Canon EOS RP Review
|Full model name:||Canon EOS RP|
(35.9mm x 24.0mm)
|Viewfinder:||EVF / LCD|
|Native ISO:||100 - 40,000|
|Extended ISO:||50 - 102,400|
|Shutter:||1/4000 - 30 sec|
|Max Aperture:||4.0 (kit lens)|
5.2 x 3.3 x 2.8 in.
(133 x 85 x 70 mm)
|Full specs:||Canon EOS RP specifications|
Canon EOS RP Review -- Now Shooting!
by William Brawley
Hands-on preview posted: 02/13/2019
Be sure to check out the EOS RP Image Gallery to see real-world image quality.
Well, folks, we've got ourselves another one, another full-frame mirrorless camera. However, unlike the recent deluge of models, this new Canon full-frame mirrorless camera sits towards the entry-level side of the spectrum for cost. Interesting times!
Now, when it comes to the history of digital cameras, especially full-frame digital cameras, the terms "full-frame" and "entry-level" have never really gone together. Historically, full-frame cameras are spec'd for the enthusiast- and professional-level photographer markets, with tough-as-nails construction, high-res sensors, fast burst rates and more, and with high price points to match. Both Canon and Nikon have made lower-tier full-frame DSLRs, with the 6D Mark II and D610 lines, respectively. However, despite being their least expensive full-frame cameras, they each started at $2,000 body-only. That's a serious chunk of change, and by and large out of the price range of most "entry-level" photographers.
The new Canon EOS RP, however, bucks this trend. The EOS RP is small and lightweight yet keeps some degree of weather-sealing and comes in at a very affordable $1,299 body-only price point. And it has that ever-enticing full-frame sensor. If memory serves, this is the most affordable, new full-frame digital camera released to date.
RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro: 35mm, f/2.2, 1/1000s, ISO 100
Now, for the caveats. Does the Canon EOS RP have all the bells and whistles? No, of course not. It doesn't have an ultra-high-res sensor, it doesn't have insane continuous shooting rates, it doesn't have every video format under the sun, nor does it have nifty features like IBIS, High-Res multishot mode, or A.I.-powered AF tracking. But it was never designed to have such features. It's an entry-level camera, one designed for new full-frame users, stepping up from a smartphone, point-and-shoot or sub-frame camera. It offers a healthy but more simplified feature set all packed into a compact and lightweight camera that doesn't obliterate your budget.
On paper, it's a solid little camera, and based on our preliminary hands-on shooting experience, the EOS RP is both fun and easy-to-use. If you've been planning to step into the world of full-frame cameras, the Canon EOS RP makes a compelling starting point.
Let's dive into the details...
Sensor & Image Quality
Much like Canon's "entry-level" EOS DSLR, the 6D Mark II, the new EOS RP is based around a similar 26.2-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor. It's not precisely the same sensor assembly, however, but is indeed extremely similar. According to our technical interview with Canon engineers, the EOS RP's sensor has redesigned micro lenses due to the shorter flange back distance used by the RF-mount compared to EF-mount.
Paired with its 26MP sensor, the new EOS RP utilizes a newer, faster DIGIC 8 image processor (the same one as in the EOS R) compared to the DIGIC 7 seen in the 6D Mark II. Despite the newer sensor, however, the ISO range of the EOS RP is identical to that of the 6D II; the native sensitivity range is 100-40,000, but is expandable to a low ISO of 50 and a high up to 102,400.
Though many advanced full-frame cameras offer higher-resolution sensors, such as the 30MP EOS R and 42MP Sony A7R III for example, 26MP strikes a pleasing balance of detail resolving power and manageable file sizes. The EOS RP, despite the entry-level design, offers a couple more megapixels than a number of other "base model" (yet still more expensive) full-frame cameras, such as the Sony A7 III and new Panasonic S1, both of which use 24MP sensors, though such a small difference in pixel count is hardly worth mentioning.
