Canon EOS RP Conclusion
Canon EOS RP Review Conclusion
"Full-frame" and "entry-level" are two qualities that you'd never really expect to see describing the same camera, and yet, here we are with the Canon EOS RP. Canon's second full-frame mirrorless camera aims to lower the level of entry into the world of full-frame cameras, opening up this style of camera for more and more photographers. While the number of full-frame cameras on the market has expanded dramatically over the past decade or so, and the prices, too, have decreased over time, most are still fairly expensive, with prices typically starting at $2,000 or higher.
The Canon EOS RP bucks that trend, though it's not the first to do so technically. Sony's Alpha series of full-frame mirrorless cameras debuted with higher price tags well above the$1000 mark. Yet Sony cleverly continues to make and sell new, older-generation models at discounted prices, with one older A7 model at times dipping below the $1000 barrier.
But with a brand-new starting price of just $1,299 -- that is now even lower at only $999 (yes, $1000 for a new full-frame camera) -- the Canon EOS RP is a fantastic bang-for-your-buck camera. Sure, it doesn't have all the bells and whistles, but it's not designed as such. What it does have is a nice big sensor inside a relatively small body! If you're looking for a compact, affordable and easy to use camera that has a full-frame image sensor, the Canon EOS RP should be right near the top of your list.
So, with that, let's get the rundown on how this little Canon full-frame mirrorless camera performed in our testing...
Design & Handling
As we just mentioned, the "little Canon full-frame mirrorless camera" is an apt description of the EOS RP. Despite its large sensor, it's a very small and compact camera, yet still has a decently-sized handgrip and solid, sturdy build quality that we've come to expect from Canon cameras over the years.
While there are still a fair amount of physical controls and dials around the camera, the RP is much more minimal than Canon's usual full-frame DSLRs. With the small-sized body comes obvious trade-offs for space and button options. Still, the camera does feature front and rear control dials, a 4-way directional button, and a large, articulating display with a responsive touchscreen panel. The 2.36M-dot OLED EVF is also quite good, though not as large nor as high-res as the one found on the EOS R.
The RP, however, does lack several key buttons typically seen on Canon DSLRs, such as dedicated ISO, White Balance, AF Drive mode buttons, for example -- but those are all lacking on the R as well. Pleasingly, however, the EOS RP does away with the unique Touch Bar control that debuted on the EOS R. It was an interesting experiment, in a way, but the response was pretty lackluster to this new control, and we don't miss it on the RP. In the same vein, the RP sticks with a traditional PASM mode dial, which we prefer over the Mode button system of the EOS R. The classic mode dial is faster to operate, and is simply more straightforward and easier-to-operate control.
While the EOS RP is undoubtedly smaller, lighter and perhaps a bit more stripped down compared to a typical full-frame Canon DSLR, the little RP still has the characteristic look and feel of a Canon camera. The button layout, the labeling of controls, the menus, and simply the handling characteristics will be familiar to those photographers who are used to Canon cameras. And even if you've never picked up a Canon before, we think the RP is intuitive, comfortable and easy to use while still offering a fair amount of physical controls to please those more advanced shooters who may opt for one as well.
On the image quality front, the EOS RP is essentially a mirrorless equivalent to the 6D Mark II (whereas the EOS R was similar to the 5D Mark IV). The imaging pipeline isn't exactly the same, but the RP and the 6D II share a similar (though not technically identical) 26.2-megapixel full-frame sensor. The image processors are also different, with the RP using a newer DIGIC 8 chip while the 6D II uses a DIGIC 7. Nonetheless, both cameras offer the same ISO range: a native range of ISO 100-40,000 and an expandable range down to ISO 50 and up to 102,400.
RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro: 35mm, f/1.8, 1/3200s, ISO 100
Overall, image quality from the RP is very good and indeed very similar to that from the 6D Mark II, despite the newer processor. Although, like most Canon cameras, the EOS RP's sensor features an optical low-pass filter, which helps fend off ugly moiré and aliasing artifacts, it does rob the sensor of capturing a bit more fine detail. Nevertheless, at lower ISOs, EOS RP images are pleasingly sharp with lots of detail and vibrant colors that we're used to seeing from Canon images. High ISO performance is quite good, and again, we see similar noise performance to that from the 6D Mark II. Noise is quite well controlled, and images are very pleasing up until around ISO 6400, after which noise becomes a bit more problematic. Like the 6D II, high ISO performance isn't outstanding, but it's nothing to scoff at either; it is a full-frame camera, so expect better performance nonetheless compared to most other smaller-sensored cameras out there.
