Internally, the 1100D is built around a 12-megapixel CMOS sensor and Canon’s 14-bit DIGIC 4 image processor. Combined, these enable the 1100D to shoot continuously at a maximum 3.2fps. Sensitivity stretches from ISO 100 to a very respectable ISO 6400.
The 1110D can record images as lossless 14-bit Raw files (in Canon’s .CR2 format) or as compressed JPEG files, or indeed both simultaneously. JPEGs further benefit from a choice of Fine or Regular quality, with the sensor able to output a maximum 4272 x 2848 pixels at the full 12MP resolution. This can, of course, be lowered to suit your requirements with options to record JPEG images at 6.3MP, 3.4MP, 2.5MP and 0.3MP, again with a choice of Fine or Standard quality.
The camera’s default aspect ratio is 3:2 and, somewhat unusually, there is no way to change this to any other aspect ratio prior to shooting. So if you do want your images to display in 1:1, 4:3 or 16:9 you’ll have to crop them post-capture using image editing software.
Metering uses the same 63-zone evaluative system that’s employed by the 600D with the option to switch between evaluative, backlit and centre-weighted metering modes. Oddly though, there’s no spot-metering option.
Autofocus is handled via a nine-point AF system that includes one cross-type sensor in the middle, with the other eight linear points arranged around in it in a diamond formation. AF points can be selected manually, or you can leave the camera to select its own focus points automatically. In addition, there are three AF modes to choose from: One-shot AF mode holds focus once the shutter button has been half-pressed, while AI Servo mode will automatically track a moving subject and keep it in focus. AI Focus mode, meanwhile, can automatically switch between the two.
As well as the standard selection of Program, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority and Manual shooting modes, the 1100D as has Fully Automatic, Forced Flash Off and five individual Scene modes: Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, Sports and Night Portrait. These regular shooting modes are complimented by two further shooting modes unique to Canon DSLR’s: Auto depth-of-field, and Creative Auto.
Auto depth-of-field mode is designed to keep multiple subjects in focus by measuring the distance from the nearest to the furthest and then calculating an aperture-shutter speed combination with just enough depth-of-field to keep them all sharp. In theory it’s a good idea, especially if you have a group of people at different distances all of whom you’d like to keep in focus. That said, you do need to exercise caution with it and keep a close eye on your ISO settings as the camera may choose a slower shutter speed than you can realistically shoot handheld. In addition, the camera doesn’t always choose the AF points that you want it to.
Creative Auto mode, meanwhile, is best described as a sort of halfway house between fully auto and more manual modes, with the 1100D allowing you to choose a ‘look’ for your photo and then allowing you to specify how much depth-of-field you want before making all the other calculations for you. As an easy-to-use creative mode it’s certainly useful, although we can’t really see how it helps beginners to learn the fundamentals of photography other than getting them to think about depth-of-field.
One feature that will almost certainly help DSLR newcomers, however, is the on-screen Feature Guide that, as per other Canon models with the same feature, displays a brief (i.e.- one sentence) description of the 1100D’s various shooting modes and settings as you navigate through them using either the mode dial or Quick Menu.
Sadly, the Feature Guide doesn’t extend into the main menu options, so there’s no hand-holding when it comes to things like explaining what the ‘Peripheral Illumination Correction’ feature does, or what the Auto Lighting Optimiser is. If you want to understand what these features do then you’ll have to read the manual.
The 1100D doesn’t get any of the Creative Filter effects available on the 600D, although you can choose from Canon’s now standard range of Picture Style options: Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Faithful, Monochrome, plus three user defined settings. These Picture Styles are used to define the amount of sharpness, contrast, saturation and suchlike applied to each image, allowing you to switch quickly between a rich, saturated colour palate for landscapes and a softer, muted look for portraits.
It’s possible to record high definition movies with the 1100D although you are limited to just two settings: 1280 x 720 at 30fps, or 1280 x 720 at 25fps – there’s no way to record movies at non-HD quality. It’s not possible to use autofocus while movies are being recorded either, meaning you have to adjust focus manually while recording is taking place. Sound is recorded in monaural via a microphone on the front of the camera and there’s no external microphone jack either.