The Canon EOS RP: Cheap and Cheerful, Assuming You Don't Shoot Video?

The Canon EOS RP: Cheap and Cheerful, Assuming You Don't Shoot Video?

With Canon’s latest announcement causing a few waves, many people — myself included — are getting a bit sore from sitting on the fence. The EOS RP will no doubt sell a bucketload, but is it the right camera for you? It might be cheap as chips but I won’t be advising anyone to buy it. Here’s why.

Last week, with the rumor mills grinding as hard as ever, the early leaks suggested some rather exciting news: a full-frame mirrorless camera at a shockingly low price. And not just that: it would have 4K.

I was not convinced. Canon had a choice of two processors for this new body and if the price was believable, it almost certainly had to contain the DIGIC 7. Given that the Canon EOS R is in many ways a 5D Mark IV with the mirror removed, my logic said that this entry-level offering would be a 6D Mark II. The 5D has the DIGIC 8, and the 6D Mark II has the DIGIC 7, which is why the latter had the awful 1080p with the line skipping. This is where the savings would come: Canon would ditch 4K completely but would hopefully find a way to fix the 1080p so that it was no longer quite so soft.

How wrong I was. And, as you will note from my Twitter, I’m now supposed to eat one of my hats. However, I refuse because as far as I’m concerned, the Canon RP does not have 4K. Why? Because it’s not useable and anyone who plans to use it is insane. In a way we knew that this would be the case, it’s just taken us a little bit by surprise as to how Canon would achieve it. 

This is what we know from Jared Polin's hands-on. Firstly, the 4K comes with a 1.74x crop. Secondly, as soon as you switch up to 4K, there’s no Dual Pixel autofocus. Furthermore, there’s no option to shoot at 30 fps. And, if that weren’t enough, the rolling shutter makes the footage rather shoddy, with vertical lines wobbling around as though it’s just eaten a vat of LSD. While Sony gives away their S-Log with such abandon that it feels as though it now comes with every pair of their headphones, never mind their cameras, Canon takes the opposite approach. No C-Log for you. Sorry. Be assured that plugging in a recorder does not get around any of these problems.

Canon decided not to stop there, however. As if crippling the 4K weren’t enough, they also decided to remove 24 fps when shooting at 1080p. This is perhaps the most incomprehensible of all, but I have a theory.

The race to remove mirrors from every Canon and Nikon camera out there is now entering the final few laps of what is actually only the first stage. Once the full-frame bodies are done, it’s time for the next phase: the APS-C range. Canon has a 7D Mark II that is so overdue for a replacement that I wonder that the current models aren’t drawing a pension and spending half of their days searching for their teeth. Given Canon’s reputation for protecting some models by crippling others, I wonder if this is a ploy to endow the forthcoming APS-C models with something that the full-frame bodies don’t have. Also, it gives a tiny degree of protection to the M50 which could potentially compete with the Canon RP if you’re happy to attach a Viltrox Speed Booster and shoot images with slightly soft corners. Not the best theory I’ve ever come up, but that’s all I’ve got for now.

So is the RP worth buying? At that price, possibly, assuming you don’t shoot video and have no intention of ever shooting it in the future. However, as mostly a stills shooter and having been the proud owner of the first iteration of the 6D, I might have been looking at one of these today if I weren’t concerned about the low frame rate, the limited lens options, and, most importantly, an eye autofocus system that simply doesn’t offer serious competition. Canon struggles to innovate so dropping the price is the next best thing but at this stage, I'd personally go with something else. If a photography newbie tells me that they want to drop more than a grand on an expensive point-and-shoot for soccer games and kids' birthdays, I'll tell them to get something with decent eye autofocus before ever recommending one of the new Canons.

So will Canon sell a ton of these? Absolutely. Will you be buying one? Be sure to let us know in the comments.

Andy Day's picture

Andy Day is a British photographer and writer living in France. He began photographing parkour in 2003 and has been doing weird things in the city and elsewhere ever since. He's addicted to climbing and owns a fairly useless dog. He has an MA in Sociology & Photography which often makes him ponder what all of this really means.

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With a battery life of about 250 shots, I'll pass.

I would have to change batteries 3 times during a concert shoot. On my 6D Mark II with a battery grip, I can shoot that same concert, do a portrait shoot the next day and them some wildlife photography if I want, with still 30% battery left on both on day 4.

I think Jared in his video was able to get around 500 :)

And I believe Jared.
My main cam is an M5 - it also uses the LP-E17 battery the RP uses, and its rated for less than 300 shots, but I consistently reach 400. I think if you're shooting manual mode and manual focus then you can fly right past that estimated shot count.

