Canon EOS RP review

Full-frame on a shoestring

Canon EOS RP
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Canon EOS RP: build and handling

  • Magnesium alloy chassis
  • Dust- and moisture-resistant construction
  • Dual command dials

Considering the fact that it houses a full-frame sensor, it’s surprising just how small Canon has managed to make the EOS RP. It’s far closer in size to a triple-digit EOS DSLR such as the EOS Rebel T7i / EOS 800D than to a full-frame option like the EOS 6D Mark II

Right now, the only lens in the RF series that physically appears to make sense on the body is the RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM, although the diameter of the lens mount on such a small body means that even this starts to look oversized. Certainly if you mount any other RF lens right now, it’s so imbalanced that the camera can’t even sit without being on a slight upward incline. With the RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM in place, however, the camera feels as nice in the hands as it looks to the eye. 

While the camera may be sized like a Rebel DSLR, it feels quite different in the hands. Build quality is significantly more serious here, with aluminium, polycarbonate resin and glass fibres around a magnesium alloy chassis. The matte finish of the body may not be to everyone taste, particularly as its slight coarseness tends to be more susceptible to scuff marks, but these are easily wiped off. The grip, meanwhile, isn’t rubbered all the way around, but the front half is well rubbered, and this extends well to the other side of the front plate and the thumb rest. It's not the deepest of grips, but on such a body its size makes a lot of sense and it still allows for a good hold.

Attention to detail is very good and there appear to be no corners cut; this is a body that's been well put together. Even the door to the battery compartment, which feels somewhat thinner and lighter than we normally find on models such as this one, is impressively rigid when pressure is applied. The triplet of rubber doors that conceal the various ports also protect these well but lift easily when you need to access them, and the fact that these can be swung out of the way and kept clear of the ports is a very nice touch.

The buttons around the body don’t travel quite as deeply into the body as expected, but all have a good bounce to them and the camera has no issue registering presses. Similarly, the power, mode and rear command dials on the top plate are decidedly less salient than normal, but there’s no issue with their operation, and all provide very good feedback when turned. The front command dial stands a little more proud, and, unlike on some other cameras, it’s sensitive enough to respond in the same manner regardless of how quick it’s turned. This is great as it means you can quickly reach one end of the aperture range, ISO scale or something else when you need to. 

The position of the power control, on the opposite side to the remainder of the controls on the top plate, is something that may not bother some but will irk others, as you can’t simply pick up the camera with the right hand and instinctively turn it on when a moment presents itself. Instead, you need to use your left hand to turn it on before adjusting almost any other control with your right. Obviously if you have the LCD screen facing the body rather than outwards, you'll probably want to pull this out before you start shooting too.

It's great to see the familiar M-Fn button on the top plate, as this gives you a small sub-menu with many key options at the bottom of the screen when pressed. It's a nice extension to the Q Menu and this exploits the dual command dial setup in that one dial is used to move through the different options and the other to adjust each one. This means you can quickly adjust your ISO, drive mode, exposure compensation and so on without you needing to start fussing with the D-pad, which is particularly helpful when using the viewfinder.

Canon EOS RP: autofocus

  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF system
  • Face tracking and eye detection
  • 4779 AF points selectable 

Like many Canon cameras, the EOS RP makes use of a Dual Pixel CMOS AF system, which performs phase-detect autofocus from the main imaging sensor. This is joined by a more standard contrast-detect autofocus system, and as Dual Pixel CMOS AF is unavailable when capturing 4K videos, it's this contrast-detect system that takes over here. 

While the EOS RP lacks the comprehensive control over continuous focus enjoyed by models like the EOS 7D Mark II and EOS 5D Mark IV, which allows you to specify how the system behaves when faced with different types of moving subjects, you can still set it to track subjects, notice faces and eyes, and focus continuously on these. Further focusing options include Zone AF, Spot AF and 1-Point AF, as well as two further options to a single point surrounded by expansion points.

It's also possible to use the touchscreen to set focus when you have your eye up to the viewfinder. This feature, called Touch and drag AF, is deactivated at default, but once it's enabled you'll find it gives you the most convenient way of setting the focusing point, assuming you're using the EVF. In the absence of a dedicated AF lever, you have to otherwise press the focusing area button once, and then move your thumb to the D-pad to adjust this, and then again to the Delete button to re-centre it, which is far more convoluted than it ought to be.

Focusing on static subjects is generally pain free and fast. The system does well to get a lock on a subject, be it in good light or otherwise, and I was impressed with how it fared against low-contrast subjects with few features to get a good lock against. These would tax many cameras, so this performance was very good to see. When using the RF 35mm f/1.8 IS Macro STM and RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lenses, the camera also did well to focus quickly between near subjects and more distant ones without any hunting. 

Like many Canon cameras, the EOS RP makes use of a Dual Pixel CMOS AF system, which performs phase-detect autofocus from the main imaging sensor.

When set to focus on subjects continuously, the camera did a fine job to lock and hold onto even smaller and more distant subjects. The system stayed well with these if they moved towards or away from the camera, and while it did get distracted at times it also impressed with its ability to find a subject once again if it temporarily left the frame. There were a few occasions where the system would initially acquire a lock on a subject and allow for a few frames to be captured in focus as it moved, only to lose it for a few frames and then find it again – even if it wasn't moving too rapidly – although this is not unusual. 

With a burst rate of just 4fps with continuous focus enabled, quite how successful you are at getting a shot of the moving subject you want will depend in large part on how good you are at panning it and how much of the frame it occupies. It's definitely more difficult here to nail of something moving close to the camera as – and this is perhaps the biggest bugbear with continuous shooting – the feed doesn't refresh itself quickly enough as you capture to give you an accurate idea of how to move with the subject. But if it's further away and your crop isn't too tight then you'll probably enjoy more success.

Eye detection is also available, and this works well to identify the subject’s eye and keep a small box around it. The only slight annoyance here is that the system tends to jump between the left and right eyes, regardless of which is closest to the camera, and there appears to be no way specify which to keep focused as there is on some other models.