Good reasons why photographers should use a lens hood
Apart from making your equipment seem larger and getting you more attention from non SLR photographers, lens hoods do have a real purpose. From a technical viewpoint, lens hoods were invented to reduce flares that occur when photographing outside in daylight. For example, anyone who has tried to photograph a sunset will at some time, have also noticed their fair share of flares.
However, it also serves to protect your lens against knocks and falls, which can save you a ton of money having to replace it. I learned this the hard way recently when I fell over while viewing my LCD screen when on the move. Yes, walking and viewing your digital camera's LCD screen at the same time isn't a good idea. Those pot holes and cracks in the path just seem to jump out in front of you at the worst possible times.
When first starting out in digital SLR photography, it's also easy to forget that you have a lens that sticks out quite a bit further than the camera's body. I can't count the amount of times I ran into the objects I was photographing with the glass of the lens in the first 6 months or so of using a macro lens. Having a lens hood now protects my glass from these types of knocks.
OK, now you know I'm a klutz, I've recently found another reason why photographers should use lens hoods. This week while taking photographs down at the local botanical gardens, it started to softly rain. Looking back on my LCD screen (while standing still), I noticed little drops on the images caused by water that had fallen on my lens glass. After wiping the glass and attaching the lens hood, no such spots occured. Of course no hood is going to protect the lens in heavy rain with windy conditions. However, it will help protect it against light or misty rain and snow.
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