Hands on: Canon EOS RP review

Looking to upgrade from a crop sensor? Now you can go full-frame without going full-fat

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Our Verdict

While its competitors are going to great pains to create increasingly advanced – and increasingly expensive – high end full-frame mirrorless cameras, Canon is catering to crop sensor consumers who are looking for a full-frame option that won’t break their back or their bank balance. The Canon EOS RP is a big success in this regard, offering full-frame functionality and 4K video in a package that’s notably smaller, lighter and cheaper than almost all its rivals. It’s far from an entry level camera, but it’s ideal an entry level full-frame camera.

For

  • Svelte, lightweight body
  • Fully articulating screen
  • 4K video
  • Aggressively priced

Against

  • Body feels small for big RF lenses
  • Loses the R’s sensor shutter
  • 1.6x crop + no Dual Pixel AF in 4K
  • Miserly battery life

Despite multiple reports that it would be a professional-grade version of the Canon EOS R (though make no mistake, a pro version is coming), the Canon EOS RP is instead a more populist version of the company’s full-frame mirrorless model. Indeed, the ‘P’ in the model name stands for ‘Popular’, in the Japanese sense meaning ‘for everybody’.

Which tells you exactly who this camera is aiming for. The company has listened to consumer feedback and realised that there was a lot of interest in the EOS R from advanced amateur photographers, the kind who already own an APS-C camera (such as a Canon EOS 77D or Canon EOS M50) and want to take the leap into full-frame, but don’t need the specialist features and don’t want the bulk and weight. 

The EOS RP, therefore, sits adjacent to the Canon EOS 6D Mark II in the product line-up, just as the EOS R sits adjacent to the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. And, like its bigger brother, the RP shares a great deal of architectural similarity with the 6D Mark II, from the sensor to the feature set. Yet it’s housed in a body that is Canon’s smallest and lightest ever full-frame camera.

With its lean frame, the Canon EOS RP pairs perfectly with small lenses like the RF 35mm f/1.8

With its lean frame, the Canon EOS RP pairs perfectly with small lenses like the RF 35mm f/1.8

Canon EOS RP: Specifications

While the RP is powered by the new Digic 8 processor, its 26.2MP sensor is almost exactly the same as the one inside the 6D Mark II. It has been redesigned somewhat, to optimise it to work with a mirrorless system and to accommodate the difference in the flange back distance of the RF mount, but for all intents and purposes it’s the same sensor. 

Accordingly, the RP has the same ISO100-40,000 (expandable to 102,400), along with Dual Pixel CMOS AF. It will autofocus down to -5EV, and Canon makes the Familiar Manufacturer’s Claim™ that it possesses “the world's fastest AF speed” of 0.05 seconds. The AF coverage is 88% x 100% on the sensor, which provides a mammoth 4,4779 autofocus positions – which is split into 143 zones if you’re using the auto AF functionality. 

Servo AF now supports Face Tracking with Eye AF, which was a bit of a glaring omission on the EOS R, along with single point Spot AF, which is something else that has been transplanted from the 6D Mark II. 

It can shoot in 4K up to 25fps, but loses Dual Pixel CMOS AF and suffers about a 1.6x crop when doing so. In 1080p it can shoot up to 60fps, without a crop and with the benefit of Dual Pixel.

The Canon EOS RP is the manufacturer's smallest, lightest full-frame camera

The Canon EOS RP is the manufacturer's smallest, lightest full-frame camera

Canon EOS RP: Features

The Canon EOS RP doesn’t have a lot of “killer app” features, since it was designed to be an entry level version of the EOS R. However, it does possess a few useful new tricks up its sleeve – such as Focus Bracketing, which is a useful macro feature found on other systems but one that Canon has never attempted before. 

It’s a semi-automated focus stacking mode where you tell the camera how many images you want to take, and it then takes each image while moving the focus point between shots. The result is a series of images that can be merged to extend depth of field, though unfortunately the RP doesn’t do this in-camera – you will need to download the new version of Digital Photo Professional. 

The RP, like the EOS R, doesn’t have in-body image stabilisation. It does, however, employ Canon’s Dual Sensing IS technology when combined with RF lenses (such as the six new RF lenses that have just been announced). The system uses the gyroscope built into these lenses to detect lens movement, in conjunction with the CMOS sensor and the Digic 8 processor to detect subject movement. 

This data is fed back into the optical IS unit to instruct it to move correctly to eliminate as much movement as possible – particularly low frequency movement, which is notoriously difficult to correct (stabilisation typically ignores minor vibration, so that it isn’t confused with breathing or small panning adjustments). Canon says that Dual Sensing IS is good for five stops of stabilisation. 

The Canon EOS RP (bottom) is noticeably smaller, slimmer and lighter than the EOS R (top)

The Canon EOS RP (bottom) is noticeably smaller, slimmer and lighter than the EOS R (top)

Canon EOS RP: Build and handling

Arguably the most impressive thing about the Canon EOS RP is its tiny form factor. Weighing just 485g including a battery and memory card, it’s 175g lighter than the EOS R and 280g lighter than the 6D Mark II. 

In fact, its closest comparison would be the Canon EOS 800D/Canon EOS Rebel T7i, which weighs exactly the same body only (but is 532g with battery and card) and measures 131.0 x 99.9 x 76.2mm – much chunkier than the RP’s streamlined 132.5 x 85 x 70mm frame.  

