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Canon EOS 1100D Digital SLR Review

Joshua Waller puts the Canon EOS 1100D through an expert test to see how this new camera performs.

|  Canon EOS 1100D (Rebel T3) in Digital SLRs
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The Canon EOS 1100D is Canon's entry level camera, and is the second camera to be introduced since the 1000D. As the 300D through to the 600D range improved over the years, Canon increasingly came under pressure from other entry level DSLR models, often priced at a lower level than the range, therefore Canon introduced a new entry level model, the 1000D nearly three years ago. 

The Canon EOS 1100D is also known as the (US) Rebel T3 and (Japan) Kiss X55

Canon EOS 1100D Features

  • 12-megapixel image quality
  • On-screen Feature Guide
  • Creative Auto and Basic+
  • HD video capture, 25, 30fps
  • ISO 100-6400 sensitivity
  • Wide-area 9-point AF system
  • 63-zone iFCL exposure metering
  • 6.8cm (2.7”), 230,000-dot screen
  • Use with all EF and EF-S lenses
How does the Canon EOS 1100D Digital SLR compare to the Canon EOS 600D? Here's a quick overview of both models, highlighting the main differences, with the highlighted green item being the best:

Canon EOS 1100D Canon EOS 600D
12mp CMOS 18mp CMOS
2.7 inch screen, 230k pixel 3.0 inch vari-angle screen, 1040k pixel
3.2fps JPEG, 2fps RAW 3.7fps (34 jpeg, 6 raw)
9 point focus 9 point AF 
1280 x 720, 30/25fps, 17min max 1080p 30/25/24fps, 29min max
ISO100-6400 ISO100-6400 extendable to 12,800
Pentamirror, 95% coverage, 0.80x magnification Pentamirror, 95% coverage, 0.85x magnification
700 shot battery life 440 shot battery life
129.9 x 99.7 x 77.9 mm 133.1 x 99.5 x 79.7 mm
495g including battery and memory card 570g including battery and memory card
Flash guide number 9.2 Flash guide number 13
£420 with non-IS kit lens £660 with IS kit lens

While we are at it, I thought it would be worth comparing the Canon EOS 1100D, Canon's entry level ~£400  camera, to Nikon's entry level ~£400 camera, the Nikon D3100, both aimed at the beginner or entry level market:

Canon EOS 1100D Nikon D3100
12mp CMOS 14.2mp CMOS
2.7 inch screen, 230k pixel 3.0 inch screen, 230k pixel
3.2fps JPEG, 2fps RAW 3fps (RAW + JPEG)
9 point focus 11 point AF 
1280 x 720, 30/25fps, 17min max 1080p 24fps video, 10min max
ISO100-6400 ISO100-3200 extendable to 6400, 12,800
Pentamirror, 95% coverage, 0.80x magnification Pentamirror, 95% coverage, 0.95x magnification
700 shot battery life 580 shot battery life
129.9 x 99.7 x 77.9 mm 124 x 96 x 74.5 mm
495g including battery and memory card 455g excluding battery and memory card
Flash guide number 9.2 Flash guide number 12
£420 with non-IS kit lens £420 with VR kit lens

For more details see our Nikon D3100 Digital SLR review.

The Canon EOS 1100D is available with the non-IS Canon EF-S 18-55mm kit lens or alternatively as an optical image stabilised Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS II.

The biggest appeal of buying an SLR or ILC (interchangeable lens camera), as the name suggests, is being able to change lenses, and the Canon series offers an excellent range of lenses, starting with the 50mm f/1.8 lens available for around £90 to the ultimate L series lens, the Canon EF 800mm f/5.6 L IS USM Lens priced at nearly £10,000 pounds.

The pop up flash is shown here, and automatically pops up when needed, or when you press the flash button.

