Keeper rate?


Mu-43 Veteran
Aug 18, 2020
I agree with most of what you say, particularly about the obviousness of Post processing means one has gone too far. Some recent AI type software releases practically stamp "Finished in 'XYZ' software" onto the photo. {Cough, Cough, PureRaw ,Cough, Cough}

As regards to 'seeing'; for me, the seeing never stops even when I am without a camera. Seeing IS an art, it may actually be the ONLY art, and everything else is just the medium the artist uses.

I appreciate knowing when an image has been manipulated in post, especially when the images are part of a gear review. Will I need to spend a half-hour in post to clean up a lens' flaws or can I expect similar results SOOC?

My keeper rate is probably high. I try to previsualize as much as possible and very seldom use burst/Pro Capture, even on BIF.

A keeper rate is meaningless to me, so I don't think about it.

When I shoot I want to accomplish the day's goals and/or learn more (about my technique/fieldcraft) than I knew before.


Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Apr 24, 2018
SF Bay Area, California, USA
I was thinking.
This idea about "keeper rate" is going all over the place.
"Keeper rate" as a number is simply a statistical number that has no relation to anything, and does not tell you much until you put it in context.

This is digital.
We are not talking about FILM, which has a definite cost per frame. Where every frame trashed, is $ in the trash can.

So why bother?
  • I want to be more deliberate about my shots, like Ansel Adams.
  • I want to LEARN. So I want to be more deliberate about my shots, to learn. Each shot is to do something specific.
  • My camera sucks battery power, so I have to be selective in using up that battery. This applies when I don't have spare batteries or can't easily recharge. Like when going camping.
  • You have a LOT of subjects to shoot. Like a graduation or similar.
  • You have an event to cover with a list of specific shots to get.
On the other hand, it is a numbers game for :
  • I have no control over the subjects, like sports, wildlife and nature.
  • There are some things that are simply a numbers game. Getting the drop of water just as it hits or a balloon as it pops.
    • OK you can BUY $$$ triggers for some of that.
There is a very old saying from the movie industry, "no one sees what is on the cutting room floor."
IOW, no one sees the movie film that the editor cut out. You only the GOOD stuff made it to the final reel.
So it is with photos. No one sees the images that I trashed. So why does the keeper rate matter?

But then there is another angle where the "keeper rate" goes deeper.
Example. I may shoot a 1,000 frames at a school game, but the parents only see the best 100 images, on the school web site.
On the surface that seems like a 10% keeper rate, but it goes deeper and gets more complicated.
Shooting school sports is tempered by trying to get pictures of as many different student athletes as possible.
BUT, the 3rd string athletes may not have many pictures shot of them, simply because they were playing for only a short period of time, if at all. So I don't have as many pics to select from. So for those 3rd string athletes, the individual keeper rate could be close to 100% or 0%.
If I only have one pic of #32, that goes in, and I have a 100% keeper rate for #32.
But it gets worse, I've shot at games where some players never left the bench, so they have no game pics. 0 pic used over 0 pics shot = 0%.
Whereas I may have 50 shots of #5, and only put 5 shots into the final package, a 10% keeper rate, for that player.

Example: My softball keeper rate went up, because I made a deliberate effort to shoot ALL the players, rather than concentrate on getting the action shots. With action shots, if no one hit a ball to right field, I would not have an action shot of the right fielder catching a pop ball for an out. Instead, I shot the right fielder standing ready for a ball. A dull shot, but a picture, rather than no picture, for that player.


Mu-43 Veteran
May 18, 2020
"Keeper rate" might still be important if we consider how much time we spend. If it only takes us 5 attempts instead of 10 it might save time. Or for certain types of photographs where we have capture the best moments, where we might not get any second chances at all, so we don't want to miss anything.

But I think generally, including for me, the total amount of "keepers" is the most important thing, and maybe that actually means a lower "keeper rate". Maybe as I improve as a photographer, the "keeper rate" will actually go down as I learn to become more and more selective. Or maybe I can better recognize when the scene is very special so I might take extra shots with different settings even though I will still use only one shot total from the scene. With a modern and very fast camera with 256GB storage, there's not much to be gained from maximizing the "keeper rate". Being able to learn and experiment more with little or no extra cost is one of the advantages of digital photography over film photography, so we shouldn't feel bad about it. I think we will learn more from shooting more than from shooting less.
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