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.