When Canon launched the RF mount with the EOS R, your choices were limited to that one camera if you wanted to buy into Canon's stellar new lens system. While it's a bit long in the tooth, it's definitely still a viable camera, and possibly the best camera to get if you're starting out in the system.
While it may not seem like the best idea to buy a 3-year old camera, especially when a lower-priced, newer option is available in the EOS RP, that's not necessarily the case.
I'll start by positing that the EOS RP really only makes its case on price. Build quality and specs are a bit lower than the EOS R. But photographer and YouTuber Jacek Sopotnicki raises a good question about whether the EOS R is still worth it in 2021. When Canon launched the EOS R, it was not clear where in the market it was aimed for. While it was ostensibly using an EOS 5D Mark IV sensor, its controls were definitely not at the same level. I'd argue, looking back at it several years later, that this wasn't an intentional move, but rather an experimental one. Sopotnicki talks about some of the new tech that was never seen before in this camera, such as the touch bar (or as Canon calls it, the multi-function bar) and the ability for the shutter curtain to close over the sensor to help avoid the entry of dust. There's also the use of a four-way controller instead of a traditional wheel at the rear of the camera that's been the mainstay of Canon cameras above the Rebel line, an unusual move for a camera in the EOS R's price/performance class.
That said, why is this even a discussion in 2021? Because Canon's taken an interesting route with the follow-up cameras to the EOS R. In recognizing that the multi-function bar didn't work well for anyone, they've scrubbed it from the latest full-frame offerings, the EOS R6 and EOS R5. The traditional AF joystick and wheel have returned. But the positioning of these two cameras puts purchasers in a pickle.
While there's no doubt that when it comes to frame rate, viewfinder refresh rate, and controls the R5 and R6 have the older R beat, but an interesting element is the megapixel count on these three higher-end cameras: 20 MP for the R6 (almost certainly similar in design to the 1DX Mark III), 30.3 MP for the EOS R (similar to the 5D Mark IV) and 45 MP for the R5. This puts the EOS R squarely in the middle of the two cameras. The EOS R also retains a top LCD screen while the R6 has a traditional mode dial.
Where does this leave Canon shooters? They can sacrifice a little resolution for newer features (and 8K video!) or they can bump up the photo resolution for a lower price, albeit on an older, but still very good, sensor. to say nothing of the EOS R5, where shooters can have their cake and eat it too.
For me, the increased resolution of the R makes a difference, as the 20 MP of my older EOS 6D was starting to feel a bit limiting on 4K and 5K monitors. Any breathing room is welcome. That said, while I'm not too worried about the wheel at the rear, one of the most maddening things to do on the EOS R is to change focus points. It's clear Canon expected users to use the touchscreen a bit more than usual in this case.
While Sopotnicki talks about all the features of the camera and how they hold up in 2021, what's your own experience with the EOS R system? Is it worth it to go with one of the newer cameras or does the elder statesman of the RF family still hold up today?
Leave your thoughts in the comments below.