Pancake hood any good? A casual experiment

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quiquae Senior Member • Posts: 1,554
Pancake hood any good? A casual experiment

One hears a lot about how the pancake-sized hoods that Canon sells for e.g. RF 35mm, EF 40mm, and EF-M 22mm are useless because they are so tiny. But I've never seen anyone actually trying to empirically prove that they are indeed snake oil.

So today, I went to a park with my RF 35mm F1.8 STM to test the following configurations for flare:

1: A plain RF 35mm F1.8 STM. with a front filter. Reviews suggest this lens is relatively flare resistant, so a front filter is added to make the flare more visible.

2: RF 35mm + filter + the allegedly useless EW-52 pancake hood.

3: RF 35mm + filter + a "real" hood: Nikon HN-3, a steel screw-in hood for older F mount 35mm lenses, meaning it should be compatible with the RF's frame of view.Test shots follow. All were shot in RAW, and processed with default parameters in Lightroom without manual editing. The Sun is about half a frame above the top right corner of the photos.

No hood. The flaring is noticeable enough that maybe I didn't need that front filter to do this test.

Pancake hood. The flaring is not gone, but the contrast seems to have improved in the top right quarter.

"Real" hood. It's clearly worse than the pancake hood, and not much better than hoodless!

So, in this test, the pancake hood turns out to be not only not useless, but actually better than the "real" hood!

I'm frankly surprised by this outcome, and I only believe it because I ran several trials and they all look the same. I actually expected the pancake and real hoods to perform the same, as simple geometry dictates that the pancake hood should be just as good at blocking stray incident light as a larger hood situated farther away from the front element, but I do not understand why the former should outperform the latter.

Sorry for all those bad pics. This one is a bit better, I think.

 quiquae's gear list:quiquae's gear list
Canon PowerShot SD400 Canon EOS M5 Canon EOS R Canon EF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM Canon EF 70-200mm F4L IS USM +10 more
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