The Canon EOS RP was introduced in 2019 as the entry level full frame camera in Canon’s mirrorless range. It had a very competitive price at the time, although the specifications were somewhat disappointing given that it uses an old sensor and slow image processor.
Four years later, Canon has unveiled the R8: it has the same body design, but with much better specifications, as the new camera inherits the same sensor, autofocus and image processor as the R6 mark II, a camera I just finished testing and that gave me fantastic results.
In this comparison, I’ll explain what the main differences are between the RP and R8 to help you decide which one best suits your needs.
Below are a few things that are identical on the two cameras, which I won’t mention later on:
- 3.5mm mic input, headphone output
- Micro HDMI output
- 1 SD UHS-II card slot (in the battery compartment)
- Wi-fi and Bluetooth
- Optical stabilisation on select lenses, Digital IS in video mode (no in-body stabilisation)
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The R8 and RP feature a full frame sensor (35mm format) with a similar pixel count: 24.2MP for the R8, and 26.2MP for the RP.
The ISO values are different however, with the R8 having a larger range.
100 – 102,400
50 – 204,800
100 – 40,000
50 – 102,400
The R8 features a more modern (and faster) image processor, the Digic X, whereas the RP uses an older version (Digic 8). This means that the new camera has more extra features, a faster sensor readout, as well as the latest tweaks made to the Picture Styles.
Looking back at my experience with the RP model, as well as my tests with the R8 sensor (same as the R6 II), there is no doubt that the new camera will give you better image quality, particularly regarding dynamic range and the possibility of post processing the RAW file.
The R8 has superior video capabilities. It can record 4K up to 60p by using all the pixels on the sensor (oversampling from 6K, no crop), which means it delivers excellent quality with sharp details.
The RP can record 4K at 24 or 25p only, and there is a severe crop on the sensor that will alter the field of view significantly. For example, a 50mm lens becomes approximately 87mm when 4K is selected.
In Full HD, they both record up to 60p with no crop. The R8 has the High Frame Rate mode, where you can record up to 180fps, and have up to a 7.5x slow motion result in camera.
Then we have the quality of the files themselves: the R8 can record 10-bit 4:2:2 internally, when the C.Log3 or HDR PQ profiles are selected. By contrast, the RP does 8-bit 4:2:0 internally. This means the R8 saves more colour information.
The bitrate is also higher, reaching 230Mbps (30p) or 340Mbps (60p). The RP captures an average of 120Mbps at 25p.
If my experience with the R6 II is anything to go by, the R8 should have less rolling shutter, meaning less distortion when moving quickly with the camera.
Finally, the R8 doesn’t have the 30 minute clip limitation when recording 4K 30p, unlike the RP. Canon said in the press release that the R8 can record for approximately two hours in 4K 30p. There is however the limitation with 4K 60p.
The R8 is a much more recent model, and inherits the latest technology when it comes to autofocus. This means the Canon Dual Pixel CMOS AF II with advanced subject detection algorithms. The camera can recognise humans (body, face, eyes), animals (dogs, cats, zebras, horses, birds) and vehicles (trains, airplanes, cars, motorcycles). It can even prioritise the helmet of a racing driver on bikes and open-cockpit cars.
The RP has an older version of Canon’s Dual Pixel phase detection autofocus. It is not as advanced when it comes to subject recognition, and is limited to people (face and eyes).
Another advantage of the new camera is the sensitivity in low light. The R8 is rated at -6.5EV, whereas the RP is 1 stop and a half less efficient with -5EV. This data is measured with a f/1.2 lens.
My experience with the RP was very decent overall when it comes to autofocus capabilities, with precise performance for portraits, and good results at a soccer game. But there is no doubt the R8 will give you faster and more precise results, plus the advanced subject recognition can be very helpful.
One last thing you need to be aware of is that in video mode, when recording 4K, the RP uses contrast detection AF instead of the Dual Pixel system. This means slower acquisition, less precise results and less reliable performance overall.
4. Electronic Shutter and Speed
Having an electronic shutter means that the camera doesn’t use the two mechanical curtains that cover and uncover the sensor when the photo is taken. Instead it uses electronic curtains that power the pixels on and off.
The electronic shutter has allowed camera brands to push the performance of their cameras to new level, like faster continuous shooting speeds, as well as allow the photographer to take pictures in silent mode.
The R8 has a big advantage here: the shutter speed can go up to 1/16,000s, and the continuous shooting goes up to an impressive 40fps.
The RP has an electronic shutter mode, but only when you use one of the Scene modes. You can’t select it when working in Manual mode. Furthermore, it doesn’t give you any benefit, apart from silent shooting.
If you prefer to stick with the mechanical shutter, the R8 remains faster concerning the drive speed at 6fps. The RP doesn’t go beyond 5fps.
Note that neither camera has a full mechanical shutter (2 curtains). Rather they work with the electronic-first curtain mode (front curtain is electronic, rear curtain is mechanical). This gives you a few advantages, like less shutter-shock in some instances, but can also decrease the quality of the bokeh slightly (out of focus areas) with fast shutter speeds (quicker than 1/500s). Not a big deal in my opinion, just something to remember.
