EDITOR'S NOTES: This page was originally published as EOS RP Hands-On First Impressions on 2/13/2019. This piece was based on a one-day press event in New Orleans for which Canon paid our travel & lodging expenses. On 3/19/2019, we updated this page to a Full Review based on a longer, extended loan where we conducted our own tests in the Los Angeles area. Updates are sprinkled throughout.
With the full-frame digital camera market steadily expanding beyond the professional realm, camera manufacturers see an opportunity to showcase the benefits of having a full-frame body to pretty much everyone, from enthusiasts and bloggers/influencers to stay-at-home moms and dads. The new Canon EOS RP is small, lightweight, super easy to use for new and experienced photographers, and very affordable.
For context, when the Canon EOS 6D Mark IIdebuted in the summer of 2017, it was positioned as an entry-level full-frame DSLR for $2,000. The EOS RP shares a few specs with the 6D2, but debuted at a $1,300 price-point while adding capabilities from the EOS R as well as access to Canon's outstanding new RF lenses.
"The concept behind this camera is to make full-frame mirrorless more accessible to a larger audience, and to make the RF mount more accessible. To do so, price was key. We had to make sure to get the right price point," says Yoichi Sato, Senior Project Manager for Canon Inc's Image Communication Business Products Development Centre.
We first took the EOS RP out for a spin in New Orleans where we had a chance to test out its main features for a day. A few days later, Canon sent us a review unit, alongside two lenses, to really explore its capabilities. Lenses included:
Also, Canon is running a promotion through the end of March where, if you buy the RP, the RP + RF 24-105 kit, OR the RP with the EF 24-105mm F4 (the dSLR version), they'll include a free EF adapter, which will let you use any EF or EF-S lens with the RP, as well as an EG-E1 grip extension grip, which makes the camera taller.
Size, Weight, & Ergonomics. One of Canon EOS RP's main selling points is that the body is compact and lightweight. In fact, not only is it the lightest and smallest full-frame EOS camera but, at 17.11 oz, it's almost an ounce lighter than a 16.9 fl oz water bottle (equivalent to 18.1 oz) and about 6 ounces lighter than the mirrorless Sony a7r III, which only weighs 23.2 oz.
You'll definitely know the difference between this and your typical full frame body as soon as you pick it up. Heck, you'll know it as soon as you see its small frame. At 5.21 x 3.36 x 2.75 inches, it's also noticeably smaller than the 6Dii, but not so small that it gets in the way of great handling.
The Canon EOS RP offers a pronounced, rounded grip with a tab at the top for effortless handling and really secure grip, enough spacing between its buttons so as not to get in the way of operation, and a 3-inch vari-angle LCD screen so you can make those impossible shots (and video selfies) happen.
But those aren't the only features that make this camera a terrific choice for things like travel, family/friends get-togethers, blogging, and other applications where convenience is key. This camera is also beautifully well balanced. It's so well balanced, in fact, that it felt great in our hands with the much heavier, bulkier RF50mm F/1.2 L USM.
Just bear in mind that this being an entry-level camera means it only has one SD card slot--UHS-II compatible, at least--which we honestly do not mind because what entry-level photographer needs two SD card slots? A 64MB or 128MB SD card will more than do the job!
Ease of Use. The EOS RP's user interface is so incredibly easy -- and clearly designed for beginner photographers -- that even users who aren't camera savvy can quickly find their way around the menu and buttons. For example, thanks to Canon's Visual Guide Mode, brought over from the 77D and T7i DSLRs, inexperienced users can easily figure out how to use the more advanced camera functions and leave their Full Auto shooting mode days behind. This mode not only helps with menu navigation, but also briefs you on photography fundamentals at the same time.
On the other hand, users who are familiar with things like ISO, aperture, shutter speed, and white balance can easily access and change the settings through the EOS RP's customizable Main and Quick Menus--accessible through the Menu and Q buttons respectively. In addition, this camera also has Canon's Custom Functions, which has given its own tab in the Main Menu. Simple and easy-to-navigate menus are, of course, something Canon is known for, and we're happy that the EOS RP continues this trend.
LCD Touchscreen Functionality. As we mentioned earlier, the EOS RP, while touting features that are unique to it (including Focus Bracketing, which will we talk about next), it has also inherited some of the EOS R's best qualities. Among them is the touchscreen interface. The Canon EOS R has one of the best touchscreen interfaces right now, offering not just touch-and-drag focusing (in lieu of a joystick selector), but also quick and customizable access to all your settings.
The RP inherits these features, combining them with a straightforward menu to offer user-friendliness, convenience, and approachability to beginner and casual shooters. Though honestly, even if you are pro and experienced with navigating through complicated menus, this simple interface is a godsend as it gets an often-complicated setup out of the way, allowing more time and energy to be poured into the creative process itself. When we were shooting around New Orleans, we were kind of on a time crunch at every shooting location, and this made our jobs seem effortless.
