Why should I use a lens hood?

How this all started

The other day I have got an annoying discussion with a “person” on Facebook. After I have received the 7Artisans 25mm f0.95 lens I had to find out that my loved vented ø52 lens hood created vignetting and therefore and because I could not wait, I did my first shooting with the new lens without lens hood. Street & Portrait samples the new 7Artisans 25mm f0.95 lens The other day I received a special wide angel lens hood which to be honest is looking very ugly and emphasizes the bulky view of this already big and long lens. From my 40 years of experience I found out in many occasions that a lens hood is improving contrast and overall IQ. So I took the new lens with hood out for an other test shoot and even so I did not make the same pictures with and without lens hood I am convinced the lens hood is necessary to optimize the image results with this stunning lens. The NEW 7Artisans 25mm f0.95 test with lens hood

After this experiences I posted my findings on Facebook and then I got into this useless discussion with the “person” who insulted me of spreading wrong and useless informations missing any technical background. Staying cool I explained my findings and experience of the last 40 years but this made it even worse with the result that he got even personal. Simple solution to make this an end I blocked the *beep*.

Well I am sure I got a very strong ego but still from time to time I am reflecting this discussion. Of course not the insulting and personal part but the deeper background of the discussion. “Does a lens hood improve the IQ of a lens?” I discussed this topic with some of my photography loving friends. The arguments have been pro and con. The strongest argument against the use of lens hoods has been that since aprox. 10 years the quality of the lens coating has dramatically improved and can handle stray light entering side wise the lens system and creating a kind of background lighting of the lenses with influencing the breaking coefficient of the lens that the result can be less contrast and reduced sharpness and details in the image. Is this true? Does my great imagination fool me to not see the reality correct, while I was test shooting the 7Artisans 25mm f0.95 with lens hood?

I have to sort this out to clear up my mind again. (I am so sensible (-; )

The perfect moment

The right moment came yesterday. I was in the car wash queue, watching a passionated Porsche driver maintaining his loved car. His passion for the detail remembered me to my open issue. I was lucky to have my Fujifilm X-PRO3 Black with the stunning 7Artisans 25mm f0.95 with me as I had planned to explore by camera the harbor of Neuss. Next to the car wash there has been a little park that was Wonderfull illuminated by the sun and would be a great place to experiment with and without lens hood. To start my session I made a first very provocative image with out the hood and deliberately having sun shining on the first lens of the 7Artisans. Of course no high tech coating in the world can prevent the blur seen on my first image. In those cases where you want to turn your lens into the high standing sun you MUST use a lens hood unless you love blur on your image… perhaps a renaissance to former David Hamilton pictures and movies like (Bilitis 1977) where to my understanding the complete movie has been living from being unsharp.

The real tests I performed of course without having sun beams hitting directly the front lens.

To me the result is very obviously the image taken without lens hood (no direct sun on the first lens!) is blurred, lacking contrast, color rendering and details.

Yes, some people will say Malte you still have been standing too much against the sun. We typically will make sure the sun is in my back. So this test is not reflecting their reality.

Take two

Point taken. I need more testing to prove my concept of improving the IQ in many shooting conditions. On my next pictures I even turned much more out of the light and I have been stung with my camera and lens in the shade provided by some trees.

As for my first comparison pictures I again used nearly the same position but for sure the same settings in the camera and on the lens (focus and aperture) for both pictures. Next to the improved color rendering also the field of focus seems to be different between the images. Additional I am spotting a higher level of details in the shadows of that image. To me this a clear proof that stray light is influencing the image a lot.

Conclusion

My conclusion is that the influence of the lens hood to the image results is undeniable. Even modern coatings and the use of three HOYA ultra low dispersion high tech lenses as in the case of the new 7Artisans 25mm f0.95 lens, will not eliminate the strong effects of stray light entering the lens system. Wether you like or dislike the image with or without lens hood depends if you want to use this effect for the expression of your picture (Hamilton style, I am sure there is also an expensive PS filter for this availble).

My take away of all these are two things, first use a lens hood when ever possible to get most out of your lens and second don’t start useless discussions with “people” on Facebook or I will end up again in proving obvious things and even writing an articles like this one.

I am looking forward to your opinions and replies.

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