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Canon's PowerShot A540 digital camera. Courtesy of Canon, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Canon PowerShot A540 revealed
(Tuesday, February 21, 2006 - 06:00 EST)

One up from the low end of the camera models announced by Canon prior to the Spring 2006 PMA show, the PowerShot A540 comes in just above the A530 model. The extra money you'll spend on the Canon A540 over its lower-end sibling will likely be well-spent though: While keeping the same 4x zoom lens (35-140mm equivalent) used across much of the PowerShot A-series, the Canon A540 boosts resolution to 6 megapixels, and increases the maximum movie frame rate to a full 30 frames/second, even at 640x480 resolution.

The Canon A540 also boosts performance in some other areas as well, sporting a huge 2.5" rear-panel LCD in addition to its real-image optical viewfinder, and adding aperture-priority and shutter-priority exposure modes, welcome options for more sophisticated users. ISO light-sensitivity ranges from 80 to 800. Other exposure modes include fully automatic and fully manual, plus a wide range of scene modes in between, and a "My Colors" menu that offers special effects such as Vivid and Neutral, Light or Dark skin, and Custom color adjustments. An Underwater scene mode even adjusts color balance and exposure for use with an optional underwater housing.

The Canon PowerShot A540 also offers a range of metering modes, including evaluative, center-weighted, and even spot metering. In its continuous shooting mode, the Canon A540 is rated at 2.3 frames/second, very good speed for a modestly-priced camera.

Following a growing trend, the Canon PowerShot A540 stores its images on SD memory cards, which is rapidly becoming the dominant memory card format for digital cameras. A USB 2.0 High-Speed computer connection provides for speedy downloads, fast enough that most users will find no need for a separate card reader.

At the end of the day, the Canon A540 should be a very strong-selling model in the popular PowerShot line, providing not only dead-easy use for beginners (in full-auto mode), but a complete complement of advanced exposure and metering modes for the more experienced shooter. This is a camera that offers novice photographers plenty of capability to grow into, and should make a great choice for families or couples with widely varying levels of photo expertise.

Canon PowerShot A540
Canon's PowerShot A540 digital camera. Courtesy of Canon, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Camera TypeCompact
Model NumberA540
Dimensions3.6 x 2.5 x 1.7"
90.4 x 64.0 x 43.2mm
Weight180.0 g
6.3 oz
Image Capture
Sensor Type1/2.5 CCD
Aspect Ratio4:3
Image Dimensions2816 x 2112 (5.9 megapixels)
2816 x 1584 (4.5 megapixels)
2272 x 1704 (3.9 megapixels)
1600 x 1200 (1.9 megapixels)
640 x 480 (0.3 megapixels)
Image Quality3 levels
Image Preview / Review
Lens Type4x optical zoom
Focal Length5.8 - 23.2mm (actual)
35 - 140mm (35mm equivalent)
Aperture Rangef/2.6 (wide) / f/5.5 (tele)
Focusing RangeNormal: 18" - infinity (45 cm - infinity)
Macro: 2.0" - 18" (5 cm - 45 cm)
ISO SensitivityAuto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800
Shutter Speed15 - 1/2000 second
Exposure ModesAperture, Shutter, Manual
Metering Modes20
Exposure Compensation+/- 2.0EV in 1/3EV increments
White BalanceImage Sensor - Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Underwater, Custom, Manual
Digital Zoom4x
Movie FormatAVI (Motion JPEG) with audio
640 and 4 80
Max. frame-rate: 30 frames per second
Recording MediumSD/MMC
File SystemComplies with Design Rule for Camera File System (DCF)
File FormatJPEG (EXIF 2.2)
VideoYes, NTSC / PAL switchable
ComputerUSB 2.0 High Speed
Battery TypeAlkaline, NiMH
Battery Form Factor2 x AA
Product Bundle
Flash Memory0.0MB
Digital Print Order Format (DPOF) compliantYes
PictBridge CompliantYes
Internal MicrophoneYes
Internal SpeakerYes
Tripod MountYes, Plastic
Remote ControlNo
More Photos
Canon's PowerShot A540 digital camera. Courtesy of Canon, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!

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