Canon Powershot SX540 HS Review (2021)

In a hurry? Here’s the quick summary

Canon PowerShot SX540 HS

The Canon PowerShot SX540 HS is a hybrid or a bridge camera. It combines the best of two worlds – the form factor of a DSLR with the easy-to-use features that are the hallmark of a compact point and shoot camera.

The major USP of such hybrid or bridge cameras is the long telephoto lens that comes built into the camera.

The SX540 HS is aimed at photography enthusiasts who are serious about their hobby but don’t want the weight of a heavy DSLR to weigh them down.

Let’s dive right in and find out more about this camera and let’s also if it fits your style of photography.

Pros and Cons Canon PowerShot SX540 HS

Pros
  • 50x optical zoom offers an incredible zoom range to capture subjects at vast distances
  • Simple form factor allowing photographers to point and click to make images
  • Manual exposure modes allow you to experiment with exposure parameters like a pro
  • A decent continuous shooting speed of 5.9 fps
  • A 3-inch fixed LCD screen
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • Weighs only 440 grams with the memory card and the battery.
  • Optical image stabilization is built-in
Cons
  • The rear LCD screen is fixed and not articulating which will hamper your shooting options
  • The resolution of the LCD screen is on the lower side 461k-dots
  • GPS option is unavailable

Canon PowerShot SX540 HS Specs

Undoubtedly the long telephoto zoom of the SX540 HS is its greatest USP. A compact body like the SX540 HS has a super-telephoto zoom reach. In 35mm format equivalence, it is 24mm to 1200mm. 

If you want to purchase such a lens for a DSLR or mirrorless camera you will have to spend more than three thousand dollars.

The primary benefit of a long telelens is that you can shoot distant subjects like birds, wild animals, etc. from a safe distance and yet be able to fill the frame. 

The greatest advantage is when you are photographing on a safari and your compact inexpensive camera reaches the farthest!

The cool thing about this built-in lens is that at the shortest focal length it is a proper wide-angle lens. That means with the same lens you can also shoot landscapes, street photos, and cityscapes. 

This is undoubtedly a camera designed for a traveller. One camera and one lens do it all.

It should be noted that this camera and the built-in lens are optically no match for a high-value DSLR with an accompanying high optical quality lens. But it is likely going to win the race for the maximum telephoto reach.

Sensor

Next, let’s talk about the sensor of the camera. Most hybrid/bridge cameras are powered by a small 1/2.3-inch sensor and the SX540 HS is no different.

This is a small sensor using CMOS technology and offers a resolution of 20.3 Megapixel (MP).

Canon PowerShot SX540 HS
Example image using Canon PowerShot SX540 HS

Image Processor

The main difference between the SX540 HS and the previous version that this camera replaces is in the image processing engine.

The SX540 HS comes with DIGIC 6 image processor which is faster and produces cleaner images. 

The camera is capable of capturing images of the size 5184 x 3888 pixels. For most needs, this is more than enough. Like social media posts or sharing by Bluetooth among friends and family. 

That said if you wish to print big, I mean really big canvas, or other prints you may find the resolution a bit on the lower side.

Additionally, if you prefer to crop and then print then the 20-MP sensor is going to be less than optimum. But these are very specific requirements and 99 out of 100 times one rarely needs to print that big.

Let’s move to the image stabilization part. You cannot expect a super-telephoto lens to function without some kind of image stabilization. And thankfully the telelens of the SX540 HS comes with built-in optical image stabilization. 

Please note image stabilization will only compensate for any movements of your hands and as long as you have the shutter release button pressed down. It will not compensate for any movement of the subject.

Canon PowerShot SX540 HS
Example image using Canon PowerShot SX540 HS

Canon PowerShot SX540 HS Design

Hybrid/Bridge cameras use the form factor of DSLR cameras. Extended grip and a body design based on that of a traditional DSLR are some of the features of Hybrid/Bridge cameras.

The SX540 HS is no different. The distinct DSLR styled body design is quite apparent and has been retained from previous versions.

