Well, your just plain wrong about the DR. Your using IR's "total DR" number, which is irrelevant,
It is the ONLY relevant number. The definition of DR is not up for debate.
How hard you can push shadows due to noise (i.e. grain) is LATITUDE.
Even IR's results where they don't completely ignore noise even jive, and IR ALSO gets approximately a two-stop difference between Canon sensors and Exmors.
Guess what would happen if you fed Imatest or DxO the D800 and 5D3+NR file you posted? They would report nearly identical DR. But applying NR to the D800 will not reveal any more detail or bump its score the same, at least not with Imatest. (DxO thinks blacker blacks with no detail still = more DR, so maybe their score would go up. But it would also be useless.)
Picking an arbitrary noise/processing threshold and arguing about it is worthless for this very reason.
You are correct that some careful NR can close the gap. Thing is, if you actually look at my sample images I recently posted, there is still a gap.
Yes. You might even spot it on a 36" print with the D800 print sitting next to it
And, it was extra work to do the NR on the 5D III image.
Usually the "extra work" involves moving sliders in ACR. I generally tailor my NR selections based on the image in front of me any way, regardless of sensor, unless it's base ISO and I won't be pushing shadows at all because they're all solid there.
If you don't want to do any work, then you probably aren't converting a RAW in the first place. For those people there are automatic 3 shot HDR modes.
The real kicker is the gap is growing.
No it's not. It's about the same today as it was when the D7000 came out against the 7D. Both sensor series have improved over time by small increments.
I don't think we'll be stuck with 14-bit ADC units for long...technology is moving far too fast for that.
Someone has to be able to fabricate a sensor that can produce useful bits >14 first. If someone does that at Photokina while Canon ships a 70D sensor variant, then Canon has a problem. But even Sony's 12 MP FF sensor isn't doing that yet so I kind of doubt it.
As others have stated, 4k video recording is starting to become a more common feature among competitors, and the quality of that video is higher than you can get with a Canon.
I'll give you that one. As a stills guy I don't personally care, but Canon needs to start shipping 4k as well as some of the other features of ML.
I've also been getting more and more into astrophotography equipment...Some of these things are RADICALLY superior to what Canon has to offer.
But these are also niche tools, are they not? In terms of general purpose cameras, I'll grant that a Sony Exmor is a better choice for astro, but it's not like you can't do good astro with a 5D2/3 or 6D. Flickr is full of those shots.
That is TWENTY FREAKIN STOPS!! The thing has a 20-bit readout mode to fully support that many stops as well.
But we don't see that in any general purpose, high resolution ILC gear. So what's the trade off? If it doesn't arrive in our cameras for two years, and Canon does the same thing at the same time or shortly after Sony (for example), then they're not way behind. They would be way behind if Sony's current FF sensors had 20 stops.
So, the 70D? It doesn't sell because of it's sensor.
The 70D has an excellent sensor that is competitive now. If Sony brings out a 20 stop ISO 25,600 APS-C monster tomorrow, that will change. But you're reading about all this new stuff that no one has yet in a general purpose ILC line. Which means there is a trade off...maybe as simple as fab yields...that everyone is experiencing.
What happens when Sony drops a LITERAL 16-stop sensor on the market?
Canon will respond. Even if it means buying the sensor from Sony, if their market is threatened they will respond. But my guess is that 16-stop sensor is not coming as soon as you imagine, nor is Canon's that far behind. Plus, I see a lot of patents coming from Canon for RGB multilayer sensors. Foveon shot themselves in the foot by overstating the advantage, but the advantage is significant. Anyone else doing any R&D here?
To get control of their noise problems, they are going to have to stop manufacturing ADCs they way they have been manufacturing ADCs for over a decade now...
When it affects their market share I'm sure they will. They're still #1, and the smart company pockets profits but has tech ready to go when they need it. I know that sucks when you want to see rapid innovation, but it's typical behavior. If you're the underdog you innovate wildly...and often lose money...trying to get at the top dog. If you're the top dog, you protect your position.