So I walk into Southeastern Camera…
The beginning to many a story. Like the one about the Konica C35 AF2.
Ok, let me back up a bit. This is not really about a camera. It starts with a lens… or a kind of lens from a certain company.
I like Canon. I do. Really I do. Especially their film 35mm cameras. You have your Canon Canonet QL17 GIII:
Really liked that camera,…
…but it fell behind others for regular use so I let it go rather than sit on such a nice camera. You have your Canon AE-1 Program.
It met the same fate as the QL. Then you have your free to me Canon FTb.
And last but not least the last Canon film camera standing. The Canon T70:
An inexpensive and very capable odd duck of a thing that I enjoy using and it produces wonderful images.
Put a toe in on the digital side. First was an older but capable Canon 1Ds Mark II.
But most importantly this was my first in person introduction to Canon f/1.8 nifty 50s. Specifically the good old Canon 50mm f/1.8 EF.
The 1Ds was fun for a little bit but I let it go. What I really missed afterward was the 50mm lens. Decided to get a more modern variant, Canon 50mm f/1.8 EF STM, along with an MC11 for Sony (aka Cony).
Great adapted, but I wanted a Canon lens on a Canon camera experience again. Canon offered a free EF adapter with the EOS RP at the time so I gave it a spin. Even better as expected.
But another lens convinced me to try an adapter free experience. No affordable, comparable RF 50mm was available at the time so I went for a Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 IS Macro STM.
A fantastic lens that created fantastic images.
But I let it go in the end because…
- I had my first wedding shoot coming up. The Canon lenses I would need were either not available yet or too expensive so I went for a second Sony body to replace the RP.
- A great 35mm lens is not a 50mm lens. Even with IS. Even with macro capabilities. Close but not exactly what I was looking for.
While I traded the RP I had been bitten. It was a great little full frame camera. It really reminded of a digital interpretation of a film 35mm SLR. The size, weight, and feel are very reminiscent of these favorite cameras of mine. Of all the higher tier Canon R cameras then and since the RP was the one that interested me most. Makes sense. On the film side I kept a G1 over a G2. An FG over an F3. An OM-10 over an OM-1. I am a huge fan of bang for buck champs that hold onto the same lenses as their pricier siblings.
But there was a problem. The RF 50mm lens that was available, while impressive, was too large and expensive for my liking. f/1.8 is the 50mm nifty fifty sweet spot. Brighter lenses are larger, more expensive, and often do not focus as swiftly. Not counting anything more than $200. Adapted solutions do not count. But then Canon did it. They released the RF variant of the f/1.8 STM lens I liked so much.
Once that happened and the RF 50mm STM reviews and sample images came out I knew an EOS RP would be in my future again. But I was not willing to purchase another RP new. Used would be the way to go. A few came up at online retailers used, but I really wanted to do business with my local camera shop. So I reviewed my local camera shop’s listings regularly and then it happened. An RP showed up.
Sidebar: Now the big question. Why not just get a 50mm f/1.8 lens for Sony instead?
Now that would make sense. But Sony has no Canon STM equivalent in my opinion. I tried the FE 50mm f/1.8 more than once but it does not cut it. While it is occasionally capable of creating an image I like it lacks something IQ wise and I found the Canon STM 50mm adapted with the MC11 focused faster and quieter. Other options are all too large and too expensive for consideration. A few cost about the same or considerably more than what this used RP camera and STM lens combined cost.
Sidebar to the sidebar: If I just had to stay with Sony I would forgive the wider focal length and 50% higher price of the excellent Rokinon/Samyang 45mm f/1.8. Had that lens. Great lens. Just not for me.
So I walk into Southeastern Camera…
The trade was on. Sacrificed my “That’ll Do” MFT gear mainly purchased as blog material to distract myself. This combination ticked off all of the boxes, Much of this will be pulled from my 2019 EOS RP review as is or updated.
