Ultimate Guide on ND Filter vs Lens Hood in 2023

nd filter vs lens hood

If photography is your hobby, then you must have heard the terms “Lens Hood” and “ND Filters”. These are two of the useful accessories of modern-day cameras. ND Filter vs Lens hood is what you might be hearing more often if you are a daylight photographer

We have been asked about the uses and differences between an ND Filter and a lens hood. Therefore, we are presenting a complete and detailed guide for you to decide between an ND Filter and a Lens hood.


ND Filter vs Lens Hood

An Nd Filter reduces the number of light rays hitting the sensor keeping the camera’s shutter speed where you want while a lens hood stops the stray light coming into the lens which can create lens flare.

Lens hood is something you can use as your all-time camera accessory while an ND filter is useful in some specific situations when you don’t want to keep changing ISO and shutter speed again and again.

For example, you can’t use an ND filter on a cloudy day as it will increase the darkness leaving your photo horrible but at the same time, if you’re using a Lens hood on your lens, it might increase the beauty of the picture.

Basic Purpose of ND Filter and Lens Hood

Both of the above-mentioned camera accessories serve two different functions. An ND filter or a Polarizer affects the darkness and exposure of the images while a lens hood prevents lens flare by preventing stray light. Both are important in their very purposes.

When and What to Use Between ND Filter and Lens Hood?

Set up your camera and set your ISO as low as you can and set your aperture and shutter speed where you want them for your shots. If your shot is overexposed, you need an ND filter.

In case you are taking a picture and you find a glare on your photos then you need a lens hood to prevent this lens flare. So, both are required for their specific purposes.

Honestly what I think is that both are not too pricy and choosy stuff so you can buy both of them and check whether you like them or not. Being a photographer, I think, you should have both of these and should know their use.

Though if you are just a hobbyist, then you can read complete details further.

Can You use a Lens Hood and Filter at the Same Time?

Yes, you can use a Lens Hood and a UV filter at the same time, but you cannot use an ND filter with a lens hood. You have to use both of them individually.

ND Filter vs Lens Hood | Basic Difference

Now we will talk about ND Filters and Lens Hoods that how they can be used and to improve photos and videos and also, we will be giving a couple of helpful tips on choosing and using ND filter and Lens Hood.

ND Filter

What is an ND Filter?

ND filters are like sunglasses for the camera. Nd filter is a piece of glass that you put in front of your lens to make the image darker. If you have to step up your film-making game, you need to have these ND filters. It is also called a polarizer.

nd filter vs lens hood
Ranges of ND Filter

Why Use an ND Filter?

Although you can manipulate the light using the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO having an ND filter gives you an extra function of control- making your exposure triangle into an exposure square.

For videos, it allows you to keep your aperture where you want it without having to adjust shutter speed and ISO from the optimal settings. For photography it allows you to adjust the shutter speed for creative motion blur while maintaining aperture.

However, there are different types of ND filters out there. There are fixed ND filters that offer a specific number of stops of darkening like these Polar Pro Quartz lines. I am having the ND 16 which darkens the image by 4 stops, and I have 1000 which makes the image darker by 10 stops.

When to Use an ND Filter

You can use an ND filter with your lens when you want to decrease the shutter speed of your camera or reduce the exposure in your photos for attaining motion blur and other effects.

And as if that wasn’t already enough you can do some really cool creative things with variable ND filters in the video too. You can create in-camera fades or you can change the brightness when moving from a bright area to a darker area or vice versa.

When to Not Use an ND Filter

An Nd Filter is a camera accessory that you don’t need to attach to your camera all the time. So Simply, when you don’t need to change the exposure and darkness in your photos, you don’t need an ND Filter.

Types of ND Filters

There are two types of ND Filters:

  • Fixed ND Filter
  • Variable ND Filter

Fixed ND Filters

I liked using my fixed ND filter because it often produces a comparably sharper image and it provides the optimum darkness I want. The variable ND Filters work with the two pieces of glass, even with some of the more expensive ones you can get vignetting loss of sharpness if you push them too far.

These are the things that you don’t see on fixed ND filters with a single piece of glass. The nice thing about the Peter McKinnon ND filter filters is that they just take all of those problems and they just toss them out of windows.

The PMVND Filter uses Polar Pro’s premium quality fused quartz glass element with the lowest refractive index. The Polar Pro provides a special tempered glass to make that lens filter.

Simply, you should go for the best available ND filter, if you want your pictures to look more amazing. For having premium quality, you have to pay a premium price too. (Just for your info).

How to Choose a Fixed ND Filter

Now, what ND filter do you need? Now we are going to slowly increase our shutter speed until the exposure is correct, but we need to count how many moves we make.

On my camera, and on many cameras, the shutter speed is set to move in one-third stop increments. This means that every three moves are one stop of light. So, we can count exactly how many stops we changed before the exposure was correct.

Once you have done this, you can dial your shutter speed back down and you’ll know exactly what ND filter you need. In this case, I would have normally used my Polar Pro ND 16 filter that cuts the light down by 4 cuts and then adjusted some settings. This works great if you use fixed NDs.

But now with the variable NDs, I have the option to use the 2 – 5 stop filter and dive in the exposure even more precisely without having to adjust more settings. One of the coolest things about the new variable ND filters is that they have marked, how many stops of light your cutting on the ring. So, setting up can be really quick.

Variable ND Filters

Sometimes, fixed ND filters can be limited, and you might need a whole set of them to make different darkness in photos and it takes a whole bunch of time to screw them on and off of your lens.

