Keeper rate?

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This has been on my mind since last week. I was on 8-9 day vacation during last Christmas around Grand Canyon area carrying Oly EM1.2 + 50-200 SWD and 45mm f1.8 as well as Sony A7R III + 24-105 f4. I noticed that I took 540 shots with Olympus gear and 1087 with Sony. After all the culling and PP the shots I was personally happy with were ..67.

I did further filtering and ended up with even less count - 45. To share an album with others, I *really* tried pick cream of the cream shots and I think ended up with 25 ~ shots (+ about 15 portraits, groups, candids) . Also note that, almost all of these shots were landscape and handful portraits, group shots and no fast moving action. I believe anything involving action or birds in flight would yield me 5-10 shots out of ~1500 that I am really happy about.

What is your keeper rate in general? I thank the wonderful technology that is digital format that allows me to take nearly unlimited photos on the cheap without worrying about anything except may be battery life. If I was shooting film would my keeper rate be better? Can't stop thinking that. I also owe a lot to auto focus tech of current camera, especially that of Sony's eye-af but for my purposes EM1.2 is more than enough too.

Disclaimer: If it wasn't clear, I am no pro. I believe my bar for "great" image to be (much?) lower than what others might have. My keeper images are literally images that I like, I am sure they won't win any contests. I put quite a few photos of that trip into my Flickr recently, except portraits and people's photos, to give you an idea.

P.S. This is surprising to me. The group I was with urged me to shoot portraits and pseudo candid shots, which I did albeit reluctantly (I never shoot portraits or people as such) and upon filtering people shots I noticed that my keeper rate was quite high. Even with general purpose slow lens like 24-105 f4 I ended up with some really good looking people photos - I will give credit to unreal Eye-AF of Sony A7R III for that. The details around eyes and eyelashes are just incredible. I also shot some headshots with Oly 45mm f1,8 and they ended up stunning (all natural light, I did not carry flash).
 

retiredfromlife

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Back in the film days I would keep about three from a roll of 36
Now I would be lucky to keep 1 in 50. But I do try to take a lot of hand held macro that I could never do back in the film days.
Modern cameras let me try things like macro that I know I will loose most due to out of focus. But I am happy with that.

I know one birder who shoots in bursts and his keeper rate would be evenlower.
 

Acraftman

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I think your numbers are pretty good if you already have 25+15, at this point for me I'm kinda close to three out of a hundred and most of those aren't that special. I do like to go back after six months or a year and almost always I will find something that I passed on previously and have different thoughts about it.
 

ac12

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Depends on what I am shooting.
Like @retiredfromlife mentioned, when I shoot sports, I immediately cull out about 50%, for all sorts of reasons (ref ran in front of me, player's face got blocked, I focused on the background, etc.), then it is cull time (I don't need or want 20 pics of the same player, or with the camera at 18fps, I don't need the entire 2 second 36 shot burst).

Casual family stuff, much higher, 80+% keepers, as I am more careful and deliberate, firing single shots.
I heard about shooting a 3 shot burst, rather than a single, but never got into it.
 

mfturner

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I'm similar, a couple of percent is about right, and in film days while I kept a few more, I was maybe a little less discerning. To be honest though, 40-ish photos for a vacation album is about the most I want to show anyone and they are probably bored by the end with that.
 

ac12

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I'm similar, a couple of percent is about right, and in film days while I kept a few more, I was maybe a little less discerning. To be honest though, 40-ish photos for a vacation album is about the most I want to show anyone and they are probably bored by the end with that.
My father PAID for the slides and processing, so he wanted to see MOST of the pictures. I think it was 3 or 4, 140 slide carosel trays.
Although shooting slide film, my keeper rate was generally much higher than b&w print film.

edit: My slide keeper rate was much higher than B&W print film because, what I shot was the FINAL product. With B&W print film, I had a 2nd chance to "fix" the image in the darkroom when I printed the pic. So with slide film, I had to pay a LOT more attention to the shot, before I pressed the shutter.
 
