August 11, 2015

All about that Hood

Pimp your XF lenses!

Thanks for the many comments and suggestions! I have (twice now) updated this post
with a quick overview table (at the end), and added a few clarifications here and there.

Click on any image to see a larger version

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Let’s be honest: next to the ease-of-use of the Fujifilm X cameras, the advantages of their sensor, the performance of the XF glass and the resulting image quality, many X-shooters just love the retro design and handling of the bodies. Right from the start, with the original X100, we got a compact tool to completely enjoy taking pictures. If you’re old enough to have started photography with roll film or 35mm cassettes: just add “again” at the end.

In order to augment the “old days” experience, we’ve been adding leather carrying and wrist straps, half cases, thumb grips, soft releases, old-fashioned cable releases… In the end though, you can’t but ask yourself:

Why didn’t Fujifilm bring us sexier lens hoods?

It started rather well actually. The X100’s fixed 23mm lens comes with a nice metal vented release. That comes handy when using the optical viewfinder, as less of the field of view is obstructed (as long as the openings are well aligned, hence the bayonet mount).

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Then, the XF 18mm f/2.0 and XF 35mm f/1.4 (both part of the X-Pro1 release wave) came with somewhat classy rectangular metal hoods, alas also with horrible rubber front caps.

After that, sadly, we saw the typical petal shaped or (rather oversized) cylindrical lens hoods coming over from the (D)SLR market…

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There’s a lot of good things to say about the Fujifilm lens hoods though. They do come included with the lenses, and provide more than adequate light shielding and protection for the front lens element. They can be mounted reversed to save space in your bag, and are made of solid mass-colored plastic to resist dents and scratches (the 18 and 35 metal ones are the exception for both last attributes).

But they remain cumbersome, tend to come off or knock loose when banging around in crowds, are a pain to mount/unmount when changing lenses, and look quite a bit, well… boring.

It’s not all that bad, is it?

Fortunately, there are plenty of alternatives available. Some come from traditional third party accessory brands, others spawn out of Chinese workshops courtesy of eBay.

As I was gradually building up my lens collection for the X-cameras, I constantly looked for and experimented with alternative and mostly classic-styled lens hoods. The ones that I have and use are all sturdy one-piece metal designs, with a screw mount in the matching filter thread size. Screw-on hoods have the advantage that they stay firmly in place even when things go hectic around your camera. Read: street photography, event coverage, reportage…

These hoods are anodized black, with a satin finish on the outside and a grooved matte finish on the inside, the latter to reduce internal reflections. They have proven to resist well against dents and scratches, I cannot see much wear other than along the front outer rim: in that they perform at least as well as any other metal hood I used throughout the (many) years.

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As you can see above, the hoods come in different versions, each available in various sizes:

  • a vented design, approximately 18mm long, with three* slots (model MH-xx);
  • a standard cylindrical one, approximately 20mm long (model MH-xxS);
  • a tele cylindrical one, approximately 35mm long (model MH-xxT);
  • a wide tapered version, approximately 18mm long (model MH-xxW).

I order my lens hoods directly from Hong Kong based eBay vendor gadgetworldexports. They have proven to be very reliable, supplying correct information, and offering free and fast standard shipping (about twice as fast to Belgium as any other HK/China outlet I ordered from). Never had any issue whatsoever.

After a lot of small yellow packages in the mailbox, I now have a broad collection in thread sizes from 39mm to 72mm (the ‘xx’ in the model designation). Unit prices ran between USD 3.49 and USD 5.99, shipping included – so nothing to break the bank. No fear for damaging or losing.

* A keen observer on some of the images that one of the vented hoods shows not three but five “vents”. The very first vented hood I purchased (early 2012, a 52mm model to go on the XF35) indeed came from a different eBay vendor and has a slightly different design.

More form than function

I don’t want you to get all carried away, now… Remember that the length of any symmetrical lens hood should not exceed the minimum depth of the Fujifilm petal hoods, or else corner vignetting may pop up (after all, that’s what the originals were dimensioned for).

Also, whereas screw-on filters can be added without changing the position of a bayonet mounted hood, they will take up space between the lens thread and the screw-on lens hood: that too may lead to vignetting. Take this into account when combining screw-on hoods with screw-on filters!

