The second album is always tricky, but while the EOS R may have featured a few experimental tracks, the Canon EOS RP is a little more traditional Canon in some respects. It’s also one of the smallest, lightest full-frame cameras available and, more significantly for some, it has the lowest launch price of any full-frame mirrorless camera to date. Achieving that comparatively low price and small size has meant that Canon has pared back some of the features, but there’s still plenty to keep most enthusiast photographers happy. Most importantly, the 26.2MP sensor is capable of capturing a good level of detail and both exposure and colour are handled well.
All things considered, we can live with the compromises that have been made to keepdown the price and size of this full-framer.
Canon’s first mirrorless full-frame camera was the 30.3Mp EOS R. It’s billed as the mirrorless version of the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. The Canon EOS RP, which is the company’s second full-frame mirrorless camera, sits beneath it in the range and has a fair bit in common with the EOS 6D Mark II.
With 26.2million effective pixels, the RP’s sensor is very similar to the 6D Mark II’s. The feature set is also familiar, but the architecture has been reworked for the new body and RF lens mount.
Canon is aiming the EOS RP at travel and enthusiast photographers. That seems to be the label that manufacturers give their crowd-pleasing cameras, and with a launch price of £1,399/$1,499, the Canon EOS RP is likely to attract a lot of attention. That price compares favourably with the current street price of the 6D Mark II (around £1,500/$1,500).
That price is without a lens, but Canon UK includes the RF to EF adapter in the box. That means if you already own EF lenses, they’ll work on the RP.
Sensor and Processor
Inside the Canon EOS RP, the 26.2mp dual pixel CMOS sensor is paired by Canon’s latest processing engine, dubbed Digic 8. There’s also a Digital Lens Optimiser (DLO) which is designed to get the best from mounted lenses.
Thanks to that sensor and processor combo, the Canon RP has a native sensitivity range of ISO 100-40,000. As usual this can be extended, in this case to ISO 50-102,400.
Despite the presence of the latest processor and a UHS-II compatible SD card slot, the RP has a maximum shoot rate of 5fps (frame per second). That’s only possible in One Shot AF mode. If you want the focus to adjust as you shoot you’ll need to drop to a rate of 4fps to enable Servo AF. Those are pretty unimpressive figures by modern standards, but if you’re not an avid sport or action shooter, it may not be an issue.
Better news, is the continuous shooting rates can be maintained for up to 50 14bit raw files or until the card is filled with Jpegs.
Canon has given the EOS RP an impressively-well specified autofocus (AF) system. As you’d expect with Canon, the imaging sensor is a Dual Pixel CMOS AF device, which means that the focusing uses phase detection. That’s usually faster than contrast detection.
The Dual Pixel design means that every photoreceptor is split in two so they can all play a part in focusing. There are 4,779 user-selectable AF points which cover 88% of the width and 100% of the height of the frame.
According to Canon, the RP’s AF system is operational down to -5EV when using an f/1.2 lens. That’s 1 stop behind the EOS R, but impressive nevertheless.
Face and Eye detection is also on hand and the Eye detection works with continuous AF.
As well as stills the RP can also shoot video. As with the R, it feels a little limited with 4K (3980 x 2160) video being possible at 25fps and 1080p at 60fps. It would’ve been nice to at least have a 30fps for 4K shooting, and 120fps at 1080p be a bonus, but it’s not to be.
More annoying, however, is the fact that the 4K footage is recorded from an area of the sensor that’s around APS-C-sized . This means that there’s a focal length magnification factor of around 1.6x.
Consequently, you have to shoot at 1902×1080 if you want your lenses to show their true focal length.
However, it nice to see that there’s a standard 3.5mm mic input and headphone port, so it means you can connect a proper sound kit. It’s also possible to get clean footage out to an external recorder via the HDMI port.
On the back of the camera, there’s a vari-angle 3-inch touch screen with 1.04 million dots. That’s useful when you’re shooting video or stills.
This is teamed up with a 2.36Mp OLED electronic viewfinder (EVF).
Canon RF Lens Mount
The Canon EOS R introduced the new RF lens mount. Naturally, this is also used on the Canon RP. This is an exciting innovation from Canon, and it’s good to see an update to the EF mount, which has fronted Canon SLR’s for the last 30 years.
As well as facilitating the omission of a mirror, the redesigned mount enables Canon to use the latest advances in lens design. That’s something that the EF mount would have restricted. As with the Nikon F-mount, Canon’s EF-mount was becoming a limiting factor for the company’s optics engineers.
The RF lens mount utilises the latest technology and boosts the contact points between the body and lens to 14 for faster and more accurate communication.
Canon’s Image Stabilisation (IS) was introduced for its film cameras and a lens-based system made sense. Although the system has evolved over the years, the manufacturer has stuck with using lens-based stabilisation for the EOS R and RP.
The RP features 5-axis a Dual Sensing IS system. This uses sensors in both the lens and the body to detect movement but the correction is applied by an element in the lens. It’s an example of the high-speed communication enabled by the new RF mount.