Last edited:
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I do like to go back after six months or a year and almost always I will find something that I passed on previously and have different thoughts about it.
Same for me! I dug out a NEF file directory from 2017 shot with Nikon D5100 and D7200 and was surprised I did NOT select few photos the first time. May be my taste changed over time :)
 
Joined
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Back in the film days I would keep about three from a roll of 36
Now I would be lucky to keep 1 in 50. But I do try to take a lot of hand held macro that I could never do back in the film days.
Modern cameras let me try things like macro that I know I will loose most due to out of focus. But I am happy with that.

I know one birder who shoots in bursts and his keeper rate would be evenlower.
One of these days I am going to get film camera and see what happens ;)
Macros are different beasts and I feel that is one of the field of photography where technological assistance matters a lot (IBIS, VR, lighting etc). I was never able to get satisfactory macros with Nikon gear but with Olympus I am getting consistent keepers.
I didn't much try serious birding but I am sure my keeper rate would be abysmal.
 
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Depends on what I am shooting.
Like @retiredfromlife mentioned, when I shoot sports, I immediately cull out about 50%, for all sorts of reasons (ref ran in front of me, player's face got blocked, I focused on the background, etc.), then it is cull time (I don't need or want 20 pics of the same player, or with the camera at 18fps, I don't need the entire 2 second 36 shot burst).

Casual family stuff, much higher, 80+% keepers, as I am more careful and deliberate, firing single shots.
I heard about shooting a 3 shot burst, rather than a single, but never got into it.
Gotta try burst shooting. Speaking of which, I did shoot a few HDRs - which uses burst, from EM1.2 but I don't have a single keepers from those.
 

BosseBe

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When I am on vacation I am in snapshot mode almost all the time, specially if I am somewhere I haven't been before. I don't know what I will see and take as many pictures as I can, so I will have a very low keeper rate, 1-2%. (I might take 300 photos a day but only 3 to 6 of them is something that is of real interest.)
I think this is normal as I don't know what I will see and don't take the time to "see" the picture before I take it.
I would like to to take more time to compose the pictures, but on a vacation trip there are time constraints so I just take snapshots.

When I have been in a more deliberate mood to take pictures, for example a contest or a dedicated photo trip I always try to "see" the picture before I take it and my keeper rate is higher.
A high keeper rate for me would be 10%

As to going back to older photos, yes, I find pictures I that I missed almost every time, some thing like sensory-overload might be the problem, at first cull I am close to the event and have a fresh feel for it, as I look at it later I see other things.
 

ac12

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One of these days I am going to get film camera and see what happens ;)
All you have to do is put a dollar bill into an envelope, for every frame you shoot, as you shoot.
And for emphasis, you don't get to keep that envelope of money. You have to give it to a charity.
Do this for a month or two, and that (and your shrinking wallet) will slow you down, so each shot counts.

If that 2 second burst at 18fps would cost me $36, I ain't goina be shooting many of them. I would go back to timed single shot, just like in the film days.
 

Bidkev

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I have never shot bursts so I guess that helps my keeper rate. I have an aversion to culling so always think carefully about what I'm shooting and therefore shoot conservatively. When I first started on digital I just hoped for the best and shot away madly being so happy that I wasn't wasting film. Over time though, I began to feel as though I was a bit of a failure having to delete so many pics so I changed my attitude with regards to just "banging away".

I don't shoot sports either which again, helps keeper rate. Birding I reckon my rate would be about 30% but as you may have noticed, I often shoot birds at much lower shutter than recommended (often 1/60 sec) which nets me shots that at correct shutter speeds would be too noisy for me. Landscapes about 50% and street near 80%. I can often go a full day though on the street, in the city, and in the bush, and come home with less than 50 shots to peruse because I am so careful with what I shoot. I've had my Em5mkll for 18 months now and it's used exclusively for birding but although I post birds fairly often, the shutter count is only at 4300.
 

threeOh

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I cull/trash about 90%, pretty much in line with your experience. With very few exceptions, if it’s not shared, published or included in an album then it’s not worth saving.
 
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