The EOS RP is intuitive out of the box while offering enough room to grow for established photographers
- Solid build quality
- Strong stills performance
- Great autofocus
- Falls behind on video features
Canon EOS RP review: What you need to know
No sooner had the excellent Canon EOS R left the Expert Reviews office than a suspiciously familiar Canon-branded package took its place.
This is the EOS RP (the P stands for Populaire, as in mass market, so you know), and where the EOS R is a prosumer-grade camera with weather-sealing, 8fps continuous performance and a raft of high-end video functions, the EOS RP is comprehensively lighter, cheaper and smaller, offering consumer photographers an accessible route into full-frame photography that doesn’t break the bank.
Canon EOS RP review: Price and competition
Consumers haven’t had it this good in ages. At the EOS RP’s price – £1,399 with the EF lens adapter or £2,329 for the same kit but with Canon’s excellent RF-mount 24-105mm f/4 lens – there is simply bags of competition.
If you’re not already wedded to a brand there’s never been a better time to buy a camera. Canon’s own 6D MKII offers full-frame performance in a bulkier body, albeit one with more physical controls and better battery life, for about the same price.
Those with an eye on video production should be looking at the Fujifilm X-T3, which at £1,699 with a lens is cheaper, but has an APS-C size sensor instead of the RP’s 35mm, full-frame offering.
And, of course, the other giant of the photography world, Nikon, offers its own consumer full-frame mirrorless camera, the Z6. The Z6 is pricier body-only, at £1,999 including the FTZ mount adapter, but costs about the same with its kit lens, a shorter 24-70mm f/4.
Canon EOS RP review: Features and design
Compared to the EOS R, the RP is substantially smaller and lighter. It’s a lot shorter, at 85mm high compared to the EOS R’s 98.3mm. In the hand, it doesn’t feel hugely different to high-end compacts like Canon’s G-series – thanks partly to its low 440g kerb weight.
Part of the reason for its comparative smallness is its small viewfinder, which at 0.39in and 2.36 million pixels doesn’t compare brilliantly to the EOS R’s 0.5in, 3.69 million pixel unit. In truth, we used both cameras back-to-back, and it was only via a direct comparison that we were able to truly appreciate the difference. The bottom line: the EOS R’s viewfinder is bigger and more detailed, but the RP’s is still a lovely little number, making it easy to see if subjects are sharp before you fire the shutter.
Other differences are harder to spot. On the top, the EOS RP is missing the LCD status display of the EOS R, which is a drawback as it means you have to use the big, bright, battery-draining screen on the back to make changes to your shooting settings.
Otherwise, it has a traditional mode dial (which we actually prefer) and a physical control lock switch, which again we prefer as it’s easier to visually check if the lock is operational – the EOS R has a button and a corresponding on-screen prompt.
On the rear, the EOS RP has almost identical controls to the EOS R – the EOS R’s touch-sensitive control slider is the only difference. The result is a pretty usable camera, particularly once you get to grips with using the shortcut buttons to access ISO.
The screen on the back is excellent. It’s vari-angle, so it can be twisted and tilted to suit a better shooting angle. In use it feels robust, and it’s bright enough that you can make out what’s going on even in bright sunlight and at arms’ length. It measures 3in diagonally and has 1.04 million pixels – again both these measurements are less than the EOS R’s 3.15in, 2.1 million pixel display, but, again, the only time we could make out the difference was with both cameras side by side.
A more noticeable difference is the EOS RP’s significantly smaller battery. We shot intensively for about half a day and noticed the battery indicator showed about half the charge remaining. This only equated to a little over a hundred images, or roughly on-track with Canon’s claim of a total battery capacity of 250 shots.
Unlike the EOS R there’s no battery grip available, so intensive photographers – or those who go a few days between seeing a mains socket on their travels – will need to expect both the expense and fuss of switching batteries mid-shoot. Expect to pay about £50.
The EOS RP uses Canon’s new RF mount, and that meant another enjoyable testing session with the new 24-105mm f/4. It’s a sensational, pro-quality lens that EOS RP customers should think about getting even if they already have a decent everyday zoom lens.
