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Canon SX540 Comparison Review

The Canon PowerShot SX540 HS is a fixed lens compact camera that was officially introduced in January 2016 and is equipped with a 1/2.3-inch sensor. It offers a resolution of 20.2 megapixel.

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Is the Canon SX540 a good camera? The SX540 has a Camera Elo of 1436. This rating puts the SX540 below average of all superzoom compact cameras. In terms of its sensor size category (small sensor cameras), the SX540 also ranks below average.

Headline Specifications
Canon SX540
Fixed lens compact camera
24-1200mm f/3.4-6.5
20.2 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor
1080/60p Video
ISO 80-3200
No viewfinder, LCD framing
3.0" LCD, 461k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
5.9 shutter flaps per second
205 shots per battery charge
120 x 82 x 92 mm, 442 g


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Read on to find out more about the camera's size, sensor, features, reception by expert reviewers, and how it compares to other digital cameras.

Body comparison with a credit card

The physical dimensions of the Canon SX540 relative to a credit card are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Canon SX540 vs credit card front
SX540 versus credit card top view
SX540 and credit card rear side

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the Canon SX540 alongside a set of comparators. If you want to review a camera pair side-by-side, just select a right-side comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Canon SX540 4.7 in 3.2 in 3.6 in 15.6 oz 205 n Jan 2016 399 i i Canon SX540
 
Canon SX740« » 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 265 n Jul 2018 399 i i Canon SX740
 
Canon SX730« » 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.6 in 10.6 oz 250 n Apr 2017 399- i Canon SX730
 
Canon T6« » 5.1 in 4.0 in 3.1 in 17.1 oz 500 n Mar 2016 449- i Canon T6
 
Canon SX420« » 4.1 in 2.7 in 3.3 in 11.5 oz 195 n Jan 2016 299 i i Canon SX420
 
Canon SX720« » 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.4 in 9.5 oz 250 n Feb 2016 379- i Canon SX720
 
Canon SX410« » 4.1 in 2.7 in 3.3 in 11.5 oz 185 n Feb 2015 279- i Canon SX410
 
Canon SX530« » 4.7 in 3.2 in 3.6 in 15.6 oz 210 n Jan 2015 429- i Canon SX530
 
Canon SX710« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 1.4 in 9.5 oz 230 n Jan 2015 349- i Canon SX710
 
Panasonic ZS70« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 1.6 in 11.4 oz 380 n Apr 2017 449- i Panasonic ZS70
 
Panasonic FZ80« » 5.1 in 3.7 in 4.7 in 21.7 oz 330 n Jan 2017 399 i i Panasonic FZ80
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The Canon SX540 was launched in the US market at a price of $399. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

Canon SX540:
Check Amazon price

Sensor comparison with a 35mm slide

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

The Canon SX540 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and has a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 5.6. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the Canon SX540 among the smaller-sensor digicams that favor affordability and compact design.

Canon SX540 sensor measures

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
 
Canon SX540 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p----Canon SX540
 
Canon SX740« » 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38884K/30p----Canon SX740
 
Canon SX730« » 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p----Canon SX730
 
Canon T6« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p----Canon T6
 
Canon SX420« » 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/25p----Canon SX420
 
Canon SX720« » 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p----Canon SX720
 
Canon SX410« » 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/25p----Canon SX410
 
Canon SX530« » 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p----Canon SX530
 
Canon SX710« » 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p----Canon SX710
 
Panasonic ZS70« » 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38884K/30p19.110.610636Panasonic ZS70
 
Panasonic FZ80« » 1/2.3 18.0 4896 36724K/30p----Panasonic FZ80

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The SX540 indeed provides movie recording capabilities. The highest resolution format that the SX540 can use is 1080/60p.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The following tables report on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon SX540 and comparable cameras.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
 
Canon SX540- n 3.0 461 fixed n 1/2000s 5.9 Y Y Canon SX540
 
Canon SX740« »- n 3.0 922 tilting n 1/3200s 10.0 Y Y Canon SX740
 
Canon SX730« »- n 3.0 922 tilting n 1/3200s 5.9 Y Y Canon SX730
 
Canon T6« »optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Canon T6
 
Canon SX420« »- n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5 Y Y Canon SX420
 
Canon SX720« »- n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/3200s 5.9 Y Y Canon SX720
 
Canon SX410« »- n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5 Y Y Canon SX410
 
Canon SX530« »- n 3.0 461 fixed n 1/2000s 1.6 Y Y Canon SX530
 
Canon SX710« »- n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/3200s 6.0 Y Y Canon SX710
 
Panasonic ZS70« »1166 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/2000s 10.0 Y Y Panasonic ZS70
 
Panasonic FZ80« »1166 n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/2000s 10 Y Y Panasonic FZ80

One convenient feature of the SX540 is the presence of an on-board flash. While this built-in flash is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light to brighten deep shadow areas.

