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vivona Dec 27, 2006 4:21 PM

I have three Canon Powershot A540 cameras. All three behave the same, so this has to be a characteristic of the camera and not a defect in one camera. Please post your experiences with the A540 battery life to see if we all are getting the same results.

If I put in a fresh set of Duracell or Energizer Alkaline batteries, I will get close to the 90 pictures claimed by Canon for flash shots with the LCD on. But, if I use Energizer Ni-MH 2500 Rechargables (which have a lower initial voltage than alkalines) the life is shorter. Sometimes the low battery indicator will come on after just a few shots.

It acts as if the low battery indicator is set for too high a voltage. If I take a set of Ni-MH batteries that show low in the A540 and put them in my old Canon A40, the A40 will run for days, taking over 100 shots. In fact, I could put a charged set of Ni-MH batteries in my A40 and come back a month later and they would still work fine, but in the A540 the normal shelf discharge would drop the battery voltage too low to use.

I would expect that the A540, with its larger LCD would take a lot more current than the A40, but even so the shutoff voltage is set much higher. Some devices have a setup that allows you to set the cutoff voltage based on the battery type to allow for rechargables, but I have not found anything in the manual or by going through the menus.

I haven't tried Lithium batteries yet. Just got a set. With their higher voltage they may work better. However, Canon recommends against lithium batteries and they are not rechargable and cost a lot more than alkalines.

So, what has been your experience with the A540 and batteries? List the brand and type of battery (include the milliamp rating if it is a rechargable) and how many shots you typically get on a set of batteries. List whether these shots are mostly with the LCD on or off, and with or without a flash.

I would like have the details, but if you just want to make a quick response, use the poll which is set for Rechargable Batteries, LCD on and Mostly Flash pictures.

docmoon Dec 27, 2006 8:00 PM

I noticed something similar with my A540, and made a similar inquiry in these forums a few months ago.

I got no other reports of problems at the time. I wondered if my batteries were old and bought some new ones, which improved the situation somewhat, but the battery life is still short. So I ordered a new charger (the new MAHA, which hasn't arrived yet) to try to recondition the batteries and get the most out of them.

But the little bugger is a battery hog, no doubt, and I have learned to absolutely never leave the house without a spare set, even when the ones in the camera have just come out of the charger.

I haven't experimented with alkaline as you have, but your observation is interesting, and might well support your idea that the voltage trigger is too sensitive. I wondered the same thing when mine first arrived, but have kind of gotten used to it.

If you don't mind me asking, why in the world do you own three cameras of the same model? We have 4 digicams and 335-mm cameras, but no two are the same model.

Someone was admiring my 35-mm camera bag once and said, "Must have cost a bundle." My reply was, "Photography is a lot of fun, and it's cheaper than cocaine." My wife, sitting nearby, glared over at me and said, "Only slightly!" We're still married, though.

vivona Dec 27, 2006 8:11 PM

docmoon wrote:

If you don't mind me asking, why in the world do you own three cameras of the same model?
When I bought my A540, my wife and daughter immediately liked its large LCD screen and quick focus and wanted ones of their own. Several years ago I got tired of being told what to take pictures of, so I make sure they have their own cameras. Our previous cameras were an A40, S200 Elph and A60. Only the A60 was a battery hog, but not as bad as the A540.

I sure hope others take the time to tell of their battery life. I have a support case open with Canon asking if they could do a firmware upgrade to lower the low battery shutoff voltage point. It is a longshot that they will even consider it, but if I can point to user comments, it will help.

propwash Dec 27, 2006 8:11 PM

I have the A520, which is similar to the A540, but not exactly the same. The 520 uses two cells, and the 540 only uses two cells also, right? Anyway, I have been using Energizer 2200mAH cells, which came with a 15 minute charger, for over a year. I have never had the low battery indicator come on for me. Sometimes I will take up to 200 shots in a day, and sometimes I won't use the camera for a couple weeks or more, but there still seems to be a lot of capacity when I turn the camera back on after a period on non-use. One thing I wish Canonwould have on their LCD screens is an indicator showing battery charge that youcould access at any time. On the 520, it doesn't show up on the screen until the batteries start to get low. Like I said, my low charge indicator has never come on, so when I recharge, I don't know if they are 20%depleted, half gone, or whatever. I would like to know howmuch capacity I have used before I recharge. But like I said, I have had no problems with the 520 being a battery hog. I just wish the flash recycle time would be a little faster. That, I think, is improved on the A600 series, but those cameras use 4 batteries instead of 2.

jawz Dec 27, 2006 11:04 PM

I have an A530 which is of the same basic design as the A540 and I have not had any premature battery exhaustion problem. I use properly charged 2700 mhA NiMh cells. I use the optical viewfinder almost exclusively and generally avoid chimping.

Even with heavy flash use, I can fill a 1GB card (>650 shots) without seening a low battery warning.

CanonFodder Dec 28, 2006 3:15 AM

Have you read about the Canon advisory

vivona Dec 28, 2006 5:57 AM

CanonFodder wrote:

Have you read about the Canon advisory
Yes, I have seen the advisory and none of my cameras are affected. Even though the serial numbers are not in the range specified, I inspected the spring anyway and it is properly bent and not causing a short.

docmoon Dec 28, 2006 3:08 PM

vivona wrote:

I got tired of being told what to take pictures of, so I make sure they have their own cameras.
Boy, do I know the feeling! My wife hasa Fuji of some sort, my youngest daughter another A series, and my older daughter just got an A530 for Christmas.

My previous camera was an A70 (which was replaced after the watertight housing proved to be something less than watertight on a snorkeling trip in the Bahamas).Excepting the A530, which we haven't had long enough to evaluate yet, I would say all the other cameras get (or got) 4 to 5 times the number of shots on a charge as the A540.

I personally think you are on to something, and I hope you get somewhere with Canon. If I can add my voice and help out, please let me know.

vivona Dec 28, 2006 5:19 PM

I plan to set up a test using the external power connector and a variable power supply to find the exact voltages that the A540 shows the low battery indicator and the "change the batteries" message (assuming that these functions are active when voltage is supplied from the external power connector). I can then compare the voltages to the discharge voltage curve of Ni-MH batteries using the voltage graphs at That should document how compatable the A540 is with the typical selection of rechargable batteries. The voltage graphs at thatwebsite are for 4 batteries, so I will use half the voltage for the 2 batteries used in the A540. For now, note how quickly the rechargable batteries drop in voltage before the voltage graph flattens out. (click on the "click here" in the Voltage graph column). If the A540 quits at the bottom of the initial drop in the voltage graph, that would explain the short battery life.

For those that are getting 150 or more flash pictures with the LCD on, I would certainly be interested in what rechargable batteries you are using.

DaveLundy Jan 4, 2007 1:41 AM

A few months ago, I started occasionally getting the "change the batteries" message on my S2 IS, even when using Ni-MH batteries that had been recharged only a couple days before being used. Admittedly, those batteries had been used quite heavily for over two years, so they may be near the end of their useful life. I recently got a set of Sanyo / GE eneloop batteries and haven't had any problems with them yet. I don't have nearly as much use with the eneloops as with the other batteries, but so far I'm very satisfied. They have much better shelf life than ordinary Ni-MH batteries, and cost about the same.

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