Finally: you can put lens caps on the hoods for extra dust or impact protection, e.g. inside a carrying bag. I recommend to use appropriately sized snap-on or pinch-type caps attaching to the front of the hoods. Such caps are readily available from various sources, including the eBay vendor I use. You can even ‘re-assign’ some of the supplied Fujifilm caps from one lens to another (e.g. use the 52mm cap from the XF18 or XF35 with a 39mm vented hood). The quick overview table at the end of this post lists the required cap sizes.

Some people may prefer to use the supplied Fujifilm cap by mounting it deeper inside the hood. Installation and removal however becomes cumbersome, takes time and requires proper care.
The vented hoods perfectly accept the original caps: they get to sit halfway into the hood, past the vents, so the space immediately in front of the lens is sealed off. I found that the wide hoods simply will not adequately hold the caps. With cylindrical hoods, the caps fit but do not stay firmly in place. In addition, inserting or removing the cap may scratch the grooved interior, potentially exposing bare metal and causing reflections. Therefore I prefer using front-mounted caps with both wide and standard or tele hoods.

Enough caveats: let’s have a closer look at my choices and findings for the various XF lenses.

Very wide primes – 14mm & 16mm

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Only one viable choice here, the wide model, as a vented hood will cause vignetting in the corners of the frame. Required thread sizes are 58mm (XF14) and 67mm (XF16).

The lens+hood combo is shorter than with the Fujifilm shades, but wider at the front. That is not am issue with my (ThinkTank Retrospective) camera bags. The front lens element remains adequately protected. And the whole screams power!

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Wide primes – 18mm & 23mm

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Here I prefer the vented variants (thread sizes 52mm and 62mm respectively). The lenses now take on the look of their classic counterparts and the overall bulk is reduced, especially with the 23mm. Have a look at my preferred street shooter setup:

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Standard primes – 27mm & 35mm

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This time we get some choices. The XF27 looks great with a vented hood, but a standard cylindrical one will no doubt do as well (39mm thread). But in this case ANY hood will defy the compact pancake nature, so mine usually goes out ‘as is’: bare naked.

The XF35 then looks great with both the vented model and the standard design (52mm thread). The decision becomes a matter of taste (and mood): I find myself alternating…

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Short tele primes – 56mm & 90mm

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My preference goes towards the sleek look of a cylindrical hood. Both the standard and the tele sizes will do on either lens, so I decided to split my options. Kudos to Fujifilm for the common 62mm thread size!

Don’t you agree that the 56mm looks quite ‘sharp’ on the outside as well in this ‘dress’?

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What about the 60mm macro?

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Good question. My XF60 doesn’t venture outdoors a lot, I mainly use it for product and close-up shots in the studio, where the default lens hood does well. Furthermore, the lens is known not to like stray light. If you find the original Fujifilm hood too large, be aware that the Fujifilm bayonet shade for the XF35 fits equally well (above right).

A vented hood with 39mm thread is another option, without disturbing the autofocus operation (something the XF60 is notorious for). I am sure a standard cylindrical hood would work too, I just never got one of those in 39mm thread (yet).

The ‘convenience’ zooms – 18-55mm, 18-135mm & 55-200mm

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It’s a bit of a stretch to strive for a classic look with zoom lenses, but al least the XF18-55 is compact enough to pass for a longer prime – as long as you drop the default petal shade. And although my primes see ‘action’ more often, I do use my lighter zooms in similar situations, where a screw-on lens hood will stay on solidly and provide better physical protection.

My choices went towards a vented hood for the XF18-55 and XF-18-135 (58mm and 67mm threads respectively), and for a tele cylindrical one on the XF55-200 (62mm thread). Again, the resulting combination is more compact than with the Fujifilm hoods.

The ‘serious’ zooms – XF10-24, XF16-55 & XF50-140

These excellent lenses come with a heft that in no way you can ‘camouflage’ as a prime…
Also, in my case, those are the optics I go to for ‘serious’, more deliberate, top quality work. So here I prefer to stick with the original Fujifilm lens hoods, that provide good shielding against stray light across the zoom range, and – when mounted in reverse – take up little extra space in the bag.

