Many people have asked this question, which should they get? An RP or an R? The answer is: read on to find out!
In the following chart you can see the main specs for each camera:
|Canon EOS R
|Canon EOS RP
|Full Frame / 35mm
|Full Frame / 35mm
|Dual Pixel CMOS AF
|Dual Pixel CMOS AF
|Selectable AF Points
|AF Working Range
|-6 ev f/1.2 @ ISO 100
|-5 ev f/1.2 @ ISO 100
|Face Tracking AF
|Max Continuous w/ One-Shot AF
|Max Continuous w/ Servo AF
|EFCS, ES, and Mechanical
|Max Shutter Speed
|Max Video Resolution
3840 x 2160
3840 x 2160
|No (ALL-I & IPB)
|No (IPB only)
|OLED color EVF
|OLED color EVF
|1.46 lbs / 660g
|1.07 lbs / 485g
Looking at specifications alone it’s tough to see the justification for the R’s higher price point. The biggest difference is honestly the weight and size of the two cameras. The R is more substantial for sure. But there isn’t a single specification to point to as a “wow” advantage over the RP. What can be said is that the R is a bit better in a variety of different ways. It is a little faster shooting, has a little better AF, a little faster shutter, a little better video quality, etc.
Both cameras are built solid, but the EOS R is definitely the more robust and solid feeling of the two. The EOS RP is lighter and smaller but that doesn’t mean it seems poorly made. In fact, it seems just as well made as the R does. For my larger hands I would say that the R seems to be a good fit, while the RP is a little too small. Canon makes a grip extension for the RP which doesn’t do anything in particular except make the RP a little weightier and taller.
The EOS R also has a battery grip accessory that extends the shooting time and gives the R a vertical (portrait) grip as well as vertical controls. With the addition of the grip the R feels like a traditional pro-level camera in hand.
Both camera’s are said to be weather sealed, however, the EOS RP’s grip extension does break this weather sealing on the battery compartment of the RP. Don’t dunk your RP in water with the grip extension attached!
Both camera’s have Canon’s standard flippy screen which makes shooting at waist level in portrait or landscape orientation super easy. It also will flip completely around and let you see the screen while taking a selfie with it. While the screen isn’t perfect for every use case, it is one of the best flip screens available due to the many ways it can be positioned.
Both camera’s use SD cards. But, while the Canon EOS R has a dedicated memory compartment the RP has it’s memory slot located inside the battery door next to the battery. From a functional standpoint there isn’t much of a difference, but the EOS R’s setup is definitely the slightly more convenient method for accessing the SD card.
It may appear that the RP has worse build quality, but one thing the RP has is a long lasting shutter. We’ve taken many thousands of pictures with it and never had a problem. The EOS R has had to have it’s shutter replaced after less than 100,000 pictures taken.
Personally I find that to be unacceptable for the R’s shutter to die so quickly. No matter how well made any part of the camera is the shutter is the most important thing. If that breaks the camera is a useless brick. Because of this the Canon EOS RP wins the build quality test by having a more durable shutter.
I’m not a big fan of the LP-E6 battery that the EOS R comes with. It doesn’t last more than 2-3 years of regular use and costs a pretty penny to replace. Despite this the EOS R does have a battery grip, so if you absolutely need that extra battery life you can get that for the EOS R with the grip.
The RP is a little less than the R but it also has a smaller battery. In normal conditions with a new battery it will deliver 200-400 shots in real world use. I have used it at weddings as a second camera only shooting intermittently and managed in the 400-500 range. But that is because I took a bunch of action photos with it during the ceremony then put it away.
Both camera’s are below average on battery life, but the EOS R probably wins because it can be used with a battery grip.
For the most part dynamic range doesn’t have a whole lot to do with image quality for a SOOC photo. More dynamic range is something that gives more flexibility when editing. Cameras with more dynamic range typically allow the recovery of more shadow detail for a given exposure.
HDR Video Mode: One interesting feature of the RP is an “HDR” video mode. Whether this is actually HIGH Dynamic Range or just an in-camera HDR look is unknown, but it’s something to mess around with at the very least to see if the RP can get the shot you want. The thing is that I don’t the RP is 100% honest about how it handles highlights so devising a test is going to be extremely difficult. In other words, the RP will give you a little, but it won’t give you a lot because then the lie would be too obvious.
I did a test of the dynamic range of still photos between the two at 100 ISO and my results are below:
EOS R vs EOS RP Dynamic Range Experiment
Here are both cameras shot at -7 stops of underexposure and recovered.
In this test the R seems to have more dynamic range than the RP. By shooting -7 stops underexposed we’re showing the shadow recovery capability of each camera. While this alone doesn’t prove the R has more dynamic range, it implies the R is going to have substantially better shadow recovery if you shoot at what the camera says is the correct exposure. Obviously the R looks better in this particular comparison, in fact, the R has at least 1 more stop of photographic dynamic range that it can go to at -8 stops underexposure.
Next, let’s look at the overexposure results. In this test shot at +3 overexposure we’re showing the highlight recovery capability of each camera.
The highlights +3 overexposure are blown out in both cameras. However, it looks like the RP actually retained more highlights than the R did. Looking at both these images I absolutely prefer the image from the RP. Is it enough to put the RP above the R in dynamic range? It’s hard to say. One thing about highlights like this is that they roll off a lot faster than shadows do. So this little bit of roll off on Mario’s face and nose be 1/3 stop it might be 1 stop, it’s hard to say. Shadows tend to roll off a lot slower making it easier to see differences there. Unfortunately this amount of testing isn’t quite accurate enough to be 100% certain about the RP’s dynamic range as it clearly isn’t “lined up” with the R. It seems to be shifted towards the highlights a bit more. Is it possible that this is the only real difference here? It’s possible but not likely.
For camera manufacturers it’s easier to put dynamic range deficiencies in the highlights because of how fast highlights tend to roll off. My experience with the R is that it does tend to blow out highlights pretty easily in landscapes but when shot correctly it can usually get the full scene even with the sun in frame.
I’ve found that the RP is actually pretty robust when shooting landscapes and it has nicer performance around extremely bright highlights than the R does. While it can’t recover those darker shadows as the R does, I think it’s setup makes it easier to take a good landscape with. The RP is probably cheating a bit somehow to get better highlight retention. I think it will actually respond to the scene, so, the best course of action with the RP is to overexpose the shot if you want to get good shadow retention.
If you’re interested here are all the images I shot from the comparison.
EOS R Images from the Dynamic Range Experiment
EOS RP Images from the Dynamic Range Experiment
If you can only get one, which one should you get?
If the camera’s were the same price it would be a no-brainer to get the EOS R. But with the big price difference it’s a lot harder to determine which direction to go. I personally have both and they’ve both been put through their paces. The R cost me $1,799 for the body only. The RP cost me $1,499 with the RF 24-240mm. I got the RP for a lot less money. My girlfriend has used the RP exclusively for years now and it’s been taken on hundreds of miles worth of hikes, up mountains for 12 hours straight, dunked in a river, used at a more than a dozen weddings, and basically still works exactly the same. The R on the other hand had the shutter fail over a year ago and I had to have it replaced at a cost of $400. Other than that it still works perfectly. My total cost today to own just the R is $2,199, and my total cost to own the RP is still less than $1,000 if I subtract the cost of the lens I got with it in the kit.
Having to pay that much for the EOS R kinda sucks but it is what it is. I still like the camera a lot. But even though I probably like the R better in an absolute sense, it can’t be denied that the RP won the value for dollar battle. It’s still going after tens of thousands of images and several trips to national parks.