Equipment

First Impressions with the Canon EOS RP

Canon dropped a bomb on the full-frame mirrorless world when the Canon EOS RP was released earlier this year, though many may have missed its announcement. Some people were excited to see a new entry-level full-frame mirrorless camera and others were bummed that it wasn’t the “pro” level camera some expected. A quick look at the specs and people rushed to call this camera “amateur” level unworthy of a slot in anyone’s bag. When you use the camera though, you realize that quite a few features you liked about the Canon EOS R are found in the Canon EOS RP at a lower cost, with a few caveats of course. They both feature Canon’s Dual Pixel Autofocus which is fantastic, they both have great EVFs although the more upscale EOS R uses one that’s a fair amount brighter and slightly larger (0.5” on the R vs 0.39” on the RP), a similar Servo AF fps burst (5fps on the R and 4fps on the RP) and they both shoot 4K video although both do it with a significant crop. I don’t want this whole article to be about specs though so I want to talk about how the EOS RP stacks up in real-world usage.

Canon EOS RP Review

Handling and Build Quality

Let’s talk about handling first. It’s quite a bit smaller and lighter than its sibling, the Canon EOS R. I don’t have big hands, and I still felt like I needed the accessory grip that you can get with the RP. You’ll also notice that while the Canon EOS R is made of a magnesium alloy, the Canon EOS RP is constructed of plastic. It doesn’t have the same heft as you would want when you’re using the big lenses that come with the RF mount (so far). But being lightweight and smaller isn’t always a bad thing either. On top of the camera, you won’t find that handy LCD screen either that comes on Canon’s pro-level DSLRs and EOS R. Instead you get a manual dial that’s pretty handy when you want to change your settings on the fly. Otherwise, you get the usual clicky wheels that Canon is known for. Outside of the body being made of plastic, it feels very well made and not like it’s going to get crushed if you squeeze it too hard as a Rebel sometime feels. Unfortunately, Canon chose to put the SD card slot on the bottom of the camera where the battery goes, and it’s annoying to access when you’re working on the fly and want to change cards quickly. All of these things on the outside point directly toward it being a bottom tier product. Even the EVF is a standard off-the-shelf part from the EOS M50.

Example Photo with Canon EOS RP

In usage, though, all these shortcomings seem to disappear. If you’re used to the Canon ecosystem then you know where all your buttons and custom functions are, you know your way around the menu and the camera. I haven’t used a Canon camera in-depth since I owned a 5D Mark II 7-8 years ago and it was like meeting an old friend. The camera was intuitive and easy to use and just worked. This obviously won’t be the same for every user, but if you’ve been a Canon user in the past, then you won’t feel entirely in the dark moving to this system. Still, my biggest gripe in usage with this system as a whole (and isn’t an issue with just the Canon EOS RP) is how physically large all of the native lenses are for this system. They feel so awkward with a camera body the size of Canon’s current offerings. Maybe once Canon releases whatever pro camera it’s going to release or once they come out with smaller non-L series primes, I’ll enjoy the system more and can justify renting it more often.

Size Comparison

Canon EOS Review

Front of Canon EOS RP w/ Grip (Left) and Canon EOS R (Right)

Side of Canon EOS RP w/ Grip (Left) and Canon EOS R (Right)

Back of Canon EOS RP w/ Grip (Left) and Canon EOS R (Right)

Overhead of Canon EOS RP w/ Grip (Left) and Canon EOS R (Right)