Normally, I would trash this camera because of the specs and the 10+ years sensor technology but at this introduction price it's somehow acceptable.. However, you must buy some of the very expensive R lenses or destroy the compactness advantage with the EF adapter.
I agree with all your points regarding video. Another missed opportunity for Canon.

But would you buy this camera over the $900 A6400 crop sensor with loads more technology and video capabilities ?

All brand name associated connotations aside, full frame or not, this camera just doesn’t cut it when you can buy a better equipped model from canon without needing an adapter IMO.

I wonder if Canon might be not particularly committed to APS-C. With sensor prices dropping it's probably no longer as cost prohibitive to make FF sensors (well, clearly with the price of this camera). With their expectation of plunging camera sales it would be a great way to trim their product lines. Their current lens mount lineup doesn't really have an obvious solution to an APS-C mirrorless camera: use the large RF mount and add unnecessary cost and size to APS-C cameras? Continue EF-M and maintain two different mounts for their sensor sizes, eliminating the easy upgrade path between the two systems?

I don't think the Rebel, 80D, or EOS M series will be cancelled anytime soon. But I could definitely imagine them being an all FF one mount manufacturer as they phase out DSLRs. Especially if they drop the price on the EOS RP even more in the next few years or introduce an EOS R rebel at the <$1000 price point. It'll be hard to get to the $500-600 price point with FF mirrorless but that's probably the most rapidly shrinking market segment in the face of smartphones.

Until recently Canon has been maintaining two sensor sizes, FF and APS, along with three lens mounts, EF, EF-S, and EF-M (now add in RF). Consider that the M series cameras are wildly popular in the rest of the world (only modestly so in the US), and the Rebel line continues to be very popular. They sell more T7i's then they'll ever sell 1DX2's. So they already have market, tech, and brand confusion. PowerShot, Rebel, xxD, and xD, all make for fragmenting the market.

One way for Canon to consolidate, and I agree that within limits that that is desirable for Canon, is to settle on two product lines of mirrorless cameras: FF/RF, that is, the R series, and APS/EF-M, that is, the M series. Canon would move all the casual photographers (currently M and Rebel shooters) into improved M series cameras that would, like the M and Rebel currently, sell at a variety of price points. You could push a high end M with APS and 7D-like specs, and come down all the way to an inexpensive M3. Likewise, you would market the R, RP, the high-end R(s) to come, etc., to the pros and high end amateurs. You'd push a 1DX level R right down to a 6D/7D level R (arguably the RP is that lower end camera today).

Now you have clear market definition: the M for the casual shooters who want more than a PowerShot or smartphone, and the R for the photographers. Two sensors, two lens lines, multiple price/tech points within each line.

The EF lenses would be supplanted over time by the RF lenses for the pros; the EF/EF-M and EF/RF converters ensure that EF lenses, particularly the L series lenses, don't lose (much) value. Canon can make strategic EF-M lenses to augment that line depending on what the market tells them, particularly if they come out with a higher end M series body. EF-S lenses and the DSLR Rebel series bodies die a quiet death.

This is a 5 to 10 year plan; that's how long it would take to move the pros to the R line and for the older DSLR bodies to fade away.

I agree that the plan as you have laid it out would make a lot of sense, especially since they've already invested in the M series. And it's very likely exactly what they'll do. The only downside is that it erodes a big benefit of the EF system: a common APS-C/FF mount. It's a built in loyalty system. I don't know if the flange distances allow for good adapting between RF and EF-M, we'll see about that.

Sony has picked up that common system really well, with a nice continuation from APS-C up into FF and easy lens adapting both ways. I'm really curious to see how Nikon handles this. They went with a big mount like Canon that doesn't seem like it would be great for APS-C. But they also don't have an investment in an existing APS-C mirrorless system.

Fair points. Certainly the "loyalty" system works for me as an APS-C shooter who has a few L lenses. From what I read, there will be no way to adapt an EF-M lens to the RF mount and likewise, no way to go in the other direction.

So if we're going to see the distinctions between the two product lines blurred to retain the loyalty of the person who comes into photography and thinks that one day she/he would like to move up, it would be an R series body with an APS-C sensor -- the RP with such a sensor then would be a "7D3-lite" or "90D equivalent" and settle in at about $1000.

Alternately, keep selling EF lenses for a while. We'll have to see how just much the adapters hinder a photographer (and I haven't ever used an adapter) but plenty of people use them. Let the EF-M world settle out; it may turn out that Canon would have a stable of inexpensive EF-M lenses that with an adapter and a few EF lenses will keep that world happy. If you're in the M world and think you might move up, you buy EF lenses.

