Overall image quality from the 1100D and 18-55mm IS kit lens is very good. For all the minor misgivings we may have listed above, it still produces the same consistently high levels of image quality that other, more expensive, Canon DSLR models do and for this it’s hard to fault.
The EF-S 18-55mm IS II kit lens that usually comes bundled with the 1100D is the latest version that was released at the start of the year. The main difference over the old version is that the new lens offers an extra stop of Image Stabilisation, increasing its camera shake-reducing capabilities from three stops to four.
The 18-55mm IS kit lens offers a good degree of corner-to-corner sharpness and is more than adequate for most everyday photographic purposes. We didn’t notice the kit lens producing any undue amounts of chromatic aberration either, with only occasional examples of purple fringing visible on high-contrast borders.
The great thing about buying into the Canon DSLR system with a camera like the 1100D is that it opens up a veritable treasure chest of lenses and accessories to choose from at a later date. If you’re new to DSLR photography then rest assured that once you’ve outgrown the kit lens, you’ll be spoilt for choice as to your next optic.
Metering is well controlled and consistent, although it’s worth noting that even with the camera set to evaluative mode, the metering system does tends to favour light levels immediately around the active focus points. There’s no AE/AL Lock button to help get round this either, although a dab of AV compensation can usually help out.
Colour is very much dependent on the choice of Picture Style, but we’re generally big fans of the bold, vibrant colours produced by Canon DSLRs and the 1100D is no exception. Used on the Automatic White Balance setting we found the 1100D perfectly capable of selecting an appropriate colour temperature in a whole range of situations, from bright sunlight outdoors to artificial tungsten light indoors.
Low light performance also impresses, with the 1100D able to deliver perfectly usable results right up to its maximum sensitivity setting of ISO 6400, so long as you’re not pixel peeping that is. The camera does an especially good job in the mid ranges too, with ISO 400 to ISO 1600 delivering very good image quality that remains perfectly usable even when viewed at 100%.
The EOS 1100D is a competent entry-level DSLR that currently offers the cheapest way into the Canon DSLR system. Fairly easy to use and able to produce consistently good image quality there isn't much that's inherently wrong with the 1100D. Yes, the shiny plastic finish doesn't score highly in the style stakes and the small, low-resolution LCD monitor isn't much of a selling point either, however the camera itself remains solid enough. If you're a first-time DSLR buyer and really want to get on board with Canon then it may well be worth saving up a bit more and lavishing it on the 550D - it might be a year older, but for the extra £100 or so, it's also quite a bit more camera. If your budget can't stretch that far then the 1000D remains a decent enough camera to learn the ropes with.