Image Quality

In terms of image quality, you’re looking at a slightly tweaked 6D Mark II sensor, which is excellent in its own right. Don’t let armchair internet warriors sit around and tell you that it’s an inferior sensor. Can it shoot amazingly clean files at 25,600 ISO? No, but when it’s that dark how clean of a file are you expecting to get from any camera? In my experience of shooting travel and weddings (mostly) I rarely find myself going above 3200 ISO and it’s perfectly acceptable. With today’s newer cameras getting higher and higher megapixel counts (like the Sony A7R IV’s 61mp) some people find it hard to get excited about the 26mp sensor found in the EOS RP. I think that’s about the sweet spot for most uses. Obviously, picking the right tool for the job is part of it, but for an all-rounder camera, 24-30mp is all you need. Canon’s color science is second to none, and it’s a popular talking point. The Canon EOS RP continues with that legacy giving you clean, warm files to work with. What I wasn’t expecting was for the autofocus to be as good as it is. To be frank, the Dual Pixel Autofocus is amazing. Autofocus tracking was fast and accurate in Servo even with Face Detection. I was genuinely shocked at how well it worked with both the native RF mount lenses as well as the adapted EF lenses. For my purposes, I had the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L, Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L, and the Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L. I will admit that I don’t think I pushed the limits of the autofocus system too much. I feel like I gave it a test of what most general enthusiasts might use it for though. I shot it in a variety of settings ranging from good light, backlight and extremely low light and was pleasantly surprised with no autofocus hunting and accurate focus lock. The extent of my autofocus tracking came to letting my wife walk around, and it tracked focus as well as I would expect any modern camera to do. I would be interested in trying this in a more challenging scenario just to see how well it holds up though.

Canon EOS RP Review

Example Photo with Canon EOS RP

Canon EOS RP Review

Example Photo with Canon EOS RP

Canon EOS RP Review

Example Photo with Canon EOS RP

Additional Features

The Canon EOS RP certainly has a lot of features, especially considering that this is Canon’s sophomore entry into the mirrorless market that competes with Fuji and Sony (Sorry, I’m not counting the Canon M series). That said, the Canon EOS RP has the same flaw that is within all smaller mirrorless systems on the market today – its battery life.  Canon had to lower costs as much as they could to bring this camera down to a reasonable price point and still differentiate it from the Canon EOS R, and battery choice was the biggest one they made. It uses the LP-E17 batteries found in the Rebel series cameras. Battery life was fine for intermittent shooting, but for extended usage, it felt lackluster. While Canon’s WiFi and Bluetooth systems and app work great – and probably better than any competitors in that market, it’s hard to justify using it with the hit it takes on the already poor battery life. The rating on the battery sits around 250 photos when using the LCD, and only 210 when taking advantage of the EVF.  In terms of actual performance, the RP is fantastic and at the end of the day carrying a few extra batteries isn’t a deal-breaker but if you’re already using LP-E6(N)s found in Canon’s crop of professional bodies it’s annoying to carry multiple sets of batteries.

Canon EOS RP Review

Example Photo with Canon EOS RP

What I Liked

  • The Canon EOS RP is a lightweight and small camera body
  • Incredibly fast and accurate autofocus system
  • A capable full-frame sensor in a small and affordable system
  • The RF lens mount holds a lot of promises for the future

What Could Be Improved

  • The Canon EOS RP has weird balance with the current RF lens lineup
  • Poor battery life
  • The EVF is quite a bit smaller than that on the EOS R

Summary

This brings me to my summary that the Canon EOS RP is a fantastic camera for anyone on a budget. At $1,299, the Canon RP gives you a small form factor system with a full-frame sensor which is more than capable of handling almost anything you throw at it. Additionally, it’s a budget-friendly camera that takes advantage of the RF mount, which Canon has already invested a lot into, and expect to make their flagship mount going forward. If you’re willing to make some sacrifices on battery life (and willing to carry and extra 2-3 in your bag for all-day shooting), the Canon EOS RP is a great option for those getting started in professional photography. If you’re looking to a second camera body, the Canon EOS RP also fits those needs for most photographers, without taking up much bag space. However, if your interest in the camera is solely to get your feet wet with the RF lens lineup, you’re probably better off jumping head first in with the Canon EOS R.

Author: Brennan McKissick

I’m Brennan and I’m a photo expert in the Nashville office for Lensrentals.com. I have a background in street and documentary photography and also work as a wedding photographer part-time throughout the Southeast.

Posted in Equipment
  • You want the sources I mentioned, or do you want manufacturer sourced internal sales documents? I can provide the “internet bullshit” I referenced, but not private corporate sales figures.

  • Benz Oberst

    You don’t want to be fact checked? Don’t repeat internet bullshit.

