more expensive.

Sizes

Many photographers have the most expensive camera and lenses, and yet do not want to use lens hoods because lens hoods are bulky, take up space, and add to the weight of the camera bag. However, wise photographers should have several sizes and varieties in their gear set for the zoom lens.

Disadvantage of Zoom Lens Hoods

If the lens hood is too long, the unfortunate consequence is vignetting. This technical difficulty is caused when the hood is too long and it blocks imaging-forming light as well as extraneous light. This causes the image to have black corners and uneven transitions from black to bright and colorful. However, an artist may prefer some vignetting in a gradual darkening towards the edges. Still, most photographs are not intended to have abrupt or even gradual darkening at the edges, so care must be taken to choose an appropriate size lens hood.

Determining the Size of the Lens Hood

To avoid vignetting, every aperture commonly needs an adjustment in the hood. As mentioned previously, only the widest of apertures in the zoom lens will benefit from the lens hood. The tulip hood is a good compromise, as it turns and blocks light from different directions. The best approach to determine the size of the lens hood is to experiment and take test exposures at every f-stop, with or without a hood and several different sizes and shapes of lens hoods.


Equipment and Procedures to Limit Lens Flare

Lens hoods are an underutilized but essential part of any photographer's equipment and repertoire. They are very good and often effective at minimizing reflection inside the zoom lens. However, they are not perfect, so the photographer has other equipment and procedures at his or her disposal. Upgraded lenses and adjustments to composition and depth of field can increase proficiency.

Which Lens Limits Lens Flare?

Lens hoods are an excellent solution to lens flare; however, they are not perfect. One way to increase the effectiveness of the lens hood is to consider which camera lenses help to limit lens flare. Unfortunately, zoom lenses are not as effective as fixed lenses at limiting lens flare. The reason for this is that zoom lenses have more internal lens elements, which equals more internal surfaces for the light to bounce around. One way to help the zoom lens limit lens flare is to purchase newer varieties and high-end zoom lenses, which are manufactured with better anti-reflective coatings. When buying zoom lenses, look for those with anti-reflective coatings, and those that feature descriptions or advertisements about limiting lens flare.

Strategies in Composition

The zoom lens offers unique flexibility in composition and the photographer can use that to control lens flare. Zooming in or out anywhere along the continuum can significantly increase or decrease lens flare. While the photographer is looking at the subject in the background for artistic merit, he or she should also be looking at the variables in lens flare. This technical detail does not have to take away from the beauty of the photographs, but can instead coexist with the artistic pursuit.

As is customary, shooting with the light source from behind is a common strategy and helps with lens flare. Just keep in mind that even with the light source behind the photographer, the light can still bounce off objects in the front, enter the zoom lens, and cause lens flare. One way to either counter reflection from the back or light source in the front is to block the direct light or reflection with a person, building, or object like a tree.

Preview the Depth of Field

The depth-of-field button commonly found on the lens is the next logical step after installing the lens hood and adjusting the composition. While the viewfinder on a digital camera is useful for setting up the shot, it does not often show lens flare. By depressing the depth-of-field button, the photographer can see bubbles and streaks and therefore adjust as necessary. The only thing that the depth-of-field button cannot do, however, is provide an accurate representation of contrast. The final picture may still have a washed-out look.

Options for Filters and Controls

If the lens flare is unavoidable, photographers can use controls to increase contrast. The contrast enhancement tool and the level tool augment contrast ratios. Polarizing, UV, or neutral - density filters should also have an anti-reflective coating, which can minimize extraneous light in the zoom lens.


Buying Zoom Lens Hoods on eBay

The online marketplace eBay is a good source for hoods for the zoom lens. To search for zoom lens hoods, start in the Electronics portal. From there, navigate to Cameras and Photography, then Lenses and Filters, and lastly Lens Hoods. You can filter your search according to condition, such as new, used, or refurbished. Refinement filters also include manufacturer and seller. Alternatively, you can enter Zoom Lens Hood. If you desire a particular manufacturer, enter the brand name and Zoom Lens Hood into the search box. You can also search by shape, for instance, Petal Lens Hood.

Most hoods use a screw-in lens method to attach the hood to the lens. The other three varieties are slip-on, snap-on, and bayonet. If the seller does not specify, be sure to ask and make sure that he or she has a reasonable return or exchange policy if the hood does not fit. When purchasing zoom lens hoods, whether new, used, or refurbished, look for any spots of metal or plastic showing through on the interior. Any speck of non-black area will reflect light. The seller should be able to provide you with high-resolution photographs of the interior of the hood.


Conclusion

All serious photographers should know about lens flare, and should have an arsenal of lens hoods at their disposal. They should pair all of their lenses, not just their zoom lens, with a lens hood. Consumers can find a variety of lens hoods in various shapes and sizes. While experimenting with lens hoods and taking test pictures will take extra time on the shoot, the result will be well worth it. Even the additional effort of carrying lens hoods will pay off in high quality, deep contrasts, and digital images that are free from lens flare. In addition, the photographer's lifetime achievements of fine quality artistry are well worth the effort to carry and use lens hoods for the zoom lens.

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