Q: I have a soundbar that needs to be mounted on the television, because when it’s on the stand it blocks the TV’s remote IR receiver. There is a shelf above the TV, so it’s tricky. What do you recommend?

A: You might be able to work your TV by pointing the remote at the ceiling so the signal bounces toward the TV from above. It’s a long shot but worth a try nonetheless. Just remember when you aim: Angle of incidence equals angle of reflection.

If this doesn’t work, check out Sewell’s universal soundbar brackets. They’re among the mote clever and unobtrusive mounts I’ve seen, ingenious in their simplicity. They are adjustable and will place the soundbar directly on top of the TV without imposing any additional vertical space, and they’re affordable, starting at $25 (www.sewelldirect.com).

Lens hood is worth a purchase

Q: I recently purchased a Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS telephoto zoom lens. It didn’t include a lens hood. Should I buy one?

A: I strongly recommend using a lens hood in almost all circumstances. There are two important benefits.

The main benefit is improved image quality. The front element can catch light from outside the field of view, which can cause flares as well as reducing contrast and image quality. The hood will shade the lens to keep this extraneous light from affecting your pictures. In fact, lens hoods can also be referred to as “lens shades,” especially when referring to equipment used in the studio.

The second benefit is protection. The lens hood will help protect the front lens element from accidental damage when the lens cap is off and you are taking pictures.

Lens hoods are even more imperative when you use fast (low f-stop) lenses with large front elements. The large front element is susceptible to catching extraneous light, and this large glass surface also represents a huge target that requires protection from scratches and ­fingerprints.

The only time I don’t recommend a lens hood is when it interferes with flash pictures, typically casting a shadow across the lower portion of the frame when you use the lens at a wide-angle setting. Fortunately, you’ll see this the first time you take a picture and you’ll take off the hood.

With the sad, nationwide demise of local camera shops, you’ll probably have to find a hood online. The manufacturer’s hood will be the best, but it will cost more than a generic one. It’s OK to buy a generic hood. Just make sure that it has a bayonet mount design and not a screw mount if your lens supports a bayonet mount. (Yours is a bayonet.)

Your Canon 55-250mm Image Stabilizer lens is an excellent one. I recently praised the Pentax 50-200mm lens as a great buy for Pentax owners, and this Canon lens is practically a must-have for Canon DSLR owners who want a hig- quality telephoto zoom without paying pro-gear prices. It can be purchased for as little as $159 online. Look for lenses that say “white box” or “bulk packaging.”


Send questions to Don Lindich at donlindich@gmail.com.

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