Canon EOS RP Review: Stuck in the Middle

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When it comes to the premium mirrorless camera space, Canon has been a step behind some of its rivals like Nikon and Fujifilm in our opinion.

A lot of this had to do with the mixed reception that the Canon EOS R system received last year, failing to best the likes of the Fujifilm X-H1 as a viable alternative to a high-end DSLR offering.

But with a new year comes an opportunity to close the gap, and the camera that the Japanese manufacturer has chosen to do so is the Canon EOS RP. Can it do the job? We’ve been using the EOS RP for the better part of the month in order to find out.

Here’s what that time revealed about Canon’s new flagship mirrorless camera.

Utilitarian design

When weighing up the benefits of mirrorless over DSLR, the compact design of the former is usually mentioned. The same applies here for the EOS RP, with it only tipping the scales at 485g and being far slimmer than your conventional DSLR.

Despite being quite light the EOS RP has a good deal of robustness to it, which is important when you’re dealing with longer bulkier lenses, but we’ll get to that shortly.

As for the materials favoured by Canon, there is quite a bit of hardened plastic and rubberised surfaces, as is in keeping with the company’s aesthetic. The aforementioned plastic portions also have a matte textured feel, which adds a bit more of a premium feel.

This is important given the RP costs around R18k to R19k (body and RF adapter only) depending on the retailer.

All in all the EOS RP looks a solid camera, if a little uninspiring. Our biggest issue with it, however, is the fact that it looks quite similar to its predecessor, baring the same “R” logo on the front, which can be a little confusing for those unfamiliar with what the RP looks like.

The only indication that it’s different is the small EOS RP printed on top of the camera just above the shooting mode dial.

These are small gripes, but worth considering if aesthetics are a big aspect when picking your camera.

As for the robustness of the RP’s frame, we got to gauge just how well it can handle larger lenses as Canon graciously gave us a 24-105mm lens to try out with the camera. It’s longer and heavier than what we normally opt for when testing out a camera, but did allow us to see how the RP copes with heavier lenses. In that regard the mirrorless device performs ably, and is not unwieldy in any way.

Built for comfort 

Now that we’ve touched on the design, let’s shift focus to the important stuff, the EOS RP’s specifications and how good it is at taking pictures and video.

Tackling the former first this model sports a 26.2MP CMOS full-frame sensor, which is paired with a DIGIC 8 image processor and dual pixel CMOS autofocus. This mix yields a strong all-round performance, with the RP particular good at accurately capturing light in most environments.

Consequently the RP has a good deal of simple turn on and shoot capability that novice photographers will appreciate, along with plenty of nuanced features and modes that seasoned ones will enjoy exploring.

As such the shooting experience on the RP is designed to be as simple as you’d want, while also offering up a but more when needed.

Curiously though its attempt to be a jack of trades means that hardcore photographers that want a similarly impressive DSLR experience from their new mirrorless camera may be let down a bit.

Toggling the ISO for example, which can hit up to 102 400, requires you to first push a function button and then rotate a dial to the desired level. On a regular DSLR or indeed a high-specced mirrorless like the Fujifilm X-H1, this is done sans the first step. The result is that the RP cannot be as speedily set up or tweaked in the same way that other premium mirrorless cameras on the market can.

Those extra settings may not matter to a hobbyist, but can prove significant for a professional.

Give and take 

Now let’s talk about a few of the other things that the Canon EOS RP does well and struggles with. The 3.0inch LCD monitor on the rear is quite handy, serving up 1.04 million dots and covering 100 percent of what the viewfinder sees. It’s also touch enabled for users to change-up the focal points before taking pictures or shooting video.

Speaking of video, it proved a little hit and miss in our testing. More specifically things look a bit overexposed on the screen during setup, which meant a bit of playing around with the settings was routinely needed. This is not a deal breaker, but certainly something to consider if you plan to shoot a lot of video on the EOS RP.

One of the areas where this mirrorless camera shines though is its ability to cater to different lenses.

In particular the ‘R system’ as Canon has christened it is able to cater to both EF and EF-S lenses, provided you have the right adapter. While this may sound you needing to buy additional kit in order to use existing lenses, the upshot is that the lens options in your current photography arsenal are still useable on this mirrorless camera.

As such for pro photographers that have a bunch of lenses with different mounting systems need not stress as much.

Consequently we’re of the opinion that pro photographers are more inclined to use the Canon EOS RP as a secondary or ancillary camera as opposed to a primary one. That said amateur or hobbyist photographers will still get a lot of value out of it.

Final verdict

As we’ve been alluding to throughout this review, the Canon EOS RP is a very good camera, and capable of proving an all-round performance that both pros and novices alike will enjoy.

The main issue, however, is that the RP does not feel as hardcore as some of the other premium mirrorless cameras currently on the market, and therefore less likely to swap out for their everyday DSLR option.

Is the Canon EOS RP better than its predecessor? Yes, very much so. It’s simply just not tempting enough for us to replace our DSLRs. That said, for those on the lookout for a good all-round shooter, this latest offering from Canon is well equipped.

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.