These past six months have been some of the most eventual in recent memory when it comes to new photography kit. With three fresh mirrorless systems, all bearing full-frame fruits, a market that Sony has up until now had (almost) had to itself is now set to become a whole lot more vibrant.
Canon’s first release, the EOS R, was met with mixed emotions, and the fact that the company kicked things off with just one relatively pricey model immediately gave Nikon and Panasonic’s dual-model debuts a little more appeal. Now, with the EOS RP, the company has matched its rivals in providing a more accessible way into its system. Indeed, with an RRP of $1299/£1399 for the body and an EF adapter, it’s managed to seriously undercut most of its closest competitors from the off.
Canon EOS RP (Specs)
- Sensor: 26.2MP full-frame CMOS (27.1MP total)
- Lens mount: Canon RF mount
- Screen: 3.0-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots
- Burst shooting: 5fps (4fps with Servo AF)
- Autofocus: Dual Pixel CMOS AF, 4779 selectable points
- Video: 4K (up to 25p); Full HD (up to 60p)
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
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- Compact, Lightweight and High-Quality RF Lens with a Versatile Zoom Range of 24-105mm
- Optical Image Stabilization at up to 5 Stops of Shake Correction
- Maximum Magnification of 0.4x and Minimum Focusing Distance of 0.66 ft. in Auto Focus.
Canon EOS RP: Features
The EOS RP is based around the same RF lens mount as the debut EOS R model, which means that it accepts the four RF lenses developed for the system so far (and will support the six currently under development). Thanks to an adaptor that comes with the camera as standard, it’s also possible to use an exhaustive collection of EF and EF-S optics, which is just as well when you consider that two of the current RF lenses cost more than the EOS RP itself.
In place of the EOS R’s 30.3MP full-frame sensor, the EOS RP is furnished with a 26.2MP alternative. This is fitted with an optical low-pass filter to prevent aliasing artifacts from appearing in images, and it supports the familiar Dual Pixel CMOS AF system that handles phase-detect autofocus operation for both stills and Full HD videos.
Autofocus itself can performed conventionally when using the viewfinder or LCD, or even through the touchscreen, where you just tap on the subject to bring it into focus. It’s also possible to select one of 4779 focusing points to place against the subject, and to use manual focus in conjunction with concentrate peaking where necessary. With a working range of -5EV to 18, the camera should also do well when faced with poorly lit subjects.
Unlike its Panasonic S1, Sony A7 II and Nikon Z6 rivals, the EOS RP’s sensor isn’t equipped with its own image stabilization system, so you’ll need to make sure that the lens you’re using is. When capturing videos, however, a dual-mode Movie digital IS mode can be called upon, and this can work with a lens-based Image Stabilizer for greater effect (a partnership dubbed Combination IS).
Videos themselves are captured in either 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) quality to a maximum 25p, or in Full HD (1920 x 1080) or Standard HD (1080 x 720) to 60p, although the camera is only able to shoot 4K video with the crop factor of 1.6x. This is precisely the same crop as when using an EF-S zoom lens on the digital camera (together with among three adapters), and you can also apply this crop when shooting standard HD footage, should you need a little extra reach.
It’s also not possible to use Dual Pixel CMOS AF when capturing 4K videos, which means you need to use either contrast-detect AF or even manual focus. 8bit 4:2:0 footage can be captured internally, and 8bit 4:2:2 footage could be output through the HDMI port, although there’s no Log capturing profile, which may disappoint those looking to use the EOS RP for more considered video recording. That said, it’s great to find 3.5mm ports for microphones and headphones around the camera’s side, and you may also extract 8.3MP stills from 4K videos if you need to.
Driving the camera is the company’s latest DIGIC 8 processing engine, which allows for 5fps burst shooting, or 4fps when you have the continuously focusing Servo AF option enabled. This also allows for Raw images to be captured in either conventional raw or more efficient C-Raw flavours, in addition to the regular JPEG. On top of that, many familiar features such as Highlight Tone Priority, four-mode Auto Lighting Optimizer and five separate Lens Aberration Correction options can be known as upon to get images closer to the end result without software.
In terms of connectivity, the camera sports both USB Type-C and micro HDMI ports, even though former is the older 2.0 standard, rather than the 3.1 we find on most current models. On the inside, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth allow the camera to become paired with a smartphone, which allow you to download your pictures to your device and control the digital camera remotely.