Focus Bracketing. According to Canon's Yoichi Sato, "Focus Bracketing is a really big feature. We talked about how we wanted to make this camera accessible to a larger audience, and this is one way of doing that. Focus stacking has always been difficult to do manually and you have to have the right techniques, so we wanted to make that more accessible. In that sense, it's in line with the whole concept of this camera."
It isn't perfect. At least, not yet. It also, to some degree, requires some trial and error to get the best shots. Still, the EOS RP's Focus Bracketing feature, which at the moment is unique to it, is some kind of brilliant. Essentially, it is the camera's way of automating focus stacking (or taking multiple images at different focus points then combining them to get an image with a greater depth of field than you'd get with just a single image with only one or a few focus points.)
With this Focus Bracketing feature, the RP basically lets users set parameters--the number of shots you want to take (up to 999), focus increment (from narrow to wide depending on the lens you're using), and exposure smoothing--then determines the number of images it needs to take to achieve the best result before taking them.
Combining those images is automated as well using Canon's DPP4, which features a Depth Compositing Tool that allows you to select the images you want to use and then stacks everything according to parameters you specify including the amount of bokeh and boundary smoothness.
Again, it isn't perfect. However, it's a very useful tool that makes a quite complex and pro-level process easy to achieve even if you're a beginner. We have to give Canon's engineers kudos for it.
Still Image Quality. As full-frame users, we are blown away by the Canon EOS RP's superb image quality, especially considering that this camera is being touted as an entry-level body.
After our full day test in New Orleans, we took this baby out to the streets of LA to shoot portraits, cityscapes, and some landscapes, and we guess some first impressions do last. The images we took with this camera, especially those in good lighting, came out exceptionally sharp and very clean. And with incredible dynamic range, you can pretty much shoot in the middle of the day and not have to worry much about super harsh shadows and blown-out highlights
Yes, it's a version of the image sensor found in the 6D Mark II, but we quite liked taking photos with that camera and the RP boasts a more powerful image processor, which always helps. (For example, the Sony A7R2 and A7R3 feature the same image sensor.) Plus, with its 26.2MP full-frame sensor, you get a few more pixels than the $2,000 Nikon Z6 and Sony A7 III.
The color reproduction is also on point, yielding such rich and accurate colors that our time in post was mostly spent experimenting on different looks rather than color correcting. The skin tones look very natural as well. Considering this camera is targeted towards entry-level photographers who are unlikely to have a lot of experience in post, the EOS RP producing colors with such accuracy and vibrancy only adds to its long list of selling points.
ISO Performance. With an ISO range of 100 to 40,000 (expandable to 50-102,400) and very decent noise handling, the Canon EOS RP's ISO performance can certainly compete with some of the top enthusiast and pro-level full frames on the market.
Signs of chromatic and luminance noise start appearing around 4000 if you zoom in and look closely, but they are kept very well-controlled up to 12,800. It isn't until 25,600 where they start to really affect the images. And even then, the images are still useable. Not too shabby for an entry-level contender.
Metering. The Canon EOS RP's metering, particularly the Evaluative Metering, is pretty accurate, so much so that's it's really honestly hard to take a photo with this camera and ruin your shot with overblown highlights or super dark shadows. It offers four main metering modes: Evaluative, Partial, Spot, and Center-Weighted, with an AF point-linked Evaluative Metering when using Face Detection and the Tracking AF.
Lens Options. Manabu Kato, Deputy Senior General Manager for Canon's Image Communication Business Operations, says that one of the best things about this body are the number of lenses it is compatible with. "The fact that you can use all the RF (as well as EF and EFS) lenses that sport excellent optical quality, users will be able to use all those high-quality lenses with this body..." Kato explains, "From an optical designer's perspective, the potential combination of Canon RF 24-240mm lens, which will come out soon after the camera, and this camera will deliver a really extensive zoom range as well as versatility in this small form factor."
We're definitely inclined to agree with him. For an entry-level camera, the EOS RP offers a world of potential by being compatible with Canon's whole glass arsenal, whether mounted directly or using Canon's lens mount, giving its users the capability to hone their photography skills and improve the way they create their images without upgrading the body.
As for those entry-level users who want the EOS RP's compact design and ease of use, Canon has them covered too. Kato says, "The good examples would be the 35 f/1.8 lens that we launched last year and the new 24-240mm lens that we are working on right now. These top quality lenses offer versatility that entry-level users will appreciate. We are also currently working on more compact lenses for the R bodies so stay tuned."
WHAT WE'D CHANGE
Since Canon is touting the EOS RP to be an entry-level camera designed for beginner and casual shooters, it's hard to find fault in it. Not only is the bar lower at this price point, but Canon has created an entry-level full-frame beauty that's essentially raising that bar higher for competing manufacturers.
In the few hours that we've tested this camera, we couldn't find a lot to complain about. Of course, this might change once we do a full review and really get in-depth with it. But for now, there's not a lot we would change.
