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I'm pretty new to photography. I'm just wondering if I need a sunshade, and what the benefits of having one are. Also, when would I really need to use it? I typically take landscape photographs.

Edit: So I've read this answer, but it doesn't mention when to use it. Is it best to always have it on? Or just during the brightest time of the day? Any disadvantage to having it on?

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Do you mean a lens hood, or something more? –  mattdm Mar 31 at 2:07
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If it is that, see What does a lens hood do? –  mattdm Mar 31 at 2:08
    
ahh yes lens "hood". no wonder i didn't find any reference to sun shade haha –  SoilSciGuy Mar 31 at 2:17
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Lens hood. When to use it? All the time. –  Matt Grum Mar 31 at 8:47
    
All good answers below! It was a tough choice.. –  SoilSciGuy Mar 31 at 13:36

4 Answers 4

up vote 2 down vote accepted

You can and should use it always. There is no disadvantage in principle.

However, there are very rare cases, where a lens hood can be "in the way".

  • The lens hood can block an internal flash light, for very wide angles it could even block an extra flash on top of the camera. You would then observe some black shadow at the bottom of the image.
  • When doing macros and the sujet or parts of the table etc. are very close to the lens.
  • In combination with polarizing filters it may be difficult to actually rotate the filter to its most wanted position just because you cannot grap it with your fingers when it is inside the original lens hood. For all my filters I have rubber lens hoods with regular filter mounts which I screw on top of the filter so that rotating the filter is no issue at all. This may not work for ultra wide angles but works nicely for all regular focal length.

Besides these rare exceptions there is no reason to omit the lens hood. Lens hoods can only improve the image quality in contrast (and therefore the impression of sharpness) and color brilliance, not only when direct sunlight needs to be blocked.

Any time of the day, indoor, outdoor and studio.

In order to get the most out of your lens hood, make sure you use a proper one that fits well for the focal length that you are using. Especially for super zooms the original lens hood typically matches the short end of the focal range but for the medium or long end a rubber lens hood for that very focal length will provide you with much better results.

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The lens hood should be kept on and point away from the lens at all times. It keeps unwanted light from entering the lens which often causes flare and it protects the front element from accidental knocks.

  • There is no downside to having the lens hood on the right way, except for added bulk.
  • Most people unfortunately use their lens hood in decoration orientation which means backwards where it provides to protection from light or knocks. The only thing it does there is interfere with focus and zoom rings. Don't do this!
  • A lens hood is often not used when using a circular polarizing filter because it prevents the user from rotating the filter. Some hoods, like most Pentax ones, have a small removable window at the base to access the filter-ring.

It helps regardless of light intensity. Flare can occur at night just as it does during the day. Remember that metering balances things out. Even if light is less strong at night, you will usually expose for longer which renders frame brighter and therefore more visible.

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You forgot #1B: it looks professional. Especially when coupled with a battery grip, it can make the difference between making you look like an "amateur" and a "professional". I've had people ask me a few times if I work as a photographer when I've had the 28-70/2.8 with hood mounted on the camera, but don't think I've ever got that question with only the 28-70/2.8 (without the lens hood). Now, depending on situation that can be a good thing or a bad thing. –  Michael Kjörling Mar 31 at 10:52

The purpose of a lens hood is to block the sun or a strong light source from hitting the front of the lens causing glare, and reducing contrast in the resulting image by scattering of the light hitting the lens at certain high angles. These are the angles the lens hood covers.

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The lens hood is used for preventing flare from coming in from both sides of the lens. It can also prevent having not well contrasted photos. Every lens has its own hood, depending on lens construction and lens filter. For example, a 52mm filter would not fit my 100mm lens, because it has 67 mm diameter, so a hood 67mm would then fit perfectly. Also, if the lens is quite out, like on a super wide-angle lens, then this lens requires a hood that do not stop ultimately the light coming from the sides, like a flower hood. If you use a cylindrical hood in this case, you are likely to have pieces of the hood in your photos. However, if you don't understand what I mean and you need some visualization, you can see the different types of hoods here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lens_hood and there is a very good video on Youtube about hoods as a whole, including why, how and when to use them: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_m0MfAjNsk. I guess you will find very understandable answers in the video! Hope this help!

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