Canon EOS 1100D Handling

Feel and build quality: The first thing I noticed when picking up the camera was that my trigger finger (index finger) didn't naturally rest on the shutter release. I noticed this every time someone else picked up the camera to take a photo as well. Everyone seemed to expect the button to be slightly closer to them. I don't know whether this was just a case of user error, smaller than normal hands, or whether the design takes a while to get used to. However, once over this first hurdle, I found the camera comfortable to use, although the body, despite being solidly built, didn't inspire confidence. The overall feel of the body was one of a budget plastic body.  The slightly rubberised / rubber coating to the hand grip and rear of the camera helped a little.

Ease of use: The live view button blends in with the rest of the buttons, whereas on the 600D the button is designed to stand out from the rest. The flash button also blends into the camera body - I tend to expect to find it to the left of the pop-up flash as per the 600D and other SLRs and ultra zoom cameras.

Menu systems: Canon has a logical well laid out menu system, with the shooting menus colour coded red, playback menus are colour coded blue, setup orange, and my menu is colour coded green. The my menu allows you to add all your favourite settings onto one page, so that you can quickly access the most regularly used settings. The camera also provides a quick explanation of each menu item, and this all adds up to make it a very easy menu system to use.

Battery life: The battery life of the 1100D is very good, allowing you to take over 700 shots before the battery will go flat thanks to the 7.4v 860mAh battery. I took over 700 shots and still the camera seemed to have a lot of life left in it. The camera battery is rated at 700 shots according to CIPA standards.

Speed: Here we've tested the 1100D and compared it to the 600D, to see if there is much difference in performance. We've also tested the camera in live view mode as this can dramatically affect focusing speed.

  Canon EOS 1100D Canon EOS 600D
Shutter response (SLR, Live) 0.1 0.1
Focus - wide, shutter response 0.2 0.2
Focus - telephoto, shutter response 0.25 0.25
Focus - live view (wide) 1.3-1.5* 1.3-1.5*
Switch on time - taking photo 0.3 0.35
Shot to shot - without flash 0.5 0.4-0.5
Shot to shot - with flash 0.6-0.7 0.6-0.7
Continuous shooting - JPEG 3.1fps 4fps (unlimited?)
Continuous shooting - JPEG with Flash 2fps 0.6-0.7 between shots
Continuous shooting - RAW 2fps 3fps (6 shots)

Testing on JPEG, Review off, live view off, flash off, unless otherwise stated. Thankfully the shutter response is still very quick in live view mode even though the focusing is much slower.

*These were the average results assuming the camera locked focus on the first attempt, if it failed, then it could easily add another second to the focusing time.

Canon EOS 1100D Performance

Exposure: Exposure is excellent, I took hundreds of photos and never had any concern about exposure, although occasionally I set the exposure compensation to -0.3 to help keep highlight detail in scenes of  contrast. The camera coped very well with these shots below, producing well exposed images with high levels of detail.

Wide Telephoto
Wide Telephoto

Focusing: Focusing is excellent, very quick, accurate, and successful, however using live view mode focusing is much slower and occasionally unsuccessful, and under trickier lighting situations best avoided.

Thoresby Hall Water
Thoresby Hall Thoresby Hall water

Colour reproduction is excellent, with accurate, rich colours, and excellent detail, thanks to extremely low noise levels.

Resolution: Example photos are shown below, click to view full size.

Wide Telephoto

The camera produces very detailed images, and despite the "low" resolution of only 12 megapixels. JPEG images can be up to 12mb in size, especially when particularly detailed with content like trees, while RAW (CR2) files can range from 13mb to 26mb. Slightly sharper results can be produced by sharpening, although images don't need much sharpening. You can alter the sharpness setting in the picture style menu (the options are sharpness, contrast, saturation, colour tone), however the default settings are very good.

Noise: Examples are shown below, click to view full size.

ISO100 ISO200 ISO400 ISO800
ISO1600 ISO3200 ISO6400  

ISO100 - ISO800 - Very low noise, smooth images, with excellent colour. ISO1600 is where you start seeing noise. ISO3200 more noise it noticeable, and there is some colour desaturation, but images are still very good. ISO6400 results are very good, however, black and white spots start appearing in images.