In terms of image quality itself, we're expecting similar overall performance to the 6D Mark II given its nearly-identical sensor and the same native ISO range. In our review of the 6D II, we noted excellent overall image quality performance, both at low and higher ISOs. Color rendering and hue accuracy were also very good, which is characteristic of Canon cameras. The only downside we found was regarding dynamic range, which was underwhelming compared to competing cameras. When it comes to the EOS RP, it's way too early to make any image quality assessments -- although we do have a selection of real-world gallery images to browse through -- however, the image quality performance is likely very similar. Given the updated image processor, we're eager to see if dynamic range improves at all or how JPEG processing compares. Of course, to verify all this, we'll need to get our hands on a review sample for our lab, so stay tuned!
RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro: 35mm, f/1.8, 1/125s, ISO 100
One of the EOS RP's all-new shooting features is a built-in focus bracketing mode. With this easy to use mode, you can capture shots with deep depths of field without resorting to narrow, often sharpness-reducing apertures like f/22. In the menus, you specify the number of shots captured (between 1-999) as well as the degree of focus shift between each frame. Then, you need to put the camera on a tripod, focus on your "starting point" and fire away. The camera will automatically capture the image sequence. Now, unlike some camera from other manufacturers that have similar modes, the EOS RP will not composite the shots in-camera. You'll need to use Canon's Digital Photo Professional 4 desktop software to create the final image.
On the video side of things, despite the more or less same 26MP sensor as the 6D Mark II, the new Canon EOS RP now offers 4K video recording, in addition to the 4K Timelapse mode seen in the 6D2. It seems the new image processor now has the horsepower to support 4K video capture, which isn't surprising seeing as both the EOS R and EOS M50 utilize the DIGIC 8 chip and also offer various flavors of 4K video. Unlike its bigger brother, the EOS R (and more like the APS-C EOS M50, in fact), the Canon EOS RP only offers 4K video at 24p (23.98 fps) and 25p (PAL mode). There is no 4Kp30 or higher frame rate options, though there are numerous frame rate choices for Full HD video, up to 60fps. It's also worth pointing out that 4K video on the EOS RP has a noticeable crop (about 1.7x), and the camera's maximum continuous recording time is limited to 29:59, for 4K and other resolutions. Also, unlike the EOS R, the RP does not support Dual Pixel CMOS AF for 4K video; focusing is contrast-detect only. Dual Pixel CMOS AF is available, however, for Full HD and HD video resolutions.
RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro: 35mm, f/2.5, 1/125s, ISO 320
It might seem a little odd that an entry-level camera offers 4K solely in a more cinema-focused frame rate, an option that more advanced video shooters would appreciate. According to Canon, higher frame rate options for 4K video might have necessitated a larger body design to deal with additional heat dissipation as well as increase in price. In order to prevent that, Canon capped 4K at just 24p/25p. For more casual video shooters, wanting smoother video of faster-moving subjects and less blurring, you'll need to dip down to 1080p for faster frame rates. However, if you're looking for a full-frame video camera that shoots cinema-friendly 4Kp24, the EOS RP could be a great choice at a low price point.
The EOS RP shown here with the optional accessory grip attached.
Autofocus & Performance
Not surprisingly, much like the EOS R, the autofocus system on the EOS RP is powered by Canon's Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology, which uses phase detection pixels on the imaging sensor. The result is a fast, responsive autofocusing experience without any hunting or wobbling that's typical of contrast-detect AF systems. Using the RF 24-105mm f/4L IS lens, Canon claims a CIPA-rated 0.05s single-shot AF speed with the EOS RP. We've had a great experience with Canon's previous cameras with Dual Pixel CMOS AF, and based on our brief hands-on experience with the camera, the Canon RP is no exception. AF is quick and accurate, and an overall similar experience to what we saw with the EOS R. However, the AF system is slightly different than the EOS R's, not only due to using a different sensor, but also because there's a few new features as well.
RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro: 35mm, f/2.2, 1/60s, ISO 1000
For starters, the number of AF points is slightly less, however AF point coverage across the sensor is the same as the R. With the RP's 26MP sensor, there are 4,779 selectable AF point positions, whereas the EOS R's 30MP sensor offered a maximum of 5,655 manually selectable AF points. In total, the EOS RP has 143 AF areas divided across the sensor. Like the EOS R, AF coverage on the EOS RP spans about 88% of the frame horizontally and 100% vertically. Another slight difference is low light focusing; Canon's spec for the low-light limit for AF functionality is -5EV on the EOS RP, which is slightly less than the -6EV rating for the EOS R (both with an f/1.2 lens at ISO 100).
Despite the entry-level designation of the RP, there are few new AF features on this camera that don't (yet) appear on its higher-end sibling. For one, both the EOS R and the new EOS RP offer Eye-detection AF functionality, but whereas the EOS R was limited to just Eye AF in single-shot AF mode, the EOS RP allows for Eye AF with Servo AF (C-AF) mode as well, and with video! Sony cameras have long had this feature in a number of their cameras, and it's really great seeing this type of AF functionality appear in other brands. When it comes to portrait photography, especially on a full-frame camera like the RP, depth of field can get insanely thin. Having reliable Eye-detection AF modes will help make sure your portrait shots will be sharp, and sharp where you want them, the eyes.
Based on an initial testing of Eye AF, the EOS RP works rather well, though it seems that the face needs to be somewhat close or large in the frame for the camera to lock onto the eye itself, otherwise it'll default back to the broader Face Detection. Once the camera does lock onto the eyes, and if it can see both of the eyes, you'll see two small triangles appear on the screen/EVF on either side of the AF point. You can then manually tell the camera which eye to track focus on, which is rather neat and helpful. As mentioned, we only had a brief time to shoot with the camera so far, so more testing is necessary to fully assess Eye AF performance.
The other new focusing feature is a new AF point mode called Single-Point Spot AF. Unlike the standard single-point AF mode, which offers a single yet relative large AF area, the new Spot AF option enables a significantly smaller AF point, making it a better choice for critical focusing. This was a handy mode when it came to shooting portraits, if I didn't want to opt for Eye AF. I could flip into Servo AF mode, then place the small Spot AF point over the person's eye, track focus, and fire off a couple quick shots. The process worked quite well.
For this photo, I used the new Spot AF option for the AF Area Mode setting, manually placed the AF point on the woman's eye, and used Servo AF to maintain focus through a burst of shots.
RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro: 35mm, f/1.8, 1/80s, ISO 400
When it comes to performance specs, it's very clear that the EOS RP is not a sports- or action-centric camera by any means. (Again, it's not designed to be.) For continuous shooting, the EOS RP can shoot up to 5fps in single-shot AF mode, or just 2.6fps with continuous AF in Tracking Priority (it'll do up to 4fps with Servo AF in "shooting speed priority" mode). Admittedly, those are rather measly burst rate by today's standards, but for a full-frame camera designed for entry-level users, it's not all that surprising. Is this going to be a go-to camera for the serious action shooter? No. But the camera should be quick enough for the mom or dad who wants to capture some action shots of their kid running around or playing sports. The EOS RP should be more than capable of handling those photographic tasks with ease.
While the continuous shooting speeds aren't anything to write home about, the EOS RP's claimed buffer depths are rather impressive, especially if you use a UHS-II memory card. With this high-speed SD card type, the EOS RP's buffer is basically unlimited (until the SD card fills) regardless of image quality setting. The only limit is when using simultaneous RAW + JPEG modes (either RAW + Large/Fine JPEG or C-RAW + Large/Fine JPEG) in which case, the EOS RP will capture up to 98 RAW+JPEG images or 170 C-RAW+JPEG images. For "standard" SD cards, the rated buffer depths are still impressive; unlimited buffer for all JPEG quality settings, and then 50 RAW frames, 130 C-RAW frames, 42 RAW+JPEG, and 66 C-RAW+JPEG.