The dynamic range is decent though not outstanding, with the best performance up until around ISO 800-1600. The 6D II was also knocked for relatively lackluster dynamic range, especially since it was slightly worse than the original, and according to DXO, the EOS RP offers a similar level of dynamic range performance to the 6D II. For most users, however -- and especially considering the class of this camera -- the dynamic range will be fine for most purposes and situations, providing a good amount of tonal range and raw file flexibility.
RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro: 35mm, f/2.2, 1/60s, ISO 1000
One notable feature lacking on the EOS RP, compared to many modern mirrorless cameras nowadays, is in-body image stabilization. It's not a necessary feature, of course, to capture great images, but it's so commonplace these days that the lack of it can feel notable. It's beneficial for handheld shooting, helping to keep your ISO setting low, and also almost a necessity for good handheld video recording. If you're coming from another mirrorless platform or camera system with IBIS, the lack of it on the RP might an issue. However, until the forthcoming EOS R5 debuts, no Canon EOS camera has ever had IBIS -- stabilization for their systems has always been lens-based. If you're already used to the Canon way of doing things in this regard, the lack of IBIS might not a big issue.
Autofocus & Performance
Like the EOS R, the RP features Canon's fast and reliable Dual Pixel CMOS AF system, which uses on-sensor phase-detect pixels for swift, wobble-free focusing. Overall, the RP autofocus performs admirably, with both excellent single-shot and continuous AF performance. AF is quick and accurate, and an altogether similar experience to what we've experienced with the EOS R. With the lower-res sensor compared to the 30MP EOS R, there are less individual AF points in the EOS RP, but the coverage across the sensor is the same -- 88% horizontal and 100% vertical. In short, there's excellent AF point spread across the frame, which provides fantastic versatility for getting the AF point right where you want it. (Though with the RP lacking a joystick control, it's a bit more cumbersome to move the AF point around with the 4-way control, but then there's always the speedy tap-to-focus functionality on the touchscreen.)
RF 24-105mm f/4L IS: 105mm, f/4, 1/1000s, ISO 100
The RP also includes Eye AF like the R and many other modern mirrorless cameras. In use, we found eye AF worked both quickly and reliably. At launch, the RP's eye AF did indeed work well, but it wasn't as sensitive as some competing cameras and needed the subject to be more prominent in the frame before the system recognized a subject's eyes. However, Canon has released firmware updates for both the RP and the R, which substantially increases the detection precision and performance of eye AF when tracking moving subjects.
Performance-wise, the EOS RP offers generally good performance considering it's an entry-level camera. It's not a speed-demon camera by any means, with continuous shooting speeds only going as high as 5fps with single-shot AF. If you want burst shooting with AF tracking, speeds will drop to 4fps in Speed Priority (the camera will fire shots even if the focus isn't 100%) or to just 2.6fps in Tracking Priority (low speed continuous). Those are pretty meager burst specs, but the RP, obviously, isn't designed as a sports and action camera. For general shooting situations that a typical beginner- or intermediate-level photographer will encounter, the RP is more than capable.
On the other hand, perhaps thanks to the slower burst rates, the camera has ample time to crank through your shots and as such, the RP's buffer depths are very good, as are clearing times. The RP supports fast UHS-II cards in its single SD card slot, and the buffer capacity is basically unlimted when using just JPEG or RAW quality modes. RAW+JPEG buffer depth is 130 frames from our testing, while compressed RAW (C-RAW)+JPEG is over 200 frames. Buffer clearing times, while not groundbreaking, are quite good for this class of camera, taking a bit over one second for JPEG or RAW shooting, though it can take over 10s or so to clear a full buffer of C-RAW+JPEG pairs.
RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro: 35mm, f/2.5, 1/125s, ISO 320
Lastly, a bit about battery life, which is unfortunately a bit underwhelming. A consequence of its smaller, more compact size, the EOS RP uses the tinier LP-E17 battery packs -- the same lower-capacity Li-ion battery as in several APS-C EOS M models and Rebels series DSLRs. The higher-end EOS R could take advantage of its larger size and use the popular LP-E6-style batteries seen in a lot of EOS DSLR cameras. According to CIPA ratings, the RP only manages 210 shots with the EVF or 250 with the rear LCD (this can be extended slightly with the camera's Power Saving mode). For very casual shooting, one battery will likely work fine, but for any serious, day-long outings (or if you plan to shoot video at all) we recommend picking up a couple of spare batteries. It's worth mentioning, too, that the RP supports in-camera charging, which is handy as an alternative charging method while away from your battery charger. However, you'll need to buy the optional PD-E1 USB Power Adapter or make sure you use a power source that supports USB-C Power Delivery.
