The EOS 1000D is remarkably similar in appearance to its marginally larger relative - the 450D. The basic shape is pretty much identical, although you will be able to spot some minor differences if you look closely enough. The hand grip on the front of the camera, which is rubberized on the 450D, is made of a finely textured plastic and does not feature an integrated IR sensor - there is no IR remote available for the 1000D.
On the back of the camera the smaller size of the screen (2.5" vs 3.0" on the 450D) is the most obvious difference but upon closer inspection you'll also find that the 450D's rubberized thumb grip has not made it onto the 1000D body. Despite of the smaller screen (and therefore more space on the camera back) the 1000D's button layout is identical to the 450D's.
The EOS 1000D's construction and build quality feels almost exactly identical to the 450D's. The 1000D is primarily made from three materials; a stainless steel chassis (blue in this diagram), the mirror box which is made of high-strength 'engineering plastic' (red in the diagram) and the body made of a special lightweight 'engineering plastic' which also provides some electromagnetic shielding. Construction is very good (considering the budget price) with no creaks or rattles. (Diagram provided by Canon, our colorization).
In your hand / grip
The body design and and button layout are almost identical to the 450D, so it does not come as a surprise that the camera feels almost the same in your hand. The camera as a whole and the grip in particular can feel a little small in large hands. The lack of a thumb grip on the camera back is not a big issue although it makes the camera feel a little more 'plasticy.'
It also retains one of the least conveniently-placed exposure compensation buttons of any system. As soon as you want to get involved in what the camera is doing, EV comp becomes the second-most important button after the shutter button itself. As with many previous baby Canons, it's placed too near to the viewfinder to allow it to be easily pressed with the camera to your eye, especially if you wear glasses.
Side by side
Below you can see how the EOS 1000D shapes up to some of its competition and its closest relatives in the EOS family. Dimensionally the differences in the entry level segment are pretty small: the Olympus E-420 is the shallowest and the Nikon D60 the narrowest, but we're splitting hairs and talking about millimeters. Weight-wise the E-420 is quite a bit lighter than the 1000D and D60 but dimensionally all these cameras play in the same league apart from, obviously, the Canon 40D which is a different class of camera altogether.
(W x H x D)
(inc. battery & card)
|Canon EOS 1000D||126 x 98 x 62 mm (5.0 x 3.8 x 2.4 in)||502 g (1.1 lb)|
|Canon EOS 450D||129 x 98 x 62 mm (5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)||524 g (1.2 lb)|
|Canon EOS40D||146 x 108 x 74 mm(5.7 x 4.2 x 2.9 in)||822 g (1.8 lb)|
|Canon EOS 400D||127 x 94 x 65 mm (5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in)||556 g (1.2 lb)|
|Olympus E-420||130 x 91 x 53 mm (5.1 x 3.6 x 2.1 in)||436 g (1.0 lb)|
|Nikon D60||126 x 94 x 64 mm (5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in)||536 g (1.2 lb)|