Canon EOS 1000D / Rebel XS

Canon EOS 1000D / Rebel XS verdict


When Canon first announced the EOS 450D / Rebel XSi in January 2008, most assumed it would be the natural successor to the best-selling EOS 400D / Rebel XTi, but the older model was kept on as an entry-level proposition. Then in June 2008 Canon announced the EOS 1000D / XS as its new entry-level DSLR and the true successor to the 400D / XTi.

The EOS 1000D / XS shares several key aspects in common with its predecessor, most notably the 10.1 Megapixel CMOS sensor which continues to deliver excellent results – indeed in our tests with the default settings, the output was sometimes preferable to the 450D / XSi. The screen on the new body is also the same size as the 400D / XTi, although now brighter with a wider viewing angle. The body shape has additionally been refined and it’s now the lightest DSLR from Canon to date, while also adopting the 450D / XSi’s switch to SD memory and a new battery. But the major improvements over the 400D / XTi are support for Live View and the standard bundling of an Image Stabilised lens.

The Live View implementation on the 1000D / XS is identical to the 450D / XSi, and as such it won’t win any contests on speed of operation nor does it have a flip-out screen for flexible composition, but you do get technical benefits including 100% coverage, magnified manual focus assistance, a contrast-based AF option and both a live histogram and alignment grid. You can also see the live feed on your computer monitor over a USB cable with the supplied EOS Utility software, which additionally allows you to fully remote-control the camera and even focus the lens.

The bundled kit lens is the same EF-S 18-55mm IS model that’s standard with the 450D / XSi (although ours came from a different factory), and in our tests this time round the Image Stabilisation delivered a useful four stops of compensation.

Canon EOS 1000D / Digital Rebel XS - rear view

So both the key upgrades over the 400D / XTi work well and will appeal to new buyers. But the 1000D / XS is not just a 400D / XTi with Live View and anti-shake facilities – in some respects, it’s actually less. Continuing an annoying trend in DSLRs these days, Canon has downgraded a number of aspects from the earlier model. The AF system on the 1000D / XS has seven points to the nine of the 400D / XTi. The remote sensor in the grip and eye sensors below the viewfinder are also missing on the new model. And while faster processing means you can now shoot JPEGs continuously until you run out of memory, continuous RAW performance has dropped to a mere 1.5fps for just five frames.

This downgrading is done both to reuse older parts and provide greater differentiation with the next models up, which in the 1000D / XS’s case is the 450D / XSi. The strategy is greatly annoying to reviewers, owners of previous models or anyone who closely follows camera specifications. After-all, a new model should only add new features to the old one, not remove them.

But when evaluating a camera like the 1000D / XS, you have to consider its target audience who may not be familiar with its predecessor, nor care that much about what’s now missing or downgraded. The important facts for first-time DSLR buyers are that the new entry-level Canon has 10 Megapixels, Image Stabilisation, Live View and more AF points than many of its rivals – and crucially that all of it works well in practice.

It is however important to compare the specifications and features against the competition, not to mention the next model up in the range along with the one which came before it, so before our final verdict, here’s how the 1000D / XS measures-up.

Compared to Canon EOS 400D / Rebel XTi

Compared to Canon EOS 400D / Rebel XTi

We’ll start with the EOS 400D / XTi, the camera it replaces to become the new entry-level DSLR in Canon’s range. The 400D / XTi shares the same core specifications as the new model with the same 10.1 Megapixel resolution, same 3fps continuous shooting (for JPEGs anyway) and same sized 2.5in 230k pixel monitor (although it’s now brighter on the 1000D / XS and sports a wider viewing angle).

The major benefit of the EOS 1000D / XS over its predecessor is Live View, and there’s also the option to buy it in a kit with the latest stabilised EF-S 18-55mm IS lens. Both aspects equip the 1000D / XS with the key new features many buyers are asking for. Beyond this, the new model is 60g lighter with a redesigned body which now takes a different battery and SD memory cards.

The older 400D / XTi does retain a few advantages over the new model though: it sports a 9-point AF system over the 1000D / XS’s 7-point system, a built-in IR remote sensor on its grip, eye sensors which switch the screen off when using the viewfinder, and it can maintain its 3fps continuous shooting rate for RAW files, whereas the 1000D / XS drops to 1.5fps. To be fair though, the 1000D / XS can shoot JPEGs until the card is full, whereas its predecessor stopped at around 27. The 1000D / XS also has a dedicated ISO button and displays the ISO value at all times in the viewfinder.

Unless these minor differences are critical to you though, the decision for new buyers really boils down to whether you want Live View and a stabilised kit lens. Most new buyers will, so would naturally head for the 1000D / XS. Anyone who’s in the market for an entry-level DSLR and isn’t bothered about Live View though should keep an eye out for discounted 400D / XTi’s as it remains an excellent camera with a very similar core specification to the model which replaces it – and remember you can always complement it with a stabilised (and superior) lens. See our Canon EOS 400D / Rebel XTi review for more details. As for existing 400D / XTi owners looking to upgrade, they’ll be better served going for either the 450D / XSi (see below), or making the more significant step-up to the EOS 40D. See our Canon EOS 400D / Rebel XTi review for more details.

