DIY Lens Hoods

If you've ever dabbled in the realm of pro-level photography gear, you know that the photo-accessories market can get pretty ridiculous. As with companies like Monster Cable that scam innocent home-theater builders into paying up to $120 for a $6-dollar HDMI cable, camera companies have gotten away with charging exorbitant sums for even the simplest add-on components for years.

Lens hoods are often the worst price offenders. Designed to keep glare from entering the lens and interfering with image quality, lens hoods are basically just molded pieces of plastic or lightweight metal with screw threads or plastic snaps for attaching to the end of your lens. Not too complicated, right? Then how can Nikon and Canon charge upward of $580 (!!) for a single lens hood for their pro-level telephotos? There has to be a better way.

Enter lenshoods.co.uk, an ingenious repository of free printable patterns that allow you to make your own lens hoods out of paper. Just print out the PDF pattern, trace it onto some nice dark paper stock or some thin cardboard from the post office, affix it to your lens with a bit of tape, and presto: $500 saved. A paper hood obviously won't be as durable or glamorous, but it will provide the same level of light protection, which is what it's there for in the first place. And if it tears, just print out a new one. (And no, just sticking any old piece of paper on there isn't the best idea—lens hoods are custom shaped for a lens's focal length to provide maximum light protection without interfering with the field of view). So now you can put that $500 toward something a bit more exciting—say, an actual lens. For that kind of money, you can get a very nice fisheye for your DSLR. —John Mahoney