Canon EOS 1000D
The EOS 1000D is Canon’s latest entry-level DSLR. It’s basically a version of the 450D with fewer features. The big question is, do the cut-down functions affect the camera’s astrophotography performance, or is this something of an astro imaging bargain?
Most of the differences between the 1000D and the 450D don’t make a great deal of difference when it comes to astro imaging. Changes such as having less pixels in the image sensor (10.1 megapixels versus the 450D’s 12.2 megapixels) mean that the 1000D has larger pixels. This benefits astrophotography since smaller individual pixels tend to be noisier than larger ones. Couple this with the 1000D’s DIGIC-III processor, which has exceptional noise reduction capabilities and is at the heart of the astro-popular 450D, and the 1000D is something of a winner. It also captures images at 14-bit colour depth as opposed to the 12-bit depth found on the other cameras in this review. This improves the overall tonal quality of the end result.
The Canon’s live view function offers you three magnification levels: 1x, 5x and 10x. You can move the display’s zoom target box with the main cursor controls on the rear of the camera. In practice the display and live view function worked well, with the live view being quite similar to the equivalent function on Nikon cameras.
There’s no LCD setting control screen fitted to this model, so major setting changes must be made on the main screen at the rear of the camera or through the optical viewfinder. The brightness settings for the rear screen can be turned down by a reasonable amount, but it’s still too bright for astronomy purposes in the dark. The simple solution is to stick a piece of red cellophane over the screen, but it would be nice if manufacturers took note and enabled the screen to be changed to shades of red to preserve dark vision. However, you can make changes to ISO settings or exposure times while referring to the settings display within the main optical viewfinder. This is a saving grace that will help you maintain popularity at star parties without bathing neighbouring scopes in light from the menu screen.
The camera controls are easy to operate in the dark and, despite being a basic model, the 1000D is a very capable camera when it comes to imaging night sky subjects. We were especially impressed with the low noise produced by this camera. Our shots of nebulae showed that the camera appears to have a decent red response too, allowing us to capture a reasonable amount of the red detail at the edge of the Orion Nebula (M42). The Canon’s 30-second image of the Running Man Nebula just started to show the nebula’s dark lanes.
As a budget camera for astrophotography, the 1000D is a bit of a steal, capable of producing excellent astrophotos with very good noise handling even at high ISO settings.
Find out where to buy your equipment with our Retailer Guide.
A version of this article first appeared in the May 2009 issue of Sky at Night Magazine