Canon EOS RP Mirrorless Camera Review

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Disclaimer: All products mentioned in this review are part of my personal collection of gear. No review samples, rentals, or free gifts have been used.

Basic Info

The Canon EOS RP is a Full Frame mirrorless camera introduced by Canon on March 14, 2019. It has a 26.2 megapixel Full Frame sensor and initially cost $1299 although that price is generally around $999 or less now. The camera is at the bottom of the current RF mount lineup but is still a solid performer. It features a maximum of 5 frames per second shooting stills and supports up to 4k 24p video shooting with a 1.7x crop. It has a decent viewfinder and the Canon style flip & twist rear LCD screen that has become a standard on many of their cameras. The camera also has the distinction of being one of the smallest, lightest, and cheapest Full Frame cameras available coming in at only 440g for the body only.

Design & Build Quality

The EOS RP is a solidly made camera. Even using it with the rather large Canon RF 28-70mm f/2 it still feels solid if a little on the small side. Looking more closely at the design I can see that this camera has been built to take a little more abuse than you might think. Unlike the EOS R the EVF eyecup is not removable, but it is also a lot more solid. It may not be the best design for comfort but for durability it is pretty much spot on. One thing I love about the Canon style flip screen is that it can be flipped completely around and closed with the fragile LCD screen facing the camera body. This is great if you just want to toss an EOS RP in your backpack and not have to worry about scratching the screen.

All the dials and buttons are typical for Canon’s cameras, nothing seems particularly off there despite the low price. The way the buttons and dials are positioned and laid out it feels like care has been taken to remove catch points on the camera body. It has a streamlined and durable feel which I appreciate. This is a great camera body for someone who wants to throw something in their bag for a hike or trip and not worry too much about damaging it. Just remember to flip that LCD screen inside out before hand and I think you can expect this camera to be a reliable travel companion.

In terms of the grip the camera is a little on the small side. Typically when I hold the Canon RP it is too small to support my pinky finger which leaves it sliding under the camera. As long as you keep the setup light it is fine, but if you put one of the larger lenses on it like the RF 28-70mm f/2 I would recommend getting the grip extension. The grip extension adds another centimeter of height to the camera body and makes the camera easier to manipulate with a heavier lens on the body.

While Canon is obviously trying to target APS-C with the size and weight of this camera it is still a solidly built device that I think fits in well with the rest of the RF lineup. No it is not quite as refined feeling in hand as the EOS R nor is it a solid and hefty beast like the EOS R5, but it is still made well enough, and at a low enough price point, that you can feel confident using and carrying this camera without having to worry whether you are banging it around too much.

Still Photography

The EOS RP utilizes a 26.2 megapixel Full Frame sensor. As of writing it is the cheapest available Full Frame camera. So, for photographers looking to get the features of full frame sensors and lenses at the lowest possible price, the Canon RP is a decent option.

One of the criticisms of the Canon RP is that the dynamic range is not at the level of its competition or even other Canon cameras. That may be true, however, it may not be true either. An interesting behavior of Canon RP is that it tends to roll off the highlights when there is a danger of overexposing. Because of this I think the camera may have a full stop or more dynamic range than it is rated for… if you use it properly. Of course you will need to get a hang of how to use it, but the fact remains that the camera does seem to dial down the highlights in specific scenarios and that is something that we can take advantage of as photographers to get a better quality image.

That said the shadows do lose fidelity pretty quickly on the Canon RP so you will want to stay well away from underexposing any part of the image that you care about. As long as you can do that it works pretty well, but you won’t be able to expose how you can with other modern cameras where you would be relying on the huge amount of dynamic range to manipulate the image in post. It is a little bit more old school and requires you to get it right in camera.

The Canon RP also has reliable auto white balance, focus peaking for enhanced focus accuracy when manual focusing, and a large number of AF points covering most of the viewfinder area. Most of those features are not anything to get excited about in the mirrorless world but at least you can do these things.

As you might expect the Canon RP has had a few features cut from it that allow it to be as cheap as it is. A major loss there is shooting speed in High Speed Continuous shooting mode. It can only manage a maximum of 5 frames per second. Which is enough for some uses but probably not up to professional sports photography.

