Although the EOS 1000D is made of bits from other cameras, they are pretty good bits and the result is a camera that performs well and is capable of producing good results. Like most DSLRs it starts up almost instantly, and its shooting performance is everything you’d expect from a Canon. It’s not quite as fast as the 450D, but with a continuous shooting speed of three frames a second it’s at least a match for the 400D, and also matches other entry-level models such as the Nikon D60 and Sony A200. It only really slows down in Raw mode, where shooting speed drops to approximately 1.5fps with a decent high-speed memory card, but can only shoot six frames before having to pause to empty the buffer.
The main autofocus system is also fast and accurate, and tracks well on moving subjects, but as with the 450D the basic contrast detection AF in live view mode is slow and cumbersome. In its default setup the live view AF is turned off, and you have to delve into the custom settings menu to turn this option on.
The exposure system is also generally good, although I did find that it had a tendency to over-expose in some circumstances, particularly burning out highlights on some high-contrast subjects. This can be corrected by using spot metering and exposure compensation, or by shooting in Raw mode and adjusting the exposure afterwards, but it was still slightly annoying when shooting on a sunny day.
The 1000D has a feature called Auto Lighting Optimiser, which is Canon’s version of the dynamic range compensation found on most current DSLRs and high-spec compacts. It is supposed to simulate a wider dynamic range by brightening shadows and darkening highlights, but to be honest it’s not terribly effective. It does preserve some highlight detail in high-contrast shots, but not much.
Where the EOS 1000D scores highly is in final image quality, and especially in image noise control. Canon’s CMOS sensor technology has a well-deserved reputation for having the best high-ISO performance currently available, and the 1000D does nothing to spoil it. As you’ll see from the sample shots, even at the maximum 1600 ISO image quality is superb, with a high level of detail and only a little visible noise in the darker areas of the shot. At lower settings there is almost no difference between shots taken at 100 ISO and at 400 ISO.
The Canon EOS 1000D is a difficult camera to judge. While it does have some good qualities, including decent performance and excellent image quality, it doesn’t really stand out against competing entry-level cameras from other brands. Its limited feature-set, slightly disappointing build quality and overall feeling of cheapness do it no favours, and the live view mode isn’t as useful as you might hope. If it comes down in price by at least £100 then it might be a better deal, but at the moment it’s not one that I’d recommend.