The Canon EOS 1000D (Rebel XS in the US) is Canon's smallest, lightest and cheapest entry-level DSLR to date.
However, with newcomers like Samsung and Sony competeing against established brands such as Canon and Nikon for a slice of the entry-level market, DSLRs have been driven down in price and are now cheaper than ever before. Unfortunately for Canon, this means it’s no longer the most affordable option.
But Canon has taken note, and its response is the Canon EOS 1000D (Rebel XS in the US). As the smallest, lightest and cheapest DSLR it has launched so far, Canon is targeting the model at compact and cameraphone owners tempted by the thought of a DSLR but who are yet to make the transition.
Canon EOS 1000D review – Features
Canon 1000D review – Headline Specs
If comparing specifications side
by side, you’ll see that the EOS 1000D sits neatly between the 400D and
450D. It admittedly shares more in common with the latter model, though the headline spec – namely the 10.1MP CMOS sensor and 2.5in LCD screen – have remained from the 400D. And while the 1000D doesn’t technically replace the 400D, Canon has said that its arrival corresponds with the latter model’s discontinuation. With the APS-C sensor measuring 22.2 x 14.8mm, all mounted lenses are subject to a crop factor of 1.6x. The 18-55mm kit lens, therefore, produces an effective range of approximately 29-88mm, with the mount accepting Canon’s EF and EF-S range of optics. Impressively there’s no loss of functionality, even when using the oldest EF lenses.
EOS 1000D review – Maximum Image Size
A pixel configuration of 3888 x 2592 pixels allows for images to be printed – theoretically at least – to 13 x 8.5in at 300dpi, though experience shows that larger prints up to and above A3 are also attainable. Images are stored in either Raw or JPEG formats, or a combination of the two, with three JPEG sizes and three compression ratios to choose from.
Canon EOS 1000D test – Processing & Metering
Keeping processing in line with most recent Canon DSLRs, the camera features the company’s DIGIC III processing technology. This is said to help reduce noise in images and maintain a swift operational speed, and helps the camera to maintain a JPEG burst mode of up to 3fps, up to the capacity of the memory card. In Raw capture this rate drops to 1.5fps, up to a maximum of five images.
A 35-zone metering system offers evaluative, partial, and centreweighted average options, though the 450D’s option of spot metering hasn’t been included here. Likewise, the Highlight Tone Priority option has also been omitted from the Custom Functions menu, though the Auto Lighting Optimiser has remained. Its purpose is in correcting brightness and contrast in either low-contrast images, those subject to trickier lighting conditions such as backlighting, or where insufficient flash, if used, has reached the subject.
Canon EOS 1000D review – AF System
Focusing features a seven-point wide-area system, with five horizontal points along the middle of the frame, and one each above and below these. The system features one f/5.6 cross-type centre point and is linked to a trio of focusing options to cater for both stationary and moving subject matter.
Autofocus operation is also possible when using the camera’s live view mode, with the choice of Quick and Live focusing options. As its name suggests, the Quick mode is the zappier of the two, though a short mirror blackout is necessary for the camera to autofocus. The Live mode, meanwhile, allows an uninterrupted view of the camera focusing, but as it uses contrast rather than phase detection it’s noticeably slower – the reason being that focusing is performed off the camera’s main imaging sensor, rather than the dedicated AF sensor with which ‘standard’ autofocusing is carried out.
Canon 1000D test – Rear LCD
An LCD screen measuring 2.5 inches sits on the back of the camera, and features the 230,000 dot resolution that is standard for this type of model. Its brightness may be adjusted over seven levels to compensate for awkward lighting conditions, and the display may be customised to one of four colour themes – perfect for the young and trendy, or indeed, the not so young for whom different text and background combinations may be easier to read than others.
Canon EOS 1000D review – Sensitivity Range
Finally, the camera’s sensitivity range may be adjusted in full-stop increments over a range of ISO 100-1600. This range is admittedly a little limited by current standards, though Canon has stressed that this is for performance’s sake. In other words, it’s happy enough with results at ISO 1600, but obviously not past this.