Connectivity and Power
Wifi and low power Bluetooth connectivity are built in, enabling connection to smartphones running the free Canon App.
Unlike the Canon EOS R, the RP takes the LP-E17 battery type. It’s a shame that there isn’t a consistent battery type in Canon’s mirrorless range, but the smaller battery helps to keep the body size down.
Helpfully, there’s also the option to charge the battery through the USB-C port. Alternatively, that connection can be used to tether the camera to a computer, which is a nice option.
Although not in the box as standard, there is a power adapter that can be bought if you want to use the camera to shoot long time lapses.
- Sensor: 26.2MP full frame (35.9 x 24mm) CMOS
- Image processor: Digic 8
- AF points: 4,779 Dual Pixel AF positions with 143 zones
- Sensitivity: ISO 100 to 40,000 expandable to ISO 50 to 102,400
- Metering modes: Evaluative, partial, spot, centre-weighted
- Maximum Video resolution: 4K (3840 x 2160) at 25p, FHD at 25p/50p, HD at 25/50p
- Viewfinder: 0.39-inch 2.36M-dot electronic viewfinder with 100% coverage
- Screen: Vari-angle 3-inch Clear View LCD II touchscreen with 1.04M dots
- Maximum continuous shooting rate: 5fps in single AF maintained until card full (JPEG) or 50 RAW images, 4fps with continuous AF
- Max. 4 fps with AF Tracking
- Storage: SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-II compatible
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
- Battery: Rechargeable Li-ion Battery LP-E17 (supplied)
- Dimensions: 132.5x85x70mm
- Weight: 440g body only, 485g with card and battery
Build quality and handling
Although it’s a full-frame camera, the Canon RP weighs just 485g with the memory card and battery installed. That’s the same as the APS-C format Canon 800D without the card and battery.
It’s an impressive feat and one that hasn’t been achieved at the expense of the RP’s build quality. Underneath that plastic outer shell, there’s a magnesium alloy chassis. This keeps weight down but gives strength. What’s more, the EOS RP is dust- and moisture-proofed to the same level as the 80D.
Despite the small size of the EOS RP, it has a decent grip. However, the grip feels a little short when a long lens is mounted. In fact even the RF 24 – 105 mm F 4 L IS USM kit lens feels a bit front-heavy on the RP.
I tried a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM mounted via the Canon EF-EOS R adapter and it felt like quite a mismatch. However, Canon offers the optional EG-E1 Extension Grip which is specifically designed to improve the ergonomics of the RP. I’d seriously consider buying it if you have any long EF lenses that you want to use with the mirrorless camera.
While it has a rather squat shape, the EOS RP has enough Canon EOS characteristics to be identifiable as a Canon EOS camera.
Two dials on the top plate enable speedy exposure changes using your forefinger and thumb. Handily, RF lenses also have an extra ring to allow adjustments to be made to features such as aperture, shutter speed, sensitivity or exposure compensation. I like to use it to adjust the latter.
This is set via Custom Function III: Operation/others Customise dials page 6.
As usual, the Canon RP has a Q button. This is at the centre of the navigation pad and pressing it reveals the Quick Menu with 12 features arrange in two colours of 6, one on each side of the screen/viewfinder.
To compensate for the reduced number of buttons allowed by the RP’s relatively small size, there’s a Dial Function menu. By default, this is accessed by pressing the small M-Fn button near the shutter release.
The Dial Function menu comprises sensitivity (ISO), drive mode, AF mode, white balance and flash exposure compensation. Rotating the rear top-plate dial moves between the five options while rotating the front dial adjusts the setting of the selected feature.
This and the Quick menu give you quick access to just about every feature you need without taking the camera away from your eye.
One control that is lacking in comparison with the EOS R is the Touch-bar. I can’t say I missed it, it drove me mad on the R.
Setting the AF Point
In the absence of a joystick on the back of the Canon RP, the AF point is set either via the touchscreen or using the navigation pad.
If you’re composing images on the screen, you can set the AF point simply by tapping where you want the focus point to be.
If you’re using the viewfinder, you need to enable the ‘Touch & drag AF’ feature via the main menu. One of the most important aspects when activating this is to set the active touch area. This determines which part of the screen is used to set the AF point when you’re using the viewfinder.
The simplest option is to use the whole screen, but if your nose touches the screen it will set the AF point instead of your finger. As a left eye user, I find it best to use the left of the screen.
Alternatively, the AF point can be set using the navigation pad. By default, you need to press the dedicated button on the back of the camera before the navigation controls can be used to shift the AF point. That slows things down a little so I prefer to dip into use the option on the 5th screen of the Custom Function Menu III: Operation/Others Customisation buttons to set the navigation control to set the AF point directly.
Flexible Priority mode
Unlike the EOS R, the EOS RP features a mode dial. In addition to the usually PASM, video, B (bulb) and SCN (Scene) options, this has an FV (Flexible Value or Flexible Priority) setting.
