The Canon PowerShot SX540 HS is a very basic bridge camera with a superzoom lens. It's decently comfortable to use, quite lightweight, and delivers impressive overall stabilization performance. That said, it has a very limited feature set, as you can't use it to shoot RAW images, doesn't have 4k video recording capability, and offers limited FHD video recording features. Autofocus tracking performance is poor in both video and still photography too. It also lacks a viewfinder and has a relatively low-resolution screen that isn't touch-sensitive.
The Canon PowerShot SX540 HS is middling for travel photography. It's lightweight and comfortable to use, though it isn't nearly small enough to fit into a pocket or a small bag. The lens' enormous focal range should allow you to frame both wide-angle shots as well as tight zooms on far-away subjects. Unfortunately, its autofocus system struggles with tracking moving subjects, and depending on your choice of settings, its battery life might not be sufficient for long shooting sessions. Image quality degrades noticeably at higher ISO levels, while its built-in lens has a narrow maximum aperture, so it isn't a very good fit for low-light photography. The lens' focal length also can't be adjusted in fine increments, which could be an issue if you're trying to frame a scene without moving around too much.
The Canon PowerShot SX540 HS is passable for landscape photography. It's fairly lightweight and decently comfortable to use if a little bulky. Its lens' wide minimum focal length should make it easy to frame landscape shots too. Unfortunately, its lack of a viewfinder and fixed screen can make it hard to compose your shots. It also can't shoot in RAW, which is a significant omission if you plan on editing your shots. Image quality is alright, though it's best to shoot in the daytime since images lose a noticeable degree of sharpness at higher ISO levels. It also isn't advertised as being weather-sealed and has a plastic body that scratches rather easily.
The Canon PowerShot SX540 HS isn't bad for sports and wildlife photography. Its maximum full frame-equivalent focal length of 1200mm should allow you to snap fairly clear photos of far-away subjects. Its maximum continuous shooting speed of 8 fps is also relatively fast, and it clears its buffer almost instantaneously. It also does a great job smoothing out camera shake, which is handy if you're shooting at a fairly extended focal length. However, its autofocus system struggles to maintain focus on moving subjects, and while its tracking performance does improve if you set the camera to 'Sports' mode, you lose the ability to change your exposure settings. In addition, it feels cheaply built, though it is comfortable to hold for the most part.
The Canon PowerShot SX540 HS is poor for vlogging, though it isn't designed for this kind of use. You can't see its fixed screen when the camera is pointed at you. In addition, while the camera is lightweight, its bulky design can make it a little impractical to carry around for extended periods. Its battery life is also very short, though this can vary depending on your choice of settings and usage habits. It's incapable of shooting 4k video, and video quality in FHD is very soft and noisy, even in well-lit environments. Thankfully, it does an incredible job of smoothing out camera shake when shooting handheld video.
The Canon PowerShot SX540 HS is a bad option for studio video. FHD video quality is terrible, and it can't shoot in 4k. Its autofocus system also delivers terrible tracking performance. It doesn't have a mic or headphone jack, while you can only use its HDMI port for media playback. Its battery life is short, and you can't recharge it over USB while in use, so it isn't a good fit for long recording sessions.
The Canon PowerShot SX540 HS isn't designed for action video. It's too big to mount on any chest or helmet rig, and it isn't advertised as being water-resistant, dust-sealed, or impact-resistant. It can't shoot 4k video, while its maximum frame rate in FHD is limited to 30 fps. All of that said, its video stabilization performance is superb.
Note: The manufacturer doesn't currently provide any technical information on the camera's shutter type. Based on the absence of a silent shooting mode and the max shutter speed of 1/2000s, the camera is assumed to have a mechanical shutter.
Note: This camera has both a normal and AF priority continuous shooting mode. Since the max continuous speed of the camera's AF priority continuous shooting mode can vary depending on autofocus tracking performance, the camera's shooting speed wasn't tested in this mode.
Note: Our standard test methodology for this test is to have the camera in its manual mode with ISO set to 'Auto'. However, you can't set ISO to 'Auto' with this camera in its manual shooting mode. To capture well-exposed images, the camera was set to shutter priority mode, allowing us to change the ISO setting to 'Auto'. As such, the results shown might not be fully comparable with other cameras that we've tested.
Note: This camera is incapable of shooting RAW. As such, we couldn't perform this test.
Note: This camera's recording limit is advertised as being 29 min 59 sec, or whenever a video file reaches 4GB in size. Our test unit's maximum recording limit was 23min 50sec, which generated a video that was 4GB in size. That said, users may be able to reach this recording time limit if they use lower video quality settings.
Note: Unlike the 'Photo: Autofocus' test, using the camera in its 'Sports' shooting mode didn't improve autofocus tracking performance in testing.
The Canon PowerShot SX540 HS is only available in one color variant: 'Black'. You can see our test unit's label here.
Let us know in the discussions if you come across another variant, and we'll update our review.