Highlight clipping / dynamic range
The EOS 1100D's metering system is generally very reliable. However, like we've seen on other systems, very occasionally it appears to slightly overexpose in high contrast situations. Having said that, this is a problem we only encountered a handful of times in the hundreds of shots we took.
When the highlights do clip you can usually recover up to about one stop of highlight detail if you've shot RAW. However, depending on which of the color channels have clipped, you might loose some color information. In the rather uninspired sample shot of a duck below we can recover almost all of the detail in the duck's feathers by applying 1.0EV negative digital exposure compensation in RAW conversion but some of that detail has turned gray.
|JPEG - Metered Exposure|
|RAW - Metered Exposure, -1.00EV correction|
Overall Image Quality / Specifics
The Canon EOS 1100D's metering and AF's performance is consistently reliable and on a camera in this class these are, from an image end result point of view, the two most important boxes ticked. Only in bright sunshine might some users find it useful to dial in 1/3EV or so of negative exposure compensation to curb the camera's slight tendency to expose to the right in these situations and protect highlights. That said, whether you choose to do so or not is almost more a question of taste rather than a technical one.
If you want to zoom in and have a closer look at pixel-level image quality you'll find that the EOS 1100D's performance is pretty much typical for this class of camera. The difference in nominal resolution between most entry level models is negligible, and the differences in image detail are almost exclusively down to the strength of the camera's AA-filter and in-camera processing. At base ISO the Canon shows good detail but is, compared to some of its peers, just a touch soft. However, shooting and processing RAW shows that this softness is caused by the 1100D's JPEG engine. Converted images show more detail and appear sharper than their out-of-camera counterparts. That said, please keep in mind that we are talking marginal differences here, that would in almost all cases only be visible at a 100% magnification.
At higher sensitivities the EOS 1100D does a decent job but is not quite up with the best in class. Once you go past ISO 1600 there is a touch more detail smearing than on some of the competition and purple chroma noise blotches become quite intrusive. The two highest ISO settings can easily be used for 6 x 4 prints but aren't ideal if you want to output your images at larger sizes.
All in all the EOS 1100D's behavior in almost all shooting situations is pleasantly unproblematic. If pixel level detail is a priority it might be worth looking at RAW conversion, you'll be able to squeeze some more detail out of your images and at higher ISOs can apply your own customized mix of chroma and luminance noise reduction.