Canon EOS RP Review


LeynseRP-4

Words and photos by James Leynse

The right-priced Canon
The introduction of a new Canon camera is often received with a burst of excitement, rapidly followed by a Bronx cheer of deflation as the camera is picked apart by Internet reviewers. If you follow camera news on the Web, and I admit to this guilty pleasure, it’s easy to be left with the impression that, once again, Canon has abandoned the needs of photographers to the demands of market segmentation and the goal of generating maximum profit.

Despite the disappointment expressed so loudly by the cognoscenti, the product in mention usually goes on to enjoy strong sales and Canon retains its top position among camera brands.

EOS RP-2

It's no accident that most of the photographers I know still shoot with Canon. Some have switched to Sony. Some still use their Canon lenses on a Sony body. Most just carry on with Canon. It takes a lot to get a photographer to change systems, and Canon is well aware of this. In my case, I shoot primarily commercial architecture and corporate portraits. I already have all of the lenses I need. There would have to be a compelling reason (and by that I mean both visually and financially) for me to switch brands. I have been tempted by the smaller, EVF-sporting cameras offered by Sony and Fuji. I even spent a few years playing with the A6000 and then the A6300 cropped-sensor cameras. In the end, I decided to wait and see what Canon would introduce when it entered the mirrorless market. I was intrigued by the EOS R but it seemed like a lateral move for me. The R has essentially the same sensor as the 5D Mark IV; I couldn’t justify the expense of switching just to get the EVF. However, the RP is a different story. At its current price of $1,299 with the EF-to-R adapter, the EOS RP is a tempting, somewhat easy-on-the-wallet addition to my arsenal. I decided to give it a try and have been actively using it for the last month.

In an effort to dispel some misconceptions, I am going to ennumerate and try to answer the three most common criticisms of the RP and the EOS R system in general, then talk about some of the RP's other features.

Where are the RP's Lenses? This complaint is partly true. If you are new to Canon or interchangeable lens cameras in general, then the EOS R system seems to lack some basic lenses, especially the more basic ones that would be a better fit for the RP. There is a very exotic (and expensive) RF 28–70 ƒ/2 zoom and some equally pricey ƒ/1.2 primes including the RF 50mm ƒ/1.2. The RF "kit" zooms include a slow, amateur variable-aperture RF 24–240mm 10X zoom and the all-purpose, stabilized RF 24–105mm ƒ/4 L IS USM, which is probably the first lens most buyers would get with the RP. Most of the better RF lenses retail for over $2,000. They look like amazing lenses but are probably not what most people buying the RP are looking to acquire. The closest thing to a reasonably priced standard lens that would "match" the RP is the stabilized $499 RF 35mm ƒ/1.8 Macro IS STM lens. While it’s an excellent performer, it’s not a zoom and probably wouldn’t satisfy if it were your only lens. A sharp, small pancake lens for the RP would be a great addition to the RF lineup.

Things are different if you have already bought into the EOS system and have some older lenses. The RP, which usually comes bundled with an adapter, can use just about any Canon EF or EF-S lens (full framed or crop-sensor) even if they are decades old. The only exception I know of are EOS M lenses.

I have used the RP with an array of autofocusing zooms and manually focusing tilt and shift lenses and have found both the AF and MF to be superior to what I am used to working with on my 5D Mark IV. The eye-AF/face tracking on the RP is pretty amazing. Whether using it to track my high school cross country runner or to keep focus locked on the eye of a portrait subject, the system works very well. It also works well while shooting video but, unfortunately, not in 4K mode. Proof of market segmentation? With my manual focusing lenses, having an EVF means being able to punch in 10X magnification while holding the camera to my eye. This has vastly increased my rate of well-focused pictures.

No IBIS! I know this is a contentious issue at TOP. At the risk of making myself a target, I think its absence from Canons has been overblown. Most of the Canon lenses that could benefit from image stabilization have IS built into the lens and clean, high ISOs mean that it’s easier than ever to use a reasonably fast shutter speed without undue grain. Would I like IBIS? Yes, but I don’t really need it. It’s rumored to be coming to future Canons but, for me, it's not a deciding factor.

Cropped/Crippled 4K video. After having launched the DSLR video revolution with the 5D Mark II, Canon has continually disappointed its fans by limiting the video performance of their still cameras. What do we have to do to get good 4K, full-frame video?  Canon’s answer: buy a Cinema camera. The RP does not deviate in this regard. It is primarily a still camera.

It’s definitely annoying that the RP doesn’t have better 4K and especially annoying that they eliminated the 24p (23.98 frames per/second) frame rate when shooting in full HD mode. The RP can operate in full HD mode at either 60p (59.94 frames per second) or 30p (29.97 FPS). For some reason 24p (23.98 FPS) is not available in HD (this is the frame rate that is most commonly used in North America for movies and gives that "cinematic" effect of blurred motion).

4K on the RP is cropped and suffers from bad rolling shutter which makes it almost unusable unless the camera is kept stationary. 4K mode also loses dual pixel AF relying on the older and slower contrast only AF. In the NTSC region of North America, The RP only shoots 4k at 24p (23.98 frames per/second).