Finally, when it comes to the buffer, neither camera stops or slows down at 6fps or 5fps, with JPG or RAW.
At 40fps for the R8, the performance is much less impressive as expected: 56 RAW and 120 JPGs.
5. Extra Features
The R8, being a more recent model, includes extra features you won’t find on the older RP camera. Here are the most interesting ones.
- RAW Burst Mode: the camera shoots at 30fps and saves every frame into one big “roll” file on the SD card, rather than saving each photo individually. This improves the buffer. You can also activate the Pre-Shooting option, allowing the camera to save 15 frames before you fully depress the shutter button. Note that you need to open the “roll” file with the Canon software to extract single images (you can also do it in-camera).
- Focus Bracketing with Focus Stacking: take up to 999 images with small changes in focus distance in order to merge them in post to create more depth of field than a single shot (useful for macro photography, and landscapes). You can also get the result straight in-camera. This function works with the electronic shutter, so flash is not available.
- Focus Breathing Compensation: eliminates the small “zoom effect” that occurs on most photography lenses when changing focus from infinity to the minimum distance. Note that this only works with select RF lenses.
- Dual Pixel RAW: the R8 saves a special RAW file with depth information from the autofocus technology. You can then make micro adjustments in post with the Canon Digital Professional app, like adjusting the focus point or bokeh.
- Multi-function shoe: the R8 has a newly developed hot-shoe that has more electronic communication with the camera, allowing you to record digital audio up to 4 channels for example. This also means you don’t need to connect a cable to the side of the camera. Note that this is valid with select microphones only, compatible with this technology.
- High-Frequency Anti-Flicker: allows you to select the correct shutter speed with a higher degree of precision to eliminate banding caused by LED lights and other sources. It works with the electronic shutter and in video mode.
- Detection only AF: when recording video, you can prevent the camera from re-focusing on the background when the subject goes outside of your composition.
6. EVF Refresh Rate and LCD Resolution
The two cameras have a very similar viewfinder:
- 0.39-in size
- OLED panel
- 2.36M dots of resolution
- 0.70x magnification
The only difference is the frame rate: that of the R8 goes up to 120fps, whereas the one on the RP model works at around 60fps. A faster frame rate is useful when following very fast action.
As for the rear monitor, they both have an LCD with a multi-angle mechanism to orient it in different positions and flip it 180˚ to the side. The R8 version has more resolution: 1.62M vs 1.04M dots.
7. USB Connection
Both cameras feature a USB Type C connection, but the one on the R8 is much faster with a maximum transfer speed of 10Gbps, whereas that of the RP works at 480Mbps (USB 2.0).
The USB port gives photographers more possibilities on the new camera: for example, you can use the R8 as a plug-and-play webcam without any additional software required.
With the RP, you need to install the EOS Webcam Utility plugin on your desktop computer for it to be recognised. See my article about How to use the Canon RP as a webcam to find out more.
8. Battery Life
The R8 and RP use the small LP-E17 battery unit.
The new camera has a better rating when using the LCD monitor, with 370 shots per charge. It’s lower when using the viewfinder (220 shots).
The RP has a rating of 250 frames, whether you use the EVF or LCD screen.
Both cameras can be charged via USB, but only the R8 can be powered when the camera is on.
9. Custom Modes for Video
The two cameras have a very similar design, almost the same dimensions, and little difference in weight:
- R8: 132.5 × 86.1 × 70.0mm, 461g
- RP: 132.5 × 85.0 × 70.0 mm, 440g
The button layout is mostly the same, but the R8 has a photo/video switch on the top left area of the camera, whereas the RP has the on/off switch in the same position. To go to video mode on the RP, you use the main shooting mode dial on top.
This gives an advantage to the R8 because you can use the main dial to change shooting modes whether you are in photo or video mode, and you can also use the Custom Modes (C1, C2) for video, and not just photos.
The R8 is has being launched with the price of $1500, £1700 or €1800 for the body only. You can add $200 / £200 / €200 for the 24-50mm kit lens.
The RP “body only” can be found for $1000, £1050 or €900 in retail stores. You can also find it second-hand for around $750 / £700 / €750.
What is interesting on the RP, in addition to its lower price, is that the kit option is the 24-105mm F4-7.1, so you get more zoom range for an extra $300 / £270 / €300. I suspect the same lens will be offered with the R8 in the future.
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To me, it is clear the R8 is the best camera: it has much more modern technoogy that allows it to deliver better photo and video quality, more intellignent and faster autofocus performance, much quicker continuous shooting speed and a great amount of extra features. If money is not an issue, don’t hesitate, choose the R8.
The EOS RP has one main advantage: it is less expensive, and in some countries that difference is almost half the price, so I understand it’s a positive that’s hard to ignore. At the time of writing, you also get a better kit lens with more zoom range. So if you don’t really care about the latest specs, and you’re happy to work around the limitations of the RP, there is no doubt it’s a good camera to start with, and what you save on the cost can be invested in a second lens for example.
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