Canon EOS 600D vs 1000D
Model numbers never make sense
I have used the Canon EOS 1000D for quite some time now, and felt it was time for an upgrade. Since I already have a few lenses, I decided to continue down the Canon path. The 600D - AKA Rebel T3i, or Kiss X5, depending on where you live - caught my eye, looking very similar but fixing some of the problems of the 1000D, like lack of video recording, low ISO sensitivity, and low quality LCD. Read on for a comparison between the two.
From the outside
As you would expect, the two cameras look very similar. I wish the 600D would have been available in pink or something so I could at least easily tell them apart!
I'm not going to go into resolutions or pixel density - to sum it up, the Canon 600D has a display that just pwns the 1000D. Larger, crisper, more flexible, more tasty etc. Interestingly, the images look much noisier on the 600D. Seems like it just renders the images more accurately. On the 1000D, the details get blurry when you zoom in. The 600D wins hands-down. Pixel-peepers rejoice!
The 600D goes all the way to ISO 6400, with an additional "High-ISO" of 12800. The 1000D handles only up to 800, with its high-setting at ISO 1600. Below is a quick full crop comparison at ISO 1600.
The 600D has some more clarity and detail in the dark areas, while also increasing the resolution. I find the noise a bit unpleasant though. The 1000D just blurs everything instead of making noisy areas look like they are covered with dust. Interestingly, with noise reduction turned on on the 1000D, the blur is gone and we get the unpleasant dust look instead.
While the noise performance of the 600D is better, it doesn't quite blow me away. 12800 looks dog-ugly, but can be quite usable if you are going for that grainy film-look. Goes great with black and white.
Not much to say here. The 600D has it, and the 1000D has no video recording capabilities whatsoever.
And interesting feature with the video recording however, is that you can take pictures while recording. There will be a short gap (frozen frame) in the video though, for about one second. Also, the image will have the same aspect ratio as the recorded video (16:9 or 4:3). The resolution of the pictures will be slightly lower than the full 18M since some cropping is required.
Also, the 600D can use cropping (digital zoom) when recording. Since Full HD video is about 2M, and the sensor has 18M, it can zoom up to 10x without (in theory) losing image quality.
When the 1000D came out, LiveView - which means using the display instead of the optical viewfinder - was quite new. And it had a few quirks. To switch to LiveView, you press the Set button. To focus, you press that button with a star over it (usually used for locking metering settings). In quick mode, the mirror flips and the screen turns black, and then back on. The camera will not report where it got focus, so you need to have some faith. There is also LiveMode focus, where the screen does not turn black, but focusing takes like forever.
The 600D actually reports where it got focus, and you actually focus by pressing the shutter button half way. Just like people have been doing for centuries - now also for LiveView! Probably took weeks of brainstorming at Canon to come up with that.
The 600D has nine focus points, the 1000D seven. So is it a big deal? Well, to be honest - for me, the 1000D has only one focus point. The points are too few and too far apart, and when using more than a single - the middle one - too often the points far to the sides pick up focus. May not sound very dramatic, but very often I have had the subject in the center of the frame, and the camera keeps on focusing on the background or the foreground. Super annoying. I have no idea why Canon just didn't place all the points closer to the center. So it's not necessarily about the number of focus points, but the totally headless placement of them that makes the 1000D look bad. The 600D does much better. Plus, the middle point is a cross-type, which is apparently better.
Other subtle differences
The sound of the shutter and the mirror flipping has not improved. The 1000D has a high pitched, well, "ka-tsheeek"-like sound. Where "ka" is the mirror flipping up the shutter opening, and the "tsheeek" is the shutter closing and the mirror going back down. Just so you know. The 600D is a bit worse, with a slightly more high-pitched noise. This may be a reason to pony up for the 60D and get that fancy and subtle "ka-flurp" instead.
You can now interact with the settings on the display. The 1000D would show you a lot of settings on the LCD, like drive mode, white balance and so on. On the 600D, you can press the brand new "Q"-button and then navigate around on the screen with the arrow keys and actually change settings directly from there. Not bad, since it gives you quite quick access to a bunch of useful stuff. And especially since they seem to have removed the dedicated Metering Mode button!
Exposure compensation goes between -5 and +5 on the 600D, compared to -2 to +2 on the 1000D. Personally, I think it should go from minus infinity to plus infinity (give or take some). But still an improvement.
The creative modes may not be so subtle, but it's fun nonetheless so I'll just put it here. After taking a picture, you can apply effects to it, like grainy black and white, or Lomo effect. The effect will be applied to a copy of the image, keeping the original. Fun and simple in-camera editing, but it hardly beats Adobe Lightroom.
Things that annoyingly remained the same
Rotation of images is done by EXIF metadata. Some applications don't read this data and the orientation may end up wrong. Fine - not Canon's fault. However, when doing a "hard rotate" rotating 90 degrees using some Windows program for example, the camera will report the image file as corrupt. What, it can't read some simple JPEGs?
The weight has increased slightly. The body, with battery, weighs in at almost 600 grams. Why is this thing so heavy? I can understand that professionals don't mind, but I'm just an average consumer and I do. Many electronic products today are super small and super light, but these things apparently never change.
The strap is still standard and super inconventient, offering zero flexibility, always getting in the way, is difficult to remove, and makes you more stupid. This will probably never improve.
So, if you already own the 1000D, is it worth upgrading to the 600D and spending the next few months eating only cup noodles? As always, it depends.
Get the 600D if you:
- are interested in high-quality video
- could use some more ISO
- want a better LiveView experience with clearer display that allows shooting from funny angles without getting your pants dirty
- want a higher resolution (18M vs 10M)
- want spot metering
Just stick with the 1000D if you:
- are looking for some something very different (much more compact, or professional-grade) - the two cameras are quite similar after all
- prefer shooting with long exposure and tripod, or using a flash - here, the higher ISO sensitivity will not really help much
- shoot using the optical viewfinder almost exclusively