Flexible Priority mode is a bit like an upgraded version of Program mode. It allows you to switch from automatic exposure to semi-automatic or manual exposure very quickly without moving the mode dial.
Viewfinder and Screen
Although the 0.39-inch 2.36million-dot electric viewfinder (EVF) doesn’t match those in recent high-end mirrorless cameras for resolution, it still provides a decent preview of images. And let’s not forget, the RP is much more affordable than other new full-frame mirrorless cameras.
With Exposure Simulation activated, you get an accurate view of the final image’s brightness as well as the colour. However, if you want to see the depth of field, you’ll need to customise one of the camera’s buttons to that purpose. Or of course, you can take a quick shot. That could be avoided, however, if Canon showed the preview with the selected aperture applied.
Like the EVF, the 3-inch screen’s 1.04-million-dot resolution doesn’t really wow these days, but the fact that it’s mounted on a vari-angle hinge is great. That means you can twist it around to give you a clear view whichever angle you’re shooting from. And unlike a tilting screen, it’s useful if you’re shooting in portrait or landscape orientation.
The screen is also bright enough to be useful outdoors on a sunny day. In addition, it’s very responsive to touch.
I like that Canon has enabled the RP’s touchscreen to be used for browsing the Quick and main menu, selecting settings and browsing through images as well as setting the AF point. It really speeds using the camera and makes it more intuitive. It’s also good that this isn’t at the expense of physical buttons and dials.
Canon claims that the RP can focus at -5EV and I found no reason to dispute that during my testing. It focuses quickly on stationary subjects in very low light whether there’s an RF lens mounted or an EF lens is mounted via one of Canon’s adapters.
In AF modes such as 1-point AF, Spot AF, AF point Expansion 4 points and AF point Expansion surrounding the camera does reasonably well at getting fast-moving subjects sharp. If you’re able to keep the active point over the subject, you get a pretty decent hit rate.
It’s less impressive when the Face+tracking setting is selected though. This mode allows you to set the subject to be tracked by tapping on the screen. Alternatively, it can automatically detect and track Faces. However, it can only really cope with subjects that move at around a walking pace. Anything faster tends to leave it behind.
The Face and Eye AF system is also quite fussy about the angle that the face is at. In most cases, I find the face is only picked-up if the person’s face is close to straight-on to the camera. It’s some way behind the Sony A7 III’s performance – but then there’s quite a price difference too.
As the Canon RP has an accurate electronic viewfinder, you’re able to assess your images before you’ve even captured them in a way that’s just not possible with a DSLR. This means that you can be sure that the exposure and white balance are just right before you press the shutter release.
I kept the RP in Evaluative mode for the whole two weeks that I had it for testing and it coped with most of the shooting scenarios I encountered. Naturally, there were a few occasions when the exposure compensation was required. This was never required when I wouldn’t have expected, and there were a few times when I thought I might need to use it but didn’t.
Of course, there are a few times when you want to apply some exposure compensation for creative reasons and it’s nice to be able to use that extra ring on the RF lenses to give things a tweak.
If you examine Jpegs shot in the default settings at 100% you may find the sharpening a little aggressive. It’s especially noticeable in strong contrast conditions. However, this can be reduced in-camera or you can opt for the Fine Detail Picture Style, or rely on bespoke processing of raw files.
Low-ISO images have a good level of detail and little noise visible up to around ISO 1,600. Noise is also handled well up to around ISO 25,600. As with the EOS R, I’d avoid the uppermost native and expanded sensitivity settings.
At ISO 12,800 you can see some luminance noise visible in raw files and there’s some detail lost in the simultaneously captured raw files. This becomes more noticeable at ISO 25,600 but I’d still use that setting if the conditions demand it.
Follow the link to browse and download full-resolution images
Canon EOS RP Image Gallery
The Canon EOS RP is a very interesting camera. It’s a full-frame model, which makes it attractive to enthusiasts, but it has a pared-back specification that makes it more affordable at launch than any other full-frame camera. In a way, it feels like we’re going back to the days of film when you could have the same shooting medium (film) in cameras with a wide range of prices.
However, while the EOS RP is cheaper than other full-full-frame cameras, it’s more expensive than or similarly priced to top-end smaller format cameras like the Panasonic G9, Olympus OM-D E-M1 II and Fuji X-T3. That means enthusiasts have a difficult choice between the extensive feature sets of APS-C and Micro Four Thirds cameras or the greater control over depth of field and image quality brought by a full-frame sensor.
In terms of build quality, the Canon RP feels very good, every bit an enthusiast-level camera. The handling however, feels a little more basic in some respects as you don’t have as much direct access to features as with some other models. The touch control is superbly implemented on a vari-angle screen, there’s a good level of customisation and the Dial Function menu is clever, but it could do with an extra control or two including a joystick.
However, I could learn to live with that.
I’d probably buy the EG-E1 Extension Grip to make the RP a bit more comfortable with long lenses and then I’d enjoy the versatility of a small, light full-frame camera that can be made bigger if I want.