Canon's obviously decided the market for its amateur SLRs is big enough for two cameras, not one. The highly successful EOS 400D has made way for the slightly more upmarket EOS 450D and this £350 EOS 1000D. So what are we looking at here -- technical development or budget bargain-hunting?
Canon's designed the EOS 1000D to be both affordable and easy to use, and it manages both pretty well. Like previous EOS SLRs, it has a clear and simple control layout that also puts important everyday functions such as white balance and ISO right at your fingertips. And while Canon's price tag looks rather steep, dealer discounting means that the 1000D pitches up head to head against Nikon's established D60.
But the EOS 1000D has a 10-megapixel CMOS sensor, just like the old EOS 400D, and even has more or less the same body. So what was the point? In broad terms, the 1000D looks pretty similar, but it does have some significant improvements.
One of these is the new live view. It can often be useful to compose shots on the LCD rather than the viewfinder, and while there is the usual clanking of mirrors and shunting of shutters that you get with dSLR live view systems generally, it's definitely worth having and works very well.
The 1000D also comes with an image-stabilised version of Canon's 18-55mm kit lens. Canon claims it offers a four-stop shutter speed advantage, though while it is very effective it's not foolproof (no IS system is), so that's a best-case scenario.
The other improvement is in the LCD. It measures just 64mm (2.5 inches), so it's not the world's biggest, but it is extremely clear and bright, and makes the old EOS 400D's screen look murky by comparison.
Whatever the improvements, though, it feels like they've been a long time coming and don't add up to much. We've got so used to each new SLR bringing a technological breakthrough, it's something of a let-down to see one that's really rather ordinary. A 10-megapixel dSLR is hardly news. It's like those packets in supermarkets that say "new and improved" when you know that what they really mean is that they've found a cheaper way to make it.
And it does feel cheaper. Every control works perfectly, every panel is rock-solid, but there is a bare and distinctly plasticky feel to this camera.
While Canon's fitted a very welcome image stabiliser to that kit lens, the optics themselves appear unchanged. It's compact, it has a sweet zoom action and the AF is fast and quiet, but the 18-55mm kit zoom has never been the sharpest. It's fine in the centre of the frame, but the edge definition is pretty weak.
The fact is the EOS 1000D is certainly fine to use, but the pictures are average. Canon's in-camera JPEG processing produces good coarse detail, but seems to gloss over some of the finer, textural image information. To get the best results you're better off shooting raw files and processing them with the bundled Digital Photo Pro application.
The Canon EOS 1000D is a safe bet for anyone buying their first digital SLR, and it has enough features to satisfy those who want to get more heavily into photography. But it's rather like buying a new Ford Fiesta. You can expect it to be better than the last one, but it's hardly going to blow you away.
Edited by Marian Smith