Canon SX540 vs Zeiss ZX1
The Canon PowerShot SX540 HS and the Zeiss ZX1 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in January 2016 and September 2018. Both the SX540 and the ZX1 are fixed lens compact cameras that are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX540) and a full frame (ZX1) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 20.2 megapixels, whereas the Zeiss provides 37.4 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX540 HS and the Zeiss ZX1? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon SX540 and the Zeiss ZX1. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Zeiss ZX1 is notably larger (34 percent) than the Canon SX540. Moreover, the ZX1 is substantially heavier (81 percent) than the SX540. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX540 nor the ZX1 are weather-sealed.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Canon SX540||120 mm||82 mm||92 mm||442 g||205||n||Jan 2016||399|
|2.||Zeiss ZX1||142 mm||93 mm||46 mm||800 g||250||n||Sep 2018||5,999|
|3.||Canon 77D||131 mm||100 mm||76 mm||540 g||600||n||Feb 2017||899|
|4.||Canon 200D||122 mm||93 mm||70 mm||453 g||650||n||Jun 2017||549|
|5.||Canon G1 X Mark III||115 mm||78 mm||51 mm||399 g||200||Y||Oct 2017||1,299|
|6.||Canon G9 X Mark II||98 mm||58 mm||31 mm||206 g||235||n||Jan 2017||529|
|7.||Canon M6||112 mm||68 mm||45 mm||390 g||295||n||Feb 2017||779|
|8.||Canon SX730||110 mm||64 mm||40 mm||300 g||250||n||Apr 2017||399|
|9.||Canon 1300D||129 mm||101 mm||78 mm||485 g||500||n||Mar 2016||449|
|10.||Canon SX720||110 mm||64 mm||36 mm||270 g||250||n||Feb 2016||379|
|11.||Canon SX530||120 mm||82 mm||92 mm||442 g||210||n||Jan 2015||429|
|12.||Canon SX710||113 mm||66 mm||35 mm||269 g||230||n||Jan 2015||349|
|13.||Leica Q2||130 mm||80 mm||92 mm||718 g||370||Y||Mar 2019||4,995|
|14.||Leica V-LUX 5||136 mm||97 mm||131 mm||812 g||350||n||Jul 2019||1,249|
|15.||Panasonic FZ1000 II||136 mm||97 mm||131 mm||810 g||350||n||Feb 2019||899|
|16.||Panasonic FZ1000||137 mm||99 mm||131 mm||831 g||360||n||Jun 2014||899|
|17.||Sony RX100 VI||102 mm||58 mm||43 mm||301 g||240||n||Jun 2018||1,199|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The SX540 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 93 percent) than the ZX1, which puts it into a different market segment. 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.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon SX540 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Zeiss ZX1 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the ZX1 is 2986 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 1.0. The sensor in the SX540 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the ZX1 offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 37.4MP, the ZX1 offers a higher resolution than the SX540 (20.2MP), but the ZX1 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.81μm versus 1.18μm for the SX540) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the ZX1 is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 8 months) than the SX540, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the SX540 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Zeiss ZX1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the ZX1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 37.4 x 25 inches or 95.1 x 63.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 30 x 20 inches or 76.1 x 50.7 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 25 x 16.6 inches or 63.4 x 42.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon SX540 are 25.9 x 19.4 inches or 65.8 x 49.4 cm for good quality, 20.7 x 15.6 inches or 52.7 x 39.5 cm for very good quality, and 17.3 x 13 inches or 43.9 x 32.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon PowerShot SX540 HS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Zeiss ZX1 are ISO 80 to ISO 51200 (no boost).
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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
|2.||Zeiss ZX1||Full Frame||37.4||7488||4992||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|5.||Canon G1 X Mark III||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|6.||Canon G9 X Mark II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||21.9||12.5||522||65|
|13.||Leica Q2||Full Frame||46.7||8368||5584||4K/30p||26.4||13.5||2491||96|
|14.||Leica V-LUX 5||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|15.||Panasonic FZ1000 II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|17.||Sony RX100 VI||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the ZX1 provides a better video resolution than the SX540. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Canon is limited to 1080/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the ZX1 has an electronic viewfinder (6221k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the SX540 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon SX540, the Zeiss ZX1, and comparable cameras.
|5.||Canon G1 X Mark III||2360||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/2000s||9.0||Y||Y|
|6.||Canon G9 X Mark II||none||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||8.2||Y||Y|
|14.||Leica V-LUX 5||2360||n||3.0||1240||swivel||Y||1/4000s||12.0||Y||Y|
|15.||Panasonic FZ1000 II||2360||n||3.0||1240||swivel||Y||1/4000s||12.0||Y||Y|
|17.||Sony RX100 VI||2359||n||3.0||1229||tilting||Y||1/2000s||24.0||Y||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The SX540 has one, while the ZX1 does not. While the built-in flash of the SX540 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the ZX1 is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The SX540 is equipped with a zoom lens, while the ZX1 comes with a built-in prime. The SX540 has a 24-1200mm f/3.4-6.5 optic and the ZX1 offers a 35mm f/2.8 (focal lengths in full frame equivalent terms). Hence, the Canon provides a wider angle of view at the short end, as well as more tele-photo reach at the long end than the Zeiss. The ZX1 offers the faster maximum aperture.