Anyway, I doubt that the XF10-24 would stay free of corner vignetting even with a wide model hood, looking at the minimum depth of the original shade. So I did not even order an alternative in 72mm thread (yet). Same for the XF16-55, where in addition a wide hood would considerably add to the already significant 77mm front diameter.

The only exception: the XF50-140. Here, a tele cylindrical hood (72mm thread) works just fine and – as with the 56 and 90 siblings – delivers that sleek and slim appearance.

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Time for a little recap

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Here’s a quick overview of the models and sizes I am using with each of the XF lenses:

alternative hoodsI have added the appropriate sizes for pinch style lens caps should you want to add these on top of the hoods, for extra (dust) protection.

Had enough of it? You bet!

Hey, guys and girls, don’t take all of this too serious! It’s only lenses and hoods, after all… Looks and style may be pleasant and fuel good discussion (preferably around a table, after a shoot!), but none of that pimping will improve your skills or get you better images.

So, take away from the above whatever you like, and keep up the good photo fun!

Lens shades-123w

Click on any image to see a larger version

29 comments:

hpchavaz said...

Great post , I "scoop.it " http://goo.gl/QBXTHk

What about a table compatibility Lens / hood ?

Kevin Ford said...

Is it easy enough to attach the Fuji lens cap on the 50-140?

Rene Delbar said...

@hpchavaz: great suggestion, I will add one at the bottom!

@Kevin Ford: it is possible to put the original Fujifilm lens cap all the way into the bottom of the round metal lens hood, but it is neither practical nor stays in place well. Better get a separate 77mm pinch lens cap and mount it at the front of the hood (the Fujifilm cap from my XF16-55 fits perfectly).

Anonymous said...

Did you ever get a chance to update the table? Specifically the 16mm lens hood? Thanks!

Rene Delbar said...

The table was added a while ago.

Bald-Ego said...

Rene,

Many thanks for pulling this article together. The table is very handy so I appreciate all the work you put into it and the accompanying article. As I migrate to the Fuji X system, it will be a great reference for me. I bought some vented hoods from the same vendor for my Olympus 75mm, 45mm, and 25mm lenses. As you probably know already, Olympus is pretty stingy about including lens caps with their lenses so, unlike you, I was starting from square one, sans hoods. I must say, vented hoods look fantastic on retro-styled cameras like the E-M1, E-M5, and our Fuji brethren. Quite frankly, the tulip-style hoods are very un-Fuji-like. Maybe, they contracted out the hood design and manufacturing to a Canikon consultant . . .

Anonymous said...

I got my wide angle metal hood for my 16mm fujinon. It took a 86mm cap. FYI

John Moore said...

I don't like the hoods on my XT-1 lenses because they don't lock down well and easily rotate when putting in bag or easily fall off. Also I'm concerned that you are not telling us what vented lens caps do re efficiency of light blocking? After all, this is not about cosmetics but about blocking unwanted light. I use my hat a lot to shield the lens from direct sunlight. I like your article a lot because it talks about alternatives but you ignore the light blocking issue. I think i'm missing some info here.

Thanks for the effort.

John



. said...

hi, love this article! confused as to pinch cap sizes for 18-55 and 18-135 vented hoods though...can you help?

Anonymous said...

I tried a 58mm vented hood on my 18-55mm and it vignettes. Yours does not?

Rene Delbar said...

@John Moore: the 'vents' are purely directed front to back, there is no way light rays can come in from the sides and hit the front element. I have never experienced issues with vented hoods. Also, see my general remarks under 'More form than function'...

Rene Delbar said...

@.: I am not sure I get what you are confused about... The pinch cap sizes I mention refer to the diameter for a cap that you put at the front of an installed lens hood.

Rene Delbar said...

@Anonymous: I had no vignetting problems with my vented hood on the 18-55...

YEITER said...

would this one work on the 35 f2? looks like it would... http://www.ebay.com/itm/391363956220

Dynamicmoment said...

René,

Have you seen the metal hood for the 16mm?

http://jasonpitcher.com/fujis-100-lens-hood/

I like it, but it's pricey.

Jason

Rene Delbar said...