That’s where the variable ND filter comes in handy. Polar pro just released these Peter McKinnon variable ND filters. Variable ND filters consist of two pieces of glass.

The front one of them is rotatable. As you rotate the front piece, the ND filter makes the image darker. It’s fairly obvious how convenient this can be to just twist to change the light rather than replacing the filter with another.

But now with the variable NDs, I have the option to use the 2 – 5 stop filter and dive in the exposure even more precisely without having to adjust more settings. One of the coolest things about the new variable ND filters is that they have marked, how many stops of light your cutting on the ring. So, setting up can be really quick.

How to Choose an ND Filter

Now, this whole calculation process is even easier when you are using the variable ND Filters since you have a range to play with. Thus, making it even easier.

With these filters, the 2-5 stop is typically perfect for most of my shots and videos and the 6-9 stop is handy if I wanna shoot at f/1.4 on a super bright day or if I wanna do some creative photography which brings me to my next point.

ND filters can also be used to take long exposure photography. To get a long exposure, you set your shutter time to a slower speed and it captures more motion blur in the image but it also lets in a whole bunch more light, potentially over-exposing your image.

This technique is awesome for smoothing water, doing light trail photography, over if you are trying to remove people from photos. For this use, I could utilize my 6-9 stop variable ND filter.

In my case, I am going to use Polar Pro’s ND 1000 PL which not only cuts 10 stops of light but is also a circular polarizer and I can cut some of the glare off of the reflective surfaces.

Lens Hood

What is a Lens Hood?

A lens hood is also called a lens-shade and is a camera accessory which is used on the front of a lens and its function is to prevent waif light coming into the lens to prevent lens glare and to increase contrast in photos.

Why Use a Lens Hood?

The main reason you use a Lens Hood is to stop stray light coming into your lens which can create lens flare.

This usually happens when you shoot directly into the Sun or when you have a strong and bright light source in front your lens. Let’s talk about an example.

Here we have two pictures. The one on the left is taken with no lens hood and the one on the right is taken with the lens hood on. Both are captured while shooting into the Sun.

nd filter vs lens hood

You can see in the photo on the left that a lens flare is created which you can see coming in from the top left of the screen and that is actually the light reflecting off the inside elements of the lens.

In the next picture, you can see, there is a lens hood on the lens which has shielded the light and it has stopped the lens flare, if you look at the top, you cannot find it there. You can also see a lot more contrast in the picture.

You can see the difference in contrast between both pictures between the blacks and the whites of both images. So, I am gonna show you how a lens hood blocks the light by using a torch and a lens hood here.

Play Video

So that’s the main reason to use a lens hood, to block extra and unwanted light and prevent light flare, and to create a stronger contrast of colors and tones in the images.

When to Use a Lens Hood?

You should have a lens hood all of the time because there is always stray light going in front of the lens whether you are inside or shooting at night.

Personally, I believe, it gives your image much more contrast if you have got a lens hood on. Another tip here is to always keep your lens clean. This is going to increase contrast and crisp prevent lens flare too.

When to Not Use a Lens Hood? (Exception)

Although we recommend using a lens hood all the time yet, there are two exceptions for that:

1- To Create Lens Flare Purposely

The first is when you wanna create a lens flare purposely. Sometimes, you might require creating a lens flare when you need it to be added to the beauty of the picture. Therefore, you have to directly shoot into the Sun and remove the lens-hood to get that effect.

2- When Using Pop-Up Flash on Camera

The flash will pop out from the top of the camera and so the light will come off the flash and will cast a shadow from the lens hood and at the bottom of your picture you will see a big shadow. So, don’t use a lens hood if you are using a pop-up flash. Yeah! If you’ve got a flashgun, then it’s okay.

How to Store Your Lens Hood

All you need is just rotate the lens hood to remove it, flip it upside down, and then put it on the lens. Problem Solved.

Types of Lens Hood

There are mainly two types of lens hood which are given below:

  1. Petal Type
  2. Cylinder Type

Petal Type Lens Hood

As the name represents, the petal-type lenses have cut-out like petals. These are sued on standard zoom lenses and the ones that go to a wider angle.

It is because, if you don’t have these petal-cuts out, and just had a cylinder hood on these, when you zoomed out at wide angles, you would see black corners in your picture which don’t look good.

To test this, put your zoom lens to its widest angle, look through the viewfinder and then move your hand forward adjacent to the lens and you would see the hand appear in the corners which is why we use a petal-type lens hood to prevent this problem.

Cylinder Type Lens Hood

This type of lens hood is primarily made for fixed focal length lenses known as prime lenses instead of zoom lenses. These can be cylinder-shaped because the prime lenses don’t need to zoom out and are fixed to a particular focal length.

The hoods can be made to go to the exact point where you won’t see the hood in the image. This is also a question people ask that is a single-sized lens hood is compatible with all lenses? So, no! one size doesn’t fit all the lenses. You have to get the particular lens hood for your lens.

Two lenses having different sizes need different lens hoods and the reason is that the circumference of both lenses is different that’s why they won’t fit on each one. The same goes for petal-type lens hoods.

Final Verdict

­The possibilities are basically endless and there are pretty cool things you can do to your photography using a lens hood and ND filter which is also called a polarizer.

So now you might know that it isn’t a battle between ND filter and Lens hood, but both are used differently and needed for different purposes. You can you both are their required scenarios.

Also Visit:

Telephoto vs Zoom Lens

How to Print a Portrait Photo in Landscape

Hear From You

As always, I wanna know what you guys think. Are you using ND filters for your pictures and videos or a Lens hood? Also, if there are some cool tricks you wanna share. Leave a comment below

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