Large Format Lens Hoods? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

The subject of contrast and flare has gotten my attention recently. Is the utilization of lens hoods so common with 35mm and medium format worth considering in large format? Anyone out there with experience on this subject? My initial inclination is that the positive benefits of a lens hoods for large format photography is not considerable or the manufacturers would be pushing these acccessories. I use screw in filters and wondered if the two are compatible? Thanks in advance.

-- Michael Kadillak (, March 16, 2001


I always use a shade or shade the lens with my hand when I use any camera, especially large format since the lens I have are only single coated. Flare greatly reduces contrast and I do my best to avoid it.

-- Sorin Varzaru (, March 17, 2001.

I've never seen hoods for large format lenses. I know they sell lense shades that resemble a bellows that fits on the front standard of a view camera. These can be adjusted in or out to fit the coverage of your lense. I usually use black cards on stands or a "magic arm" to flag direct light from hitting the lense (gobo). It is well worth the effort to "flag" off your large format lense, just as you would a 35mm. I've had several ruined shots from unnoticed flare from point light sources.

-- Eric Blevins (, March 17, 2001.

try a compendium shade with a mask and see the difference for yourself. toyo has been giving away compendiums with new 45aII's. most, if not all, manufacturers sell some kind of lens shade, even if they don't promote them.

-- adam friedberg (, March 17, 2001.

Hi Michael

I use allmost a MF or 35mm lens hoods but you have to take a wide one for a normal 4x5 lens and a normal for the long lenses,and super wide for the 75mm, because of more coverige of the large format. So thad works fine for me! And is much cheaper then the originall bellows hood for the Arca. And I testet each out so it works even when i`m fully shift etc. so it dos not vignetting!

-- Armin Seeholzer (, March 17, 2001.

Michael, I favour the black card option. It is cheap, easily carried in a outer pocket on my pack and most importantly it works! I used to religiously use lens hoods on MF as I had a few shots ruined by flare. Quite often they were expensive accessories (that should be supplied WITH the lens in my view!). When entering the world of LF the problem of flare was a thought when it came to choosing lenses. But I didn't want the fuss or expense of a bellows shade and as the lens manufacturers don't (to my knowledge) offer hoods I made a few cards from matt black mounting board about 8 inches square. I use double thickness and tape the edges for longevity! They are also useful as I have stuck filter factors/exposure info on one side. They may be worth trying before paying out for an expensive accessory. Regards Paul

-- paul owen (, March 17, 2001.

I use the dark slide from the film holder. All you want to do is keep sunlight off of the lens and it doesn't add any extra weight or gear to accomplish the mission. Just be careful with wide angles not to include it in the frame. It can never be forgotten, lost or misplaced and it gives you something to do with the slide while you expose the negative.

-- Marv (, March 17, 2001.

Several of the above respondents have implied that you only need to worry about blocking light from a point source (like the sun). But every test I've ever seen shows that image quality is degraded due to light spill from ALL directions, not just from the direct sun, and those who say "Pshaw! Don't waste money on a lens hood when your hat will do just fine" (aka "the Ansel alibi") usually don't realize how much contrast they're losing by not putting a 360-degree hood around the lens.

Fwiw, I use the Lee compendium shade/filter system, with 4x4 and 4x6 filters and with different-sized front-lens-thread adaptors for various lenses. These have been amply discussed in Older Messages in this forum.


-- Simon (, March 17, 2001.

There are two factors in large format photography that determine whether you can blissfully ignore lens hoods, will absolutely require a compendium hood, or experience something in between. First, the design of your camera. Does it have an oversized, square (vs. tapered) bellows? If so, stray light will have a greatly reduced chance of bouncing around inside and adding flare exposure to your film. Second, the image circles of your lenses. Are they substantially larger than the film? If so, more stray light will have an opportunity to bounce around inside when a properly adjusted lenshood is not used. Note that, despite his legendary hat trick, St. Ansel wrote about all this and did say that a correcly used compendium is appropriate for optimum flare protection, whether a point source is present in the scene or not.

-- Sal Santamaura (, March 17, 2001.

Many thanks to all that took the time to respond. The free sharing of experience is very valued on many subjects and that is what makes this post work so well. I found all of the responses adding something on the subject that I will take to the field and try out.

The post on a complete 360 degree shade particularly made sense. As a result, I found a generic rubber wide angle and standard shade ($8 - $15) that will allow me to screw the shade over my filter (or go directly on to the threads on the lens)and reduce the sharp angles of light into the edges of the lens surface that could wreck an image without warning. I will have to be very carefull with the wide angles. Many times I get so damn caught up into the composition, exposure and the large format process that I forget to think about that nasty word. Again, my sincere appreciation.

-- Michael Kadillak (, March 17, 2001.

Yes, Sal, you're right about Ansel endorsing the need for true shades. I probably had St. Edward in mind more than St. Ansel (the latter of whom obviously could make do with a hat on occasion but knew better).

.,.,., .,.,

-- Simon (, March 17, 2001.

I think you had it right the first time. I can't count the number of imaged I've seen of Adams with his Stetson, and do recall one image of him using it as a shade with hid 'blad. Weston on the other hand more often than not seems to have gone "lidless". I can only recall seeing two shots of him with a chapeaux - a Campaign hat and a beret. In his list of equipment for his Guggenheim, he always seems to mention the "Worsching Counter Light Cap" a combination lens shade/lens cap.

-- Sean yates (, March 17, 2001.

The hoods they sell for the RB-67 lenses are incredible. They are big enough to fit LF lenses, I even have to step mine down a bit. They also have a metal ring inside the rubber to stiffen them. I think they are actually the nice Hoya hoods, labled as Mamiya. The 645 system hoods are great, too, but in smaller sizes. You can find them used for less the $15 sometimes. They squish flatter to carry, too. They don't fold within the field camera, but I always take one along.

-- E.L. (, March 17, 2001.

I tried using a hood, but gave up. The metal/rubber hoods sold for MF cameras won't work if you use much movement, since you will cut off your image circle. The bellows lens hoods sold by Lee allow one to adjust the hood in response to movements. I tried the Lee hood, but found it was too long for my usual combination: G-claron 270mm with 8x10. The hood often got into the picture even at its shortest position. The hood worked well with my Fuji 450mm, but I don't use this lens much. Now, I block the sun with my focusing cloth.

-- William Marderness (, March 18, 2001.

The movements used with large format cameras makes the use of lens shades more difficult that with 35 mm or medium format, where the lens never moves up, down, or sideways (ignoring PC lenses for the moment). That's why compendium shades are used - they can be adjusted to conform to the lens movement. As someone else has pointed out, you don't use a lens shade only to prevent direct sunlight from striking the lens. It that were the case no one would ever need a lens shade since it's fairly simply to block direct sunlight with a dark slide, hand, hat, etc. The need for a shade is actually greater in bright diffuse light than in direct sun light and a hat, hand, dark slike, etc. won't help in that kind of light. The difficulty I've found even with a compendium shade is the problem of the shade causing vignetting of the film corners. In theory you can see this by looking at the ground glass but you're supposed to look at the shooting aperture, not with the aperture wide open, and who can see the corners of the ground glass very well at F 32 or 45?

-- Brian Ellis (, March 18, 2001.

Take the back off and look through the aperture from the corners of the rear frame. If there is cut-off, you'll see it in the irregular shape of the aperture.

-- Sean yates (, March 18, 2001.

... or look at the groundglass through the stopped down lens (from in front of the camera). if you can see the corners of the groundglass ....

-- adam friedberg (, March 19, 2001.

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