Last Updated on May 13, 2023 by Photography PX
Initially released in the spring of 2019, Canon EOS RP is their first budget entry-level full-frame mirrorless camera in their new RF lineup. It sits alongside the higher-end EOS R, a camera they released one year prior. And, on paper, it looks to inherit much of the core performance and capabilities of its higher-end counterpart.
However, Canon’s delivering the camera at a price point that’s more attractive for beginners and enthusiasts looking for their first full-frame camera. It’s also a camera they aim at current EOS DSLR users, looking to jump to mirrorless. Canon’s hoping the camera positions favorable against some rather fierce competition, namely: Sony’s a6400, A7 Mark II, Nikon’s Z6, Z50, and Fujifilm’s X-T3.
Table of Contents
Have they done enough to make a camera that compels its target audience despite such strong competition? Or is this simply a dumbed-down EOS R, at a lower price? Today, we assess its strengths, weaknesses, and see how it stands against the competition.
What are some of the goods, bads, and uglies of the Canon EOS RP?
It features a 26.2MP CMOS sensor with an Optical Low Pass Filter, a similar sensor to that of the 6D Mark II, and the DIGIC 8 image processor. Overall, image quality is excellent and effectively the same as the 6D Mark II. The 14-bit RAW images it produces are sharp with the pleasing Canon aesthetic and color reproduction we’ve come to know from Canon.
The camera also provides the new compressed RAW format, C-RAW, which creates slightly smaller files to save disk space.
It provides continuous shooting speeds of 5 fps without AF, 4 fps with AF or 2.6 fps with tracking, reasonable rates for the price point. However, the camera delivers an incredibly hefty buffer. It produces 50 RAW images and virtually unlimited JPEG during a single burst.
It shoots 4K UHD videos up to 24 fps and 1080p FHD video up to 60 fps for slow-motion capture. And it records footage using the MPEG-4 codec to the highly compatible MP4 format. A recent firmware update released has now provided the camera with 24 fps recording at 1080p, a missing frame rate at launch. Overall, the footage it delivers is sharp and features the signature Canon color science.
The camera also supplies strong data rates of 120 Mbps in 4K and 60 Mbps in 1080p along with the higher-end IPB compression method, which means videos provide good latitude for post-processing adjustments.
Like many cameras in this class, it inherits the standard 29 minute and 59-second video recording limit.
It outputs a clean 8-bit 4:2:2 output for use with external recorders, making it a potential option for those looking to live stream. Though, this mode does disable the rear screen and any manual AF area control along with it.
Low Light Performance
It features a native ISO range from ISO 100 to 40,000, further expandable to the H2 setting, the equivalent of ISO 102,400. Overall, low light performance is a strength of this camera, and on par with the EOS R. Users can expect usable images up to ISO 6,400 without the need for post-production noise reduction.
It obtains a similar autofocusing system as the EOS R, with a slight reduction in total AF points. This system provides a maximum of 4,779 points, which cover 80% of the imaging area. The system also comes with Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF, for smooth and confident focusing in Live View for photos and videos. It also comes bundled with Face+Tracking and Eye-detect in AF-C.
The most recent firmware update has improved the working distance of these features, allowing it to now work at long distances. Overall, the implementation of tracking is excellent and represents a substantial improvement over previous Canon releases. Autofocusing performance is fast, accurate, and is virtually identical to the EOS R. The camera also boasts focusing down to light levels of – 5 EV when used with compatible bright f/1.2 RF lenses.
For those who prefer manually focusing, the camera features both focus peaking and magnification to ensure precise focus.
Display & Viewfinder
It features a 3.0-inch fully articulating TFT touchscreen LCD. It provides a resolution of 1.04M dots and 100% coverage of the image area. A fully articulating screen is the ideal choice, as it delivers the maximum versatility when composing at strange angles or recording self-composed content. Overall, the display is responsive, and it’s Clear View II coating makes it anti-reflective for use outdoors in the bright sunlight. The touchscreen also sports touch focus, drag focus, touch shutter, pinch to zoom, and full menu navigation.
