My Keeper Rate Has Plummeted, But I’m Not Concerned

In recent months I’ve been shooting almost entirely with my Pentax DSLRs, which now number four.

All of these cameras to some extent – and especially the K-30 – need multiple attempts to get a shot right.

Usually, it’s about getting the exposure at an acceptable level.

By now I’m experienced enough to know how different apertures and shutter speeds will impact the final image, and don’t need to shoot over and over to get the look I want.

On the exposure front though – and especially using old manual lenses – the DSLRs are far harder work than grabbing one of my favourite digital compacts like the Lumix LX3, setting the exposure compensation to -0.3, shooting and getting 90% of the shoots well exposed.

What this means of course is for a photowalk with the K-30 where I might actually take 25 different pictures, because I’m needing two, three, four, five attempts to get the exposure right, I’ll end up downloading 100+ photos from my memory card to edit on my laptop, rather than perhaps 30 from a similar photowalk with the LX3.


Looking at pure percentages, if I keep 20% of photos I make on composition terms, then factoring in the need for say three shots per composition to get the exposure ok, it takes me keeper rate down to maybe 7%.

Sometimes if it takes four or five shots, the keeper rate is down to 5% or even 4%. 

In some ways this is frustrating.

But overall I’m comfortable with the pay off.

Because first it just means I’m spending more time out shooting with cameras and lenses I love.

And second it means all I need to do at the editing stage is choose to either keep or delete.

I can continue to avoid having to endure the whole post processing experience, spending more time at a computer tweaking images digitally, rather than being out making photos in camera.

It will be interesting to see how I feel as we enter winter again later in the year and I inevitably drift back to shooting b/w with digital compacts.

My keeper rate should increase again.

How about you? What’s your keeper rate, and are you happy with it? 

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

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7 thoughts on “My Keeper Rate Has Plummeted, But I’m Not Concerned”

  1. The last two times shooting with the Nikon P610: 50%, followed by 0%. This is because the camera is failing, not because it wasn’t good to begin with. It used to be 90%. I have looked at used ones and they now cost more than this did new! Nikon never should have stopped building that model, nor replaced it with the more expensive and probably lower-performing versions.

      1. I’ve seen used P610s listed – for more money than they cost new. Nikon’s replacement model, the 950, is about 2.5 times the 610’s original price. It’s not an affordable solution for me.

  2. This is a pretty interesting question to pose. But I’m not sure if I really have a reliable way of answering. At least I know when I’m doing long exposures, my keeper rate plunges. Lots more trial and error when I start putting filters on front of my element.

    1. I remember the relatively short phase I had shooting long exposures with a home made pinhole camera. Great fun and a miracle (to me!) if I got any kind of picture out of them. This was with film. I’ve dabbled a few times with pinhole and long exposures on a digital camera but not got anything interesting. I’ve always marvelled at photographs of flowing water at long exposures, light trails too, but never really explored shooting either myself. A future experiment…

  3. Well, that’s one way of looking at it… you’re still spending time on the computer anyway, but now it’s to pick which photos to keep…
    I go back and forth. Right now I’m back in the RAW camp. I have presets in RawTherapee that are doing a better job than the in-camera JPEG engine even without any additional processing.
    As far as keeper rate… usually it takes a while for my brain to switch on to photography, or so it seems. The first few pictures I take are usually not that great from a compositional standpoint. The more I keep shooting, it seems like the better the pictures get. Especially with primes…

    1. Yeh but a sweep through of 100 photos and deciding which to keep takes maybe 15 minutes, and much less if if was a bad trip! Post processing could take 15 mins per photo sometimes!

      I know what you mean about getting warmed up with photos, and I think it’s best to just get shooting and then discard the first few afterwards if necessary. I do this often with writing blog posts, too, just writing something to get the flow going, and then in the editing phase often those initial sentences get heavily edited or scrapped completely.

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