Given the tried and tested formula from which the 1000D stems, it’s no surprise that it appears on the whole as a refined DSLR. The crux is, of course, image quality, and the 1000D delivers, with low noise levels, impressive detail capture and the best Canon kit lens yet. Where it fails, though, is with its ergonomics and the fact that its stripped-down feature set is eclipsed by much cheaper offerings.
So, is the EOS system still the best choice for the consumer? In some respects, yes, especially if you take advantage of its extensive lens options and need a good, general-purpose DSLR. Canon shouldn’t be resting on its laurels, though; Olympus has the smallest DSLR and lenses, Sony has the most advanced live view technology and these are factors that have found a popularity all of their own. Nevertheless, as a model in its own right it performs well, and once it falls in value we imagine its positive traits should be enough to make it another successful model for Canon.
Image Quality & Value
Canon EOS 1000D review – Image Quality
EOS 1000D review – Raw and JPEG
It’s unreasonable to expect perfect JPEGs from any camera, though there’s quite a difference between Raw and JPEG files from the 1000D. On the plus side, highlights are generally tamed well in JPEGs, giving them a little more detail. There are times, however, when detail is poorly resolved. Fortunately, the bundled Digital Photo Professional software does an excellent job in handling files from the camera and boasts a range of tools to deal with removing lens artifacts among other things.
Canon EOS 1000D test – Exposure
The 35-zone evaluative metering system is aggressively accurate, with only scenes dominated by highlights causing it to underexpose. The lack of spot metering made close-up macro shots slightly more difficult to predict in terms of judging exposure, though partial metering performed well in these circumstances.
Canon 1000D test – Image Noise
As with the 450D, and indeed previous EOS models, the lack of noise in high-sensitivity images is something of which Canon can stand proud. Images at the highest sensitivity of ISO 1600 show just a modicum of chroma noise in midtone areas, with detail and sharpness maintained to an impressive degree, and colour representative of the same image were it shot at a lower sensitivity. Even if the model doesn’t represent the best value as an overall package, it wins hands-down over the competition with regards to higher-sensitivity shooting.
Canon 1000D review – Tone and Contrast
In natural light with the appropriate white balance tonality is also good, though issues occur indoors with other lighting sources.
Canon EOS 1000D review – Colour and White Balance
Colour is generally good and the various Picture Styles lend themselves well to different subjects and conditions. Given that each white balance preset (aside from the auto and manual options) is calibrated to one particular colour temperature, there are times when using the correctly assumed setting will result in a slight colour cast. This makes the reliability of the Auto WB system even more of an issue, and on the whole the system is fairly accurate. The most challenging conditions to the system are artificial lighting, with images at times turning out with a warm bias under both tungsten and fluorescent lighting. Side-by-side comparison with images from the 40D shows that the 1000D does display greater neutrality.
Canon EOS 1000D test – Sharpness and Detail
Images, on the whole, are detailed and show good sharpness. JPEGs can appear quite soft though, particularly in comparison with the standard of Raw files, though even with the kit lens acceptably sharp results can be had. I’d recommend against adjusting the sharpening in-camera too much, as edge haloing can make itself known at higher settings, or alternatively to leave files to post-processing.
Canon EOS 1000D review – Value For Money
Too Little Too Late
Unfortunately, with regards to value for money it’s a case of too little too late. Had Canon released this model towards the start of the year, its slight fall in value would have pitched it better towards the competing models which have already enjoyed a good six months or so on the market. The fact that it hasn’t makes it comparatively expensive, even more so now that equivalent offerings from Olympus and Sony (incidentally, those with Canon’s omitted features such as spot metering and dynamic range adjustment) can be had for around £300. I appreciate Canon marketing this as a small, lightweight and easy-to-use model, but even if just compared with its own EOS line, I find it hard to recommend it over the 450D that is equally simple to use and better specified, and so providing more growing room in terms of its feature set – for no additional outlay
Design & Performance
Canon EOS 1000D review – Design
Canon 1000D review – Similarities between 1000D and 450D
Just as the EOS 1000D’s specifications follow the same lines as the 450D, its design centres on the same general idea. In terms of its chassis, internal construction and external control arrangement very little separates them, though the few alterations do make a difference worth noting.
