It’s unusual to think of a Canon camera being the plucky upstart to the established order, but that’s exactly the challenge faced by the EOS RP. Canon – a company that has spent much of the last few decades being the established order – is now playing catch up as it has arrived so late to the top-end mirrorless party that Sony has had plenty of time to establish itself in the market. The A7III, as its name suggests, is the third incarnation of the company’s original full frame mirrorless model launched in 2013 so, theoretically, they’ve had ample time to iron out any issues. The EOS RP, on the other hand, is in its infancy and represents only the second full frame mirrorless model Canon has ever produced. But which model is better? We compared the two to find out.
Design and build
If you want your mirrorless full frame camera to be lightweight, then the Canon is sure to appeal. For a full frame model it is a true featherweight, with the body tipping the scales at just 485g including battery and memory card. The Sony is hardly on overweight lump by comparison, but it weighs 650g with battery and card on board. Physically, there’s not a great deal between the two models. The Canon is wider, but the Sony is both taller and marginally thicker, you can only really tell these differences with the two models side by side.
What’s even more impressive about the Canon’s low weight is that the body is weather sealed and it has a vari-angle touchscreen LCD with 1.04 million dots. The A7III body can repel dust and moisture as well, but it has a slightly more limited tilting touchscreen LCD that also uses fewer pixels – 921,600 to be precise – to display menus and images. Parity is restored when it comes to viewfinders, however. Both are electronic, both offer a 100% field of view and both use 2.36 million dots.
Naturally, with both models sporting full frame sensors, you would expect image quality to be high but it’s the Canon that has the edge when it comes to resolution. The EOS RP delivers a 26.2 megapixel file measuring up to 6240 x 4160 pixels, while the Sony provides a 24.2 megapixel offering with more modest 6000 x 4000 pixel dimensions.
However, it’s at this point as you leaf through the respective specification lists that the news starts to get less promising for the Canon as, once you get past the resolution aspect of the RP’s particulars, the Sony has it beaten. This starts with ISO, which is wider on the A7III both in terms of native and expandable settings, and continues into a number of other significant areas, all of which have an impact on image quality.
The Sony, for example, offers a wider choice of metering options, has a faster top shutter speed of 1/8000sec and, perhaps most significantly, offers a vastly superior continuous shooting capability. Whereas the RP tops out at 5 frames-per-second (fps) shooting, which drops to 4fps if you want AF and AE tracking between frames, the Sony will deliver 10fps with AF and AE tracking. This makes it the clear choice for those wanting to capture fast-moving sports and action. The Sony’s sensor is also back illuminated, which means that low light performance should be enhanced along with general image sharpness.
The Canon does restore some credibility in terms of autofocusing with a system that is sensitive down to an impressive EV-5 (EV-3 on the Sony) and offers a mind-boggling 4779 individually selectable autofocusing points. It makes the Sony’s 693 points seem somewhat modest in comparison.
Of course, body specs aren’t the only significant factor when it comes to image quality – the lens you attach to the body is just as important. In this respect the Sony, as the more established system, holds the advantage. The compatible E-mount lens range currently comprises over 40 lenses, while the Canon’s RF mount range is still in single figures; more are promised by the end of 2019. You can, however, use EF and EF-S lenses on the EOS RP with an optional adapter, something which is also possible on the A7III if you want to use Sony A-mount optics.
With a pedigree in video, it’s probably not surprising that the Sony is the superior model for shooting movies. Both cameras offer 8-bit output only and have 5-axis in-body image stabilisation systems to help deliver smoother handheld footage, but the A7III offers 4K at 30p and Full HD at 120p compared to the RP’s 4K at 25p and Full HD at 60p.
Additionally, the Sony also offers more advanced features such as Log capture, timecode and a zebra function; the sort of features that are more likely to appeal to a professional videographer. The Canon, by comparison, is more likely to suit the occasional video shooter or the vlogger who can take advantage of the more versatile LCD.
Dual card slots on the A7III gives a greater and more versatile shooting capacity than the single slot EOS RP, a fact which is further underlined by the respective battery lives of the two models. Based on CIPA standards the Canon delivers a rather poor 250 shots per charge, whereas the Sony offers a far more healthy 710 frames. The A7III also has the added bonus of offering an optional vertical grip that holds two batteries for even longer shooting time. No such accessory is currently available for the Canon.
If wireless connectivity is your thing, the Sony offers Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC connections, while the Canon has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth only.
If you’re an existing Canon user looking to make the move to mirrorless, you have a tricky decision. The price difference between the RP and A7III is large enough to ensure that you could stay brand loyal, buy an extra battery for the RP, the lens adapter to keep using your existing lenses and still have change left over from the price of the A7III body alone. But we’d only really recommend this path if you were happy with the specs on offer from the Canon.
For anyone else considering these two models, the Sony is the obvious choice. It’s a more established system with a wider lens range and a more versatile specification, particularly if you want to shoot action and video.
|Canon EOS RP||Sony A7III|
|Resolution||26.2 megapixels||24.2 megapixels|
|Price (body only)||£1159||£1499|
|Processor||DIGIC 8||Bionz X|
|ISO range||100-40,000 (expandable 102,400)||100-51,200 (expandable 50-204,800)|
|Video||4K at 25p, Full HD at 60p||4K at 30p, Full HD at 120p|
|Rear LCD||Vari angle, 1.04m dots, touchscreen||Tilting, 921,600 dots, touchscreen|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC|
|Weight (body with battery and card)||485g||650g|
|Dimensions||132.5 x 85 x 70mm||126.9 x 95.6 x 73.7mm|