Full-frame mirrorless cameras are still something of a novelty. Leica was the first manufacturer to go full frame with the M9 back in 2009. Sony came next with the A7 in 2013 and the two companies had it pretty much all their own way until last year when Nikon and Canon stepped into the arena. Both of these companies have two full-frame models to choose from and in the EOS RP and Z6, we have the cheaper option from each manufacturer. For those feeling more flush, see the Canon EOS R and Nikon Z7. So which of these lower-priced models is better for the photographer looking to drop the mirror, but retain full frame quality?
The Nikon is heavier and taller than the Canon, but physical size isn’t that different
Design and build
It would appear as though Canon has the better grasp of the benefits of a mirrorless design when you consider that the EOS RP is both smaller and lighter than the Z6. With battery and SD card on board, the Canon weighs just 485g, while the Nikon comes in at a more considerable 675g. In all honesty, there isn’t a huge variance in physical size. The Nikon is 15mm taller, but this is down to a pentaprism-style viewfinder design. Speaking of viewfinders, the Nikon has the edge here with a 3.68 million dot electronic finder compared to 2.36 million on the Canon.
Both models are weather sealed, so you can keep shooting in damp or dusty conditions, plus they also have well-sized grips. Top-plate layouts differ in that the Z6 features an LCD whereas Canon chose to fill top-plate real estate with a separate on/off switch. The back of the EOS features a vari-angle touchscreen LCD which is more versatile than the Nikon’s tilting offering, but the Z6’s screen does benefit from more dots – 2.1 million as opposed to 1.04 million on the Canon – so it should offer a greater level of detail.
If you’re counting pixels, the Canon provides the higher resolution
With full-frame sensors on board both models, image quality should be high irrespective of whether you choose the Canon or the Nikon. If you’re a numbers person, the Canon has the edge in terms of resolution with 26.2 megapixels compared to the Nikon’s 24.5. In practical terms, this means the EOS RP produces a maximum file size of 6240 x 4160 pixels while the Z6 delivers 6048 x 4024 files.
First blood in this respect to the Canon, then, but the Nikon counters with a wider native and expanded ISO range, plus a far superior frame rate. The EOS RP can shoot at a maximum of five frames-per-second (fps), or four fps if you want AF and AE tracking between each frame. The Z6, on the other hand, can capture images at up to 12 fps, or nine with AF and AE tracking. The faster frame rate may, in part, be down to the EXPEED 6 processor, but can also be attributed to the Nikon’s use of an XQD card which delivers superior write speeds. In terms of speed, the Nikon also has the superior top shutter speed of 1/8000sec (1/4000sec on the Canon) and syncs flash at a marginally faster 1/200sec (1/180sec on the Canon).
The pendulum swings back in favour of the Canon when it comes to autofocusing, though. Its Dual Pixel CMOS AF system is sensitive down to EV-5 (EV-2 on the Nikon) and the EOS RP also has 4779 user selectable focusing points, far more than the Z6’s 273.
As both models use a new lens mount, the dedicated lens range for either option is relatively limited at the moment. That said, both the Nikon and Canon accept optional adapters which allow you to attach DSLR mount lenses, vastly increasing optical options.
Both are good for video, but the Nikon has more advanced video functionality
The Nikon is likely to appeal to the more serious filmmaker. Both models feature 4K and Full HD capture, but while the EOS RP’s frame rates top out at 25P and 60P respectively, the Z6 musters up to 30P at 4K and 120P at Full HD.
The Nikon also offers 10-bit recording, which captures 4x more information than the Canon’s 8-bit recording capability. In addition, the Z6 provides more advanced videography features including Log capture for greater control in post production and timecoding. Both of these handy features are notably absent on the EOS RP. 4K time lapse movie functions are available on both cameras as are HDMI outputs, built in stereo microphones and a jack plug for external mics.
In-body 5-axis image stabilisation is available on both cameras which has benefits primarily for video shooting, but will also come in very handy for still picture takers. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth is also available on both cameras with dedicated apps available so you can shoot and share. The apps also enable you to take remote control of the cameras should you wish to.
One big surprise is the battery consumption by both models, which will come as a shock if you’re switching from a DSLR. Based on CIPA standards, the Canon will deliver a somewhat modest 250 images per charge – not great. The Nikon is better, but not by a huge margin, expect around 310 images per charge. A spare battery would be a worthwhile additional purchase for both models.
Battery performance isn’t great in either model, but the Nikon has the edge
If you like to shoot action or are more likely to use one of these two cameras to shoot video, the Nikon Z6 is the obvious choice here. Its use of a XQD card certainly pays dividends to keep up with the action, plus it helps to provide the Nikon with superior video functionality.
If these factors are less important, the Canon should come back into your thinking as it does offer marginally better resolution, a more versatile rear LCD and superior autofocusing. The EOS RP is also the cheaper of the two models, so you could get the Nikon Z6 body on its own or the Canon body with spare battery and lens adapter, plus still have some cash left over.
|Canon EOS RP||Nikon Z6|
|Resolution||26.2 megapixels||24.5 megapixels|
|Processor||DIGIC 8||EXPEED 6|
|ISO range||100-40,000 (expandable to 102,400)||100-51,200 (expandable 50-204,800)|
|Video||4K 25p/Full HD 60p||4K 30p/Full HD 120p|
|Rear LCD||Vari angle, 1.04m dots, touchscreen||Tilting, 2.1m dots, touchscreen|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth|
|Weight (body with battery and card)||485g||675g|
|Dimensions||132.5 x 85 x 70mm||134 x 100.5 x 67.5mm|