Design & Ergonomics -- Hands-On Experience
The design of the Canon EOS RP is, not surprisingly, similar to the EOS R, with a matte black color, angular lines and contours and an altogether compact design with a protruding handgrip. In terms of its size, the EOS RP is noticeably smaller than the EOS R. The body is thinner, the grip is smaller and the entire camera can easily rest in the palm of my hand. In fact, it's rather amazing that Canon's managed to cram a full-frame sensor in there. The length of the camera body is, for example, quite similar to that of the Canon T7i!
However, despite the smaller size, the camera is still amazingly comfortable to hold. The grip is still large enough to comfortably wrap your hand around, and the contours fit the hand nicely. The camera body isn't as tall as the EOS R, so those with larger hands will likely find their pinky finger having to rest underneath the camera. Canon has thought of this issue, though, and will sell a small screw-in grip accessory that adds a bit of height to the camera and grip, while retaining access to the SD card and battery compartment and providing a 1/4-20 tripod socket.
When it comes to controls, the EOS RP doesn't offer much surprises. It features a pretty standard array of buttons and controls for an entry-level camera, including front and rear command dials, a 4-way directional pad on the rear, a touchscreen display, and a few dedicated (yet customizable) buttons on the top and rear. Overall, the array of controls are similar to those of the EOS R and are situated around the camera body in similar locations.
There are a few notable differences between the RP and R when it comes to external features. On the top-deck, you'll notice the EOS RP lacks a secondary OLED status display screen, but perhaps most notably, the EOS RP features a standard PASM mode dial in place of the EOS R's odd Mode Button control setup. For most users of most other DSLRs, Canon or otherwise, a standard PASM dial is a much more familiar control, and so it makes sense to have this command mode dial on the entry-level EOS RP. The Mode Button on the EOS R works fine, but as we found, it takes at least two operations to change shooting modes, whereas it would be much simpler and faster to use a traditional PASM mode dial.
The Canon EOS RP (top) compared to the EOS R (bottom)
Looking at the rear of the camera, those familiar with the EOS R will notice the lack of the somewhat controversial Touch Bar control. Given the smaller size of the camera body and the large LCD screen, perhaps there simply wasn't room to fit that Touch Bar on there. However, given the lukewarm reception to that control on the EOS R, we're not going to fret too much over its absence on the EOS RP. The Touch Bar felt underutilized and frankly a little awkward to operate. The EOS RP camera, therefore, works just fine without it.
The EOS RP uses a 3.0-inch TFT LCD touchscreen display with a resolution of 1.04-million dots.
We recently had a chance to shoot with the new Canon EOS RP for a day, and the camera is quite a pleasure to use and fun to shoot with. The compact size makes it highly portable, and when you pair it with a small lens such as the RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro, you have yourself a really great travel setup that does not weigh you down.
As mentioned, in the hand, the camera feels really nice. It feels solid and well built, much like we've experienced with most other Canon cameras. Despite its "entry level" designation, the EOS RP does feature some degree of weather sealing, more or less on-par with the 6D Mark II from what we were told. The camera body is constructed out of sturdy polycarbonate with a machined magnesium alloy chassis on the interior; it's not a full mag-alloy body. Regardless, the camera feels light, comfortable and very robust in its build quality, and it's great to have a little reassurance that you needn't worry about a bit of dust or rain.
RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro: 35mm, f/1.8, 1/3200s, ISO 100
As you can tell, there's not a lot to complain about in terms of the camera's ergonomics, however my only real gripe -- and boy is it a minor one -- is that the rear thumb dial control is placed a bit too far forward. It's similar to what I experienced with the larger EOS R, though to a lesser extent here due to the camera's smaller size. I feel like I need to consciously take my thumb off the back of the camera and reach up to the rear dial. I'd much rather have the rear dial lower down and built into the rear of the camera.
