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I'm currently looking for an ultra wide lens for my APS-C camera. I have an offer for a Sigma 10-20 f/3.5, however it's lacking the original lens hood. This is why I'm wondering how important lens hoods actually are on ultra wide (zoom) lenses.

On one hand, given the large field of view lots of stray light can enter the lens, making a lens hood pretty important. On the other hand, ultra wides let in much light anyway and since the hoods have to be designed to work for the short end of the zoom range, they will become less effective at the longer end of the zoom range. Those are my thoughts on the matter, but I haven't actually shot with an ultra wide angle yet, so I would like to get another opinion by someone with more experience. Thanks!

  • Here in the U.S. a genuine Sigma replacement hood for that lens is less than $20 (18.5 Euros) via amazon. If you're saving much more than that on the lens... – Michael C Mar 29 '17 at 14:46
  • @MichaelClark hm, not sure why there's such a large price gap, but the cheapest I found was 41€ on Amazon (Germany) – MoritzLost Mar 29 '17 at 15:46
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    Anecdote: I have had people try to pick up my camera by the front element element of my lens, children poking their fingers into the hood, and others spill drinks on me. Even if lens flare is less of a concern, if you are in any situation where you can't control how others are behaving, a lens hood will save you more times than you can count. Some people even go as far as holding their camera with their lenses facing into their own shirt with a hood on for maximum protection in transit. – meklarian Mar 29 '17 at 17:10
  • @meklarian A hood for a lens with a 100°+ angle of view isn't going to help much in that respect. Those little fingers coated in pb&j are still going to smear it all over your lens. – Michael C Nov 16 '17 at 21:31
  • @MichaelClark True. Speaking for myself, I'm clumsy and need all the help I can get; at the very least the front element is in less danger from the sides. – meklarian Nov 17 '17 at 3:44
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It is going to depend a lot on the ultra wide angle lens.

For Nikon for example both the Tamron 15-30mm f2.8 (comes in other mounts too) and the 14-24mm f2.8 have a non-removable lens hood to protect the front element. This protects the bulbous front element, but also controls the light.

What I would be looking at on an ultra wide angle and it's lens hood is: 1) How exposed is the front element? Will getting close to an object mean easily smacking the glass against it?

2) What do indirect sun flares look like that a lens hood would prevent.

Bright light sources are probably the bigger concern on that Sigma 10-20mm. In frame light sources produce a reasonable sunstar (subjective). Try to find shots where a bright light source is just barely outside or at the edge of the FOV.

For example it might look something like:

enter image description here

Which to me is not acceptable, and having a wider angle where this can be introduced from would be a problem.

Lastly, most lens hoods can be replaced. If you are saving more than $30 it is still a good deal, take a day to test the lens and pick up a replacement if it is needed.

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    I'm saving quite a bit, but the Sigma lens hood for that lens costs upwards of 40€, that's quite steep in my opinion ... in your example image, the light source is in the frame though. A lens hood wouldn't help with that anyway ... – MoritzLost Mar 29 '17 at 12:50
  • @MoritzLost the image is only to get a good illustration. It was also on a Canon 50mm. In frame light sources on the Sigma 10-20mm looked quite good to me (unlike the above shot) but I couldn't find a good off camera flare for the 10-20. Maybe it handles it very well, or maybe my Google-fu is off this morning. – AthomSfere Mar 29 '17 at 12:54
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I use lens hoods almost religiously. My 70-200mm never comes out of the bag without it. Ditto for any of my other zooms or primes above 24mm. Indoors in totally controlled studio lighting I sometimes might use my 50mm, 85mm, or 100mm primes without hoods. They're just a little clunky on those particular lenses. But if I'm outside in the wild, the hood goes on. Period.

I rarely if ever bother with the hood for my EF 17-40mm F/4 L or other ultra wide angle zoom lenses I may be using. Why? Because it doesn't do much of anything except get in the way and take up space in the camera bag.

Hoods serve a two-fold purpose for me:

  • Block stray light from shining on the front of the lens and creating flare that can cause visible artifacts and reduce contrast.
  • Provide impact protection for the front of the lens.

In the case of the hoods designed for lenses such as 17-40mm or 16-35mm full frame lenses or 10-22mm type APS-C lenses they don't do very much of either. This is because they have to leave room for a diagonal angle of view of around 110°.

