Today we’re exploring the topic of when a lens hood should be used as part of your product photography service. When buying a lens as a packshot photographer, it may well have come with one of these but often the more affordable ones don’t. This raises the question of whether to buy a separate one or to save money.
There are arguments for and against, very much depending on the scenario you’re working in. As ever in the product photography world, it is important to understand what this accessory is and how it is used before you can make a decision.
The clue is very much in the name of this product. It is designed to go onto your camera and protect the lens from light. They can protect against sunlight, car headlights, handheld lighting etc.
Primarily designed to shield it from light to the side of the packshot photographer, it isn’t designed to work against a light source that is inside the frame. When the light comes from within the frame, it can cause reflections, known in product photography as flares. You will rarely want flares to exist within an image and whilst a hood won’t stop it from happening, it can help prevent other flares from occurring via light sources outside of your frame.
Next in this article, we’re going to explore the benefits and challenges faced by using a lens hood. In product photography, each packshot photographer will have their own preferences as well as individual requirements. By understanding the characteristics of a lens hood, you can decide if it is right for you.
We’ve already highlighted the primary benefit of a hood, in that it stops light from outside of your frame causing flares within your image. However, there are other benefits that make lens hoods a great choice.
If working outside, the hood provides a degree of protection against the elements. For example, if it starts to rain or snow then it will help shield the equipment.
The primary challenge a packshot photographer will face when using a lens hood is trying to combine this with using filters. In product photography, filters are an incredibly useful way to enhance an image and you will need to take off the hood to add on the filter.
Furthermore, when shooting outdoors a lens hood can cause your camera to be more unstable in windier weather. This is because it will catch more of the wind and make it harder to keep everything stable.
A lens hood is one of those very personal decisions faced by a product photographer. Many will shift opinions from always using them to never using them and somewhere in between. There are some genuine benefits to having a lens hood and it is always good to have one in your camera bag. However, if you set up your shot correctly then it is likely that you don’t necessarily need to use one and still get the shot you want.