Other features:

LeynseRP-2Dynamic Range: This has become another version of the megapixel race. For the most part, I find this to be more of an issue on paper than pixels. It is true that the RP (and Canon sensors in general) capture less dynamic range than their Nikon or Sony competitors. More is usually better but sometimes enough is enough. Most photographers (Canon shooters included) throw away most of their sensor’s dynamic range by either saving their files as JPEGs or just boosting contrast. There are situations which require a wide range of captured exposure: the classic example being an interior where one needs to see both the inside space and the bright view out the window. The solution is either to light the interior to balance with the light from the window or use a tripod and combine a series of bracketed exposures that capture the full range of interior and exterior light. Both are better solutions than to rely on a single frame, even if that frame comes from a sensor with 14+ stops of dynamic range.

For me, what’s more important than dynamic range is the sensor’s overall rendering of the image. The RP produces a similar looking file to most current Canons. To my eye, that’s a good thing and makes it easy to pair with my other cameras.

Battery Life: The battery on the RP is only rated for 250 shots. I always carry a spare which, conveniently, was included with the kit.

Silent mode/electronic shutter: One of the great benefits of mirrorless cameras is their ability to operate completely silently by bypassing the mechanical shutter. While there can be issues with banding and rolling shutter, there are also many times where having a completely silent camera lets you take pictures that wouldn’t otherwise be allowed. The RP does have this feature but, unfortunately, its is crippled by being accessible only as a fully auto "scene" mode. No manual exposure with silent shutter. For that (market segmentation again?) one needs to splurge for the more expensive EOS R.

Ergonomics: This is where RP really shines. The camera is quite small and light yet it manages to have a comfortable grip and a mostly logical and customizable layout of buttons. From the way it wakes up to the placement of the AF and shutter buttons, it’s a pleasure to use. It is also one of the rare cameras whose buttons tend not to get accidentally knocked when being transported. It even has a customizable switch allowing the photographer to lock all controls except the shutter. The record button can also be set to work only in video mode. No more interminable movies of the interior of my camera bag.

EOS RP-3

Flippy touch screen: not sure why every camera doesn’t have one of these. It makes shooting either horizontals or verticals from overhead or from the ground much easier. It makes shooting video much easier. Touch the screen and it focuses where you placed your finger. Look through the finder and you can control the focus point by moving your finger on the screen. Don’t want to be distracted by the screen? Just flip it around and fold it against the camera. Some people hate them (not sure why) but I think flippy screens add a lot of functionality.

Right Price: this brings us to the final reason (maybe should have been the first reason) to get an RP. While by no means cheap, a full frame camera that retails for just under $1,300 and comes with a spare battery and EF adapter is a pretty good deal—and a very good deal if you are already invested in the Canon system.

Overall, I have been more than satisfied with the RP. I am enjoying the advantages of a small, lightweight mirrorless camera and getting it in a package that smoothly integrates into my existing Canon DSLR system. If you can live with its limited video capabilities, the full frame EOS RP is worth strong consideration.

James

James Leynse is a photographer specializing in commercial architectural and corporate photography. His work can be found at www.leynse.com and on Instagram @leynsephoto.

Original contents copyright 2019 by James Leynse. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to TOP's affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.

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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:

Hugh: "I love my RP. It's hard to explain quite what a perfect combination it makes with the 35mm ƒ/1.8 RF lens—rather like the M2 and 35mm Summicron was—more than the sum of its parts. Add the EF 85mm ƒ/1.8 with the adapter, and you've got a nice light two-lens travel kit. The 50mm ƒ/1.8 STM works like it was designed for the camera as well. Works beautifully with the heavy stuff like the Canon 35mm ƒ/1.4L, 85mm ƒ/1.2L and the 24mm TS-E lenses as well. Best of all, it's just another Canon—no need to read the instruction book, and you can swap seamlessly to and from a 5D body without thinking."

Mark Kinsman: "As an ex Canon shooter, I still follow the news regarding Canon and keep up on all the new gear from all brands. But for me, Canon’s offerings are just too late. I had the full compliment of L glass lenses, including the Tilt Shift lenses, 5D Mark XX bodies, etc. I moved back to APS-C and Micro 4/3 when the Fujifilm X-T1 and Olympus OM-D E-M1 were released. Most photographers I know that were using Canon switched to Sony or Fujifilm. While I’m glad to see Canon join the mirrorless world, their offerings leave me cold. Nikon and Sony offer FF solutions that I think outpace Canon in full frame. However, the need for FF no longer offers any appeal to me, regardless of the brand. I don't need more megapixels past 24–30, it's more than enough for 24x36" prints I have hanging on walls...and for social media, please, we have way more than necessary. Canon still seems to be practicing feature crippling as incentive to buy more expensive models, while their competitors do not. I do hope they change that practice."

[Author: Michael Johnston]


Tags: Photography, New, Cameras, Sony, Bronx, Nikon, North America, Dslr, Canon, Michael Johnston, APS C, Canon DSLR, Hugh, STM, NTSC, James Leynse, Mark Kinsman, EOS R, Canon EOS RP Review, Macro IS STM, James James Leynse

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