If you think that means the Canon RP can’t track subjects in servo mode, think again. It is actually pretty reliable for walking subjects like what you might run into at a wedding or fashion show. The EOS RP has Canon’s famous Dual Pixel Autofocus which is renowned for its accuracy. In particular I found that it tracks pretty reliably with the Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8. It would miss by a smidge now and then but it rarely was so far off that the image would be considered unusable. IMHO it is better than most DSLR’s for this purpose. I was expecting it to be borderline unusable but the RP surprised me and just tracked well right out of the box.

The EOS RP also has face recognition and tracking which works pretty well for static subjects. For the most part I don’t really use this feature on the RP though because I have found that it is not quite good enough track peoples faces while they’re walking around and it can be a little frustrating at times compared to the newer Canon cameras. I appreciate that the RP can do face tracking it just is not quite fast enough at picking up the subject and sticking to it for me to bother with it. I just end up using the Zone AF when I want to track moving subjects and that is typically good enough to get the job done.

A cool feature that fits in with using Zone AF is the RP’s touch and drag AF point selection. At first this sounds like something crazy but it works amazingly well. All you have to do to move your focus points is reach out with your thumb while looking through the viewfinder and simply movie your thumb around on the rear screen. The screen functions as a kind of “joystick” if you will making it super easy to move the focus point around. It works so well I’m kind of amazed by it actually and I have to give major credit to Canon for doing it. IMO it actually beats using a physical “joystick” like what you get on the EOS R5. Of course the EOS R5 also has “touch and drag” AF point selection as well. It is just one of those things that makes using the RP super easy.

One missing feature of the Canon RP is that of full electronic shutter. Unfortunately the RP only has one shutter mode, and that is EFCS aka electronic first curtain shutter. With a very fast lens at very high shutter speed bokeh could be impacted by EFCS. Whether the impact is negative or not is kind of up to your taste. Most people seem to think that the idea of the shutter affecting the bokeh is bad, so the consensus is that this is a bad thing. As far as the effect on the image goes most tests show EFCS to be a pretty subtle thing. Perhaps the bigger issue might be the lack of a fully silent shutter. Of course it seems odd that any mirrorless camera would not at least have the option to shoot fully silent, but there you have it, you don’t have the option with the EOS RP.

Another missing feature compared to some of the competition is IBIS. Sure the lack of IBIS could be seen as a major detriment, but there is no question that fewer moving parts is probably going to be more durable. Once in awhile I read about people who like to go jogging with their cameras and I cringe at the thought of doing that with the Canon R5 and having the IBIS mechanism in it knocking around the whole time. But, I could actually see doing that with the EOS RP. If you are fine shooting only when there is good light then IBIS is nothing to worry about. However, if you enjoy night photography you will need to carry a tripod with you to make full use of the RP. For stills shooting IBIS is a great way to increase the quality of the image in a hand held night shot, but even IBIS won’t beat the results when using a tripod… at least that is something you can tell yourself while you are lugging around a tripod. 😛

The last issue I can think of for stills shooting is the maximum shutter speed being limited to 1/4000th of a second. It won’t affect the camera’s ability to stop motion very much but it is something to be aware of if you are shooting with a fast lens. In my experience you do not usually need to worry about this limitation unless your lens has an aperture brighter than f/2.8. I noticed when shooting with the Canon 28-70 f/2 RF lens that I ran into the 1/4000th shutter speed a couple times when shooting outdoors at f/2 which forced me to stop down a few times when I did not want to. Because of this limitation you may be forced to stop down your lens an extra full stop when shooting with the RP in very bright conditions.

When thinking about the RP as a stills camera I try not to think too much about what it cannot do and focus more on what it can do. Ultimately it is very easy to use and can produce a decent quality image for you in a variety of situations and does so while being a compact and lightweight option that won’t break the bank.

Image Quality

The following image samples from the EOS RP show that it has good detail retrieval, good colors, low noise, and reliable focus accuracy with a variety of subjects and distances, and for the most part has no trouble handling situations with relatively high dynamic range.

There are not too many criticisms I can offer for the EOS RP’s image quality but the one thing I notice is that the image does tend to look a little flat and boring, especially when processed with Canon Digital Photo Professional. It is helped a little by using one of the better lenses like the RF 28-70mm f2 and processing with a 3rd party app like DxO Photolab which is surprisingly good right out of the box. Lightroom is also good for EOS RP files.

Another thing I noticed is that it tends to have a tonal quality that is hard to get away from even when shooting RAW. It is almost like it is giving you an edited image. It works really well most of the time though. I like the emotive quality the images have.

