The step-up model from the Canon PowerShot A1000 IS, the A1100 IS gets a higher-resolution sensor at 12 megapixels, uses Canon's Digic 4 image processor, and has a couple more shooting options like Smart Auto--the manufacturer's automatic scene recognition system--and advanced face detection. Both have excellent photo quality for sub-$200 cameras. And with less than a $50 street price difference between the two models it basically comes down to whether you want to pay a little extra for newer technologies.
|Key specs||Canon PowerShot A1100 IS|
|Dimensions (WHD)||3.7 x 2.5 x 1.2 inches|
|Weight (with battery and media)||7.2 ounces|
|Megapixels, sensor size, type/viewfinder||12 megapixels, 1/2.3-inch CCD/yes, optical|
|LCD size, resolution||2.5-inch LCD, 115K dots|
|Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length)||4x, f2.7-5.6, 35-140mm (35mm equivalent)|
|File format (still/video)||JPEG/Motion JPEG|
|Highest resolution size (still/video)||4,000x3,000 pixels/640x480 at 30fps|
|Image stabilization type||Mechanical and electronic|
|Battery type, rated life||Alkaline (AA, 2), 140 shots|
Available in four two-toned colors--gray, blue, pink, and green--the A1100 IS feels higher quality than its price lets on. Its body has a nice curve on the right side for a steadier grip while shooting one-handed. Though this makes it a little bulky (the bulge is necessary for the two AA batteries powering it), the camera is still small enough to slip in a pants pocket. By today's standards the LCD is small, but it's one of only a handful of Canon compact cameras with an optical viewfinder. While the viewfinder is small and slightly uncomfortable to use, it does come in handy when shooting in bright sunlight and you can save battery life by switching off the LCD. That last part is important because if you use alkaline batteries, your shot time is pretty short. Invest in a couple pairs of NiMH rechargeables and you'll be in much better shape to keep shooting and shooting.
At first glance, it seems as if there's a lot going on with the controls for the A1100 IS. On top are a power button, a shutter release with zoom ring, and a Mode dial with no fewer than 10 shooting options. Why so many for such a basic camera? Well, along with its P (for Program), Auto, Easy (auto without options), and Movie modes, Canon puts five popular scene selections (including Portrait, Landscape, Indoor) and a SCN choice for accessing lesser used scene settings like Sunset, Long Shutter, and Aquarium. So while the Mode dial looks quite busy, it is actually simple. Likewise, the back of the camera is loaded with a directional pad and six buttons labeled in one color for shooting functions and another for playback functions, but even novice users should have things down pat fairly quickly.
Regardless of the controls, there's little reason to spend much time hanging out in the menu system. But for those times when it's necessary--say to change the autofocus priority, adjust the LCD brightness, or switch when the image stabilization is engaged--navigation is straightforward.
|General shooting options||Canon PowerShot A1100 IS|
|ISO sensitivity (full resolution)||Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1,600|
|White balance||Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Custom|
|Recording modes||Auto, Easy, P (program), Portrait, Landscape, Special Scene, Indoor, Kids & Pets, Night Snapshot, Movie|
|Focus||Face Detection AF, Center AF, Multi AF|
|Metering||Evaluative, Center-weighted, Spot|
|Color effects||Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, Black & White, Custom|
|Burst mode shot limit (full resolution)||Unlimited continuous|
If you're expecting to find the manual controls of earlier Canon A-series models, you'll be disappointed with the A1100 IS. The A590 IS is the only model in the current lineup that has aperture-priority, shutter-priority, and manual options (and it probably won't be around much longer). However, the A1100 IS' Program mode does give you control over ISO, white balance, autofocus type, light metering, and color effects. The rest of the camera is designed for point-and-shoot simplicity.
The A1100's performance is decent for its class, but felt slow during regular use. From off to first shot takes 2 seconds. The camera's 2.1-second shot-to-shot time is comparatively normal for its class. Turning on the flash drives the average wait time up to 6.6 seconds between shots. This can be frustrating, which can also be said for the shutter lag at a lengthy 0.6 second in bright conditions. Luckily it's only slightly longer in low light at 0.8 second. There is no proper burst shooting mode, but the A1100 IS has unlimited continuous shooting capable of 1 frame per second.
As mentioned earlier, for the money the A1100 IS has very good photo quality. Color, contrast, and white balance are particularly good, though there is some highlight clipping. Characteristic of point-and-shoots, photos are best in bright lighting at sensitivities below ISO 200. Graininess/noise becomes readily noticeable at ISO 400, but for the most part details remain decent enough for use at 8x10 or smaller sizes. The camera goes up to ISO 1,600, but photos at that setting or even at ISO 800 aren't what we'd consider usable for much more than small prints and Web use. There is some slight barrel distortion at the lens' widest setting and there is an average amount of purple fringing in high-contrast shots.
For a low-cost point-and-shoot pocket camera, the Canon PowerShot A1100 IS gets the job done. It delivers better photo quality than other cameras at its price point and if you like the convenience of AA batteries and the availability of a viewfinder, it's a smart choice.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
|Time to first shot||Typical shot-to-shot time (flash)||Typical shot-to-shot time||Shutter lag (dim)||Shutter lag (typical)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Find out more about how we test digital cameras.