When paired with an appropriate lens, such as the RF 35mm f/1.8 IS Macro STM or an EF 50mm f/1.8 STM with the EF-EOS R Mount Adapter, the camera feels almost as deft and manoeuvrable as a Fuji or Olympus system. However, this compactness advantage when paired with smaller lenses becomes a bit of a disadvantage when paired with larger lenses – which is a bit of drawback, when the RF range consists of monsters like the 950g Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L and the 1,430g 28-70mm f/2L. 

Compared to the full-frame Canon EOS 6D Mk II DSLR (left), the Canon EOS RP mirrorless is incredibly compact at half the size

Compared to the full-frame Canon EOS 6D Mk II DSLR (left), the Canon EOS RP mirrorless is incredibly compact at half the size

Like the EOS R, there is a bit of a disconnect between the smaller consumer-grade body and the much larger pro-grade lenses that truly dwarf the EOS RP. Even the Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L that’s available as a kit lens feels unwieldy at 700g. Which is probably why Canon is, cannily, offering a bundle with the EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM instead, which actually feels a much better fit for this camera. Still, the optional Extension Grip EG-E1 adds a discreet plate that helps balance larger lenses.

The 0.39-inch, 2.36 million dot electronic viewfinder has been transplanted from the EOS M50 and works perfectly well, even though it’s a tad smaller than the EOS R’s. We’re supremely grateful that Canon opted to keep the fully articulating touchscreen, though, which again at three inches and a million dots isn’t as hi-tech as its big brother’s, but if anything actually feels a little more responsive.

The EOS R’s Marmite-flavoured embellishments, the M-Fn touchbar and the Mode button that was quite alien to Canon users, have both been dropped, along with the top LCD screen. Replacing them is Canon’s more traditional Mode dial, which takes up less and makes the shooting process more intuitive, as you don’t have to stop and think every time you want to switch modes. 

Sadly, also dumped are the ‘blast door’ sensor shutters from the EOS R that would shield the sensor when the camera is turned off, protecting it from debris while changing lenses. It’s an understandable cost and weight compromise, but we miss it nonetheless.

The Extension Grip EG-E1can be added to make the Canon EOS RP better balanced with large lenses

The Extension Grip EG-E1can be added to make the Canon EOS RP better balanced with large lenses

Canon EOS RP: Performance

While it’s tempting to draw comparisons against the likes of the Nikon Z6 or even the EOS R, it’s important to remember that the EOS RP isn’t really in the same bracket as those cameras. Accordingly, while its performance seems comparatively unspectacular in some respects, the RP performs quite well for a camera in its category. 

In terms of image quality, in terms of everything from file fidelity to dynamic range, the RP is very close to the 6D Mark II. The Digic 8 processor certainly gives it a bit more oomph, and we’re looking forward to performing a lab test for our full review to see how much this truly affects things like noise, but you’re looking at the same sort of levels. 

It’s certainly not going to win any awards for speed, with a burst mode of 4fps in Servo AF or 5fps in One Shot, and you can get about 50 14-bit raw files on a UHS-II card before the camera starts to slow down. Again, though, this isn’t a sports camera; it’s an everyday, for-everybody camera with a £1,399 price point.

Like the EOS R and 5D Mark IV, the 4K performance bears the brunt of the performance compromise. Suffering the 1.6x crop is one thing, being limited to 25fps is another, but losing the Dual Pixel CMOS AF really is a tough nut to swallow. All that said, however, these restrictions feel a lot more palatable on a body this cheap – plus, you get to use Focus Peaking in MF, which is a very welcome feature for “proper” videographers who wouldn’t use AF anyway, Dual Pixel or otherwise.

Battery life is really the biggest performance issue faced by the camera. While CIPA’s ratings are often conservative, the stated 250 shots for the EOS RP does feel somewhat miserly. Yes, you can now charge batteries in-camera using a USB source (such as an appropriate power pack), but it’s a far cry from the 600 shots you can expect from a 77D or 800D/T7i, and a world away from the 6D Mark II’s 1,200 shots. 

The 200g lighter EF version of the 24-105mm lens arguably pairs better than the RF version

The 200g lighter EF version of the 24-105mm lens arguably pairs better than the RF version

Canon EOS RP: Early verdict

Invariably there will be disappointment from users who were expecting (read: dearly hoping) that this would be a professional version of the EOS R to rival the EOS-1D X or 5DS/R. It’s unfair to judge the Canon EOS RP for what it isn’t, though. This is a remarkable feat of engineering, effectively cramming the power and performance of a 765g 6D Mark II into such a tiny 485g body while also adding 4K video and mirrorless benefits such as an EVF. 

A capable full-frame mirrorless camera for £1,399 is hugely appealing for anyone looking to upgrade to a larger sensor, especially one that retains the size and weight of the APS-C bodies they’re already using. Indeed, the EOS RP’s compactness might even make it more appealing than the EOS R for photographers who need to stay light and nimble, such as travel or street shooters. 

Read more: 

Canon EOS RP declares full-frame war: 26.2MP, 440g, £1,399

Canon EOS RP: 6 new RF mount lenses coming in 2019