Canon EOS RP vs. EOS R: Which Canon mirrorless camera is right for you?

Canon’s full-frame EOS R system may be less than a year old, but we’ve already gotten a good glimpse at the breadth it will cover. The EOS R launched in 2018 as a mid-upper tier model, followed shortly after by the entry-level EOS RP — the cheapest new full-frame camera ever made. Canon has also confirmed that a true professional R series model is on the way, one that will outclass even the EOS R.

There’s a considerable price gap between with the EOS R and the RP of $1,000, although at the time of writing this is just $700 thanks to an instant rebate on the R. Not surprisingly, the R is the more capable camera — but the RP offers a streamlined set of features at an approachable price that may be everything the beginner or enthusiast photographer needs, particularly those looking to make their first move into the world of full frame. Here’s how these two cameras stack up.

Canon EOS R

canon eos rp vs r comparison

 

Canon EOS RP

canon eos rp vs sony a7 iii entry level full frame cameras compared comparison

Sensor  30.3 megapixel full-frame CMOS with optical low pass filter 26.2 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor with optical low pass filter
Burst Speed 8 fps or 5 fps with continuous AF 5 fps, or 4 fps with continuous autofocus
Shutter Speed 30 sec. to 1/8000, bulb 30 sec. to 1/4000, bulb
ISO 100 – 40,000 100 – 40,000
Autofocus 5,655-point Dual Pixel autofocus, eye-detection AF 4,779-point Dual Pixel autofocus down to -5 EV
Image Stabilization None (available in some lenses) None (available in some lenses)
Video 4K at 30 fps, 1080p at 60 fps 4K at 24 fps with a 1.7x crop, 1080p at 60 fps
EVF 0.5 inch 3.69 million dot EVF with 23mm eye point 0.39 inch 2.36 million dot EVF with 22mm eyepoint
LCD 3.15 inch, 2.10 million dots tilting touchscreen 3.0-inch, 1.04 million dot tilting touchscreen
Media Slots Single SD card slot Single SD card slot
Battery 330 shots 250 shots
Dimensions (WxHxD) 5.35 x 3.87 x 3.32 inches 5.22 x 3.35 x 2.76 inches
Weight 1.28 lbs. (body only) 1.07 lbs.
Price $2,299 $1,299
Read more Canon EOS R review Canon EOS RP review
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Sensor

With the same ISO range and resolutions just a few megapixels apart, you’d be forgiven for not thinking the EOS R’s sensor was really any better than the RP’s. And in truth, the differences between the two may not matter to many people. JPEGs straight out of the camera are very strong from both models, but if you want to get the most out out every pixel, you’ll need to shoot in RAW — and this is where the EOS R has the edge. We’ve found its sensor to produce cleaner images at high ISOs with noticeably more dynamic range at low ISOs, which lets you adjust exposure and lighten shadows more in post processing.

If you’re a casual photographer who wants a usable JPEG right form the camera and doesn’t care as much as editing flexibility, the RP won’t let you down. But if you prefer to put as much work into retouching your photos as you do in taking them, the R will give you more room to play around.

Speed

This is where both cameras actually suffer from the same limitation, brought on by the complexities of Canon’s excellent but processor-intensive Dual Pixel Autofocus (more on that below). With continuous autofocus, the EOS R manages to eke out one more frame per second compared to the RP, but the burst rates of 5 and 4 fps, respectively, are far from class-leading. With autofocus locked, the R has a bigger advantage, capable of shooting at 8 fps where the RP tops out at just 5.

Neither camera is intended for professional sports photography, but they should both handle less demanding action scenes, such as what you’ll find when photographing your kids or pets or a live event like a wedding reception.

Autofocus

Both the EOS R and RP use a version of Canon’s Dual Pixel Autofocus (DPAF), a type of on-chip phase-detection that we have found to work very well in both still and video modes. The EOS R has 5,655 autofocus points in total, while the RP has a (still very impressive) 4,779 points. In practice, we didn’t notice much of a performance difference between the two, with both cameras focusing quickly and accurately. But there is one noticeable drawback to the RP: In 4K video, DPAF is unavailable, and the camera resorts to slower, contrast-detection autofocus. The R doesn’t have the same limitation, making it much easier to use in 4K mode.