Additional Photo Features: The camera features "Auto lighting optimizer" with four settings: Off, Low, Standard, Strong. Here are some examples showing what this feature does:

Lighting off Lighting: Low
Off Low
Lighting: Standard Lighting: Strong
Standard Strong

The feature is similar to Nikon's D-Lighting or Olympus' Shadow adjustment technology and is designed to retain detail in the shadows and highlight areas of the image, and works well, although contrast does appear to drop slightly when using this mode.

Street photography Aston Martin
Waitress Aston Martin light

Picture style modes: The camera features several options for picture style, such as standard, portrait, landscape, neutral, faithful, monochrome, and three user defined options, where you can set the sharpness (0-7), contrast, saturation and colour tone (+/-4).

Type Cutlery
Type Cutlery

The camera does not feature any additional "creative" or artistic filters or editing options in camera, for that you will need to go to the 600D as that features playback editing of photos.

White balance: examples are shown below, click to view full size images.

AWB - Tungsten Tungsten - Tungsten
AWB - Fluorescent Fluorescent - Fluorescent

The camera's auto white balance and preset white balance settings are quite frankly excellent under these lighting conditions - I had to double check the EXIF data on the images to make sure I had actually changed to the presets. 

Flash performance:

Flash indoors Flash indoors
Flash group shot Flash group shot

The camera focuses well when subjects are in the middle of the frame, however, on the second shot the camera struggled to correctly identify the subjects and the focus is slightly off. Fortunately this is not a regular occurrence, and flash performance was very good lighting the subjects well without overexposing and the skin tones are particularly accurate. Red eye is also very low, and there is a good level of background light.

Macro performance:

Red flower Dandelion
Red flower macro Dandelion macro

Lens: For our test we used both the IS and newer IS II version of the kit lens, the Canon Zoom lens EF-S 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 IS lens, and the Canon Zoom lens EF-S 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 IS II kit lens. We found both lenses to be an excellent combination with the 1100D and 600D. Both lenses coped very well with macro subjects such as those shown above, and can give brilliant detail when used at the telephoto end of the lens, and is capable of pleasing bokeh. We did not test the non-IS kit lens so are unable to comment on the quality of images from that lens.


The video quality is good, and the video is recorded at 1280x720p, 30fps, with mono sound. There is no socket for an external mic.

Value for money:
The Canon EOS 1100D with non-IS kit lens is £420, or £498 with the IS kit lens, while the Nikon D3100 with VR kit lens costs £420, and features 14mp, 3fps shooting, 3inch screen, 11-point AF, full HD video, ISO12,800 etc.

Canon EOS 1100D Verdict

The Canon EOS 1100D delivers great image quality, with excellent noise levels, right upto ISO3200. It's not until ISO6400 that you start seeing noise artefacts, or hot black and white pixels. The colour produced in images is excellent with very rich colours, high levels of saturation and good contrast, sharpness, and tone. The options can be altered, although the default settings are good enough that you shouldn't need to alter this.

However the camera is designed to meet an entry level price point, and unfortunately, you can tell when you pick the camera up, it feels as though the body is made out of budget plastic. If you switch to RAW+JPEG shooting the continuous shooting speed drops to 2fps, discouraging users from shooting RAW with this camera, one of the key growth areas for entry level photographers. Live view focusing is also noticeably slower than the high speed focusing when used without live view, making it less appealing to use the live view mode.

The Canon EOS 1100D is a great entry level camera, and image quality is excellent, however I feel you get a much more well rounded package from other SLRs, especially as the entry level kit lens does not feature image stabilisation, and to get that feature you have to spend an extra £60-£70. If the price of the camera plus IS kit lens drops to match the competition, or if you already have a lens to use with the body then this camera is Recommended.

The Canon EOS 1100D delivers stunning image quality with exceptionally low noise.