It inherits a similar electronic viewfinder from the EOS M50 with a resolution of 2.36M dots and 0.7x magnification. While it’s not the 3.6M dot panel the EOS R employs, it’s more than sharp enough for composing during day to day use. It also provides good eye relief, accurate color reproduction, and a 60 Hz refresh rate to reduce latency.
It features standard Canon menus, and the user interface remains excellent. The menus are well-organized, easy to navigate, and intuitive. Both newcomers and existing users moving to this system for the first time will find them easily mastered. The camera also provides a fully touch-enabled interface, and Canon has masterfully optimized it for this style of input. They’re renowned for excellent touchscreen interfaces, and this camera doesn’t disappoint.
- The camera provides a total of 12 customizable physical buttons. And, overall, it delivers extraordinary customization over the layout.
- It features three custom shooting modes, C1-C3.
- It features the customizable My Menu, where up to six top-tier items and custom functions are available, and up to five total menu tabs exist.
Physical Layout & Ergonomics
Physically, the camera is smaller and lighter than the EOS R. It still manages to maintain excellent ergonomics and a large grip, however, despite its smaller footprint. Not surprisingly, it’s the smallest and lightest full-frame camera Canon’s released to date, weighing only 440 g body only. Yet, its smaller size allows the camera to deliver a more straightforward design, making it far more user-friendly and adequately suited for first-timers.
The buttons featured are firm and provide a nice tactile feel. All of the buttons are thoughtfully positioned, and quite strategic. And the layout doesn’t feel unnecessary or crowded. In short, this camera handles well and feels great.
Canon’s constructed the camera out of a magnesium alloy chassis, surrounded by polycarbonate plastic. This construction alloys the camera to provide weather sealing to the same level as the 6D Mark II. However, in the hand, it’s quite reminiscent of a Rebel series body and the EOS M50. Nevertheless, it does still feel quite robust and well-built.
It features dual control dials, both of which are metal for added grip – a nice touch.
It features built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, which allows the camera to support wireless image transfer and remote operation. With Bluetooth, the camera can also embed GPS informational automatically using the paired phone.
- It has a USB-C port, which allows the camera to support USB charging via battery bank or other accessories. Though, it doesn’t support continuous operation while charging like the competition.
- It features built-in focus stacking, which allows users to customize the number of shots taken (to a maximum of 999) and how wide the spread is between each shot.
- It has a microphone input.
- It has a headphone input.
- It has zebras for highlight clipping indication.
- It offers a fully silent electronic shutter.
- It supports UHS-II cards and their faster read and writes speeds.
Like the 6D Mark II, the sensor in this camera affords users little room to push RAW files in post-processing, and the camera doesn’t supply much dynamic range. Long time shooters will be quickly frustrated by the lack of latitude and flexibility its photos provide, as the dynamic range is much lower than the competition.
Images don’t offer much in their ability to push shadows before the images become noisy, and color banding occurs. At most, you’ll have 2 stops before discoloration occurs. Overall, this camera is not particularly well suited to shooting mediums where dark shadows and bright highlights are standards in the scene.
If you shoot in these environments, take caution with your exposures or shoot in lower contrast environments with easier lighting.
The camera experiences a severe viewfinder blackout when using tracking AF during bursts, which makes it challenging to track subjects across the frame accurately.
Like the EOS R before it, switching the camera into 4K incurs a massive crop factor of 1.8x into the frame. Thus, filming in 4K will require changing lenses if you desire to maintain the same focal length. And, overall, using EF-S lenses is best when shooting in 4K.
The camera also suffers from severe rolling shutter when shooting in 4K, a problem-plagued by most mirrorless cameras in this class to be fair. Take caution when panning from side to side to avoid the distortion this effect causes.
The camera lacks any high frame rate option in the form of 120 fps. And it also doesn’t obtain the 10-bit HDMI and C-Log profiles of the EOS R.
The most unfortunate downside of 4K is the loss of Dual Pixel AF that occurs in this mode. Instead, the camera defaults to a contrast AF system, which is painfully slow and inaccurate. So sadly, manually focusing is best when filming 4K. Considering this camera is geared toward enthusiasts and new users, Canon’s logic here is confusing and doesn’t make any sense.