We also got to see the RF-mount 35mm f/1.8 macro, a gorgeous little prime lens that proved pin-sharp – if just a touch prone to chromatic aberration – wide-open. Closing it down by just a single stop produced gorgeous, sharp images with beautiful depth of field fall-off – stopping down to f/2.8 also killed off that purple fringing. In fact, the 35mm was our favourite lens to use with the EOS RP – the combination only weighs about 745g and felt really nicely balanced. It’s a great go-anywhere, shoot-anything rig.
For photographers who feel like 35mm can’t be their only focal length, RF-mount lenses are coming fairly thick and fast. In particular, this year should see a 70-300mm f/2.8, an 85mm f/1.2 and a 10x travel superzoom – the 24-240mm f/4-6.3.
Couple these native lenses with the ability to connect any EF or EF-S lens with Canon’s EF adapter and there’s no immediate limit to what you can shoot. The R-series has the makings of a great platform, and the RP is a terrific entry point for consumer photographers.
Otherwise, build quality feels tight and solid, although photographers who love foul weather might note that the EOS RP doesn’t have the same level of weather-sealing as pro-grade cameras.
Canon EOS RP review: Photo quality
It’s reasonable to expect strong stills performance, and that’s exactly what we got. The RP’s full-frame, 26.2 megapixel sensor bears all the hallmarks of Canon’s imaging expertise. Images are colourful, accurate and sharp, and images at high ISOs were more or less indistinguishable from those shot by the more expensive EOS R – that is to say you can expect clean, printable images at least as high as ISO 1600, and tolerable results for a few stops after that.
At the very high end, the EOS RP didn’t quite show the finesse of the EOS R, with noise a fair bit chunkier at ISO 25,600 and 40,000, but given both of those ISOs tend to be party pieces rather than everyday settings it’s not something most photographers will worry about.
Left in a shutter-priority mode, we were pleased with how the EOS RP handled shooting a news story. Exposures were – broadly – accurate, with only the occasional hiccups we’d expect of any camera, and one of mirrorless cameras’ great unsung advantages – being able to simulate exposure right in the viewfinder – always makes life easier.
Shooting performance is good rather than stellar. 5fps in continuous mode won’t light many fires in the hearts of sports or wildlife photographers, although it’s perhaps worth bearing in mind that the equivalently expensive EOS 6D MKII only shoots half a frame per second faster. It’s enough for travel photography but photographers tasked with shooting action as it unfolds might want something with a bit more oomph.
One area that works really well is autofocus. Like the EOS R, the RP’s autofocus points cover most of the frame area, for an impressive-sounding total of 4,779 different focussing positions. As with the EOS R we like being able to use the right side of the screen to drag the autofocus point around the frame, and other features, such as being able to tap an object in the frame on the touchscreen and have the camera keep it in focus, make getting consistently sharp images easier. In use, it’s impressive.
Canon EOS RP review: Video quality
Video features are good rather than great. Naturally the EOS RP shoots 4K, but 25p is the only framerate available. 1080p can be shot, this time at either 50 or 25p, with the same framerates available for 720p.
Video nerds will also note that the RP can only shoot IPB rather than offering All-I as an option, and, unlike the EOS R, there’s neither the option to shoot Canon log or to output 10-bit footage via the HDMI connector. You still get dual mic and headset sockets, but overall the RP is better suited to stills enthusiasts who might do some light vlogging on the side rather than aspiring pros.
As with all things mirrorless, the Fuji X-T3 remains our personal favourite stills/video crossover camera – internal 10-bit recording, All-I and 60fps at 4K resolution all make it worth sacrificing the EOS RP’s slightly larger sensor for.
Canon EOS RP review: Verdict
But while the EOS RP might not be the world’s greatest video camera, there are plenty of redeeming features when you’re shooting stills. Those great-quality images are the headliner, but its performance, its autofocus accuracy, and the breadth of lenses already available for the platform all make it very tempting.
It’s fun to use, which often translates to “not so good for experienced photographers” but in this case simply means a camera that is intuitive out of the box while offering enough room to grow for photographers already up to speed with the nuances of shutter speed and aperture. For an affordable way into lightweight, quality full-frame photography, the EOS RP takes some beating.