SURPRISE: Lens Hoods Can RUIN Cold-Weather Photos (VIDEO)

If the headline above strikes you as a bit crazy, join the club. We were more than a bit skeptical when we stumbled upon this quick tutorial because of the conventional wisdom that using a lens hood is one of the easiest ways to improve outdoor images.

Despite our doubts, however, after spending four minutes watching this episode from one of our favorite landscape and wildlife photographers, we’ve decided to heed his surprising advice. And you will too if you want to avoid soft images when shooting in cold weather.

As you’ll see in this eye-opening episode, acclaimed pro Steve Perry even surprised himself when coming to this realization while photographing snowy owls on a frigid winter day. Perry waited in his car to stay warm until he spotted his subjects, then jumped out and made a few shots. Unfortunately when he scrutinized the photographs they were all soft—despite using great gear and the proper camera settings.

Perry’s first thought was that the problem looked a lot like heat distortion, but is that remotely possible on a cold day? It finally occurred to Perry that the warm hood he pulled out of his camera bag could slightly heat up the front element on a cold lens. He decided to make several controlled tests to see if he could arrive at a repeatable conclusion.

As you’ll see, Perry tested his hypothesis by first removing the hood from his camera and making a few images, all of which were tack sharp. After returning home he explored this phenomenon in greater detail, by experimenting with Nikon, Canon, and Sony cameras, using large and small lenses with appropriately sized hoods.

Amazingly, in each and every case, the shots using a lens hood were soft, while those with the hoods removed were absolutely sharp. Bottom line: If you shoot outdoors in cold weather, this video is a must see!!

You can find more great outdoor photography tips on Perry’s YouTube channel and in a tutorial we posted from another pro, illustrating six landscape photography tips from six iconic masters.

dcstep's picture

I've been shooting from my car in cold weather since 2008, often in single-digits and negative. I keep the windows down and don't let my big lenses heat up. Also, if I stop the car and shoot out the window, I turn off the car's engine. Yes, it's cold in the car, but I wear appropriate gear and turn on my seat warmers. Dave