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I have read some of the other questions about lens hoods (for example, this one) and I hope that this is specific enough to not be considered a duplicate.

My understanding is that lens hoods block out "stray light". I had my lens hood on when I was shooting indoors in relatively low light, and someone said to me that I shouldn't do that because it blocks out light.

Based on my understanding, I would think it's fine to keep the lens hood on since it only blocks out light outside the frame. What do you say?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 21 down vote accepted

It should be fine, but watch out for shadows if you are using flash. Wide angles lenses, particularly with APS-C / DX, tend to throw a shadow, especially with on camera flash. Having the lens hood on makes this shadow bigger since it's adding a few inches to the end of the lens.

See Len Abrams answer below for the benefits of a hood in long exposure shots.

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1  
+1 for mentioning the shadow. This is probably the one and only caveat of using a hood at low light! –  ysap Jan 17 '11 at 1:45
    
Thanks! I am going to accept your answer, but maybe for completeness you could edit it and add what @Len Abrams said about long exposures? (give him credit of course :-). –  Tom Jan 19 '11 at 1:17
    
Lens hood can throw shadow even when not using the flash, when you're shooting from a very close distance. –  che Jan 19 '11 at 22:46

If anything using a lens hood is more important in low light than in normal circumstances. I do a lot of low / available light photography with long exposures (20 - 30 secs) where glare and flare are often a big problem which you cannot easily anticipate as you do not 'see' these effects with the naked eye under low light conditions. I always use a lens hood and sometimes have to go further and improvise with hand held shields to block stray light. Referring to the second sentence of your question - "blocking out light" from outside the field of view is precisely what you are trying to do. If you are deliberately using available / low light to avoid some of the often intrusive and unwanted effects of flash, the shadow effects of the lens hood would not be a problem anyway.

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Why did you make your answer community wiki? –  Tom Jan 19 '11 at 1:16

Certainly it's okay to use a lens hood in low light -- it doesn't block anything that would be involved in making the picture unless it's the wrong size or shape for the lens you're using. (In fact, it makes a better lens protector than the oft-suggested UV filter since it usually has a bit of give and doesn't degrade the image at all.)

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I like to use a lens hood in crowded situations for a similar reason: preventing smudges from bumping into other people. –  Evan Krall Jan 17 '11 at 3:16
    
Is lens hood heavy? does it increase the weight of the camera? –  TheIndependentAquarius Feb 21 '12 at 1:08
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@AnishaKaul Not at all. Well, except for a compendium hood (I guess the current term is matte box), but they're something you'd generaly only use on a tripod or with a video rail system. Some of the metal lens hoods for very large lenses weigh a little bit if you only take them into consideration, but they're nothin compared to the lens itself. Most smaller hoods tend to be nylon or some other resilient synthetic, and weigh very little (less than 50g/2 ounces in mos cases). –  user2719 Feb 21 '12 at 2:02
    
Thanks for replying, Stan. –  TheIndependentAquarius Feb 21 '12 at 3:10

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