Tuesday 26 March 2019

Tech review: Canon Eos RP

Price: €1,629

The Canon Eos RP is a powerful, traveller-friendly mirrorless camera that has mostly cut corners in the right areas to save on cost
The Canon Eos RP is a powerful, traveller-friendly mirrorless camera that has mostly cut corners in the right areas to save on cost
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

CANON is back. The company that has been under siege by mirrorless rivals has finally come out with a competitively-priced full-frame mirrorless camera that will prove to be a compelling option for much of the current DSLR market, especially Canon shooters.

An initial 'hands on' with the Eos RP indicates to us that this a powerful, traveller-friendly mirrorless camera that has mostly cut corners in the right areas to save on cost.

The Eos RP's highlights are its surprising light weight, its relatively low price and its flip-out touchscreen.

Its drawbacks are its modest battery life, a lack of proper 4K video and a poorly-implemented silent shooting system.

But overall, this is definitely a camera of interest.

Let's look at the device's pros and cons in order. First, the pros.

1. Light weight: at 485g (including battery and adapter), this is not only lighter than any other full-frame camera, but beats many serious APS-C cameras such as Fuji's X-T3. That is a huge advantage for travellers (like me) where weight is a massive consideration in what you decide to bring or leave at home. One way it saves on weight is by not being as weather-sealed as some rivals, or as generally hardy.

2. Relatively low price: €1,600 for a new full-frame mirrorless camera with these features is very, very competitive. Consider that this is basically a mirrorless digital version of the 6D Mark ii, with many of the same components, while being almost €300 cheaper. Other than battery life, why would someone switching to Canon consider the 6Dii? (Logically, the DSLR version should be cheaper because it's based on a camera technology that is currently in the early stages of being phased out.)

Let's look at equivalent-priced cameras for comparison. This is positioned at the same level as the Fujifilm (non-full frame) X-T3 (€1,499) and Sony's old A7 Mark ii (€1,579) and way below Sony's current A7iii (€2,299). Now consider how much cheaper it is to new rivals such as Panasonic's full-frame S1 (€2,499).

This kind of pricing is a welcome departure for Canon, which is used to positioning its full-frame cameras at a premium to most other brands.

3. Flip-out touchscreen: a fully-articulating flip-out touchscreen is, in my opinion, a huge advantage for anyone interested in tricky photography angles or a bit of video work. This is incredibly useful in lots of situations, from shooting babies and pets to getting a clear shot at parades and other events when in a crowded zone. The fully-articulating touchscreen swivels 180 degrees, allowing you to see your framing if you're photographing or filming yourself. For those who need to include some video work, this will substantially make up for the lack of proper 4K video-shooting. The Eos RP also has an earphone port as well as a microphone port, again giving it a video-friendly sheen.

4. Eye-detection autofocus: eye-detection has become a big thing for mirrorless cameras. The more expensive Eos R doesn't have it, but this camera does. Canon's dual-pixel autofocus is also still regarded as the industry standard, so this is well equipped in this area.

5. A decent sensor: it has the same 26-megapixel sensor and flip-out screen as the 6D ii. I own a 6D ii and the quality is very good. One might argue that it's a shade behind the 30-megapixel sensor of the 5D Mark IV (which is fitted in the Eos R).

Now let's look at the Eos RP's drawbacks.

1. Modest battery: the Eos RP's battery life is just over 1,000mAh, which means you'll only get around 400 shots with it compared to the 700 (or likely more) you'd get with an Eos R or 6D Mark ii. The Eos RP uses the same small battery that you get in some existing mid-range Canon DSLRs, like the 800D. Still, those batteries are slightly cheaper and it's easy to simply pack an extra one (or two) with you in a bag or pocket.

2. Another 4K fudge from Canon: this is one of the features that YouTubers will moan most about. Yes, the Eos RP shoots 4K video - but only at a 1.7 crop. In other words, if you switch to 4K mode, you'll only get the centre bit of your lens's frame. This rules the Eos RP out for some serious videographers.

However, most potential purchasers probably won't care. 4K video is only really valuable to professional videographers as an editing tool, allowing them to crop parts of the frame or create effects. It's also only fair to point out that 4K mode can be used in full if using an EFS lens, which the Eos RP also takes (with the adapter).

3. A single card slot: As is the wont of Canon and Nikon when protecting more expensive camera sales, the Eos RP has been restricted to a single card slot. This probably rules it out as a primary camera for professionals, although not as a secondary camera.

4. A disappointing silent shooting mode: this is a bit of an own goal from Canon. One of the major advantages to a mirrorless camera is the silence of an electronic shutter. It means you can photograph discreetly at events where the camera's 'clack' sound could be disruptive or distracting. But for some reason, Canon won't let you shoot silently in manual mode on this camera, meaning you can't adjust things like shutter speed or aperture. This could probably be fixed in a firmware update, although there's no sign that Canon thinks this is a problem.

There are a few other points worth making.

First, there's no joystick, which is a shame. You can, however, use the touchscreen to focus, even when you're using the EVF. This isn't quite as accurate as a joystick but it does work. (Canon isn't replicating the touchbar of the EOS R here, which no one will miss anyway.)

Second, you get the basic adapter in the box with the camera. This lets you use any of your existing Canon-compatible lenses, from any manufacturer, including 'full frame' (EF) and 'cropped frame' (EFS) lenses.

For anyone who feels the camera is a little bit too small, there's a grip that Canon makes (the EG-E1) that gives it a heftier ergonomic shape.

Speaking of lenses, Canon has also announced six new 'RF' lenses for its full-frame mirrorless system. These include a 15-35mm f2.8, a 24-70mm f2.8, a 70-200mm f2.8 and, intriguingly, a 24-200 f4-6.3. These four lenses all include stabilisation. Two other 85mm f1.2 lenses have also been announced.

CONCLUSION

For someone who uses a Canon DSLR and is considering an upgrade into mirrorless, this is something of a no-brainer.

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