A single card slot next to the battery swallows SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards, and while it wouldn’t have been a surprise to get support for only the UHS-I specification, Canon has also provided assistance for the newer UHS-II standard too. Not sure what this means? Read up on everything you need to know about memory space cards.
Canon quotes a single figure for the electric battery life of just 250 frames per charge, rather than separate figures for the EVF and LCD. Such a figure is pretty average for a pocketable compact camera, so to find this on a full-frame mirrorless model aimed at a more discerning user is disappointing. Having said that, these figures are determined according to CIPA testing methods, and in real-world use, you’re likely to be able to capture more than 250 frames on a single charge. The added convenience of USB charging also means you don’t necessarily have to lug the supplied charger wherever you go.
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Canon EOS RP: Performance
The camera’s 5fps burst shooting capabilities probably won’t get action photographers too excited, particularly as this drops to 4fps when you call on continuous focus, but those who do occasionally need to call upon this feature will probably be nicely surprised with just well the camera can maintain this speed. Providing you’re using a fast enough memory card, Canon claims the EOS RP’s buffer allows for this speed to be maintained for as many JPEGs, C-Raw files or standard raw documents as you need, and up to 98 simultaneous Raw + Large JPEGs or 170 C-Raw + Big JPEGs.
These figures are quoted for a 32GB UHS-II memory, but testing the camera with a 64GB UHS-II card shows that it’s capable of exceeding them. JPEGs, C-Raw data files and standard natural files could all be captured on their own at the same 5fps rate without limitation, although we found 125 simultaneous Raw + JPEG frames could be captured without any slowdown, rather than 98, with these flushed to the card in just seven seconds. Even more impressive were the 213 C-Raw + JPEG documents that ended up on the cards in around ten seconds, and while you get the odd ‘Busy’ notification as these are being written, the camera is largely operational throughout.
This is a somewhat odd perk on a camera not specifically targeted towards action photographers. While some may have preferred a balance of a smaller buffer with a higher burst shooting velocity, 5fps is still perfectly usable for moving subjects, even those shifting at speed. So hats off to Canon here.
Given that all of the above requires the mechanical shutter, capturing so many images in one go is a somewhat noisy affair – less of an issue for sports but potentially a great one for more candid situations such as events wedding and macro involving live subjects. And one thing that splits the EOS RP from many others is the lack of a proper silent shooting option. One does exist, but this is buried in the scene settings and doesn’t allow access to the standard exposure settings. Instead, you can brighten or darken the image over a sliding scale – which appears to have the effect of adjusting the ISO against an unchangeable combination of aperture and shutter rate – while burst shooting is also off-limits right here, although it is possible to still select the focusing mode of your choice. Silent shooting is one of the great advantages of mirrorless cameras over DSLRs, so the way this has been implemented here is somewhat underwhelming.
When you consider that Canon had no full-frame mirrorless models even just a few months ago, it’s hard not to be impressed with what it’s managed to do here. The EOS RP is a very compact and lightweight full-frame camera with a capable feature set, a generally sound performance and a very reasonable asking price. How many manufacturers can claim the same thing right now? With the threat from rivals growing particularly strong in the last few months, it was clearly important that Canon brought a model like this to market as quickly as possible. And while the digital camera feels more complete and well rounded than the original EOS R, the fact that Canon is bundling the EOS RP with the EF 24-105mm designed for its DSLR line can be seen as an admission that it just doesn’t have the right lenses for this camera just yet; the kit option with the native RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM is currently almost £1000/$1000 pricier than the body on its own.
That’s not to say the RF optics so far haven’t impressed – they certainly have from what we’ve seen – but where the portability of the system and cost to the prospective buyer is concerned, Canon has some work to do. From its roadmap, it also doesn’t look like any compact alternatives that would fit as a default kit lens appear to be on the way, although it may well unveil other lenses outside of those slated for release over the next year or so. Of course, you may already own (and are happy to use) EF glass, or you’re satisfied with the RF selection right now, in which case the EOS RP makes more sense. True, there are a handful of limitations to many aspects of the spec sheet, and it’s a shame there’s no AF lever, or controllable silent shooting, for example. But for every negative, there seems to be a positive, and the most impressive thing will be that this all comes at a much lower price than expected. With a strong core and a sound performance, it’s hard to argue with that balance. Let’s just hope the range develops in a way that will support the professional user as much as those drawn to this camera.