The camera is constructed from a stainless steel frame inside a plastic body, with a slightly textured plastic grip. At first, it feels as though the grip is in some way rubberised but closer inspection reveals it to be simply a slightly different plastic. There’s no rubber thumb rest on the rear, meaning that the majority of the body’s surface area is of the same semi-matt plastic finish. Together with the general lack of contouring (such as with the LCD screen and power switch seen on the 450D), there’s little to offset the relative blandness of the camera’s body. The grip is a little shallow for larger hands, though the camera’s general construction is good and it feels no less solid because of these factors.
Canon EOS 1000D review – Ease to Carry
Being the lightest digital EOS model, it’s no surprise that carrying the camera around with the standard kit lens presents little inconvenience. This is undoubtedly one of the biggest bonuses of the camera, together with its small size, and no doubt will make it appeal to every demographic.
Canon 1000D test – Viewfinder
This smaller overall size results in the pentamirror viewfinder chamber being a touch smaller than that on the 450D, though it’s a little larger than the 400D‘s and so in keeping with its hierarchy in the EOS range. It has, however, been made brighter by the use of a silver coating rather than aluminium on the surfaces, Canon claims. A further minor difference from the 450D is that the infrared sensor on the grip isn’t present here. Neither is the proximity sensor below the viewfinder, and though this is beneficial with regards to battery life it’s not vital.
Canon EOS 1000D review – Performance
Canon 1000D review – Menu Woes
Let us get our main gripe out of the way first: the menu system. Its various issues are relatively minor, though collectively they make for an obstacle-laden shooting experience. Card formatting, for example, is in a separate maintenance menu tab from sensor cleaning, which itself sits within a separate menu tab from firmware updating. The first menu tab, meanwhile, features lesser-used functions such as the ‘shooting without a card’ option and whether or not you want the camera to beep once it has correctly focused. Surely this is a little odd? These two features in particular strike us as options that would be more at home in the Custom Functions menu, rather than the first options you come across upon entering the menu. Also, now that live view has positioned itself as a significant feature with its own range of options and customisations, would it not make sense to have all its options under one ‘live view’ tab?
Canon EOS 1000D review – LCD Clarity
Despite this the LCD screen presents itself with good clarity, even though it’s a little small and shares the same resolution as almost all other DSLRs. No LCD screen is perfect and in bright light at its default setting it’s not the most contrasty either, but it’s still one of the better LCD screens around and one which befits a DSLR at this price.
Canon 1000D test – 7-Point AF System
This continues to the AF system, which with seven points and a cross-hair centre point makes it stand out from its peers. A lot of people don’t tend to call upon the more outwardly located points all too often, but it’s nice to have the option should you need it. In terms of the system’s sensitivity and speed, the camera does well when tracking objects in its AI Servo focusing mode and focusing in general is also well-paced. The only exception it seems is with the top and bottom points, which are fine against detailed subject matter but disappointingly insensitive and slow otherwise.
Canon 1000D review – SD Memory Buffer
On the subject of speed, while SD-owning compact users benefit from not having to switch media we did note that with standard speed SD memory cards (those with no particular speed designation, a cheap and therefore popular option for compact camera owners) there was often the occasion where the buffer’s clearance prohibited us from taking pictures in quick succession. This is particularly the case with simultaneous Raw and JPEG recording, and even when not shooting as fast as to warrant using the continuous burst mode. With even the faster-performing SD media available now for peanuts, it’s one investment we’d recommend.
Canon EOS 1000D review – Kit Lens
On a different note, it’s nice to see that Canon has addressed the issues associated with the earlier version of its kit lens, and we were pleasantly surprised with how well it generally performs. What’s more, its image stabilisation system is effective, and on the odd occasion we managed to shoot right up to the promised four-stop advantage over non-stabilised optics. There are just a few issues: barrelling at the wide end, a little fringing (though no more than is expected) and some slight edge and corner softness. Other than that, its performance is hard to fault.