@ YEITER: It probably does. Sounds there is a separate back collar to tighten to make sure the rectangular hood aligns with the field of view. There might be a risk for vignetting, if the hood extends too far, but a 35mm lens this is probably not too critical

Rene Delbar said...

@ Dynamicmoment: I know about the LH-X16, but have never looked at it. It's very rare here in belgium - if you can find it at all.

Although very compact, I am not a fan of this type of hoods (same as on the 35/1.4 and 18/2). I found the bayonet mount rather unpractical and unreliable with heavy use.

Chris said...

May I add a few more ideas, Rene?

I like these metal hoods a lot.
After a system change to a smaller system (Olympus E-M1) I had a series of filters in two sizes: 55 and 67mm. Most smaller Olympus and Panasonic lenses have a much smaller filter thread of 46mm.
Most metal hoods have a female front filter thread as well. I use step up rings to adapt a hood and use snap-on caps in the same sizes. So I have only caps in 55 or 67mm and can even screw a filter on top of the hood without unscrewing the hood. Much faster, no fiddling around and I don't have to search for the cap with the correct diameter after a shooting with several lenses.
Unfortunately most nowadays sold hoods have different male and female threads, older hoods always had the same size. If you buy one with 52mm male thread, it most likely has 55mm female, but some have 58mm! When you ask a chinese seller for the female thread diameter, you get in most cases funny answers, 8 out of 10 sellers simply didn't understand, what I wanted to know. But a few stores write both diameters...

I couldn't find a wideangle hood with 67mm female filter thread and a short ("normal") hood showed vignetting. Therefore I used a series of step-up rings screwed together as a hood: 46-49 + 49-52 + 52-55 put together with a drop of screw blocker - that's it. Looks a bit funny, but works pretty good - and who cares? ;-)

One more advantage: I keep all original lens caps and they remain brand new, if I once decide to sell a lens.

jimc said...

FYI, I got the 67mm for my fx18-135 and it vignettes from the 18mm point to about 26mm. I was hoping that it would work as I had lost my fuji hood.

Peter Fauland said...

Very nice article. While we all do enjoy sexy gear, there's one IMPORTANT aspect to be considered. If you screw in a rather long lens hood you apply lots of momentum on the front lens parts when some kind of "sideways forces" appear. If you check out the FUJI metal lens hood for the 60mm macro you'll find a small plastic mount to which the massive metal hood is connected. Exactly this plastic piece once broke and did not do any harm to my lens.

All "short ones" are great - with the longer ones one has to consider pro and con.

Anonymous said...

FYI everyone. The vented hood for the xf 18-55mm does in deed vignette at 18mm. Bummer. I was really hoping to be able to use that lens hood.

Rene Delbar said...

Some people report vignetting issues with vented hoods on the 18... lenses, others do not seem to have problems.
Two things come to my mind:
- all eBay hoods are not created equal: some may be wider/longer than others;
- when using a filter on a lens (e.g. protective/UV) the screw-on hoods move forward by the thickness of the filter mount, which may be a possible cause for problems.

Soonjae Kwon said...

I should've read jimc's comment... XF 18-135 with 67mm vented hood vignettes at 18mm and near.
It looks so beautiful though. T>T

Kuribo said...

Hi, great article.

A quick question, with the XF 18mm alternative vented lens hood, can the lens cap be removed while keeping the hood on? The default hood's rubber cap is so easy to lose but I don't wanna remove the lens cap and put on the lens hood every time either...

Rene Delbar said...

Kuribo, if that is what you prefer, I suggest you use a pinch-on lens cap attaching to the front of the lens hood.
The overview table at the end of my original post lists the appropriate sizes for such pinch caps.

Paul said...

Hi, thanks for a very nice article.
What is that squarred shape lens hood mounted on the 60mm ?
Is it the one of the 35mm f/1.4 ? I find the orignial way to big and that would be a replacement worth considering.

Rene Delbar said...

Exactly Paul: it is the 'standard' Fuji-supplied bayonet hood for the XF 34/1.4.

rjladd said...

I find that the Fuji 56mm lens hood fits my 55-200 lens perfectly and is less bulky. I bought a metal hood for my 56mm.

Anonymous said...

The 18-55's 58mm vented lenshood vignettes at 18mm if you use a filter. Doesn't vignette if you remove the filter.