The body design is smooth with minimal to no hard edges. There are quite a few buttons and dials on the camera. 

I hate the location of some of the buttons like the On/Off button on the top and especially that of the dedicated Video recording button.

The position of the Video recording button feels like an afterthought. You could accidentally start recording when you don’t mean to.

The Exposure Compensation dial is also located at the side just below the Video recording button. The main shooting mode selector dial is at the top along with the control dial and the shutter button which also doubles up as the zoom lever.

The lens barrel has two zoom buttons. Though personally feel that the zoom lever at the top is a much easier option to control zoom. Especially as the shutter release button is also the same.

Canon PowerShot SX540 HS
Example image using Canon PowerShot SX540 HS

The back is dominated by the 3-inch LCD screen. 

There are a few other buttons here like the Play button, the multi-selector button which works as your ISO, quick macro mode, flash mode, and the Info selection option.

There is also the Wi-Fi switch and the Menu buttons which complete the buttons at the back. I would have preferred the pop-up flash to be set a bit higher than what it is.

With the long tele zoom, the lens barrel can interfere with the throw of the light and create black shadows in the frame.

The SX540 HS is not a weather-sealed design. Please do not expose the camera to rain or snow. Always use a soft piece of cloth to wipe out any drops of water on the body.

For any dust on the lens using a small lens cleaning brush and or a small blower to free the lens of any dust particles. Only use a microfiber cloth to clean the lens to clean smudges.

Canon PowerShot SX540 HS Image Quality

The JPEG images straight out of the camera are vibrant, clean, and reasonably sharp. Sharpness, however, is a subjective thing.

It depends on several factors including but not limited to aperture, the accuracy of focus, steadiness of the camera during the shot, and sharpness added by the camera’s internal processor or manually using software afterwards. 

Low light noise is apparent when the camera is pushed. At higher ISOs it becomes obvious. Low ISO results are good. In bright light, the camera produces fantastic images that you could share straight away.

Canon PowerShot SX540 HS
Example image using Canon PowerShot SX540 HS

Canon PowerShot SX540 HS Video Quality

The SX540 HS shoots Full HD videos. Still no 4K in this hybrid camera segment. This is one where the SX540 HS feels a little dated. 

If you feel that you need 4K/ UHD then the SX540 HS will not be a good choice for you. You need to look at better options.

But if it is not, or you are looking for some reasonably priced cameras to shoot with then the SX540 HS ticks most of the boxes.

In any case, I wouldn’t be too bothered by the absence of 4K, because there are inherent issues to 4K, like better heat management and faster processor and other things and the price tag of the SX540 HS does not suggest that the camera is aimed at serious videographers.

At least with the introduction of DIGIC 6, you now have a faster frame rate than the previous generation cameras – 60p in place of 30p. That will allow you to shoot slow-motion videos and stuff.

All videos are recorded in MP4 format for easy sharing and lower file size.

Canon PowerShot SX540 HS Overall Performance

There are several things to like about the SX540 HS. It is easy to operate, super-fast, convenient, comes with a huge optical zoom range and the image performance is good.

You also get built-in Wi-Fi and a one-touch pairing with your compatible smartphone for easy sharing. For the money, you pay there is not much else that you can ask for. There are only a few “ifs”.

Low light performance is one of them, and the design could have been a bit better. Especially the positioning of the video recording button and the exposure compensation buttons are not where one could say is convenient.

But then these are all subjective things you may like the positioning of these buttons.

Canon PowerShot SX540 HS
Example image using Canon PowerShot SX540 HS

Concluding Remarks

For the amount of money that the camera costs, I would say that the SX540 HS is a decent choice.

It is a completely different thing though if you are expecting 4K capabilities or better low light performance. I wouldn’t recommend the SX540 HS then.

You should look at a different class of cameras and be ready to pay a higher amount for those features.

I would recommend the SX540 HS to anyone looking to buy his/her first camera. I would also recommend it to someone who is an enthusiast photographer but not necessarily looking forward to lugging a DSLR. 

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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