Almost three years on from its release, Canon has updated its entry-level DSLR with HD video, an improved sensor and greater ISO range. We put the Canon EOS 1100D to the test
Build and handling
Straight out of the box, the EOS 1100D has a distinctly entry-level feel. It is lightweight and made from what feels like a tough but low-density plastic, to keep costs down. Canon has done away with the textured handgrip of the EOS 1000D, and given the 1100D a shiny and smooth plastic finish all over. It remains a compact DSLR at 130x78x100mm and is just about the same size as its direct competition, although a shade larger than its predecessor. At 495g, it is a little heavier than the 1000D, too, but slightly lighter than other similar DSLRs on the market.
A pronounced handgrip helps the 1100D sit comfortably in the hand. Each button is large, labelled clearly, and good for beginners and those with big fingers. Most of the key functions have a designated button on the back of the body, all within thumb’s reach. These include ISO, white balance and drive mode. Three key buttons – quick menu, live view and exposure compensation – are handily placed at the top right of the screen, and these also double up as other functions. All the important manual controls are given a prime spot on the body, which should encourage the user to ‘discover’ them.
The quick menu button gives access to the key controls without having to trawl through the main menu. While in this menu, the shooting guide appears every time a new setting is selected to advise the user what it is for. This provides a second way of accessing the key controls and is easily navigated.
A shooting mode dial on the top accesses the usual exposure modes as well as a handful of standard scene modes, such as portrait, landscape and sports. These modes automatically set the exposure to achieve the best results, as does creative auto and the A-DEP option for automatic depth of field. Video shooting can also be found on the dial.
The crispness of detail captured by the kit lens in close-range subjects is impressive
Canon EOS cameras have had an easily navigated menu system for a while now, and current EOS users will be right at home here. As with the 60D and new 600D, the 1100D has a handy image-rating system in place: when images are imported to a computer, the star rating helps to organise files.
Instead of in-camera stabilisation, the 1100D relies on the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II kit lens. Another 18-55mm kit lens is available without stabilisation, but this restricts usable shutter speeds. With a steady hand, the 4EV stabilisation allows shutter speeds of around 1/10sec for sharp images.
The pop-up flash has a guide number of 9.2m @ ISO 100. For greater flash control and output, the 1100D is compatible with all Canon EF flashguns, which are connected via the hotshoe.
Those considering replacing their 1000D with this updated model should note that their current batteries will not work with the 1100D. It has a new battery type, which Canon claims will give 700 exposures on a full charge.
The company is making no bones about the 1100D’s target entry-level audience – the camera is small, lightweight, easily navigated and feels like a budget-price model.