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I may be in the minority but I never take my gear out without a lens hood mounted to my lens. Some of you hate them or think they are unnecessary. I disagree. I find them very valuable and here’s why.
1. The lens hood shades the front of your lens to prevent unwanted flare or a washed out image. It stops the stray light from bouncing around the lens barrel. (Even indoors or at night there can be stray light that causes flare.)
2. It offers damage protection in case you bump the front of your lens into something that could damage it. I like to think of it as a bumper.
3. If you need to shoot fast, you can often rely on the lens hood to protect your lens while the lens cap is off.
I always try to use the manufacturer’s lens hoods because they are designed to reduce shade or shadow or vignetting. I will make exceptions and go with old-fashioned collapsible rubber lens hoods if I don’t like the manufacturer’s hood.
I like metal lens hoods but they are hard to find.
If you’re an Olympus user here’s a heads up. Some of the Olympus lenses have a cosmetic cover that installs over the bayonet mount on the front of the lens. This needs to be rotated off the lens for some Olympus lens hoods to attach to the lens.