All in all the EOS RP produces a nice image with a good quality lens attached. If you are looking for a camera that is simple to use and “just works”, and is relatively inexpensive, it is hard not to recommend the EOS RP as a potential option.

Canon EOS RP Samples Gallery w/ RF 28-70mm f2:

Canon EOS RP Samples Gallery w/ RF 50mm f1.8:

Canon EOS RP Samples Gallery w/ RF 24-240mm f4-f6.3:

Video Shooting

Video on the EOS RP is surprisingly good quality in terms of how the image looks. Shooting with the RF 24-240mm the image is well stabilized and the image quality is solid for the money spent. It all depends on what you are shooting but for things like Vlogging or recording family events the RP is a nice camera to have around.

Of course the RP does have quite a few limitations in video. First, it can only shoot 4k at 24fps. That is not really that big of a deal for most people. Another more serious limitation related to 4k shooting is that of the 1.7x crop. There are two major issues with such a large crop ratio…

The first issue is that of total image quality, while the 4k image looks ok you have to stand further away to frame your subject which changes the rate at which the background blurs out and can give a less “high end” look when using expensive lenses. For that reason I would not waste a lot of money on your lens selection if you plan on using the EOS RP for video. For many people the best option is to slap the RF 24-105mm STM on there and be done with it! If you want a higher end look with an appropriately priced lens for a low end camera like the RP you could try one of the RF STM prime lenses like the RF 35mm f/1.8 or the RF 50mm f/1.8 or even the RF 85mm f/1.8. Even though these are Canon’s low end lenses the 1.7x crop factor of the RP is going to work in your favor a little bit and keep the whole image in the sweet spot of the lens. The end result? Your 4k video will look pretty darn good for the money spent. And you can get the EOS RP with all three of these STM prime lenses for less than $2,000 total, not a bad deal.

The second issue with such a large crop factor is that you may have trouble matching footage from the RP to another camera. Say you are shooting with the RP and the R6. Well, the R6 will shoot 4k in full frame so a 50mm lens looks and works like 50mm. But imagine you want to put the RP on a tripod and let it record while you hand hold the R6, well, you may find that a bit of a pain because when shooting 4k the 50mm lens will have the angle of view of an 85mm lens. Suddenly your 50mm is a portrait lens and if you want the correct framing you will need to move the camera around. That is another reason to have a zoom like the RF 24-105mm STM on the RP, it will give you a little more flexibility to get proper framing with that 1.7x crop factor.

Unfortunately there is one more “got ya” with the RP’s 4k video… there is no Dual Pixel AF in 4k mode! If you like to pull your own focus you may be thinking to yourself “pffft, I AM the DPAF!!!” But for normal people it could be a bit of an issue not having DPAF in 4k. However, the camera DOES have autofocus in 4k mode, it just is not DPAF, it is a simpler form of AF called “contrast detect AF”. Contrast detect is not horrible and is capable of being very accurate. The issue with it is that it does not have any phase information so it is subject to occasional hunting behaviors as the camera tries to figure out which direction to move the focus point. Basically when you get down to it the RP is a workable but far from perfect solution for 4k video.

The good news about the RP’s 4k video shooting? It does not overheat! And it looks pretty darn good! The only limitation is the typical 30 minute recording limitation that was once imposed by the EU on all non professional video cameras. Interestingly, Canon has continued to put this limitation in many of their cameras even though it is no longer required by law as far as I know. If you want a video camera that does not have this limitation you will need to buy one of Canon’s dedicated video cameras or of course one of their cinema cameras.

In 1080p mode the RP is pretty solid. It does allow the use of Dual Pixel AF which is great for getting consistent focus automatically. And it does not have any crop factor as the camera uses the full 35mm sensor frame for 1080p. Canon is often at the back of the pack when it comes to adopting the latest and greatest features and the RP is no exception to that rule. It is a solid camera that is somewhere between the bare minimum and cutting edge depending on your use case. If all you need is 1080p, there are not many cameras that will shoot better 1080p video. If you need 4k, quite a few cameras will be better, but the RP will get you surprisingly close to great considering the money spent. During major sales the EOS RP with RF 24-105mm STM can be had for $999, not a bad price for a full frame 4k capable camera and stabilized zoom lens.

