Canon A540 Operation
While the Canon A540's user interface may seem slightly cryptic at first, it's actually quite efficient. Most camera functions are controlled externally, and a few of the external control buttons serve multiple functions. When you do need to enter the LCD menu system, navigation is straightforward with only two main pages of options. That said, the majority of external controls do require the LCD display to be active. Regardless, the A540's external controls cut down on the amount of time spent searching menu screens, and I particularly like the "Function" menu which became standard on Canon digital camera models in the 2003 model year. Combined with the instruction manual, the A540's user interface shouldn't take more than an hour to get comfortable with.
Record Mode LCD Display: In Record mode, the A540's LCD reports various exposure settings, including camera modes, the resolution and quality settings, number of available images, etc. Half-pressing the Shutter button reports the aperture and shutter speed settings, in all modes except Manual. (Aperture and shutter speed are displayed continuously in Manual mode, whether the Shutter button is pressed or not.) Pressing the Display button cycles through the available display modes, including the image with information, no display at all, and the image only.
Playback Mode LCD Display: In Playback mode, the Canon A540's LCD reports the image series number, resolution and quality setting, file name, and the date and time of image capture. Pressing the Display button once pulls up an enhanced information display, with a histogram for checking the exposure. A third press cancels the information overlay entirely. The telephoto side of the zoom toggle lets you zoom in on a portion of the image, while the wide-angle side backs you out again, and lets you step out to an "index" view of captured images, displayed as nine thumbnails at a time. Zooming out one step past the point at which the index display appears adds a "jump" bar to the bottom of the screen, letting you jump forward or back nine images at a time, rather than scrolling from each image to the next individually.
Canon A540 Modes and Menus
Record Mode: Marked on the Mode switch with the red camera icon, this mode sets up the Canon A540 for capturing still and moving images. The following exposure modes are available:
- Auto: The camera controls everything about the exposure, except for Flash and Macro modes, and image size and quality settings.
- Program AE (P): Places the camera in control of shutter speed and lens aperture, while you maintain control over everything else (i.e., white balance, ISO, metering, exposure compensation, flash, etc.).
- Shutter-Speed Priority AE (Tv): Allows you to control the shutter speed settings from 1/2,000 to 15 seconds, while the camera controls the aperture. All other exposure settings are available.
- Aperture Priority AE (Av): Allows you to set the lens aperture from f/2.6 to f/8.0 (depending on the zoom setting), while the camera controls the shutter speed. In this mode, you maintain control over all other exposure variables.
- Manual (M): Provides complete control over all exposure settings, including shutter speed and lens aperture (available shutter speeds depend on the aperture and lens zoom settings).
- Portrait: Uses a large aperture setting to blur the background and keep the primary subject in sharp focus.
- Landscape: Employs a small aperture setting to keep both the background and foreground in focus.
- Night Scene: Uses slower shutter speeds and flash to even out nighttime exposures. The slow shutter speed allows more ambient light to be recorded in the low-light areas, while the flash fully exposes the subject.
- Scene: Accesses the remaining preset Scene modes, including Night Snapshot, Kids & Pets, Indoor, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Fireworks, Underwater, Color Accent, and Color Swap.
- Stitch-Assist: Allows you to record a series of images, either horizontally or vertically, to be "stitched" together into one large image or panorama on a computer.
- Movie: Records up to 640x480 pixels at 30 or 15 frames per second while space remains on the memory card.
Record Menu: Pressing the Canon A540's Menu button in Record mode pulls up the following options (not all options are available in all modes):
- AiAF: Turns the AiAF system on or off. If on, the camera judges focus based on the subject's proximity to nine focus areas arrayed in the center of the image. If off, the camera bases focus on the very center of the frame.
- Red-Eye Reduction: Turns the Red-Eye Reduction pre-flash on or off, which works with all flash modes.
- MF-Point Zoom: Turns the MF Point zoom option on or off. If on, the center of the frame is enlarged on the LCD display for better viewing while adjusting the manual focus.
