by ʇolɐǝz ǝɥʇ qoq

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Pretty straight forward question. What does a lens hood do?

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See… - some good answers there – Reid Jul 16 '10 at 19:37
up vote 26 down vote accepted

A lens hood has two purposes - one is to shield the lens elements from stray light - either directly from the sun, from passing cars, from a flash, etc. This stray light can cause lens flare and reduced contrast, so it is best to limit it.

Its also useful for avoiding bumps to your lens or filter. I use mine a lot in the car, because my lens is always very close to the window.

(It can also make that huge telephoto look that much more impressive)

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And the reason to keep lens from stray light is because it lowers contrast and produces flare. – Karel Jul 16 '10 at 19:10
@Karel Thanks, edited the answer to include those details. – reuscam Jul 16 '10 at 19:14
+1 for huge telephoto – Reid Jul 16 '10 at 19:37
Another advantage when shooting close to a window is that you can press the lens hood up against the glass, and block out any light from the camera side of the window and reduce reflections. – Edd Jul 22 '10 at 15:57
Impressive-looking telephotos are very important in situations where you have to look like serious photographer, for example if you're trying to get past security into press sections on a show or sports event. – che Jul 22 '10 at 16:16

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