It lacks the helpful manual focus guide feature found on the EOS R.
The battery life on this camera is quite poor and well below average for a mirrorless camera. Canon rates it’s LP-E17 battery at 250 shots per charge, far below the 350 shot standard expected for cameras in this class. This camera will require extra batteries.
Since the camera is somewhat on the smaller side, those with larger hands may find its grip slightly uncomfortable during prolonged use.
Canon’s placed the battery and SD card in the same compartment underneath the camera, which makes changing either tedious when using a tripod.
It lacks in-body image stabilization, which means the camera isn’t particularly stable when shooting handheld at slower shutter speeds. Instead, you will have to use optically stabilized lenses if you desire stabilization.
- It lacks a dedicated AF joystick. Instead, you can use the touchscreen as an AF touchpad when composing via the rear screen or viewfinder.
- It lacks the closed shutter mechanism of the EOS R which protects the sensor from dust when not in use.
- It lacks a built-in pop-up flash.
Is this a good beginner camera?
Yes. It makes an excellent choice as a beginner’s camera for those who want the distinct full-frame look and aesthetic in an easily masted camera. And it’s particularly a good option for those looking for the benefits of a mirrorless system. However, it is on the costly side. While the body itself is remarkably priced and quite competitive for the capabilities the camera offers, its RF lenses are rather expensive.
Canon’s RF lineup, at the moment, is still oriented mostly towards season shooters and working professionals. With that, the amount of budget-friendly options available to this lineup is somewhat limited.
Thus, for this particular camera, the RF to EF adapter becomes a must to expand the lens selection and reduce the unwanted overhead of purchasing native lenses. However, doing so increases the bulk and weight of the camera, so it’s quite an unfortunate trade-off. Nevertheless, it’s an excellent option if you don’t mind making this trade, and the adapter comes bundled in most packages of this camera.
Is this a good camera for you?
If you’re an existing Canon DSLR user looking to upgrade from an older model to a full-frame mirrorless camera but lacks the budget for the EOS R, this is the right choice. It’s also an excellent choice for those looking to upgrade from an APS-C sized camera, be it mirrorless or a DSLR, particularly if you already have Canon lenses.
It makes an excellent backup body or B camera to an existing setup.
For videographers and aspiring filmmakers, this camera is capable but delivers some notable drawbacks. Most notably, the lack of DPAF in 4K plus the massive crop factor. For those looking for a robust 4K camera, there are better alternatives at lower price points. However, if you’re okay with shooting in 1080p, then it’s a reasonable choice with its articulating screen, strong AF, and microphone and headphone inputs. So, in essence, it makes a modest entry-level video camera.
However, it’s not the optimum choice for sports, journalism, or wildlife photography with its rather slow continuous AF tracking burst speeds and heavy blackout.
It’s also not the right choice for landscape or architecture work, as it lacks the necessary dynamic range to recover more than 2 stops of details. If you shoot a lot in contrasty scenes and enjoy pushing RAW files safely, look elsewhere. You will be disappointed the moment you push the sensor since it’s just not competitive to today’s cameras.
In the end, Canon’s EOS RP is quite an interesting release on Canon’s part. In many respects, it’s a refresh and update to the 6D, with a new design and extra functionality. And it delivers much-needed upgrades over that camera at an excellent price. Overall, it’s a good camera for enthusiasts and first-timers looking for their first full-frame mirrorless camera.
And it performs admirably given its target audience. It inherits much of the capabilities, image quality, and control set of the pricier EOS R. But, remains one of the most affordable full-frame mirrorless cameras on the market. For this price, the closest competitor is a used Sony A7 Mark II, and it’s incredibly rare to see such features at this price. But it’s refreshing to see such capabilities at such a bargain.
Canon’s EOS RP delivers a strong feature set and is a competitive option for enthusiasts or new users. It inherits much of the capabilities of the pricier EOS R. However, at a lower price point, that’s refreshing in an era where manufacturers push ever more expensive models.