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Anyway, enough with the rant, lets get back to the good stuff. Like most Canon cameras, the A540 has exceptionally good performance. Start-up time is particularly quick at under a second, especially considering the larger than average zoom lens that has to be extended. The multi-zone Ai-AF system is one of the fastest around, taking under half a second to focus even in low light.
In continuous shooting mode the A540 maintains an impressive 2.3 frames per second until the memory card is full, or the batteries run out. A 1GB SD card provides enough space for 601 shots at maximum quality and size, or 8’ 31” of video shooting at 640/30.
Since it runs on two AA cells, battery duration will depend on the type and quality of the batteries used, but Canon claims a fairly conservative 90 shots with standard alkalines. I say conservative because I was able to take over 130 shots, many using the flash, with the pair of ordinary alkaline batteries supplied with the camera. Nonetheless, with some lithium-ion powered cameras now capable of over 400 shots on a single charge, the A540 does begin to look a bit power-hungry. If you’re planning to take it on holiday then a couple of sets of Ni-MH rechargeables and a rapid charger would be a sensible investment.
Finally we come to picture quality, and here the A540 really shines. Canon’s DIGIC II image processor is arguably the best on the market, and produces perfect exposure and colour reproduction time after time. I was a little disappointed by the noise levels at 800 ISO, however at 400 ISO the image quality was much improved.
The lens on the A540 is also very good, although I noticed some slight softness in the corners at wider aperture settings, and at wide angle it does produce very noticeable barrel distortion. However the camera is versatile enough to work around these minor problems, and is certainly capable of producing excellent results.
The A450 is a very capable camera and good value for money, and would make an excellent choice for anyone who wants to learn more about photography before moving on to a semi-pro zoom or DSLR. It may lack some features found on higher end models, but it is a good all rounder and produces top quality results.