Is the Canon EOS RP right for you?
We’ve put the wraps on our full review of Canon’s EOS RP, where we look at its image quality, autofocus and more. But is it the right camera for you, and the style of photography you enjoy? Taking the RP into account as a whole, here’s how we think it stacks up for these common photographic use-cases.
- Family & moments
- Lifestyle & people
- Sports & Wildlife
- Candid and street
- Formal Portraits
The compact size of Canon’s EOS RP may tempt you into picking one up as a travel camera – certainly, it’s smaller in size than many of Canon’s own DSLR cameras with smaller sensors. However, there’s only one native lens (and a few when using the adapter) that will allow you to really retain this compactness. The RF 35mm F1.8 Macro is an excellent and reasonably affordable option, and adapting the likes of Canon’s EF 50mm F1.8 STM, 40mm F2.8 STM and 24mm F2.8 IS USM would allow you to build a reasonably sized travel kit of primes.
What we’re really waiting for is a native-mount kit zoom of some sort that doesn’t break the bank, and won’t break your back. The RF 24-105mm F4L isn’t necessarily a huge lens (though it offers a hugely flexible zoom range), but cheap and cheerful it ain’t.
|Canon’s excellent RF 24-105mm F4L IS is a little on the bulky side for the RP, but does provide an flexible zoom range.|
There are some other niceties as well that will appeal to travelers, including attractive out-of-camera JPEGs, plus a provision to process Raw files in-camera. This means you’re less likely to need a laptop with you, if all you want is to just get some files off to social media using the camera’s wireless connection. Battery life isn’t great, but the RP will charge over its USB-C port. On the downside, if you like to mix stills and video in your travels, the RP won’t be of much help for the latter – if you have a reasonably modern smartphone, chances are its 4K video will be leagues ahead of what the Canon is capable of in most lighting conditions.
Photo by Richard Butler
Family & Moments
The RP’s small size (again, with the right lens), relatively simple interface and solid Auto and scene modes make it a promising camera for capturing family and friends. The camera’s Dual Pixel autofocus system has actually improved over the more expensive R, and allows for ‘Pupil Detection’ during continuous focusing. This will make it easier to capture candid moments with perfect focus. On the other hand, with a bulkier zoom lens, the RP’s size grows considerably, making it less likely you’ll snag it as you run out the door to a picnic or a football (soccer) match.
USB-C charging means it’s a simple affair to keep the battery topped up when you inevitably misplace the dedicated battery charger. This is also handy since you’ll probably want to browse the attractive JPEGs on the camera and send a few off to your phone to share, all of which will shorten the already not-too-great battery life.
Lastly, and this will become a theme in this article, it’s probably best to just use your phone if you’re looking to capture video. However, if you are looking to occasionally capture footage of Timmy’s school play from the back of the room, the hefty crop that ‘zooms-in’ your field of view when shooting 4K might actually come in handy.
Photo by Carey Rose
Lifestyle & People
Let’s come right out and say that blurring your backgrounds into oblivion is certainly easier with a full-frame sensor, but really isn’t the end-all, be-all of photography. But there’s a reason tech companies are spending millions of dollars to imitate the look: the ability to obscure distractions may be a benefit for photographers that don’t always have complete control over their surroundings.
With the right wide-aperture lenses (especially if you want to use the monstrous and beautiful RF 50mm F1.2), the Canon EOS RP will give you excellent subject separation that is just more difficult to achieve on smaller sensors, plus Pupil Detection helps ensure you can achieve critical focus at those very wide apertures.
On the other hand – and there’s always another hand – the RP’s full-frame sensor is going to be just a little noisier than its full-frame peers, particularly if you shoot Raw images and want to post-process. This may limit your ability to shoot in very high-contrast or harsh lighting conditions.
Photo by Richard Butler
The EOS RP will do fine service as a landscape camera, in a pinch. It’s relatively small and therefore easy to pack, is fairly well-built (but not extensively weather-sealed), and has reasonably large control points to make it easier to use with gloves. The articulating touchscreen is great for working on a tripod, and charging over USB-C somewhat mitigates the middling battery life. Plus, with the EF adapter, you gain access to a vast array of Canon lenses that range from affordable to exotic, to help you get just the angle you need out in the wilderness (or in the middle of the city, as above).
However, we again come back to the EOS RP’s full-frame sensor. While 26MP of resolution is plenty for most people and most prints, the design of the sensor in the RP introduces far more electronic noise into your images than most other contemporary full-framers. This isn’t a problem if you primarily use JPEGs, but those who want to manipulate Raw files may find noise in shadow areas to be problematic.
