Canon EOS RP Review: More To It Than Price and Spec Sheet Would Suggest 

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Have seen quite a few blog posts, previews, reviews, and videos talking about what this camera does not have… or what it has that has been compromised (not using the word that has been batted about). None of what they say is wrong (more on that below) but they seem to approach this camera as if they were hoping for an entry level do all alternative like the stellar A7III.

Update: In the interest of full disclosure. I have since sold this camera and picked up an A7II. The RP is still an excellent camera for a fair price, but having one mount with IBS at a significantly lower price point with no discernable feature loss proved too good of a deal to pass up. That being said all accolades below still apply.

While I can understand that mindset I came at the RP from an entirely different angle. I have an A7III and it is great. While the RP cannot match the A7III spec for spec why should it at such a low price point? (Admittedly Canon is also not known for stretching too far with features.) As much as I enjoy it, and it’s great feature set, the A7III is not perfect. The RP actually bests the A7III in a few areas that speak to me personally.

Ok, what really motivated me to look at the RP was my infatuation with a certain inexpensive 50mm lens. Specifically the Canon 50mm f/1.8 EF STM. It performed well with the Sony (which led me to an infatuation with an even more versatile native RF lens, but more on that soon), but had some stills limitations and has unusable AF for video with the Sigma MC11. This got me to thinking.

Lens Choice and Price:

While choices are growing with every Sony announcement in the grand scheme of things the full frame FE mount is still in its infancy compared to Canon mounts and other DSLR systems. Only considering the Canon RF mount lenses is not really fair when Canon is giving away the EF adapter for free. A quick search on KEH as of this writing shows that there are currently 7 pages of full frame EF lenses as compared to 1 page of full frame FE lenses.

Canon Adapter Implementation:

One of my favorite things about the A7III is adapting glass to it. Especially when legacy glass AF is involved like my recent Techart M Mount post and Contax G post. I love a good 50mm prime and my favorite lens of all to adapt (as noted in this post I found Sony FE native mount and adapted choices either lacking in performance, too large and/or too expensive) was the Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM. With the Sigma MC 11 it does an admirable job. But as mentioned above on Sony there are limitations where the RP with the adapter all functionality is available. More on that in this post at KEH.

Ergonomics/Build/Controls:

The A7III has better ergonomics than its predecessors (as shown here). But as good as A7 series has gotten the EOS RP feels better in hand to me. The A7III’s card door is a definite high point, but its mic jack, headphone jack, and port doors let it down. Hard materials and corners do not help either as it has already taken a bit of damage. The RP does not place a foot wrong in these areas. Port covers are done much better and the RP’s materials and shape will likely shrug off damage better. The control layout is another win. The R’s touch slider thingy is thankfully absent and everything else falls quickly to hand. I really like the configurable lock switch, Q menu. M. Fn, and other short cuts, and easily decipherable menus. There are three custom modes on the mode dial rather than two. The RP’s touch screen implementation is well done. I have little Canon digital experience unless you count my brief dalliance with a wonderfully baffling 1Ds Mark II. But even with being a relative Canon newbie I had the RP for days before I realized that I had not looked at the manual once. Does not feel like a budget camera in hand I also like tilty/flippy screens. With a small lens like the 50mm STM this camera is a call back to classic film SLRs in size, weight, and feel more than any digital camera/lens combo I have come across.

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Let us take a look at a few other categories.

IQ:

I’ll make this brief. Everything said about Canon colors is true. They are amazing. Takes very few hits with the Lightroom stick in RAW to get photos where I like them and the JPEGS would do in many cases. Dynamic range not a match for Sony, but it still very good. Mid 20s MP count is my personal crop-ability/file size sweet spot (eventually sold every camera I have owned that goes past this) and images look plenty sharp to me.

 

 

 

AF Performance:

Very good AF performance. Fast and accurate with all the modern bells and whistles like tracking, face/eye detect (Sony is better at this, but the RP serviceable) and great controls to switch between them all.

Low Light:

Not the best on the market, but performs very competently in low light. Acquires focus well and creates pleasing images.

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Accessories:

Adapter. This is where Canon knocks it out of the park in my opinion. Adapting EF lenses with the bundled adapter is the most transparent lens adapting experience I have ever had. More on this in this KEH post.

Grip. Best non battery grip I have seen. Looks great and really improves the handling of the camera. Plus they engineered a pass-through door that replaces the standard door, that feels better, and allows for access to the card and battery without having to remove the grip. Big shiny, knurled knob. Other companies take note.

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Flash. Purchased my go to system flash/trigger from Godox. Works as billed on camera and with the other components as previously described in this post.

Before closing let us take a quick look at the downsides.

Battery Life:

Having owned and been happy with plenty of cameras requiring spares this did not bother me that much. So far in real-world shooting battery life has not been an issue at all. Ordered extra batteries and kept it moving.

No in body IS:

Wish it had it. Understand why it does not given the price point. Kick up ISO a few notches and keep it mov… or hold still in this case.

(Dun, Dun, Dun) One Card Slot:

While I honestly understand the heartburn it does not faze me at this price point. Have had and still own cameras that cost more that only had one card slot.

Compromised Silent Mode:

Do I wish I had the ability to employ silent shooting outside of it being couched in a scene? Yes. Perhaps they will cut it out and make it available as a standalone setting in a future firmware release? Until then I will use the actually pretty good all auto silent scene when applicable. Plus, the actual shutter is so quiet that it is not an issue in most settings.

Video:

Typically not my bag for starters. Once bought a camera mainly because it shot 4K and always used 1080 for good enough/file size/editing reasons. So crop 4K, compromised 4K AF, and limited fps options are not an issue for me. And AF with 1080 output looks good. As I imagine would be the case with any Canon STM will be needed. Every non-STM lens I tried focused too loudly even when using an external mic.

Why this over a 6D Mark II I have heard asked?

Easy for me. Smaller, lighter, less expensive, gains access to two mounts (RF and EF), more focus points. and most importantly to me face/eye AF through the viewfinder.

So who is this lens for? What if I have…?

…no Canon glass:

There a many very good, very reasonably priced lenses for a fraction of the cost of new mirrorless mount lenses.

…a lot of Canon EF glass:

If you are in this group and itching to shoot mirrorless Canon offers the cheapest entry path yet and you will not need to spend a dime more than the price of the RP and adapter.

…older lenses:

The beauty of mirrorless is the use of older glass of any sort. Not only can old Canon lenses be adapted, but as adapters for other lens mounts become available nearly anything can be adapted to the RP. MF w/ focus peaking works perfectly on the RP.

Why not a Nikon Z instead?

A fine system, but they do not have a $1,299 option at this time.

Why this and not a similarly priced crop camera?

Personal choice. Have had many very good crop cameras over the years. But in the end, I will always forgo features and choose full frame if there is a viable option.

Conclusion:

The Canon EOS RP is an excellent camera. If you are looking for a solid full-frame stills shooter that can handle video in a pinch this is a great option. Samples above and an ongoing gallery here.

Happy shooting.

-ELW

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