Image Stabilization for Stills. Currently, the Canon EOS RP doesn't feature in-body image stabilization for stills. Not that we're surprised; at its price point and due to its size, a few things would have to inevitably be compromised (though we must admit that Canon did a pretty good job in keeping those compromises to a minimum). We just wish it wasn't the IBIS, as some of the images we took during our test did suffer, even those shot at decent shutter speeds. Of course, you can always just utilize lenses equipped with IS, but it would still have been great to scratch that off the things you'd think about when you're shooting.
Better Focus Bracketing. Again, while the Focus Bracketing is definitely a fantastic feature, it's still in its early days and the technology does need a bit of tweaking as well as some experimenting on your part. We tried using this tool to photograph the RF35mm F1.8 standing slightly in front of an EOS RP, and we've noticed some blurring where the lens overlaps with the camera. Additionally, we're not sure if Focus Bracketing accounts for exposure compensation, especially when there's a change of light in the middle of your shooting. Not that we're actually complaining; it's really more to say that it still has a ways to go and that we cannot wait to see its future incarnations.
Eye Detection and Tracking. While the EOS RP debuts with an upgraded version of Canon's Eye AF -- EyeAF now works in servo mode for burst shooting and movie recording -- we still find this feature lacking compared to Sony's mirrorless cameras. To be fair, on the RP, Canon's EyeAF is super accurate. However, that's only if you're close to your subject (about 8 to 10 feet or closer) and that subject facing directly towards the camera. It stops tracking as soon as the subject is slightly turned to one side or the other.
Personally, as a Sony a7r III user, I have gotten used to that certain lofty level of performance when it comes to this feature. Sony's eye tracking can detect an eye even if you're subject is in profile. Considering that they are targeting entry-level users as well as bloggers/vloggers, this feature felt a little too critical to compromise on.
This is hardly a deal-breaker, of course. If you're able to work around Canon's Face Detection limitations, the good news is that you can use C-AF + Tracking to capture a subject jogging towards the camera. The bad news is that the EOS RP's maximum continuous shooting of 5 fps isn't enough for capturing faster moving subjects.
Then again, this isn't really surprising. Given what we experienced with the EOS R, and going back to Canon's intentions when they designed this camera, it's hard to penalize an entry-level camera for not being a pro sports camera.
Lacking Video Capabilities. Perhaps it's Canon EOS RP's most glaring inadequacy is its video capabilities. For $100 more, you can buy a Fujifilm X-T3 that not only boasts several video formats, several different frame rates, and bitrates up to 200Mbps, but also offers uncropped 4K mode up to 30fps. Granted, it's an APS-C camera and the RP is full-frame, but so many folks are ranting about the RP's inferior video offerings, and we can definitely understand where it's coming from. The RP only offers cropped 4K at 23.98fps as well as 1080p and 780p both at 59.94fps and 29.97fps.
The good news is that while the camera is missing IBIS for stills, it does offer standard and enhanced digital in-body image stabilization for video. In addition, the RP also offers time-lapse shooting, the same picture styles as for stills, and EyeAF for subject tracking.
PROS & CONS
Excellent image quality
Nice dynamic range
Competitive ISO performance
Great build and ergonomics
Awesome touchscreen functionality
Focus bracketing available
Availability of lenses
No IBIS for stills
EyeAF isn't competitive
Slow continuous shooting
Weather sealing could be better
We love this camera, and we're speaking from an experienced shooter's perspective. Considering Canon has designed it with entry-level shooters in mind, that tells you just how much we actually love it. Lightweight, compact, effortless to use, and affordable, it's just as perfect for beginners, travelers, and vloggers, as it is for advanced photographers looking for a second camera to casually shoot with.
Because of its sensor and new image processor, it takes incredible images--super sharp, very clean, and stunning in their colors, not to mention a very competitive ISO performance--more than a step-up from most entry-level cameras on the market today, giving non-pro and budget users the glorious experience of shooting in full-frame without investing in expensive and complicated bodies. AND it has the same arsenal of lenses at its disposal as those bodies.
Is the EOS RP perfect? Nope. We'd love to see Canon bring IBIS and uncropped 4K video to the table, improve the Eye AF, and perhaps slap on better weather sealing. Plus, you probably don't want to shoot sports/action with this. But at $1,300 with this sensor, processor, and features...
It's hard to find a better first step into the full-frame market. But Canon has, in our opinion, achieved what they set out to achieve when they conceptualized the EOS RP, and if they continue down this path, they're going to sell a lot of cameras and convert a lot of shooters to full-frame.
"I want current APS-C users to experience shooting with full-frame
with the introduction of this camera. We want them to step up and step out
of their game to the next level of photography." -- Manabu Kato, Canon
Pick up the Canon EOS RP if... you're a beginner or enthusiast who wants to try his/her hand at shooting in full-frame, an experienced shooter who wants to upgrade to a full-frame but is limited by budget, or a casual user who needs a powerful yet compact camera whether for your growing blog and Instagram account or for recording personal moments in your life.
Who Should Buy a Canon EOS RP? Portrait, street, architecture, travel, wedding, astro, and landscape photographers.
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