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Canon A540 Performance

Timing and Performance

PowerShot A540 Timing
Good to average speed for a consumer camera.

Startup/Shutdown
Power on
to first shot
2.3 seconds
Time it takes for LCD to turn on and lens to deploy.
Shutdown
1.7 seconds
How long it takes to retract lens and stow in your pocket.
Buffer clearing time
1.5 seconds
(Large/Fine JPEG,
Unlimited shots in
continuous mode)
Worst case buffer clearing time.* This is the delay after a set of shots before you can remove the card. Some cameras won't retract their lenses and shut down until the buffer is cleared.
Mode switching
Play to Record,
first shot
1.7 seconds
Time until first shot is captured
Record to play
1.4 seconds
Time to display a large/fine file immediately after capture
Display
recorded image
1.2 seconds
Time to display a large/fine file already on the memory card.
Shutter response (Lag Time):
Full Autofocus Wide
0.49 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, zoom lens at wide angle position.
Full Autofocus Tele
0.49 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, zoom lens at telephoto position.
Prefocused
0.074 second
Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.
Manual focus
0.33 second
For most cameras, shutter lag is less in manual focus than autofocus, but usually not as fast as when the camera is "prefocused"
Full Autofocus Wide
with flash enabled
1.41 second
Shutter lag with flash enabled is often longer, due to time required for metering pre-flash.
Cycle time (shot to shot)
Single Shot mode
Large Fine JPEG
1.61 seconds
Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots
Single Shot mode
640x480 JPEG
2.18 seconds
Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots
Early shutter
penalty?
No
Some cameras won't snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer.
Continuous mode
Large Fine JPEG
0.71 second (1.40 frames per second);
No limit w/fast card*;
~2 seconds to clear
Time per shot, averaged over buffer length or 20 shots, whichever came first
Continuous mode
640x480 JPEG
0.71 second (1.40 frames per second);
No limit w/fast card*;
~2 seconds to clear
Time per shot, averaged over buffer length or 20 shots, whichever came first
Flash recycling
9 seconds
Flash at maximum output
Download speed
Windows Computer, USB 2.0
1,881 KBytes/sec
Typical Values:
Less than 600=USB 1.1;
600-770=USB 2.0 Low;
771-4000=USB 2.0 High
*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a Kingston Ultimate 120x SD memory card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode.

The Canon A540 is a pretty quick-footed little camera. Startup and shutdown speeds are about average, but shutter response is noticeably faster than average, at both wide angle and telephoto focal lengths. Shot-to-shot cycle times and continuous-mode speeds are a bit faster than average too, but the impressive thing is that the A540 can shoot indefinitely in continuous mode, given a fast enough memory card. (We tested with a Kingston 120x Ultimate SD card.) The one slow spot is that the flash takes a somewhat leisurely 9 seconds to recharge after a full-power shot, which is slower than average. Connected to a computer or printer with USB 2.0, download speeds are fast enough that they much eliminate the need for an external reader. Bottom line, while it lacks the really long zoom lens you might want for some sports shots, the Canon A540 would be a good choice for capturing fast-paced action. (Just don't hold your breath after a full-power flash shot.)

Battery and Storage Capacity

Battery
Short battery life with Alkalines, very good with NiMH rechargeables.

Battery Type
Battery Life
Alkaline
90 shots
NiMH
Canon NB-3AH
360 shots

The PowerShot uses two AA batteries for power. The table above shows maximum run times based on Canon's own CIPA Standard tests.

Storage
A 16-MB SD Memory Card is included with the PowerShot A540.

Image Capacity with
16-MB SD Memory Card
Fine
2,816 x 2,112 Images 5
File Size 2.8MB
2,272 x 1,704 Images 7
File Size 2.1MB
1,600 x 1,200 Images 15
File Size 1MB
640 x 480
Images 56
File Size 283K

I strongly recommend buying at least a 256MB card, preferably a 512MB one, to give yourself extra space for extended outings.