Battery Life

The battery life on the RP is a little borderline. For a full day of shooting I would suggest having 4 batteries with you at a minimum. Having good discipline around turning the camera on and off is also important if you don’t want to burn through a battery every couple of hours or less. The battery could be the #1 problem with this camera from a general use stand point. What is weird about it is that I have gotten around 800 shots on a single charge. But sometimes when taking the camera out for an hour or two of shooting without worrying to much about turning the camera off when I’m not taking a picture, the battery was hammered despite only taking a little over 100 shots. Battery life seems to be very dependent on time powered on vs shots taken which is different from a DSLR. It is just something to be aware of. One option that could help there would be to turn off the rear display. If you flip it around backward it won’t come on when you pull the camera away from your eye and the camera won’t needlessly drain the battery by keeping the display powered on while you are walking around. You can then review images and everything just by using the EVF if necessary.

Conclusion

The EOS RP appears to be class leading in nothing except being cheap and lightweight. If money is tight then it could be a great option for you. It could also be a way to get into Canon RF mount and slowly build up some RF lenses for use with a future camera.

For professionals I would say it is a mixed bag. You may find that the limitations of the camera are easy to work around, or you may find it annoying to have to work around such issues after using higher end cameras. For instance, with the EOS R5 a lot of the concerns and problems the RP present go straight out the window. Even though I found the RP usable in a variety of situations, I would feel a little scared if that was my only camera at a wedding.

For studio photography such as product or portraits the little RP might be serviceable but I would not try to make it do too much professional level work. Mostly you will just learn how to work around funky issues that some cameras present. I won’t completely write it off for these uses though because despite not being cutting edge you can get great results with it.

As a vlogging or vacation/trip camera is probably where the RP reveals itself to be at its best. Being lightweight and cheap suits both of these use cases. The only downside is going to be the battery life, for that Canon has some options such as the EOS Webcam Accessories Starter Kit for EOS RP available at Canon’s USA store. Another cheaper option would be something like this from Amazon: AC power adapter for EOS RP. (affiliate link)

Ultimately what Canon has done is what Canon seems to do very well at the lower end. They create compelling options at a low price that aren’t quite up to current standards the more you look at them. However, from a certain point of view you have to ask yourself if cutting edge is necessary for you to get great pictures and video… I mean, people made great movies and stuff a few years ago right? From that point of view the RP is perfectly serviceable. It’s all a matter of perspective but what cannot be denied is that it can get a job done even if Canon has better options out now.

Rating: 3.75 stars


Recommended accessories & lenses

If you do decide to get the EOS RP I have a few recommended accessories that I have used and enjoy with my RF cameras.

Recommended Camera Strap: Peak Design Slide Lite

The Peak Design Slide Lite is a great camera strap to pair with the EOS RP, it is lightweight but strong. It also has an easy method for attaching and detaching the strap. I like making use of this feature because I often choose to use a wrist strap instead of a shoulder strap when I am shooting. Being able to easily switch between the two makes my day a little happier.

Click here to buy The Peak Design Slide Lite (affiliate link)

Recommended Wrist Strap: Peak Design Cuff Camera Wrist Strap Black (CF-BL-3)

The Peak Design Cuff is great and I use it all the time with my Canon EOS cameras. It is solid enough to be trusted with your expensive gear but lightweight and easy to attach and remove in a mere moment. A nice little touch is an embedded magnet that lets you wrap the strap around your wrist like a bracelet when it isn’t attached to a camera.

Click here to buy The Peak Design Cuff Wrist Strap (affiliate link)

Recommended Extension Grip: Canon Accessories Canon Extension Grip Eg-E1(Bk)

The Canon branded extension grip for the EOS RP is a solid item that works well to increase the length of the RP’s grip without adding too much bulk or weight to the camera. It is definitely appreciated if you have larger hands. However it should be pointed out that the camera remains substantially smaller than say an EOS R or EOS R5.

Click here to buy The Canon Accessories Canon Extension Grip Eg-E1 (affiliate link)

Recommended Camera Lens: Canon RF 24-240mm f4-6.3 IS NANO USM Lens

The Canon RF 24-240mm is a near perfect match for the RP in many ways. If you are looking to buy one lens to go with your RP for a vacation or just for general use, it is hard not to recommend the RF 24-240mm as the versatile range and solid image quality make it an excellent all in one solution.

Click here to buy The Canon RF 24-240mm f4-6.3 IS NANO USM Lens (affiliate link)

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