The supplied lens hood with Nikon's 50mm f/1.8 G is HB-47 Bayonet Lens Hood, as mentioned on the tech specs for that lens.

Is it the best for this lens or should I look for a better one? If yes, then on what basis?


The supplied or purposely built hood is the safest to use on a lens.

While you can easily find a hood that fits the lens, getting one which works as well is a matter of luck. Even it a hood fits, it can still cause vignetting. I learned the hard way since two of my hoods have the same size :(

If you do not accidentally get one which a too narrow field of view, you may get one with a too wide field of view which affords less protection against flare than the specific hood which is made for your lens.

The one option to consider for physical protection is a retractable rubber hood which you can extend to protect and retract without removing it before shooting.

  • The supplied hood will rarely be as effective as a compendium hood ("matte box") if the hood is actually critical to getting the shot, particularly with zoom and unit-focus lenses (which, in both cases, needs to work without vignetting at the lens's widest angle of view -- either at infinity for a unit-focus, or at the shortest focal length for a zoom). And screw-ons (as opposed to bayonets) are generally a little bit short to allow for the thickness of a filter. So the supplied (or recommended) hood will always be safe, but it may not be best.
    – user2719
    Feb 21 '12 at 8:33
  • @AnishaKaul -- what I mean is that if you are shooting nearly into a light source (the light source is just outside of the frame) but you want to shade the lens to prevent the contrast degradation that comes from flare (extraneous light bouncing around in the lens and camera, raising the amount of light hiting the pixels you want to record shadows), then you might need something more precise to shade the lens than a hood that is designed to allow some flexibility. It's not always, or even usually, necessary, it's can be fiddly to get right, but sometimes it's worth the trouble.
    – user2719
    Feb 21 '12 at 12:52
  • For zoom lenses, the matte box hood is great since fixed hoods almost always only work at the widest end of the zoom (the Canon 24-70mm F/2.8 takes exception to this). What you must do though is constantly adjust it when you change focal-lengths.
    – Itai
    Feb 22 '12 at 3:04
  • 2
    On a given prime lens, yes the default hood is most likely optimum or close to it, since it is designed specifically for that lens.
    – Itai
    Feb 22 '12 at 3:05

As far as the 50mm goes, I'd say that going with the standard hood is a pretty safe bet. However, it should be added (for completeness) that if a full-format lens - ie one made for 24x36 mm FX sensors - comes with a hood, that hood will be shorter than it could have been to be if you are using a DX cropped sensor. In other terms, you can use a longer hood on a DX sensor without the hood vignetting the image, this will give you better flare protection and better mechanical protection of the front element. Plus you will look more manly of course, with a "longer" lens :)

Sigma does take this into account on a couple of their newest lenses such as the 85mm f/1.8, they come with a normal "FX" hood that you can clip an extension to for use on a DX camera. Rather clever actually.

As a purely practical matter, this can be of interest for wide-angle lenses such as the Canon 17-40 and 16-35 if used on EF-S or 1.3-crop 1D-series cameras. The full-frame hood for these lenses is more akin to a soup-dish than a lens-hood, it is so short that it gives minimal physical protection to the lens and much wider than the lens body so that it is impractical to carry around when the lens is off the camera. I have used a hood designed for a 24mm lens with good effect on the 17-40 even on a full-frame Canon 5D, I ha to grind away a few millimeters of plastic from the tips of the hood petals so that it did not vignette and that was it. That hood gave better flare protection, better physical protection and was a lot more practical because it could be reversed on the lens and still fit into a normal-sized carrying pouch.

  • A simple vignetting check: attach the lens (aperture full open) with the hood to a "camera body simulator", a cardboard box with a 24x36 cutout where the sensor should be (or a smaller cutout, according to sensor dimensions). If you can see part of the lens hood, you risk vignetting. A few percent vignetting might be acceptable if you need maximum flare protection, but if the hood obscures half the lens, it's too long or too narrow. Feb 8 at 8:36

The standard hood is certainly good enough most of the time, especially if you're using it more for lens protection that for flare problems. The only real improvement you will find, and it's only necessary at all in very tricky lighting where a light source is just outside of the frame, and usually when you're using filters in the plural, is a rectangular hood that almost exactly matches the field of view.

Leica uses this style of hood by default. For the rest of us, it usually means a tulip-shaped hood from the lens manufacturer. Both of those styles have their own problems -- it's difficult to manage filters, especially polarizers, with the hood mounted. (A round screw-on hood, like the one for the older AF-D-type 50mm, rotates with the filter, so it's not a problem at all.)

The other alternative is a compendium hood or a matte box. They're a bellows arrangement that can be set to match the field of view perfectly, and usually have their own filter mounting and rotating system built-in. But they're not something that hangs off of the front of the camera -- you mount the camera onto the hood. They're large, heavy and cumbersome, and pretty much rule out hand-held shooting unless you're using a video support rail system (like the Zacutto rigs), and then you're usually restricted to shooting in landscape orientation.

If flare is a particular problem, and the standard hood is no help, the practical solution is usually to use a flag -- a piece of fabric, board, or even a hand -- outside of the frame to shade the lens from the problem light source.

  • 1
    @AnishaKaul The hood is meant for flare, but most of us (that is, most of us who use a hood) use it as a matter of course as well to protect the front of the lens from knocks, bumps and smudges, especially if we're working in a crowd. As for whether a hood is doing anything for flare problems, you can see it in the viewfinder -- the contrast will be greater even if you can't see any flare spots in the viewfinder image.
    – user2719
    Feb 21 '12 at 3:14
  • @AnishaKaul -- No, not at all. The only thing that gets "damaged" is the image, and sometimes flare in the image is precisely what you're looking for to achieve the right mood or look. One of the first rules you need to learn about photography is that there are no hard-an-fast rules. Experiment. Have fun. Shoot lots of pictures, and get to know what your gear does. That's the only way you can be sure than when you take a picture, what you get is what you had imagined before tripping the shutter button. Above all, lose your fear -- cameras (and lenses) are less fragile than you think.
    – user2719
    Feb 21 '12 at 12:56
  • 1
    Flare is typically caused by a strong source of light that is outside the picture frame but still shines light onto the front element of the lens, or by a similar source of light inside the picture frame. A hood can help with the first by shading the front of the lens, but cannot help you with the second.
    – Staale S
    Feb 21 '12 at 13:39

The front element of most 50s is recessed so far that I have never bothered with a hood for them. So, I'd likely use it without any hood at all unless I came to realize that it was needed. In which case I'd just use the supplied one.

  • I've just realized that I just about always use the hoods for all my other lenses. But not the 50. I don't use a protection filter on the 50, either, FWIW. Feb 21 '12 at 3:20

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