Finally, let's talk about video shooting on the EOS RP. As expected, the camera, of course, shoots video, but it's nowhere near as full-featured in this regard as higher-end hybrid cameras. There are only three video resolution choices, only IPB-based video compression, a single file format choice, not fast/slow-motion video modes and, of course, no in-body image stabilization. Oh, and yes, there's still an unfortunate 29:59 recording limit. The camera does offer mic and headphone jacks though -- which is rare to see on a more beginner-focused camera.
It does, however, shoot 4K video as well as Full HD at up to 60p, which is on-par for today's modern mirrorless cameras. However, there's no 4K/30p or anything at 120fps, so there are some creative limitations. 4K mode also has a heavy crop on the sensor, at about 1.6x, whereas 1080p uses the full width. Oddly, when the RP debuted, it only offered 4K recording at 24p, while Full HD was limited to 30p and 60p. If you wanted 24p at were forced to shoot in 4K, but if you wanted or needed any other kind of higher frame rate, you'd have to go down in resolution. However, a firmware update released back in October 2019 added the option for 1080p at 24fps.
Canon EOS RP still frame from 4K footage.
Quality-wise, the RP shoots nice video, particularly at 4K. Here the footage is sharp with lots of detail as well as great colors. However, we found 1080p footage to be a bit lackluster, with noticeably less fine detail. If you need your final video projects to be in 1080p (and you're okay with 24p), we recommend shooting in 4K and then down-res to 1080p after the fact.
In other respects, the EOS RP performed nicely when shooting video. The ISO performance is good, and the autofocus with Dual Pixel CMOS AF was just as fantastic as we've seen with other Canon Dual Pixel-based cameras. However, Dual Pixel CMOS AF isn't available when shooting 4K, which is disappointing, particularly since the EOS R does support this. For 4K, the RP resorts to contrast-detection.
For serious videographers, the limitations on features and performance, such as the lack of Dual Pixel CMOS AF with 4K, might be too much to bear. A camera like the EOS R or the upcoming EOS R5, if you can wait, will be much better options if you want to stay with Canon. For more casual video shooters, the EOS RP will likely make a fine choice.
All in all, the Canon EOS RP is not without its limitations and compromises. Still, at the end of the day, you're getting a surprisingly portable yet durable camera with that classic Canon look and feel and a big sensor, for a shockingly not-so-big price. The RP is one of, if not the most, affordable full-frame camera on the market today, selling right at $999. That's an impressive entry point into the expansive Canon ecosystem. For most photographers simply looking for that "full-frame look" or for better image quality and higher ISO performance that comes with a larger sensor, the Canon EOS RP offers a lot of good without breaking the bank.
Pros & Cons
- 26MP full-frame sensor offers very good overall image quality
- Very good high ISO performance
- Good entry-level performance
- Fast single-shot AF speeds
- Great C-AF with Dual Pixel CMOS AF
- Generous buffer depths with swift clearing times
- Eye AF tracking (plus improvements via firmware)
- Shoots 4K video (but see related Cons)
- Full HD up to 60p using full sensor width
- In-camera 4K timelapse movie
- Clean HDMI out
- Compact & lightweight yet still solidly built
- Weather-sealed (to a degree; like 6D II)
- Easy to use with Canon familiarity
- Comfortable ergonomics
- No Touch-bar control like EOS R
- Responsive, articulated touchscreen
- Sharp OLED EVF
- 3.5mm microphone & headphone jacks
- UHS-II compatibility
- Fantastic price for a full-frame camera
- No IBIS
- Underwhelming dynamic range
- High ISO is good, but not stellar
- Fastest burst rate only 5fps
- Single card slot (though understandable for this class of camera)
- SD card slot located in battery compartment
- 4K video only offered in 24p due to small size & heat issues
- Dual Pixel CMOS AF not available with 4K
- ~1.6x crop factor with 4K video
- No ALL-I compression option
- Single video file format choice
- 29:59 video recording limit
- Poor battery life