In that prior review I mentioned that the RP was better ergonomically than the technically superior A7III. Still true. Since then Sony has raised their game and the A7c is a noticeable improvement over the A7III. But the RP has aged well and is a great camera in hand. The RP does not really place a foot wrong. Port covers are done much better and the RP’s materials and shape will likely shrug off damage better. The control layout is another win and it avoided missteps like the more expensive EOS R’s touch slider thingy and everything else falls quickly to hand. I really like the configurable lock switch, Q menu. M. Fn, and other short cuts, and easily decipherable menus. There are three custom modes on the mode dial rather than two. The RP’s touch screen implementation is well done. And unlike the A7III and A7c it is touch menu which is very nice. I was a relative digital Canon newbie then, unless you count my brief dalliance with a wonderfully baffling 1Ds Mark II, but I had the RP for days before I realized that I had not looked at the manual once. It does not feel like a budget camera in hand. I also like tilty/flippy screens.
With a small lens like the 50mm STM this camera is a call back to classic film SLRs in size, weight, and feel more than any digital camera/lens combo I have come across. Slightly smaller and lighter than the Canon T70 SLR.
As an added bonus even though it costs little more the RF 50mm STM is built better than the EF 50mm STM and includes a control ring that can be used to switch between MF and near anything else you feel like setting it to. I will not go into too much detail since this lens deserves its own blog post.
Let us revisit a few other categories.
I’ll make this brief. Everything said about Canon colors is true. They are amazing. Takes very few hits with the Lightroom stick in RAW to get photos where I like them and the JPEGS would do in many cases. Dynamic range not a match for Sony, but it still very good. Mid 20s MP count is my personal crop-ability/file size sweet spot and images look plenty sharp to me.
Very good AF performance. Fast and accurate with all the modern bells and whistles like tracking, face/eye detect (Sony is better at this, but the RP is serviceable) and great controls to switch between them all.
Not the best on the market, but performs very competently in low light. Acquires focus well and creates pleasing images.
Adapter. I do not have an adapter this time around but it is a great option. This is where Canon knocked it out of the park in my opinion. Adapting EF lenses with the bundled adapter is the most transparent lens adapting experience I have ever had. More on this in this KEH post. A far better experience than adapting Sony A Mount lenses to Sony E mount.
Grip. Best non battery grip I have seen. Looks great and improves the handling of the camera. Plus they engineered a pass-through door that replaces the standard door, that feels better, and allows for access to the card and battery without having to remove the grip. Big shiny, knurled knob. Other companies take note. I did not purchase this little grip this tie around that came with the first RP I had, but still a great accessory.
Let us do a quick revisit of the downsides.
Having owned and been happy with plenty of cameras requiring spare batteries this did not bother me that much. Already ordered a $20 two battery/charger kit and I will keep it moving.
No in body IS
Would be nice. Understand why it does not have it given the price point. Kick up ISO a few notches and keep it mov… or hold still in this case. Would be important if I intended to shoot slower non stabilized glass… but I do not.
(Dun, Dun, Dun) One Card Slot
While I honestly understand the heartburn it does not faze me at this price point. Especially at the used price this go around. Have had cameras that cost much more, like the Leica Q, that only had one card slot.
Compromised Silent Mode
Do I wish I had the ability to employ silent shooting outside of it being couched in a scene that gives me little if any ability to manipulate proceedings? Yes. Had mentioned a hope that they might address this in firmware, but such has not been the case. Will continue using the pretty good silent scene when needed.
4K is cropped. Ok. AF with 1080 output uses the entire fame and looks good. Video is not why I bought this camera (or lens) but it would be serviceable in a pinch.
What of the higher echelon R cameras?
Similar to the A7III with Sony the upper tier models are impressive, but as I mentioned in my A7c post they are more than what I need for my purposes. R, R5, and R6 are not required for me.
That was the theory anyway. What of the real world experience? So far great.
Will report back in this space, but one day in I do believe I may have found it. That digital experience that captures enough of that inexplicable, for me, elusive film shooting experience. If true that would be nice. Been chasing that for some time.