The more expensive lenses include a lens hood. For cheaper lenses you have to order a lens hood separately. Is a sun visor so important that you have to use it, or can you do without such an accessory? Let’s take a look at sun visors in this article.
Do you have a lens hood for your lenses? If you bought an expensive lens, you probably found one in the box. For cheaper lenses, you have to buy one separately as an accessory. The original ones are often quite expensive. Luckily, there are third-party sun visors that are much friendlier in price. However, you should be careful when choosing a third-party lens hood. If you buy the wrong one, it can lead to a significant amount of vignetting.
What is a sun visor used for?
As the name suggests, a lens hood will protect the lens, especially from light entering from the side. This can be sunlight, but also street lamps, car headlights, someone’s flashlight or any other light source.
Light from this direction can cause internal reflections inside the lens, commonly called flare. Depending on the lens, these reflections can become very annoying. It can even completely ruin your photo. A sun visor helps prevent flares.
Some photographers don’t realize that a lens hood is only effective if the light source is just outside the frame. If the light source is inside the frame, a lens hood won’t help. In other words, if you have the sun, a street lamp, or someone’s light in your photo, you could still end up with a nasty flare.
A sun visor has more advantages
A lens hood protects the lens from light sources located just outside the frame. If it’s overcast or when there aren’t any bright light sources nearby, you might think a sunshade isn’t necessary. But a sunshade can have more benefits. It will provide some physical protection to your front lens element. It will also provide protection against rain and snow.
When a sunshade is a nuisance
There are situations where a lens hood cannot be used at all or it may be in the way when placed over the lens. Perhaps the most obvious situation is with the use of a filter system. You must completely remove the lens hood before you can place the filter.
Some filter systems provide their own sunshade. Often these are quite bulky and cumbersome to use. The LucrOid filter system has a sort of sunshade system, but it’s not that good for flares. It offers some protection against rain and snow, but only a limited amount.
Do you use a polarizing filter for your photography? Some sun visors have an opening that allows you to rotate the filter with the sun visor installed. This way you can change the polarization effect without removing the lens hood. Again, the opening can only be found for deep sun visors, alas, not for all sun visors.
Although the sunshade provides protection against rain and snow, it can become troublesome if it is very windy. Deep lens hoods like those on large telephoto lenses can catch a lot of wind. If this happens, it becomes nearly impossible to get a stable shot. Removing the lens hood may be the only way to get sharp images in these circumstances.
Be sure to use the correct lens hood
There are basically two types of sun visors: round and petal. It is important to place the latter in the right direction to avoid vignetting. The shape of the petals is chosen to maximize protection against falling light. The long side of the frame has a deeper petal than the sides. If you misalign the petal-shaped lens hood, it will show in the photo.
If you receive a lens hood with the lens you purchased, you know you have the correct lens hood for that lens. The shape is optimized for the focal length to provide maximum protection. But if you have to buy one yourself, make sure you have the right lens hood. The wrong lens hood may not provide sufficient protection against unwanted light or it will appear as vignetting in your photo. You have to be very careful with cheap third-party lens hoods. Make sure they are optimized for your purpose.
Is a sun visor essential or not?
Do you always have to use a sun visor or is it not so important? I used to use a sun visor at all times, no matter what. I only removed it when I wanted to use a filter system. But today, I hardly use a lens hood anymore. Not for all purposes, of course.
The petal-shaped sun visors are a nuisance to me. These petals make it difficult to place a lens inside a shoulder bag. Petals still cling to dividers. That’s why I stopped using it.
I also removed the lens hood from my wide angle lenses. It is never so good at blocking light from outside the frame. On top of that, I almost always use a filter system with these lenses. The only time I have a lens hood installed is for my telephoto zooms when there is a chance of rain or snow.
If flares occur, I always have a hand available to shield the light source. Then again, sometimes a flare can be a nice addition to the photo. Do you use a lens hood for your photos? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.