Although they were a little late to the party, both Canon and Nikon now have affordable full-frame mirrorless options to tempt photographers into each respective brand’s mirrorless systems. First came Nikon’s Z6, which was launched alongside the higher-resolution Z7 in August 2018 and now Canon has pulled the covers off the RP, which is a lightweight and more compact version of the brand’s EOS R camera. Both cameras are built around new mount designs for mirrorless use and are packed with features, but which one is right for your photography? Join us as we drill down into the specification sheets of both cameras to help you make an informed buying decision…
Design and build: Let’s start with the slightly older Nikon Z6, which is built around a 24.5-megapixel full-frame (FX) CMOS sensor. Alongside the Z7, the Z6 was one of Nikon’s first cameras to make use of the new Z-mount, which has its own range of lenses but also allows Nikon users to make use of their F-mount lenses via an adaptor. Smaller and lighter than Nikon’s full-frame DSLRs, the Z6 measures 134 x 100.5 x 67.5mm and tips the scales at just 675g with battery and memory card.
At the back of the Z6, users will find a tilting 3.2-inch LCD, but images can also be composed using the 3690k dot Electronic Viewfinder (EVF). The Z6 is weather-sealed, making it suitable for professional use in poor weather conditions and includes IBIS via Sensor-shift Image Stabilisation technology so it will be easier for photographers to keep images sharp in low light conditions, whatever lens is attached.
The entry-level RP is also built around a full-frame CMOS sensor, and the Canon actually offers slightly more resolution at 26.3-megapixels. Instead of the traditional EF mount, the RP (like the EOS R) uses the new mirrorless RF mount – though EF lenses can be used via an adaptor and it’s worth mentioning that Canon even offer an adaptor that includes a drop-in ND filter, which is sure to make long exposure photography and video shot at large apertures much easier to capture. There’s no IBIS or weather-sealing on the RP, but measuring 132.5 x 85 x 70mm and weighing only 485g with card and battery, makes the Canon considerably lighter and smaller than the Nikon Z6, which will be of strong appeal to photographers searching for a more portable mirrorless solution to their heavier DSLRs.
The RP also features a 3-inch, touch-sensitive vari-angle LCD and a 2360k-dot resolution Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) and, unlike the Z6 which uses a XQD card, the RP uses a single SD card so if you’ve already invested in plenty of media, you won’t have to rush out and buy more storage. There are areas where each camera has a distinct advantage over its rival; for example, the Nikon has the edge when it comes to burst rate, offering 12 Frames Per Second (FPS), while the Canon can only offer 5FPS – that’s a good deal faster and may be enough to sway wildlife and sports photographers. However, the RP strikes back when it comes to autofocus, offering 4779 selectable AF-points, with the Z6 trailing behind on just 273.
Image quality: Both cameras are capable of delivering a high degree of image quality that should easily satisfy professional photographers. Thanks to the full-frame sensors, both cameras are able to offer large files, with the Z6 returning a max file size of 6048 x 4024 pixels and the RP serving up a slightly larger file size of 6240×4160 pixels.
Both cameras shoot in JPEG and RAW file formats and will be capable of making prints in excess of A3 size or enabling photographers to crop heavily without overly compromising image quality. Both cameras will also enable photographers to keep shooting in low light levels thanks to vast ISO levels – the Z6 has a native ISO of 100 to 51200, which can be expanded to 50-204800, while the RP has a slightly lower native (100-40000) and expanded ISO ceiling (50-102400).
Video: Along with amazing features for stills photography, both the RP and the Z6 have plenty to offer videographers, who may be looking for a lightweight mirrorless camera to shoot vlogs or short films. Each camera can shoot 4K video with the Z6 offering 30p and the RP 25p. Both cameras can shoot Full HD at 60p but only the Nikon offers support for a Full HD high frame rate mode so slow motion sequences can be created.
Both cameras offer ports for external mics and headphones so enhanced audio can be recorded and monitored. Given the limitation on the frame rates, more serious videographers will likely find more to be happy with from the Nikon Z6, but those who shoot more Vlogging-style content may prefer the RP for it’s vari-angle ‘selfie friendly’ touch-sensitive LCD.
Other features and verdict: Both of these cameras are hugely important models to their respective brands, so it should come as no surprise that they are well-stacked for features and functions. Both cameras offer features such as timelapse recording, Face Detection autofocus and built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to ensure users can connect the cameras to a smart device to swiftly transfer images or, alternatively, use the device to alter settings and trigger the camera’s shutter remotely.
|Canon RP||Nikon Z6|
|LCD||3-inch vari-angle||3.2-inch tilting|
|Video||4K at 25p||4K at 30p|
That said, there’s a fair few areas where there is a big difference between the Z6 and the more affordable RP, which is around £700 cheaper than the Z6, depending on where you are in the world. Along with the gap in price, the RP has no weather sealing and slower burst rate, whereas the RP offers more AF points. The Z6 also has a longer battery life (330 shots v 250 on a full charge) and a faster maximum shutter speed (1/8000sec v 1/4000sec). In reality, given the price difference, it is a little unfair to compare the cameras too heavily. It could be argued the Z6 is a professional-grade worktool, whereas the RP is more semi-pro. The more professional EOS R is a fairly big jump up from the RP and still only a few hundred dollars more than the Z6, yet supersedes the Z6 on most counts.
Both cameras will be appealing to photographers who already own a kit bag full of lenses for each DSLR system (F-mount and EF) as the adaptors created by Nikon and Canon will allow photographers to make use of their existing optics. Ultimately, while being closely matched on a huge number of features, the Z6 still has enough to pull ahead of the higher resolution RP, but the Canon definitely offers better value for money – giving more bang for your buck.