My other issue with the camera is not unique to the EOS RP. As a left-eye dominant shooter, I can't really make use of the RP's Touch-and-Drag AF mode that lets you use the rear touchscreen to move the AF point while using the viewfinder. With my left eye up to the EVF, there's no room for my finger to comfortably reach the screen without bumping into my nose/face, which is right up against the screen itself.
RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro: 35mm, f/1.8, 1/1250s, ISO 100
Speaking of the touchscreen: no complaints here in terms of the screen itself nor its touch functionality. Just as I have experienced with other Canon cameras, the rear screen is bright, crisp and pretty glare resistant. The touchscreen function is fast, accurate and responsive, and works great for moving the AF point quickly or navigating menus. The camera's on-screen Quick Menu system feels fairly optimized for touch, with large icons for easy touch operation. The full menus system looks like most other Canon EOS cameras, and while not necessarily "designed" for touch navigation, I was never frustrated when I chose to move through the menus using the touchscreen. I did, however, opt for the 4-way control when using the menus, but that was more out of habit than anything else.
The electronic viewfinder on the EOS RP is also really nice, though not as large nor as high-res as the EVF on the EOS R. The EVF here is only a 0.39-inch OLED screen with 2.36-million dots of resolution, whereas the EOS R used 0.5-inch OLED display with 3.69 million dots. The EVF on the RP isn't extremely large (0.70x magnification), but it's large enough and crisp and generally works very well. By default, the EOS RP sets the refresh rate to 60fps or "Smooth" as the menu says. This uses more battery power, but offers a smoother, more lag-free, more real-time shooting experience. You can, however, set the EVF to a power saving mode, but that drops the refresh rate significantly, creating a noticeably laggy, stuttering experience. Unless you're in dire need of saving battery life, I'd recommend keeping it on the "Smooth" EVF setting.
RF 24-105mm f/4L IS: 105mm, f/5, 1/1250s, ISO 100
While we're on the subject of battery life, it should be noted that the EOS RP does not use the same LP-E6N battery pack as the EOS R and many other Canon DSLRs. Instead it uses a smaller, less powerful LP-E17 like that of the EOS M cameras and a number of the Rebel-series DSLRs. This is likely a cost-saving or space-saving measure (or both), but needless to the say, the battery life on the EOS RP isn't fantastic. The CIPA rating is around 250 shots per charge with the LCD and 210 with the EVF, using default modes and not the "ECO" LCD or "Power-saving" EVF mode. Real-world use, however was better than the CIPA rating, and I was able to get about 300 or so shots with a single battery in addition to spending a lot of time diving into the menus. For casual shooting, the battery life is likely just fine, but we'd recommend getting an extra battery or two if you plan on extensive or longer shooting periods. On the other hand, the Canon EOS RP supports USB charging, which is fantastic and lessens the "range anxiety" of the smaller battery packs if you're going to be out for a long time away from the battery charger. The caveat being that you then need to bring a portable battery pack with a USB port.
Connectivity, Ports & Storage
Like the EOS R, the new RP offers only a single SD card slot, though this isn't all that shocking given its entry-level placement. The card slot is also UHS-II compatible like its higher-end sibling.
As mentioned earlier, the EOS RP supports in-camera charging via USB. The camera uses a newer USB-C terminal, but it's a USB 2.0 Hi-Speed port. A Mini Type-C HDMI port, 3.5mm microphone input and headphone jacks, as well as a remote control terminal for wired remotes are also provided.
When it comes to wireless connective, the EOS RP features the standard combo of built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low Energy. With the Wi-Fi connection, users can remotely operate the camera as well as transfer media to a paired smartphone or tablet. The BLE technology also helps facilitate not only an easy Wi-Fi connection between devices but also can maintain a constant paired connection allowing for quicker, easier transferring of images.
RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro: 35mm, f/1.8, 1/2500s, ISO 100
Canon RP Pricing & Availability
The Canon EOS RP is set to go on sale in March 2019, with a body-only retail of US$1,299. A kit version with an included RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens will also be available for US$2,399.
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