Canon EOS 1100D Pros

Canon EOS 1100D Excellent image quality
Canon EOS 1100D Excellent colour reproduction
Canon EOS 1100D Extremely low noise
Canon EOS 1100D Excellent battery life
Canon EOS 1100D Brilliant JPEG output
Canon EOS 1100D Easy to use menu system

Canon EOS 1100D Cons

Canon EOS 1100D Only 2fps continuous shooting when set to RAW
Canon EOS 1100D Basic kit lens is not image stabilised, IS version costs more
Canon EOS 1100D Value for money could be better
Canon EOS 1100D Lacks sensor cleaning technology

PERFORMANCE Nikon Coolpix P500

Canon EOS 1100D: Specification

Price £420 with non-IS kit lens
Resolution 12.2mp
Sensor size APS-C
Sensor type CMOS
Max image size 4272x2848
Aspect ratio 3:2
Focusing system TTL-CT-SIR
Focus points 9 focus points
Focus type AI Focus
One Shot
AI Servo
Crop factor 1.6x
Lens mount EF, EF-S lenses
File types JPEG, RAW
ISO sensitivity ISO100-6400
Metering system 63-zone iFCL exposure metering
Metering types TTL full aperture metering with 63-zone SPC
(1) Evaluative metering (linked to all AF points)
(2) Partial metering at center (approx. 10% of viewfinder)
(3) Center weighted average metering
White Balance AWB, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten, White Fluorescent light, Flash, Custom.
White Balance Compensation 1. Blue/Amber +/-9, 2. Magenta/Green +/-9, Bracketing: +/-3 levels in single level increments, 3 bracketed images per shutter release. Selectable Blue/Amber bias or Magenta/ Green bias
Exposure compensation +/-5 EV in 1/3 or 1/2 stop increments (can be combined with AEB), AEB 3 shots +/- 2 EV, 1/2 or 1/3-stop increments
Shutter speed range 30-1/4000 sec (1/2 or 1/3 stop increments), Bulb (Total shutter speed range. Available range varies by shooting mode)
Frames-per-second 3.2fps JPEG, 2fps RAW
Flash sync speed 1/200sec
Image stabilisation Lens based (IS)
Movie Mode 1280x720, 30fps, 25fps, MOV (Video: H.264, Sound: Linear PCM), Max duration 17min, Max file size 4GB
LiveView Yes, 30fps
Viewfinder Pentamirror, approx 95% coverage, 0.80x magnification
Monitor 6.8cm (2.7”), 230,000-dot screen
Media type SD card, SDHC card or SDXC card
Interface Hi-Speed USB, Video output (PAL/ NTSC) (integrated with USB terminal), HDMI mini output (HDMI-CEC compatible)
Power 1 x Rechargeable Li-ion Battery LP-E1
Box contents Camera, Canon strap, LP-E1 battery, Software CD-ROM, Quick start manual, AC adapter.
Size Approx. 129.9 x 99.7 x 77.9 mm
Weight Approx. 495g including battery and memory card

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Canon EOS 1100D (Rebel T3) SEARCH

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Photographs taken using the Canon EOS 1100D (Rebel T3)

Making Apple Pizza with a friendCircularOn the red wallMarks on the windowCosmosReflections in the bedpostsBlindsFlowers and ringsScarecrowAll heads bowedWindows in my glassIn the rainLarge tomato - Cuore Di BueIn the Lickey HillsAutumn flowering crocus

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The Canon EOS 1100d is a good all round camera for general use it is light to carry and the picture quality is excellent
First of all thanks a lot! Your website is very helpful, but since i want to buy a camera as a gift for my friend i still have problems. He now has a semiprofessional olympus but he is really not happy! I think his major problem is the brightness and color! I want to surprise him with a new proper camera but u see here is the problem: i have no idea about cameras! I have just like 500$!! Nikon or canon?! 1100d? 600d? Lots of people are saying that 1100d is good enough for beginners! I don't want sth like that! Please sb help me...
My favorite camera
but prob is price
It's not cheap so I can't buy itSad
We would like to buy a canon DSLR EOS 1100D, as we need to take some high res pics for an Expo we will be attending. Question: if we take a few pics and we blow it up to Poster or Banner size will be loose resolution on the pictures with this camera.


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