In May 2017, rumours of Canon coming out with a full-frame mirrorless camera had sent the world of photography on the internet into a mini tizzy. Now, it is not that Canon did not have a mirrorless camera range already. It did and the M series was a capable series too. But, alas! It was not full-frame. For the uninitiated, a full-frame camera is one that captures images on a sensor which is the same size as a traditional 35-mm film (remember film cameras of the past?) Most DSLR cameras you see today are APS-C or crop-sensor cameras. These have smaller sensors that capture much smaller frames (22×15 mm). This basically means a full-frame sensor has a surface area which is 2.5 times an APS-C sensor camera. A bigger sensor of course means a much higher price, too. An APS-C is not a problem for most, except pros and people who want to move up the ladder in the serious photography business.
Canon has been a global leader in photography and has had a wonderful full-frame DSLR range, but here we come to the second big point — a mirrorless camera. Mirrorless cameras represent the evolution of camera species in which Canon had been a slow mover, even as Sony stole the march. Canon’s M series had a different mount (more on mount’s later) and did not have a full-frame version. They were capable cameras but not quite there for the more serious enthusiast.
In 2018, Canon did come out with its first full-frame mirrorless camera, the Canon EOS R. Being part of the EOS family of Canon cameras, this one had the RF mount. A mount is the interface (mechanical and electronic) that allows a lens to fit onto a camera body (where the sensor lies). Canon has EF, RFF or EF-M mounts, while Nikon has its own mount. When any serious photographer buys a camera (even if a beginner-level DSLR) he makes a choice as to which universe he wants to be part of. A Canon camera owner would purchase lenses that fit this camera. So, when he eventually upgrades to another device in a few years, he would still be able to use the lenses with this new device. But he might not move to a Nikon or a Sony as the old lenses would become useless or lose some of their functionality (if they use an adapter). This is the reason why the launch of the first full-frame mirrorless Canon camera in 2018 sent its legion of followers into a tizzy. This camera had an RF mount (a new one that allowed old EF lenses to be used as well. An adapter is not supplied in the box, however). They could now step up to a mirrorless camera while using their existing lenses. Earlier this year, Canon launched its second entrant in this field. The Canon EOS RP, the subject of this review. The EOS RP is a 26.2 MP full-frame camera. Its launch is being compared to the launch of the EOS 300D 16 years ago, as that was the first camera to bring large-frame digital photography to the masses.
Canon EOS RP is the cheapest full-frame mirrorless camera (at launch) and promises to shake up the market. One big difference with the launch of the EOS 300D in 2003 is that it is not accompanied by the launch of cheaper lenses. Being a mirrorless camera, the RP is a very lightweight camera, and that is a boon. Beautifully sculpted with a nice feel to it, the camera has only one drawback — it is too small and light. One is not able to grip it with all four fingers wrapped around it. In foreign markets, Canon fixed this by supplying a free grip which could be affixed at the bottom to turn it from very good to perfect. They did not supply this grip in the box in India, however.
EOS RP is in a direct competition with Canon’s own full-frame (but not mirrorless) DSLR 6D. The 6D is a favourite with photography enthusiasts who want to move up but can’t afford the pro range of 5D cameras. The RP offers a compact size, USB charging (unlike 6D), superb colour rendition and sharp JPEG pictures with WiFi capabilities. One can easily connect one’s smartphone to the camera using a Canon app and download all the pictures to the phone within minutes. So all those who are keen on putting up their pictures on Instagram, you’d love this. One drawback with the RP (especially compared to 6D) is its lack of stamina when it comes to battery. This could be because it eats battery constantly on Live View. So, users may need to buy extra batteries to keep in bags (charger comes with the camera). Shooting videos on the RP, though okay, isn’t great by any standards. So, it may not be the camera to go to for vloggers. The 4K video gets cropped and that may not work for some.
Shooting in the RAW format was a bit problematic, though, as Photoshop had not got a plugin update for this camera until the first week of April. It should be fine now, but this plugin should have been released with the camera. The JPEG performance is quite sharp. The same quality that one expects from a Canon camera is visible. We tried using the camera in different light situations and it came out trump most of the times. The only time we did have some trouble was shooting in low light. The results were eventually good, but it took forever to focus and that could often be a problem, since you may lose the moment. However expensive, it is still an entry-level full-frame mirrorless option; it does not have the same capabilities as far as moving objects are concerned, so it may not be the best choice for wildlife or sports photography. However, it is quite a step-up from the cameras below it in price range and technological prowess.
Canon EOS RP represents a second and serious shot from the Japanese giant in the mirrorless camera universe. Both Nikon and Canon are playing catch-up with Sony and if Canon keeps going like this, it will likely catch up soon enough.
Canon EOS RP price in India
Body: Rs 1,10,495
With 24-105mm lens kit: Rs 1,99,490