  • Of the various sales charts I’ve seen (published by online and brick and mortar retailers) each one has shown the RP to be a slow seller—slower than the a7II—which is in line with everything else I’ve heard related to the success of both these cameras (as well as the RP’s gray market price dropping to under $1K in a matter of months). But if itemized sales data direct from manufactures is required to justify a blog comment here, I wish you luck with your policing and fact checking. ?

  • Benz Oberst

    It looks like you are privy to the itemized sales data from both Canon and Sony. Would you mind sharing the numbers?

  • I would buy an A9 for $1200 right now. Maybe even two.

  • @Fred they announced a firmware update, but it’s coming out in a couple of weeks.

  • Great sample pictures. The 50/1.2 R used in this review is one of the lenses making the whole R system worth owning. If you add the new 85/1.2, 28-70/2 and the recently announced zooms – it becomes a terrific system. Hopefully Canon has a high res no-AA camera in the pipeline to match those lenses. Preferably with IBIS since those best-in-class primes are not stabilized.

  • I used to shoot the A7r2 for about 2 years, and my experience is completely different. The R’s AF system is a night and day compared to the A7r2. The R is so smooth and reliable (FW v1.3), and the touch AF makes focus selection a breeze. I’m missing IBIS sometimes while shooting the Sigma Art lenses, but all my Canon glass is stabilized. I think the A7r3 is supposed to have a better AF system than the R, but I never had a chance to shoot it. I may give the A7r4 a try when it’s available, but it won’t be a fair comparison based on the price and class 🙂

  • Fred

    Canon has just updated the eye-af this past week via firmware. Maybe an update of your specimen is still required?

  • Fred

    Godox is your friend…..

  • This is by far the most glowing, smoothed over review I’ve seen of this camera anywhere. Canon removed so many options from this camera—and boofed up the implementation of so many others (like everything related to video)—that Sony’s almost five year old a7II is still outselling the RP.

  • Refurb7

    I like the RP every much. Though relatively inexpensive, it still has some nicely refined details. Overall it’s a pleasure to use. It’s easy to find some things that could be improved on the RP, but then it would be a bigger, heavier and more expensive camera.

  • CTK

    I am using an R I rented from you guys… compared to my A7R2 I’m a little unimpressed. The lack of IBIS is surprisingly obvious, even with stabilized glass- it’s just not as smooth. AF seems to need more user input- even on wide AF on my A7R2 it seems to get to the subject I want more automatically than the R, and I think it’s a little stickier on the subject too. That could just be a setting thing.

    The R’s ergonomics are excellent though as is the battery life and honestly IQ is a wash unless you are a pixel peeping psychopath. In many ways it’s a more enjoyable camera to use. But I feel like even previous gen Sonys retain the edge in getting the shot- provided you can eat the cost of their expensive glass. It pains me that the only decent 24-xx zooms start at over $1100. That is just robbery but it is what it is.

  • JK

    “Canon dropped a bomb on the full-frame mirrorless world when the was released earlier this year, though many may have missed its announcement.”

    Yeah….about that: the “bomb” was that it didn’t have IBIS.

  • AlainCl

    Agreed. Seems to be grading somewhat on a curve. To be even surprisingly good for the price I’d expect it to be at least as good as the AF in the Nikon D7500, which is $400 less.

  • Denis Germain

    A flash as a flash trigger is useless… even an infrared systems is pretty much useless in the sun…
    a radio system is the only good solution…. buy a ST-E3-RT speedlite transmitter, or a second flash and you will get much better results!

  • Ashley Pomeroy

    It’s a shame they didn’t include a built-in flash – not so much for the flash but as a remote flash trigger.

    Apropos of nothing the physical design is reminiscent of the old EOS-500n, including the twirly knob for the battery grip. I wonder if it’s a deliberate choice, or if the 1990s has become fashionable again?

  • DP

    > Incredibly fast and accurate autofocus system

    why the word “incredible” is used ? is it way better than Sony A9 for example ? unless it is a magnitude better the right word today is a “passable” AF system …

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