User-friendly DSLR suitable for novices, with a few build and feature compromises
The EOS 1100D follows on from the 1000D as Canon’s budget digital SLR aimed, like the Nikon D3100, at those trading up from a compact camera for the first time.
The Canon has a distinctly plastic-y grey outer shell, chunky dimensions and large and obvious buttons, a combination that makes it look and feel slightly toy-like when you first pick it up to attach the provided kit lens. This is an upgraded 18-55mm ‘IS’ II zoom with built in image stabilisation (28.8 to 88mm equivalent in 35mm terms). While the plastic-y feeling doesn’t totally go away, with lens attached the 1100D feels much more solid and proper, weighing 495g without.
Canon EOS 1100D Features
Canon, like Nikon, doesn’t feature sensor shift stabilisation built into the body (unlike Pentax, Sony et al), so a lens with anti shake to prevent blur when shooting handheld, in lower light, or towards the telephoto end of the zoom, is a distinct advantage, here providing the equivalent to 4 stops extra.
Whilst the Canon’s handful-like 129.9x99.7x77.9mm dimensions will be an aid to those with larger paws who hate small fiddly controls, with space for almost four fingers to curl comfortably around its grip. If you want shoot-from-the-hip portability a compact system camera like Panasonic’s G3 could also be worth considering.
Still, this one also has price in its favour. Recommended body only cost for the EOS 1100D is an affordable £419, whilst the combo that adds our test lens retails for £499, making for the best value all round.
Canon EOS 1100D Controls
Controls here are big and obvious, though the chocolate Rolo-sized shooting mode dial seems a little busy for a starter model. It has a dizzying 14 options crammed around its circumference. Here we get the creative control offered by program, aperture priority, shutter priority and manual modes, plus a handful of subject optimised shooting functions and the helping hand of full auto and ‘creative’ auto.
With a press of the button marked ‘Q’ on the backplate, in creative mode users can switch from the standard default setting to vivid, soft, intense, warm, cool, brighter, darker or monochrome settings.
Overall the 1100D may be big and bold, with a thin rubber coating aid grip at front and back, but it’s remarkably unthreatening once you’ve spent five minutes poking and prodding away.
Canon EOS 1100D Screen
At 2.7-inches in size the fixed rear plate LCD on the EOS 1100D is large enough to enable it to be adequately used with live view. Resolution is a so-so 230k dots however, and the screen’s not large enough to totally distract from the optical viewfinder sitting above however, which provides an alternative traditional means of composing shots on an SLR.
Alternatively the EOS 600D thats sit just above the 1100D in the range, adds a vari-angle LCD.
Offering 95% frame coverage, the viewfinder here is large and clear, AF point/s illuminated (with nine for the camera to choose from dotted around the central area of the frame) when the shutter release button is squeezed halfway. Incidentally, although it’s the beginner model, the EOS 1100D purportedly uses the same 63-zone metering system as Canon’s semi pro and rather magnificent EOS 7D, so we’re expecting even results.
Canon EOS 1100D Speed
The EOS 1100D powers up from cold in just over a second, a second later and you can be taking your first shot. A full resolution JPEG is committed to memory in approximately two seconds, an alternative uncompressed Raw file a second longer. Although this is an entry model, we didn’t feel we were kept waiting.
The 12.2 megapixel APS-C sized sensor at the heart of the EOS 1100D may not sound over burdened with pixels compared to the 16MP and 18MP models further up the range, but as less pixels can equal less noise - and 12 million pixels is plenty for most of us - this isn’t always a bad thing.
High speed burst shooting at up to three frames per second is further offered (standard spec for a beginner model) whilst light sensitivity starts out at ISO 100 and tops out at a reasonable ISO6400, what we’d expect at the entry level.
Canon EOS 1100D Battery
The EOS 1100D features a chunky rechargeable lithium ion LP-E10 battery that slots into the base of the handgrip, adjacent to which is a vacant port for SD media card. Fine though that is, we’d have preferred a media slot at one side, as we had to remove the camera from a tripod to get at the card.
The battery life meanwhile is good for 700 pictures from a full charge, which is very good indeed, being three times the duration of some alternatives (such as Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-G3). So there’s the opportunity here to leave that charger at home for the short break holiday.
Canon EOS 1100D Pictures and video
Being an entry-level model the 1100D’s video capability unsurprisingly and forgivingly falls short of the Full HD, at the lesser 720p.
The camera doesn’t offer full time auto focus in this mode, so if you do zoom in or out whilst filming, manual focusing is required to help out. Maximum clip duration is a short of class leading 17 minutes; again not class leading but enough for most of us. HDMI output is provided under a side flap for hooking up the camera to a flat panel TV.
In terms of still images, the 1100D will please anyone looking to up their game. Though we find the Canon’s default colour setting a little subdued, choosing the likes of vivid mode adds some needed contrast and saturation. Shame then that this setting has to be reset if the camera is subsequently turned off, although that doesn’t appear to be the case when selecting the likes of ISO in Program mode, which is retained.
Though detail is softer and noise/grain visible in shadow areas at maximum ISO 6400 setting we were still able to achieve usable results, but stick to ISO 1600 or below to be on the safe side. And while the kit lens could perhaps be sharper this is true of almost any kit lens. We were able to get some lovely close ups with nicely defocused backgrounds nonetheless.
Canon EOS 1100D Verdict
If you really are something of a novice, then a less chunky compact system camera with interchangeable lens might be a better way to go initially. However if you’re looking further ahead and considering the 1100D as a possible first step in the adoption of the larger and more expansive Canon system, with a view to trading upwards in a couple of years, then this EOS begins to resemble a sound and sensible purchase option. OK, so the headline spec may not be up there with the best of the best, but the value added price reflects that and will enable you to be up and shooting more professional looking pictures quicker than you might think.
Canon EOS 1100D price: £360-£410 body only; £420-£460 kit
Canon EOS 1100D launch date: Out now, link Canon
Canon EOS 1100D Specs:
- Sensor: 12.6 megapixel 22.2x14.7mm APS-C CMOS sensor
- Lens: 18-55mm IS II zoom on test
- Screen: 2.7-inches, 230,000 resolution
- Viewfinder: Pentamirror 95%
- Stabilisation: Mega OIS
- Video: 1280x720 pixels at 29.97 fps
- Storage: SD, SDHC or SDXC media card
- Battery: 700 shots per charge
- Connections: USB 2.0, AV out, mini HDMI port
- Dimensions/Weight:129.9x99.7x77.9mm, 495g (with battery and card)