 

Connection comparison

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon PowerShot SX540 HS and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
 
Canon SX540-stereomono--mini2.0YY-Canon SX540
 
Canon SX740« »-stereomono--micro2.0YYYCanon SX740
 
Canon SX730« »-stereomono--micro2.0YYYCanon SX730
 
Canon T6« »Ymonomono--mini2.0YY-Canon T6
 
Canon SX420« »-monomono---2.0YY-Canon SX420
 
Canon SX720« »-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Canon SX720
 
Canon SX410« »-stereomono---2.0---Canon SX410
 
Canon SX530« »-stereomono--mini2.0YY-Canon SX530
 
Canon SX710« »-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Canon SX710
 
Panasonic ZS70« »-stereomono--micro2.0Y--Panasonic ZS70
 
Panasonic FZ80« »Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--Panasonic FZ80

It is notable that the SX540 offers wifi support. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.

 

The SX540 has a zoom lens built in (4.3-215mm f/3.4-6.5), which, in full frame equivalent terms, provides a focal length range from 24 to 1200mm. The camera is, hence, ready to shoot, while remaining more compact in size than an interchangeable lens camera with an optic that offers similar focal length and aperture specifications.

Expert reviews

While the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the SX540 in practical situations. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate. This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog).

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Canon SX540----- Jan 2016 399 i i Canon SX540
 
Canon SX740« »+-4/5-4/5 Jul 2018 399 i i Canon SX740
 
Canon SX730« »+-4/5-4/5 Apr 2017 399- i Canon SX730
 
Canon T6« »o73/1004/53.5/54/5 Mar 2016 449- i Canon T6
 
Canon SX420« »----- Jan 2016 299 i i Canon SX420
 
Canon SX720« »+-4/5-4.5/5 Feb 2016 379- i Canon SX720
 
Canon SX410« »o---- Feb 2015 279- i Canon SX410
 
Canon SX530« »+ +-4/5-4/5 Jan 2015 429- i Canon SX530
 
Canon SX710« »+-4/5-3.5/5 Jan 2015 349- i Canon SX710
 
Panasonic ZS70« »+ +-4/5-4/5 Apr 2017 449- i Panasonic ZS70
 
Panasonic FZ80« »+ +-4.5/5-4.5/5 Jan 2017 399 i i Panasonic FZ80
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (-) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Canon SX540 FAQ

Below are some additional questions and answers concerning some particular features of the SX540.

What type of imaging sensor is used in the SX540?

The camera has a BSI-CMOS (Backside Illuminated Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensor at its core.

Which image processing chip is used to convert the raw signal into an image file and perform noise reduction and image sharpening?

Canon equipped the SX540 with the DIGIC 6 image processor.

What is the ISO sensitivity range of the SX540?

The camera has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 3200.

Does the Canon SX540 feature an autofocus assist light?

Yes, the camera has a lamp built-in that can illuminate the subject and improve autofocus in low-light settings.

Does the Canon SX540 support the Ultra High Speed (UHS) bus interface for SD cards?

Yes, the camera can indeed use UHS-I cards (data transfer speed of up to 104 MB/s).

Which battery does the SX540 use?

The camera gets its power from the NB-6LH (here at amazon), which is a rechargeable Lithium-Ion power pack.

Camera to camera comparisons

If you would like to see a side-by-side review of this and another camera, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications Summary
    Camera Model Canon SX540
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera
    Camera Lens 24-1200mm f/3.4-6.5
    Launch Date January 2016
    Launch Price USD 399
    Sensor Specs
    Sensor Technology BSI-CMOS
    Sensor Format 1/2.3" Sensor
    Sensor Size 6.17 x 4.55 mm
    Sensor Area 28.0735 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 7.7 mm
    Crop Factor 5.6x
    Sensor Resolution 20.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5184 x 3888 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 1.18 μm
    Pixel Density 71.80 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter
    Movie Capability 1080/60p Video
    ISO Setting 80-3200 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 6
    Screen Specs
    Viewfinder Type No viewfinder
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0 inch
    LCD Resolution 461k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs
    Autofocus System Contrast-detect AF
    Manual Focusing AidNo Peaking Feature
    Maximum Shutter Speed 1/2000s
    Continuous Shooting 5.9 shutter flaps/s
    Silent Shootingno E-Shutter
    Time Lapse Photographyno Intervalometer
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot
    UHS card support UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs
    External Flash no Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in
    Near-Field Communication NFC built-in
    Body Specs
    Battery Type NB-6LH power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)205 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 120 x 82 x 92 mm
    (4.7 x 3.2 x 3.6 in)
    Camera Weight 442 g (15.6 oz)

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