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Canon EOS 1100D, DxOMark review for the new Canon entry-level body

Wednesday March 16 2011

Sensor Review
Introduction | Compared to Nikon D3100 & Sony SLT A33 | Compared to Sony NEX 5: High-end mirrorless or entry-level DSLR? | Compared to EOS 1000D: Improvement? | Conclusion

Compared to Nikon D3100 & Sony SLT A33

How does the EOS 1100D stand against its main competitors, the Nikon D3100 and the Sony SLT Alpha 33?
In short—not bad!

Compared to the Sony SLT A33, the EOS 1100D might seem handicapped against Sony and its very good 14-megapixel Exmor R sensor, which has a much better dynamic range than those of the D3100 and the EOS 1100D at low ISO settings. Up to ISO 400, Sony tops them all. But Sony’s new secret weapon, translucent mirror technology, perturbs light transmission, so as soon as we go above ISO 400, the EOS 1100D and D3100 overtake the SLT A33.

Translucent mirror technology also impacts the low-light performance of Sony’s entry-level Alpha 33, whose Sports score reaches its maximum at 591 ISO, while the EOS 1100D can go up to 755 ISO. The king of the hill for this specific metric, however, is the D3100 with a solid 919 ISO. The Sports score aims at finding how high the ISO sensitivity can be pushed while the sensor produces an image remaining above 30dB SNR, 9EV dynamic range, and 18-bit color depth, which means a very good-quality photo.

The EOS 1100D produces almost the same metrics as the Nikon D3100. Its SNR is as good as Nikon’s, and is slightly above Sony’s. The tonal range measurement shows the same results.

The color sensitivity metrics confirm the Sony A33’s slowing down at ISO 400, while Nikon D3100 proves a bit better. The EOS 1100D lies right in between those two sensors, with just a tiny difference, which is quite good.

To sum up: The Alpha 33 is very good at low ISO settings, but as soon as we reach ISO 400, the 1100D produces less noise and better colors and continues to show very good behavior up to ISO 800.
The slightly more expensive Nikon D3100 proves a tiny bit better for almost the entire metric, but the difference is slight. This means that features such as the video recording function could give the Nikon a decisive advantage over the EOS 1100D.

The Full SNR analysis explains everything!

Let’s say a few words about the particular shape of Canon’s Dynamic Range curve. Below ISO 400, it is almost horizontal (just as with the D3100, by the way). And this reveals a problem. In order to identify it clearly, let’s have a look at the Full SNR graph:

EOS 1100D Full SNR

The different curves should not overlap or be too close. On the left side of the graph (representing the dark tones), the ISO 100 and 200 curves are superimposed, and the ISO 400 curve is very close. This explains the recurrent constant noise noticed in the dark zones at low ISO sensitivity. This also  explains the flatness of the Dynamic Range curve below ISO 400, and also what prevents the EOS 1100D sensor to have a better SNR metric at low ISO settings. This is also a problem for the Nikon D3100.
The dynamic range of the Alpha 33 is much better than that of the two other sensors, and its full SNR shows why: its curves are much better.

Sony Alpha 33 Full SNR

View Nikon D3100 vs Sony SLT A33 vs Canon EOS 1100D