Best DSLRs for video: 15 cameras from £400 to £2,400

Canon 1100d

Canon's latest entry-level DSLR may be a budget piece of excellence for stills shooting, but it has a few hurdles when it comes to HD video recording.

The Canon 1100D offers three forms of focus for movie capture: AF Live for single autofocus during capture; Face Detection AF for adjusting focus once a face is detected; and Quick AF Live View which disengages the live view mode, acquires focus and then begins recording (this latter mode can't be used during capture, only before hand).

If you wish to make HD recordings of subjects at fixed focus distances then the 1100D does a perfectly good job, but it's when focusing that difficulties arise. The contrast-detection based AF system is slow off the mark and can take quite a few seconds to acquire focus. This will relay back to the capture and so show in your final shots.


Tracking subjects through different focus distances (such as when a subject moves towards the camera, for example) isn't on the cards, and while manual focus is available, there's no provision for a manual focus assist to magnify the rear screen's image for fine-tuning focus.

During capture it's possible to utilise the 1100D's exposure compensation, while white balance, image effects and auto-correct for image brightness can also be adjusted prior to recording commencing.

The 1100D's 720p resolution is captured at either 25 or 30fps (ideal for UK PAL and US NTSC systems respectively) and rendered using the H.264 compression format to create MOV format files. A minute of footage will come in at around 220MB in size, so there's plenty of data being squeezed into the files.


In good light shots are decent and there's plenty of clarity to subjects, though lower light (and thus higher ISO) reveals visible colour noise, which shows up as flecks of subtle red-coloured blotches that flicker through the scene. The latter isn't reserved for Canon cameras, however, as all stills and video cameras will see a rise in this kind of result due to upping the ISO sensitivity, a requirement when there's little available light.

Audio is taken care of by the built-in microphone and, although mono, quality is good. However, the 18-55mm kit lens is very noisy when autofocusing and can pose a problem.

Canon EOS 1100D key video spec

Approx price: £449 with 18-55mm kit lens
Sensor: APS-C sized sensor (1.6x magnification)
Resolution: 720p capture (1280x720px) maximum resolution
Frame rate: 30 or 25fps
Compression: H.264 video compression

File format: Linear PCM audio and MOV
Exposure mode: Programme shooting mode
Connectivity: HDMI-C and mini-USB AV out ports