The SX540 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the ZX1 uses an internal SSD.
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 Zeiss ZX1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|5.||Canon G1 X Mark III||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|6.||Canon G9 X Mark II||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|14.||Leica V-LUX 5||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|15.||Panasonic FZ1000 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|17.||Sony RX100 VI||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
It is notable that the ZX1 has a hotshoe, which makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun. The SX540 does not feature such an accessory-socket.
Both the SX540 and the ZX1 are recent models that are part of the current product line-up. The SX540 replaced the earlier Canon SX530, while the ZX1 does not have a direct predecessor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Zeiss websites.
So how do things add up? Is the Canon SX540 better than the Zeiss ZX1 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Canon PowerShot SX540 HS:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/2000s vs 1/1000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5.9 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Wider view: Has a wider-angle lens that facilitates landscape or interior shots.
- More compact: Is smaller (120x82mm vs 142x93mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 358g or 45 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (93 percent cheaper at launch).
Reasons to prefer the Zeiss ZX1:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (37.4 vs 20.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 39%.
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced sensor.
- Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (4.3" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2765k vs 461k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Better light gathering: Has a lens with a wider maximum aperture (f/2.8 vs f/3.4).
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (250 versus 205) out of a single battery charge.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.1 vs 2.0).
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- More prestigious: Has the Zeiss luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the ZX1 is the clear winner of the contest (18 : 9 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX540 and the Zeiss ZX1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Superzoom Camera and Best Prime Lens Compact Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the SX540 and the ZX1 in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
This is why expert reviews are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Canon SX540||..||..||..||..||..||Jan 2016||399|
|2.||Zeiss ZX1||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2018||5,999|
|3.||Canon 77D||4.5/5||..||82/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2017||899|
|4.||Canon 200D||4/5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2017||549|
|5.||Canon G1 X Mark III||5/5||+||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2017||1,299|
|6.||Canon G9 X Mark II||4/5||..||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||529|
|7.||Canon M6||..||..||80/100||4/5||4/5||Feb 2017||779|
|8.||Canon SX730||..||+||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2017||399|
|9.||Canon 1300D||4/5||o||73/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2016||449|
|10.||Canon SX720||..||+||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||379|
|11.||Canon SX530||..||+ +||..||4/5||4/5||Jan 2015||429|
|12.||Canon SX710||..||+||..||4/5||3.5/5||Jan 2015||349|
|13.||Leica Q2||..||..||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||Mar 2019||4,995|
|14.||Leica V-LUX 5||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jul 2019||1,249|
|15.||Panasonic FZ1000 II||..||..||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2019||899|
|16.||Panasonic FZ1000||4/5||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||899|
|17.||Sony RX100 VI||4.5/5||+ +||83/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2018||1,199|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time 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.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Canon SX540 vs Zeiss ZX1
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Canon SX540||Zeiss ZX1|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||24-1200mm f/3.4-6.5||35mm f/2.8|
|Launch Date||January 2016||September 2018|
|Launch Price||USD 399||USD 5,999|
|Sensor Specs||Canon SX540||Zeiss ZX1|
|Sensor Format||1/2.3" Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||6.17 x 4.55 mm||36.0 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||28.0735 mm2||864 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||7.7 mm||43.3 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||20.2 Megapixels||37.4 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5184 x 3888 pixels||7488 x 4992 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.18 μm||4.81 μm|
|Pixel Density||71.80 MP/cm2||4.33 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||80 - 3,200 ISO||80 - 51,200 ISO|
|Screen Specs||Canon SX540||Zeiss ZX1|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||6221k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||4.3inch|
|LCD Resolution||461k dots||2765k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon SX540||Zeiss ZX1|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||5.9 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/8000s|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||Internal SSD|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single SSD|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon SX540||Zeiss ZX1|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.1|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon SX540||Zeiss ZX1|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||205 shots per charge||250 shots per charge|
120 x 82 x 92 mm
(4.7 x 3.2 x 3.6 in)
142 x 93 x 46 mm
(5.6 x 3.7 x 1.8 in)
|Camera Weight||442 g (15.6 oz)||800 g (28.2 oz)|
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