I've said before, that lab tests are pretty meaningless, unless they reflect the real world, after all, as photographers, we are judged by what we achieve, not by what could be theoretically achieved. At work, we use analysers and I remember a number of years ago, I was working through a tender specification. The company supplying the analyser in question quoted a figure of 105 samples/hour throughput. When challenged, they said in reality, it averaged around 90 samples/hour. In reality, it is actually closer to 70-75/hour. It is very rare that any electrical or mechanical goods achieve theoretical values and the variation between reality and theory, is highly variable. Often, it is the equipment with the higher theoretical range, that is furthest from reality.
Flake mentioned the use of HDR and grad filters. As a landscape photographer, I know that even with an extra stop of DR, there is no way that I could capture most scenes without using grad filters, unless I make some compromises. In fact, photography is all about making compromises, that is what sets the greats apart from the merely good. If you could simply point a camera at a scene and get perfect results, then everyone would be doing it. The true masters, know how to manipulate the available light, to get near perfect results. Sometimes, you actually want blown areas for added effect, if you have a massive dynamic range that captures everything, how would you achieve that? Don't get me wrong, I would welcome more dynamic range, especially for wildlife, but I think we also have to be realistic and not accept suggested facts and lab tests too readily. The only sure way to make an accurate comparison, would be to shoot the same scene, with the same exposure value, at the same time, then look at the differences. The human eye is a precision instrument, it will detect meaningful differences if they exist. If it can't detect them, then they are irrelevant, no matter what tests tell you. It's not much use having an extra stop of DR, if your meduim of choice can't show it. I suspect that you'd need an expensive Spectraview type monitor to see any differences. Different papers will also have different DR, some papers have a higher DMax than others, allowing them to show more shadow detail.
A few years ago, I decided to have a play with slide film, as I'd never shot with it before, having only used negative film in the past. I did some digging at the time and was reading that slide film had a DR of around 5-6 stops, compared to 10-11 for negative film. My results with slide film clearly showed less DR than I could get with digital.
I did a bit more digging just now. The figures for slide film ranged between 5-6 and 7-8 stops, while negative film was consistently in the 10-11 stop range. I also came across this article, which looked at comparisons between digital and film, both theporetically and in practice. There are some flaws in the testing, as it involves scanning of the film images, which does increase noise and probably some other effects, but it does show that it isn't as clear cut as it is sometimes made out to be.http://www.clarkvision.com/articles/dynamicrange2/