We all get those plastic, circular things attached to the lens when we buy new glass. This is a lens hood, and you know what, it actually has a purpose. A few in fact.
The same goes for the UV filter. It may seem redundant since all digital cameras already compensate for Ultraviolet light, but it still has a purpose, even it isn’t the purpose it was originally intended for.
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Firstly, people are going to tell you that wearing your UV filter is bad because it degrades the image quality. I’m no scientist, but in my years of using one, I’ve never found this to be true.
Don’t get me wrong, it absolutely can degrade the image quality, just not if you do it properly. The first thing you need to do is not own or buy a cheap filter for your camera. Especially if you are going to use it at all times.
Think about it. If you spend upwards of $1000 on a lens, you really don’t want to use a cheap filter. It will cheapen that big piece of glass it is sitting on the front of.
If your lens is high-end, you can easily justify another $50-100 on a filter. As the lens I use is a 77mm, I need the same diameter in the filter, and at this size, they can get expensive.
The one I use is the Hoya 77mm Pro 1 Ultraviolet (UV) Filter and it is very much worth the investment.
Using a cheap filter will cause havoc on your image quality, so if you’re going to follow my advice, buy a good quality filter. Same rules apply for lenses; keep it clean of smudge, and dust free.
You’ll struggle to even see the glass in a top quality UV filter.
Why Use a Lens Hood and UV Filter
You may feel that a lens hood and a UV filter are redundant pieces of gear that will just get in the way and slow you down.
Extremely bright weather or pointing your lens towards the sun is when to use a lens hood. And the UV filter, does nothing anyway. Ok, you have two good points, but you are missing something.
Both of these items offer you protection. Especially against the things you cant see or expect.
Picture this. You are out taking photos and it starts raining. Your bag is out, all over the floor, and you have to collect all of your stuff scattered around.
You sling your camera on your back, throw everything you can into the bag, and head to the car. Working your way past some other cars, you run past a brick flowerbed, and that’s when you hear it.
Now, you have a huge scratch in your glass. Thankfully, you have your UV filter on, saving your expensive lens and only destroying your filter. That is a fair trade-off in my book.
Picture this. You are out again, taking live music photos at a festival. You manage to get backstage to one of the stages and are thrilled to be there. This isn’t your typical festival site.
The festival is taking place in an old abandoned fort and dock. This is not what you are used to at a festival, but you try your best anyhow.
The lighting backstage is less than perfect, and you may have been partaking in a few jolly drinks to sink into the atmosphere.
Running after a musician in the shadow of the stage, you trip over a large rock, and swiftly land on the floor, hands first.
That would be fine, but you have your camera in your hand and landed on top of it. The camera lands down lens first. worst nightmare.
Thankfully, your camera lens hood was on your camera, in the working position. As it’s screwed on, it managed to take the full brunt of the force without too much problem.
The plastic bent for the briefest of moments but returned to its usual shape immediately. You saved your lens, even though you may have felt a little silly, using the camera lens hood at a nighttime festival.
Two scenarios where your equipment could have been damaged, or even worse, rendered void. This meant no more photographs and a hefty cost in either repairing or replacing those broken items.
Both times, they were saved by gear items that cost less than 1/10 of the items they saved. The point of these is to point out – accidents will happen. They are inevitable.
Accidents happen even when you are in control of a situation, as you cant always be wary of other people. Plus, most of the time, you will have your face pressed up against the viewfinder or the LCD screen.
Oh, and if you wanted to know what a camera lens hood actually does, it stops your lens from picking up harsh light, which could give you a serious case of lens flare.
They are very difficult, if not impossible to remove in post-editing software. You may think you might not need it, but they will stop the light, even if it isn’t obvious to you.
A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography's Photographer-In-Chief:
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