With the twin attractions of less weight and a smaller form factor, it’s easy to see why mirrorless cameras are wooing traditional DSLR camera owners. But what if you want a mirrorless camera with a full-frame sensor, or you’re thinking about upgrading from a compact or bridge camera? While there might be plenty of options, they often come at a price that puts them out of reach of many of us. Canon has set about rectifying that with the new EOS RP.

Why full-frame?

A full-frame sensor is technically defined as the same size as traditional 35mm film, measuring 36mm x 24mm. However, different manufacturers have expanded on this, so Canon’s full-frame sensors are 43mm x 36mm. APS-C sensor sizes vary a bit as well, but compare this to Canon’s 26mm x 22mm APS-C sensor, or the 22mm x 17mm used in the Micro Four Thirds sensors, and it’s clear how much extra information you get. With the EOS RP, image sizes can be up to 6240 x 4160 pixels. If you’re printing your images, this can make a big difference – but even if you’re not, a bigger sensor allows you to crop more tightly into a shot.

Canon expanded into full-frame mirrorless at the end of last year with the first in a new series of cameras. The EOS R wowed everyone with its 30.3Mp sensor and ability to perform well in low-light conditions, but however committed you might be to all things Canon, the £2,300 price tag made it hard for amateurs and enthusiasts to justify. However, with its launch price set at less than £1400 this is a way of stepping up to the EOS R format without the expense.

At just 485g, this is one of the lightest full-frame cameras on the market. Although it sits alongside Canon’s other full-frame DSLR cameras, the Canon 5D Mark IV and 6D Mark II, this is cheaper than either of those, while offering a comparable sensor size and, best of all, a smaller, lighter package – perfect for travel, landscapes and even street photography.


Total redesign

The EOS R series has been completely redesigned to make the most of its mirrorless credentials. This means the lens mount has seen a redesign and the new RF mount has a larger 58mm diameter. This is great news for your photography because the larger mount means lenses can let in more light in, making them faster, simpler to produce (so in theory, less expensive) and smaller.

Its 26.2Mp full-frame sensor is adept at capturing rich detail, performing particularly well in low-light conditions. In fact, it was the low-light capabilities of the EOS R that won hearts at its launch because the camera is able to focus and shoot in conditions that would frustrate most other cameras in this price range. The EOS RP is able to lock onto its subject and achieve focusing in just 0.05 seconds.

Image stabilisation gives you the opportunity to shoot still images at a slower shutter speed without blur – exactly what you want if you’re shooting in low-light conditions. It also comes in handy when you want to shoot video without a tripod. Thanks to 5-axis stabilisation, you can guarantee shake-free footage even in near-darkness. Image stabilisation works by combining in-body image stabilisation (IBIS) with a lens-based image stabilisation system – working in tandem, they give much better results than either system on its own. For this to work at its best, pair IS lenses with your camera. 

For burst shooting, keep the shutter release held down and you can shoot continuously at a maximum 5fps speed. With auto-focus tracking on, this maxes out at 4fps.


Night shots

If you’re shooting in darkened conditions, you’ll be interested in the ISO. You can currently shoot with ISO ranging from 100 up to 40,000, although this can be extended in both directions from ISO 50 all the way up to 102,400.

While changes to ISO are one way to get more detail out of your shots, another is to shoot in RAW format rather than JPEG. With a much broader dynamic range than JPEG, RAW files retain information in bright highlights and dark shadows that would be lost in a JPEG. While the EOS RP is able to shoot 14-bit RAW files perfect for editing in Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom, it also manages to solve another problem. With their huge file size, those 14-bit files can also be the downside to using RAW but in the EOS RP you have the option to save using a compact RAW format, which stores the same information with no compromise on image quality.

Image processing uses the DIGIC 8 imaging engine last seen in the Canon EOS M5. Able to process images more quickly and with superior colour handling, it’s this chip that means Canon’s proprietary Digital Lighting Optimizer (DLO) can be brought into the camera (rather than used in post). DLO corrects chromatic aberrations (the purple and green fringes you sometimes get around objects) as well as lens distortion, which varies depending on the lens you’re using. The result is detailed, high-quality images much closer to what you see with your own eye.

The EOS RP isn’t lacking on the video front, either. When it comes to shooting movies, it can manage full HD at up to 60fps for those perfect slow-mos; and when only the highest resolution will do, you can shoot 4K video at 25fps. The image stabilisation system helps get smoother footage when handheld.


Glass with a difference

While there are many pluses to the larger lens mount, the downside is that you can’t simply take a lens from your old Canon system and use it here. You can, however, use an adapter that sits between existing Canon lenses and the new lens mount. This means that if you already own a few Canon lenses, you won’t have to sacrifice them to upgrade. This works for the full range of EF and EF-S lenses, although EF-M lenses are not compatible.

To really make the most of this camera though, you’ll want to try one of the RF lenses, tailor-made for the EOS R series. At the time of writing, there are four RF lenses – a 50mm f/1.2, 35mm f/1.8 IS macro, 24-105mm f/4 IS, and 28-70mm f/2 – but more are lined up to follow over the coming months. Watch for the ‘IS’ in the camera name – these are the lenses with in-built image stabilisation. Cleverly, the RF lenses come with a clicking control ring that can be programmed, providing additional control options without cluttering the body of the camera with more buttons and dials.

While the EOS R is a great camera, it’s only a select few that really need 30Mp images. In the EOS RP, we have a camera far more suited to enthusiasts, with a price tag to match. If you’ve already bought into the Canon brand and have a number of its lenses, then this is a no-brainer. But even if you’re thinking about making the move from a bridge or compact camera, this is a great place to start.

Find out how the EOS RP performs in real-life. Join us on our field-test...

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