The focus systems continue to work even in very low light conditions. When matched with the fastest f/1.2 lenses, the EOS R can virtually focus in the dark at -6 EV. The RP doesn’t do quite that well, sensitive to -5 EV, but that is still very good. With slower lenses, more light will obviously be required.

Both cameras also feature face and eye-detection AF, which is useful for portraiture, particularly with wide-aperture lenses where the depth of field is very shallow and nailing focus can be difficult. While we found the EOS RP’s eye AF to be adequate, it did not work unless subjects were close enough to fill a decent portion of the frame. The RP actually launched with some eye AF features that were initially not available on the more expensive R, including eye-detection in continuous (servo) AF mode and in video, but a firmware update in April 2019 brought those features to the R.

Stabilization

A key feature lacking in the EOS R system so far is sensor-shift stabilization, a feature commonly found on mirrorless cameras from other brands. Without it, both the RP and R rely on lens stabilization. The good news is that that most of the AF lenses out now have optical stabilization built-in, even some of the wide-aperture primes. Canon did confirm that sensor stabilization is in the works for future R series bodies, but it’s not something you can get from Canon today.

Both the RP and R do offer electronic stabilization in video mode which, especially when matched with a stabilized lens, can produce smooth handheld shots. The problem is that, like all electronic stabilization systems, this crops the frame and produces footage that isn’t as sharp.

In short, neither camera does stabilization as well as we’d like, but you’re not losing anything here by picking up the RP rather than the R.

Video

This is where the EOS R has a definite edge thanks to its ability to use DPAF for 4K, although many other things about the cameras’ movie modes are similar. Both shoot 4K from a rather significantly cropped region of the sensor, while Full HD 1080p is recorded from the sensor’s full width. Both cameras also offer headphone and microphone jacks.

But beyond DPAF, the thing that makes the EOS R a better video camera are the additional framerate options. It can shoot 4K at 30 or 24 fps, while the RP is locked at 24. It can also shoot 1080p at 24 fps, something the RP strangely can’t do (it can do 30 and 60 fps, however). If you want the cinematic look, you simply can’t get it on the RP unless you’re shooting in 4K mode — which comes with a host of issues like slow autofocus and a severe crop.

Design and user interface

While cameras are recognizable as being from the same system, they do differ in design in some significant ways. The RP is smaller and lighter — it’s actually the lightest full-frame interchangeable lens camera on the market — but still has a fully-articulating screen, just like the R. On the user interface side, it also offers the Feature Assistant and Creative Assist modes found on Canon’s entry-level cameras that help guide new photographers through the various shooting modes and settings in a simple way.

The EOS R features a higher-resolution viewfinder that looks significantly better than the RP’s, a higher-resolution LCD screen, a secondary information display on top of the camera, and a more robust build quality that includes dust and moisture resistance. A bit of a controversial feature, it also has a touch slider on the back of the camera that can be customized for different controls. Not everyone loves this, but it’s a pretty unique feature of the camera. Perhaps more useful is the bigger battery, which offers 330 shots per charge compared to the RP’s 250. Neither number is particularly strong when compared to Canon’s DSLRs, but the R will definitely let you keep shooting longer than the RP.

Which is right for you?

For beginners or budget-minded photographers who want to live the full-frame dream, the Canon EOS RP provides an enticing entry point thanks to its low cost. Sure, it can’t match the EOS R for image quality or features, but many novices will be fine shooting in JPEG, where the RP excels, and doesn’t ask much of a camera’s video mode. If that sounds like you, get the RP and put the money you save toward a good lens.

But if you want the best image quality Canon has on offer, the EOS R is the way to go. It’s the same sensor as found in the 5D Mark IV DSLR. We also like the ergonomics and control layout of the R more, even if the camera is a bit heavier. Additionally, Serious video shooters will find more to love about the R than the RP, thanks to more framerate options, Dual Pixel AF in 4K mode, and that longer battery life. To be sure, this wouldn’t be our first pick as a video camera, but if you’re in the Canon camp, it’s a fine choice.

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