The other alternative is to let APS go away. The cost difference between APS and FF is narrowing, I have read, and perhaps Canon would let the dSLR and the M series die a quiet death. They'd then substitute R series bodies at lower price points. I think that's a dangerous idea for them, it would dilute the brand. But some might argue that.

I mostly agree with you, but as an M5 shooter - I'll remind you that there's still the enthusiast market who want an M simply because its mirrorless. We have the adapter and the lenses already, but just wanted a mirrorless camera. Canon know we exist and that take us seriously. Consider: The M5 is basically a 77D without a mirror and flip screen.

Once the rumors came around for $1300 price tag. I waited to see if what the RP video spec come out to be. Well, I can tell you it is very usable for me and other people.


What you need 120 because YouTube says so?

More like proper 23.976 FPS, which is the standard in the USA and many other places.
Hopefully they will change this with a firmware update.

I'm with Kyle, I think this camera will be huge for video and hybrid shooters. Everyone wants to be a YouTuber now and they don't care at all about the frame rate or 4k. They do care about seeing themselves in the flip screen and keeping their face in focus, and no non-Canon camera can give you those basic things.

Sony a6400?

Solid point.

I have a 6D2 as my secondary cam and my EOS R as my primary. I'm good for quite awhile now... Next purchases are nice lenses (looking at you, RF 70-200 2.8L) and better lights.

Canon is only thinking about the profits from its sales. A long time left to think its loyal users. Unfortunately.

this is for people who just need a simple lightweight FF camera (the shallow DOP and arguably better DR) with lenses supported and no other fancy advance tech...I have a full suite of Olympus m43 flagship body and lenses for sports photography and a heavy Pentax K1 for its high res landscape photos, RP will be a casual lightweight FF camera that I would like to carry to travel at perfect cost.

Everyone bashes about 4k60p on this budget FF and i dont understand...

I like the price, but these constant let downs from Canon is why I havent bought a new camera in years. The games have got to stop.

I own an EOS R, and while the video on the RP does seem crippling, to someone who doesn't need video features in a camera save for some b-roll shooting, this thing seems awesome. You get the DPAF for photos, a very decent sensor from the 6dII, and the 80% of features you'd want from the R, namely touch-and-drag on the lcd. This camera is a win for photo-centric shooters in my opinion, but if video is remotely on your radar, hard pass.

Reading the comments, I think I'm still on the fence, and it's still uncomfortable! I want to love this offering because of the price and the size (former 6D1 owner), but the eye af is just not there yet. And the flip out screen is amazing for video shooters, but the 4k and the restrictions on the frame rate undermine that. So it's both great and useless at the same time, for both photo and video. 😂 (I know many people will say that eye af isn't that important, but having been shooting Sony for the last three months, it is a bit of a game changer and Canon simply isn't on the same playing field. Of course that's a very personal thing so people will come at this differently.)

I've not shot extensively with the Sony's eye-af, but to be honest, face-af works great for what I shoot, which is primarily college students and professors. And for the portraits I've done, I'm in one-shot eye af anyway, which of course is spot on. I'm sure that continuous eye-af would be GREAT, but I'm happy with what I have for now

I still shoot with a 6D, and have figured for the last few years that when it finally bites the dust (if ever) I will probably go mirrorless. Let's just say, I really hope my 6D holds on a few more years.

I'm in the same boat. I love my 6D (I'm a stills only enthusiast), but I bought it used, and it's getting a bit long in the tooth. I really like the idea of the RP, but I think I'll miss some features. I might just upgrade to the 6DII and hold out for the next gen of the mirrorless cameras.

This is a rather disappointing assessment. You vilify the camera overall - but the only reasons you list are related to video performance and specs. Have you ever considered that there are photographers who want to use a camera just for photography?

Your attitude is disappointing in completely neglecting this fact; it is also unfair versus Canon (and I have no relationship with them), and as a consequence you are advancing the cause of those who complain about "fake news media". Is it sloppiness or a lack of journalistic ethics?

"Have you ever considered that there are photographers who want to use a camera just for photography?"
Cut and paste from my article:

"So is the RP worth buying? At that price, possibly, assuming you don’t shoot video and have no intention of ever shooting it in the future."

Also, please read the article's title.

Furthermore, this is not a news piece. It is an opinion piece and thus I'm allowed to express my opinion. You're more than entitled to disagree with me, and I'm perfectly fine with that. That doesn't make me part of a fake news agenda, however.

Also, the video features are not the only reasons I list. I mention specifically the low frame rate, the limited lens choices, and the poor eye autofocus - all of which apply to photographers.