Compared to Canon EOS 450D / Rebel XSi

Canon EOS 450D / Rebel XSi

The model above the EOS 1000D / Rebel XS in Canon’s range is the EOS 450D / Rebel XSi. With this model Canon took a leaf out of Nikon’s book of strategies and upgraded several aspects over most budget models.

As such it features a number of small but worthwhile benefits over the EOS 1000D / XS. These include two extra Megapixels, a bigger viewfinder, quicker 3.5fps continuous shooting (that’s also maintained with RAW files), a larger 3in screen, slightly more sophisticated 9-point AF system, spot metering, an IR remote sensor built into the grip, eye sensors which switch the screen off when using the viewfinder, Highlight Tone Priority, a textured finish to the grip and thumb rest, and 14-bit processing / 14-bit RAW files.

As seen in our results pages, the extra Megapixels don’t make much difference in real life, but the other features do add up to a classier camera, and if you’d exploit them, it’s certainly worth paying the extra. But be honest: if you’re not that bothered by these extra features, the new EOS 1000D / XS shares the same Live View system and stabilised kit lens while coming in at a cheaper price. Canon EOS 450D / XSi review for more details.

Compared to Sony Alpha DSLR-A200

Sony Alpha DSLR A200

Sony’s entry-level DSLR is the Alpha A200. It shares the same 10 Megapixel resolution as the new EOS 1000D / XS, along with the same 3fps continuous shooting rate. The A200’s screen is slightly larger at 2.7in, it has a higher 3200 ISO sensitivity, a slightly more sophisticated 9-point AF system, spot-metering and tells you exactly what percentage of battery life is remaining.

The Sony’s trump card though is built-in stabilisation which works with any lens you attach – a key benefit – and the Sony also comes with a slightly longer kit zoom with an 18-70mm range.

What the Sony A200 doesn’t have though is Live View – for that you’ll need to go for the pricier A300 or A350 models, although they additionally boast tilting screens. So Live View is a key advantage of the Canon EOS 1000D, but even though it also comes with a stabilised kit lens, many people will be swayed to what’s arguably the richer overall feature set of the A200. See our Sony Alpha DSLR A200 review for more details, or find out about the latest version in our Sony Alpha DSLR A230 review.

Compared to Nikon D60

Nikon D60

Nikon’s entry-level DSLR is the D40, but we’re comparing Canon’s latest against the next model up in Nikon’s range, the D60. The D60 shares the same 10 Megapixel resolution, 3fps continuous shooting, 2.5in 230k pixel monitor and like the 1000D / XS also comes in an optional kit with a stabilised 18-55mm lens. So far, again so similar, but the new Canon sports several benefits, crucially starting with Live View.

The 1000D / XS may have lost two AF points from its predecessor, but that still gives it five more than the basic 3-point system of the D60. The D60 does however continue to be one of the friendliest DSLRs on the market, while additionally boasting one of the most foolproof metering systems in its class. It may be lacking Live View and a more sophisticated AF system, but superb metering and friendliness count for a great deal in the entry-level market. See our Nikon D60 review for more details, or find out about the latest version in our Nikon D3000 review.

Canon EOS 1000D / Rebel XS final thoughts

Canon’s new EOS 1000D / Rebel XS represents a modest upgrade over its predecessor and in some feature respects an actual downgrade. But Canon knows new entry-level DSLR buyers highly value the presence of Image Stabilisation and Live View, both of which are now crucially offered here. And unlike arch rivals Nikon and Sony, it also means Canon now offers both Live View and stabilisation on all its consumer DSLRs.

It’s also important to realise the reduced number of AF points and slow continuous shooting in RAW mode will have little if any impact on its target audience. Indeed the AF performance was fine in our tests and if you’re recording JPEGs, you can keep shooting until you run out of memory.

So while it may be annoying for enthusiasts to see features removed from a previous model to cost-cut and provide greater product differentiation, few 1000D / XS buyers will be really bothered. The changes certainly don’t have the same impact of Nikon removing the lens AF motor from its entry-level DSLRs, and hey, at least the depth-of-field preview button’s still there on the new Canon.

Once you’ve made your peace with these downgrades, it’s easy to like the 1000D / XS. It’s a decent performer and sports all the features most new buyers will look for. The only real problem is its launch price, which at the time of writing in mid-2008 was higher than most rivals, and too close to the 450D / XSi for anyone to seriously consider it.

The 1000D / XS will find itself discounted to a more competitive price in the near future, but until then, it makes more sense to go for one of its rivals, or spend a little more on the 450D / XSi. Once those discounts kick-in though, the 1000D / XS will become a real contender in the entry-level market. There’s certainly some very strong competition you should also weigh-up, but by delivering all the features budget DSLR buyers look for, the 1000D / XS looks set to be another best-seller for Canon.

Good points
Image quality up with the best 10 Mpixel DSLRs.
Accurate Live View with contrast-AF option.
Kit includes stabilised lens.
PC remote control software supplied.

Bad points
Live View not as fuss-free as Sony A300.
Screen fixed in position, unlike A300.
Slow RAW continuous shooting.
Some features downgraded from 400D / XTi.

(compared to 2008 budget DSLRs)

Build quality:
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