- AF Assist Beam: Turns the AF Assist light on or off. If on, the light automatically illuminates in dark shooting conditions.
- Digital Zoom: Turns the 4.0x variable digital zoom on or off.
- Review: Turns the instant image review function on or off, with available image display times from two to 10 seconds in one second steps.
- Grid Lines: Turns a display of grid lines to align subjects in Record mode on or off.
- Date Stamp: Only available in Postcard mode (set via the Function menu), allows printing of Date or Date and Time on photo.
Playback Mode: This mode lets you review captured images and movies on the memory card, as well as erase them, protect them, or tag them for printing and transfer. The traditional green Playback symbol denotes this mode on the Mode switch. Pressing the Canon A540's Menu button displays the following options:
- Auto Play: Automatically plays all captured images in a slide show.
- Sound Memo: Records a short sound clip to accompany a captured image.
- Protect: Marks the current image for write-protection, or removes write-protection. Protected images cannot be deleted or manipulated, except through card formatting, which erases all files.
- Rotate: Rotates the current image 90 or 270 degrees clockwise.
- Erase All: Erases all files on the memory card, except protected ones.
- Transfer Order: Marks images to be transferred to a computer later.
Print Menu: This menu is available in the Canon A540's Playback mode, simply by pressing the Menu button and selecting the Print tab. The bottom line of the display shows how many images are selected for printing and the print method that is active.
- Print: Sends images tagged for printing to the printer.
- Select Images & Quantity: Allows you select images for printing and set the number of prints for each image selected.
- Select All Images: Selects all images on the memory card for printing.
- Clear All Selections: Clears all print selections.
- Print Settings: Brings up a menu of these options:
- Print Type: You can specify whether to print one image per page, an index of the images, or both.
- Date: Set printing of the date and time on or off.
- File No.: Set printing of the file number on or off.
- Clear DPOF data: Set the option to clear the DPOF tag on or off.
Setup Menu: This menu is available in all exposure modes, simply by pressing the Canon A540's Menu button and selecting the Setup tab.
- Mute: Turns the camera's start-up, operation, self-time, shutter and playback sounds on and off.
- Volume: Displays the volume settings for the camera's start-up, operation, self-timer, shutter, and playback sounds.
- Power Saving: Accesses the camera's Auto Power Down and Display Off settings. Power Down can be enabled or disabled, and Display Off can be set to 10 / 20 / 30 seconds, or 1 / 2 / 3 minutes.
- Date/Time: Sets the camera's internal calendar and clock.
- Format: Formats the SD/MMC card, erasing all files (even those marked for write-protection).
- File Numbering: Specifies whether to reset file numbering with each new SD/MMC card or continue numbering in sequence, regardless of memory card.
- Create Folder: Specifies whether to capture new images in a new folder or to create a new folder for new images after a certain time.
- Auto Rotate: Specifies whether images appear vertically in the LCD monitor when the camera is held vertically.
- Distance Units: Sets the manual focus indicator to Meters/Centimeters or Feet/Inches.
- Lens Retract: Specifies whether or not to retract the lens after one minute.
- Language: Sets the camera's menu language to one of 21 choices. English is the default setting.
- Video System: Sets the camera's video-out signal as NTSC or PAL.
- Print Method: Specify either Auto or PictBridge as the print method.
- Reset All: Restores factory default settings.
My Camera Menu: This is the last menu tab on the Canon A540's menu screen, and appears in every mode.
- Startup Image: Sets whether to display the Canon logo startup image when you turn on the camera.
- Startup Sound: Sets whether to play the startup sound when you turn on the camera.
- Operation Sound: Sets whether to play a sound when any control or switch is use (except the Shutter button).
- Self-Timer Sound: Sets whether to lay a sound that signals you when the shutter release is two seconds away.
- Shutter Sound: Sets whether to play the shutter sound when you depress the Shutter button (there is no shutter sound in Movie mode).