Photo by Carey Rose
Sports and Wildlife
Yes, I know, the above bird is made of metal and is notably not moving. Simply put, with a burst speed of four frames per second with continuous autofocus, the EOS RP just isn’t one of our top picks for this demanding use-case. For sure, careful and experienced users will get plenty of keepers from it, and you can adapt those lovely white telephoto lenses that helped make Canon famous at sporting events the world over. Even the autofocus tracking mode is impressively sticky, turning in a much better performance than the older 6D Mark II that shares a sensor with the RP.
But the slower burst rate means you may have a harder time capturing just the right moment, and though the viewfinder doesn’t ‘black out’ between shots per se, it does pause noticeably with each shot taken: even in its slower ‘tracking priority’ mode, which is somewhere between one and two frames per second. Lastly, if you want to position your AF point yourself over your subjects, you need to use the four-way controller (which is slow) or the touchscreen (which can be imprecise with your eye to the finder). A joystick or an option to speed up the four-way controller would be welcome.
Photo by Carey Rose
Candid & street
For those wandering the streets of an unfamiliar city and looking to document their surroundings, the EOS RP again makes a fine option… in a pinch. The flip-out articulating screen encourages waist-level shooting, but makes for a wider – and more conspicuous – overall package than a screen that simply tilts. And you’ll need to pay careful attention to lens selection to keep the overall size of the package down.
The EOS RP also has a fairly quiet shutter, which is great for those looking to avoid attracting to much attention. Unfortunately, while there is a completely silent electronic shutter option, the read-out speed of the sensor – how quickly it can scan the scene in front of you – is very slow, meaning you’ll almost certainly get rolling shutter artifacts, showing up as slanted verticals in your images. You also get limited control over your exposure in that mode.
Photo by Carey Rose
The EOS RP now comes with pupil detection autofocus while in Servo mode, meaning that if you or your subject move slightly (we humans have to breathe, after all), the camera should be able to maintain critical focus – even when shooting at very wide apertures. This, coupled with Canon’s pleasing color in JPEGs, means that you should get great results right out-of-camera. As we’ve been mentioning, Raw shooting will give you more noise than many other options, but if you’re shooting with studio strobes and controlling your lighting carefully, you should be fine.
The one caveat is that the RP’s pupil detection isn’t best-in-class. Your subject’s face has to take up a significant portion of the frame for it to work, or else it will fall back on general face detection, which could miss the precise focus you’re looking for. Lastly, there are no native portrait RF lenses on the market yet (they’re coming), but in the meantime, you can adapt a wide range of excellent and affordable EF lens options.
Photo by Richard Butler
Simply put, we would not recommend the EOS RP for anything but occasional, casual video capture. The crop-in while shooting in 4K makes it very difficult to shoot anything wide-angle, you don’t get Dual Pixel AF and you end up with footage that’s worse quality than many cameras that have smaller APS-C sensors. Switch down to 1080p and you get your wide-angle back as well as excellent autofocus, but the quality is merely so-so and you don’t have an option to shoot at 24 frames per second, only 30. The 4K footage is only offered at 24p, so it’s essentially impossible to inter-cut the two video formats if you so desired.* Lastly, the rolling shutter effect is, well, extreme on the RP in 4K, which could ruin all types of footage if you’re not careful.
This is all a shame, because the RP would handle really quite well as a stills / video hybrid. The fully articulating touchscreen makes it easy to adjust settings and tap-to-focus, there are headphone and microphone ports, and HDMI out is offered. Alas, the mediocre video quality is just too hard to ignore.
*Cameras outside North America will shoot both 4K and 1080 at 25p
Hopefully, it’s apparent by now that the EOS RP, despite its shortcomings, is really a capable little camera in the right hands and for the right uses (or even in capable hands for less-suitable uses). As we stated in our full review, it’s not a camera that really gets the blood pumping based on its specifications. There are no new ‘killer features,’ no technical sensor wizardry, and it has some definite shortcomings, like its video feature set and battery life.
Despite all of this, the RP is mostly a winner for us. It’s affordable, offers great JPEGs, and with the RF 35mm F1.8 Macro – admittedly, the only affordable RF-mount lens at this time – it’s compact and fun to use. And though it’s not the most elegant of solutions, get the RP with the adapter and you’ll have access to an incredible variety of ‘cheap and cheerful’ older EF-mount glass until the RF system fills out a bit more. For now, if you’re in the market for an affordable full-frame camera, the RP seems especially well-suited to travel photography and documenting family and moments.
If you own or are looking into an EOS RP, let us know in the comments what types of photography you’re into and how the camera is working for you.