With the narrower 80° or so angle of view provided by APS-C only lenses in the 16-17mm range, and thus the longer hoods for the same focal lengths as compared to a FF lens in the 16-17mm range, I would use a hood with a 17-50mm or 18-55mm type APS-C only type lens. (i.e. EF-S, DX, Di II, DC, etc.)

Here's a Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 Di II (crop only) with hood. With an APS-C sensor the lens and hood need only to provide an 80° or so angle of view.
SP 17-50mm f/2.8 Di II

Here's an EF 17-40mm f/4 L (full frame) with hood. With a full frame camera the hood needs to allow a 110° AoV at 17mm. EF 17-40mm f/4 with EW-83E

The difference is pretty obvious.

  • So would you say I need the lens hood on the 10-20 (equiv. 16-32)? – MoritzLost Mar 29 '17 at 13:32
  • With zoom lenses only the widest focal length matters, because the hood must accommodate that angle of view. A 10mm focal length on a nikon APS-C camera gives about a 110° AoV. The hood for that lens is just as wide as the hood for my 17-40mm lens meant to be used on FF cameras. In contrast, a 17-50 APS-C only lens has a maximum AoV of only 80° or so, about the same as a 24-70mm FF lens. So the hood can be narrower and longer. – Michael C Mar 29 '17 at 14:17
  • yes that all makes sense, but what are you trying to say? :D – MoritzLost Mar 29 '17 at 14:22
  • Focal length isn't the real number, angle of view is. – Michael C Mar 29 '17 at 14:37
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    Read the answer carefully. It's in there. – Michael C Mar 29 '17 at 16:13
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I shoot with the Sigma 10-20mm F/3.5 regularly, and I can count on one hand the number of times I've used the included lens hood. Personally I've found it to be ineffective, and unnecessary, and as such it no longer travels with me.

The answer to this question with vary greatly with what you intend to use the lens for. I shoot a lot of landscapes, and astrophotography; for the former, I shield the lens with my hand when absolutely necessary, for the latter, a hood is completely useless.

If you're concerned about protecting the lens, pick up an 82mm UV filter. It'll do a far better job of protecting the front element.

  • Thank you! Yeah, the UV filter is the first thing that gets put on my lens ... I only use lens hoods when I'm worried about flaring/stray light – MoritzLost Mar 29 '17 at 17:39
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Neither approach—with or without hoods—is necessarily "right" or "wrong". It's a matter of shooting style, personal preference, lens quality, tolerance for flare, and myriad other factors.

Personally, I carry all those lens hoods with me in my camera bag, but I can count the number of times I've used them on zero hands. Most modern lenses (or at least modern Canon lenses) have pretty good rejection of incident light (anti-flare coatings), and I rarely find myself shooting nearly into the sun anyway (and as others have mentioned, that's what your second hand is for). In the rare situations when I do, a little bit of flare is more tolerable than the inconvenience of having a lens that's harder to carry around in a fanny pack.

I routinely carry a 16–35L II, a 24–105L, and a 70–300L, in a one-on, two-off configuration. Typically, I use the stretch parts that normally hold water bottles. That way, the lenses are easily reachable for a quick change. Lens hoods would either make that configuration impossible (if I kept the hoods on) or would triple the amount of time it takes to switch lenses (if I took them off). So from my perspective, a lens hood has a big downside and not a lot of upside.

In contrast, I use lens caps religiously, both to avoid accidental fingerprints and because I change lenses pretty frequently. The caps are attached by a tether so I can flip them off of the front of the lens and take a picture within about a second if I see a shot I want to snag (assuming I don't decide to do a lens swap, which adds a few seconds).

I also use lens filters religiously to add a small amount of bump protection and environmental sealing. I'm careful to use only high-end filters to minimize the IQ impact, though I acknowledge that there is still some loss.

Basically, my advice would be "Try it and see." If you find that the hoods on your particular lenses mostly just get in the way, don't use them. If you find that they make a lot of shots salvageable, use them. If it is somewhere in between, flip a coin. Either way, the important thing is not the decision, but rather that you took the time to think about it and make the decision that best suits your particular shooting style.

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